All Articles Where the best Paris chefs go on their days off

Where the best Paris chefs go on their days off

7 chefs, sommeliers, and food entrepreneurs share their favorite places to go.

Sara Lieberman
By Sara Lieberman 26 Jun 2024 8 minutes read
Marble table topped with dishes like quiche slice and stew
Hand holding up cocktail in clear glass
Library space with red seating and bookshelves
La Cantine Champ Libre (L); Little Red Door (Top Right); CRAVAN (Bottom Right)
Image: Management/Tripadvisor

Summer Olympics aside, there are many reasons to visit Paris, and chief among them is the food. Beyond the obvious—buttery croissants, escargot slathered in garlic—the city has a dizzying array of options to satisfy all palates. From seasonally-minded tasting menus that may set you back a paycheck to casual street food with an international nod, there’s something for every budget and taste level.

Reservations are almost always recommended, as is checking opening days and times (many restaurants here are closed on weekends or Sunday and Monday). Chefs, of course, know the protocol all too well—and how to make the most of the hours they have off before stepping into Crocs and hitting the line. So, we asked seven of them for their favorites to help you plan your own Paris food crawl.

Etheliya Hananova

Co-owner and sommelier of Comice

Hananova smiling and wearing white button-up shirt inside restaurant
Tables in room with marble detailing and big windows
Etheliya Hananova (L); Cravan (R)
Image: Hananova; Management/Tripadvisor (R)

Etheliya Hananova moved to Paris from Canada in 2014 with her chef husband, Noam Gedalof, and together they opened up Comice in 2017. A mere five months later, it received its first Michelin star. “The inspector came to visit us on our 8th day of being open,” she says. With a toddler and a bulldog at home, there isn’t much time outside restaurant hours for mingling with friends, but when they do get out, Hananova says things “tend to revolve around food.”

For the best pastries

After visiting the playground by Champ de Mars with their daughter, the couple will visit the Left Bank location of Tapisserie Patisserie: “They have good coffee and great pastries, and it’s a very cute setting with a couple of tables outside,” says Hananova. “We like to go there and share a few things, including my favorite, the Chou à la flouve odorante.”

For an inspirational food shop on the Left Bank

Hananova makes a pilgrimage to the culinary mecca that is La Grande Épicerie, the luxury grocery store adjacent to Le Bon Marché, for the amazing people-watching: “It’s expensive and very curated, but it’s also a visual feast and they have lots of excellent products,” she says. “We’ll get a couple of things for fun, like their jambon porc noir de Bigorre and some prepared foods if we’re too tired to cook.”

For non-French food by way of Italy

One of Hananova’s favorite restaurants that is open on Saturdays and Sundays (when Comice is closed) is called Localino. “It’s a chic little Italian place in the Odeon neighborhood with very good Italian food and a great wine selection,” says Hananova. “We have a particular soft spot for a big, generous plate of Bolognese. It kind of takes you back to more innocent times.”

For a late-night tipple in a design-forward space

Cravan, a heritage-protected café-turned-cocktail bar, used to be in the 16th arrondissement, and it was a regular haunt for Hananova and Gedalof when they lived in the neighborhood. But now they visit the new Saint Germain location for Franck Audoux’s “unique, no frou-frou, sophisticated cocktails” served in beautiful glassware. “[Franck] is kind of Mozartian in his recipes,” says Hananova. “There are no frilly fireworks to hide behind. I particularly like the Tunnel, or their version of a perfect martini. Beware, they’re deceptive in their power because they taste so balanced.”

Travelers say: “My wife, teenage daughter and I had a wonderful experience at Comice! We all loved our food [daughter is pescatarian]. The owner/sommelier [Etheliya] was extremely welcoming and her wine pairing selections were exceptional, as was the food.”—@TJfromDC

Juan Arbelaez

Chef, cookbook author, and businessman

Arbelaez wearing blue apron and standing in front of red panel
Aerial view of table with clam dish, wine, and bread basket
Juan Arbelaez (L); Les Enfants du Marché (R)
Image: Arbelaez (L); Management/Tripadvisor (R)

Colombian-born, French-trained Juan Arbelaez studied at Le Cordon Bleu and found fame following his run on Top Chef France. He’s since taken his love for coriander, lemon, and chili pepper and infused them into 15 varying establishments throughout France that range in cuisine from Greek to Latin American. When he’s not coordinating recipes for a massive music festival or publishing cookbooks, you can find him running along the Seine or helping usher in the Olympic torch.

