The 5 best things I ate in Paris: Extended Edition

I found myself facing the most fabulous dilemma this summer: my job in Paris finished at the end of June, but my job in Italy didn’t start until September. (Really put the fun in funemployment, if you can imagine.) So how was I to ever pass all that time?

By eating. A lot.


In fact, I did little else but eat and drink for two months (and travel — sleep was a distant fourth). I discovered new favorites in Paris, revisited old ones; rediscovered old places that became new favorites.

So — adding in the fact that I now live in Italy and this will likely be one of the last of the (regular) “5 best things I ate: Paris” postings — I happily present the 5BTIA: Extended Leaving Paris Edition.

1. Cheese, ham, cheese, beer, cheese — 38 Saint Louis

38 Saint Louis, Paris by Expat Edna

I’ve always been a sucker for a good picnic, but this summer my habit kicked into overdrive (especially after I moved to Île Saint-Louis, which meant the Seine was less than 150 meters — literally a two-minute walk — from my door).

When I felt blue? Impromptu picnic at Parc de la Villete.
When I felt summery? Brought Belgian whites to Parc Buttes Chaumont.
When I wanted to bask in sunshine and funemployment? Picnic along the river.
When I felt like sitting on the couch drinking beer and listening to Daft Punk? Picnic on the coffee table.

So of course I frequented several shops in the area for picnic supplies, but my favorite of the lot happened to be just around the corner at 38 Saint Louis. We popped in once for chèvreand ended up walking out with two cheeses, freshly sliced ham, bread, and chilled bottles of Goudale, a tasty blonde from northern France.

More than ‘just another fromagerie’, 38 Saint Louis quickly became my one-stop picnic shop.  The young entrepreneurs who run this place are passionate about their cheese and only serve product that is ripe and at peak perfection; there’s a strong emphasis on quality here, and it shows. Definitely worth a visit, even outside picnic season.

2. Cocktails — Red House

Cocktails by Expat Edna

These are cocktails very similar to the ones you’ll find at Red House, though this is is not Red House, because I have the common sense not to ever bring out my DSLR on a night that involves Red House.

I still remember the first time I walked into Red House. It reminded me of my favorite dive bar in China, but with Tex-American flair, like the longhorn skull hanging above the bar and a slogan proclaiming themselves Home of the ne-goddamn-groni. It’s the rare Paris establishment where you can enjoy a classy cocktail while wearing chucks and ripped jeans and still feel totally at home.

It’s not obvious from first glance, but this place is quite popular amongst the Paris cocktail crowd for their impressive menu, run by competent bartenders who use fresh ingredients and actually know their stuff (a welcome change from bars