For seasonal eats and socializing

Arbelaez loves going to Les Enfants du Marché at the Marchés des Enfants Rouges food market on weekends, especially for lunch on Saturday. “There’s a natural wine list, incredible service, and a market cuisine that respects the seasons, which is important to me,” he says. “I always meet lots of people from the restaurant trade, actors, and artists.”

For a feast

Bambino is where I love to go on a Saturday night for pizettes and lamb confit. At 11 p.m., the waiters move the tables, the DJ arrives, and the atmosphere changes completely,” says Arbelaez.

Where to stay in Paris

Zohar Sasson

Chef of Kapara

Sasson smiling and wearing apron and holding kitchen utensils
Restaurant with orange banquette seating and wine bottles decorating space
Zohar Sasson (L); Bistrot des Vosges (R)
Image: Sasson; Management/Tripadvisor (R)

Cooking runs in the family for 28-year-old Israeli chef, Zohar Sasson, but it wasn’t until she waited tables at a fish restaurant that she somehow ended up in the kitchen herself. After auditioning for an Israeli TV show where the celebrity guest judge was Assaf Granit, who runs eight restaurants in Europe with five in Paris, she landed the job at his newly opened Kapara (formerly Balagan) where she can be found dancing and singing inside the open kitchen.

For sips and slurps

Le Baron Rouge made me [fall in love] with Paris for the first time,” says Sasson. “It’s a buzzing destination for charcuterie plates, seasonal oysters, and French wines from barrel spigots.”

For a film-like fantasy

When she wants to feel like she’s in a “very good, old French movie,” Sasson heads to the “super traditional” Bistrot des Vosges for onion soup.

For Israeli flavors with a French twist

Zohar is spoiled for choice when it comes to finding a taste of home in Paris, but she especially loves Shana: “It has super good vibes with young people that appreciate good food, wine, and hospitality.”

Travelers say: “[Kapara serves] Israeli-themed dishes in a lively atmosphere with friendly staff. We had polenta, salad, chicken and fish and all were quite good. We tried both red and white wines from Israel since why not and the red was better but both were good with the food. The crushed Snickers dessert was fun and tasty,”—@Greg3st3s

Victor Blanchet

Chef at Halo

Blanchet bending over pot with food in kitchen
Yellow cocktail topped with yellow tomato
Blanchet (L); Little Red Door (R)
Image: Blanchet (L); Management/Tripadvisor (R)

This 25-year-old French-born Haitian chef went to culinary school in northwest France and immediately found work at a gastronomic restaurant in Angers. After one year, he hit the road—literally—by traveling around the U.S. for three months before returning to Paris where he settled in Saint-Ouen and worked at the three-Michelin-starred L’Arpège. After appearing on the 2023 season of Top Chef France, he opened Halo, a speakeasy-like spot inside an 18th-century mansion in the Sentier neighborhood.

For atmosphere

“The decor and the dim lighting at Datcha are superb,” says Blanchet. “It’s a beautiful setting with personal warmth.”

For sharing dishes with friends

Blanchet loves getting a “gang of friends” together at the big round table at Bouche in the 11th arrondissement: “We exchange dishes with each other in a superb atmosphere.”

For a romantic night out

If he’s looking for a place to impress a date, Blanchet will go to Little Red Door. “Take a table at the counter with a view of the preparations, decor, and creative, innovative cocktails,” he says.

Travelers say: “[Little Red Door is] currently ranked as # 6 in “The World’s 50 Best Bars” for a reason. My husband & I sat at the bar and had the most fun with the wildly talented and creative team that make up Little Red Door. Innovative, delicious and a must-go if you’re seeking a unique (and entertaining) cocktail experience from some of the best to do it!”—@Regina D

Victor Gonzalez

Sommelier of La Tour d’Argent

Gonzalez wearing blue three-piece set surrounded by glassware
Tomato dish topped with shaved truffles
Gonzalez at La Tour d'Argent (L); Tour d'Argent (R)
Image: @MatthieuSalvaing (L); Management/Tripadvisor (R)

When you’re in charge of a place like La Tour d’Argent, a storied wine cellar with no less than 15,000 bottles, you’ve got to possess both a solid know-how and be curious in nature. Victor Gonzalez—who previously worked in the cellars of The Ritz—has both. When he’s not sipping, swirling, and sniffing at the city’s oldest restaurant, he can be found nurturing his Spanish roots and indulging in the city’s wide range of international cuisine.

For a taste of a Spain

When he misses his father's Spanish cuisine, Gonzalez goes to tapas bar Amagat, which is hidden down a cobblestone passageway in the 20th arrondissement: “It has a delightful selection of Iberian wines and vermouth,” says Gonzalez.

For outdoor drinks and small bites

Recently added to the World’s 50 Best Discovery Bars, “Classique is first and foremost a great cocktail bar,” says Gonzalez, “but also a place to share small plates and a glass of wine or a coffee on the terrace.”

For dumplings…and cheesecake

Sanjo is a Japanese bistro with tasty, refined cuisine with my ideal menu: gyozas, TanTan shirunashi, and cheesecake.”

Travelers say: “A very special experience at the newly renovated La Tour d'Argent. The food was delicious and the staff quite exceptional. The sommelier is particularly experienced and it behooves you to follow his advice on wine pairings with the food. You will need to reserve in advance (even a month ahead of your planned visit), but the wait is well-worth it! The views from the dining room are stunning and the atmosphere Parisian-elegant. Plan to dress for the occasion, as the restaurant has a dress code that is strictly followed.”—@tolisson

Charles Znaty

Cofounder of the Pierre Hermé Paris Group and CEO of Chocolate Brand Dengo

Znaty smiling and holding up chocolate bar
Marble bar with black stools and espresso machine
Charles Znaty (L); Café des Ministères (R)
Image: Natalia Khoroshayeva (L); Management/Tripadvisor (R)

Thanks to some fortuitous connections during his early days in advertising, Casablanca-born Znaty worked with some of the greatest chefs in French gastronomy—Michel Bras and Alain Ducasse, to name two—before linking up with pastry chef Pierre Hermé to form the eponymous brand. After decades of success, he left in 2019 and a year later founded the fair trade Brazilian chocolate brand, Dengo.

For a Vietnamese welcome

Znaty has been going to Dong Huong for over 30 years, whenever he’s had a craving for phó soup, and he loves bringing newcomers. “I've experienced every era of this wonderful institution,” he says. “The waiters have seen my children born and raised. I’ve tasted the entire menu, but it’s hard for me to order anything other than the satay soup.”

For quintessential, homey French food

“Roxane and Jean Sevegnes run their restaurant from the heart, and it shows,” says Znaty of Café des Ministères in the 7th arrondissement. “The great classics of French cuisine are executed to perfection without ever leaving the slightest room for boredom. Each time, we discover—amazed!—what we thought we knew so well.”

For Jewish cooking from the heart

“Michel and his wife Françoise Montluc form a delicious couple,” says Znaty of the proprietors of Maison David in the Marais. “They are incredible connoisseurs of Ashkenazi and Sephardic cuisines, driven by a passion for taste. Their pastrami, foie gras, sausages, and ‘Jackie’s fingers’ are unrivaled products with an unrivaled reputation. I love stopping in to share a moment of gastronomy and kindness.”

Travelers say: “We picked up some buns and many meats [at Maison David]. Owner let us taste all of them before purchasing. All were excellent. He also has some wines, and recommended one. We have tried it, and it was excellent. Can be pricey but comes with excellent quality.”—@Fernieskiir

Marc Le Berre

Sommelier of Donna

Le Berre standing outside Donna while wearing brown hat and tan demin jacket
Restaurant with wooden tables, hanging sphere lights, and large mirror
Marc Le Berre outside Donna (L); La Cantine Champ Libre (R)
Image: Le Berre (L); Management/Tripadvisor (R)

Following business school, Brittany-born Le Berre worked in finance for six years before deciding the wine world was more his speed. He first bought a wine shop in the 12th arrondissement (Caves de Reuilly), followed by one in the 19th (Vignes), the 6th (Rouge ou Blanc), and now the 3rd with Donna. The 36-year-old, who calls the popular 11th arrondissement home, knows how to get his bottles around town.

For Chinese food and natural wine

Le Berre is all about nostalgia when it comes to Chinese food, which is why he gets his dumplings and natural wine from L'Empire Céleste, the oldest Chinese restaurant in Paris. “Go on Sundays, when you can try their homemade ravioli,” he says.

For a farm-to-table lunch

Champ Libre has unbeatable prices for a healthy, well-sourced menu,” says Le Berre. “They’ve just bought a farm that will supply the restaurant.”

For a sweet treat

“On my way to work, I stop off at Folderol to taste their new ice cream flavors,” says Le Berre. “Although the place is packed, the staff are always welcoming and super-friendly.”

More places to eat in Paris

Sara Lieberman
Sara Lieberman is a travel and lifestyle journalist with over 20 years of experience in print and digital media. Based in Paris since 2014, she writes for the likes of AFAR, Condé Nast Traveler, T Magazine, Travel & Leisure, Hemispheres, and more. When she’s not writing, traveling, or practicing yoga in between the two, she’s eating, thinking about eating or helping others eat via her street food pop-up, Cup o’ Cockles. Follow her on Instagram.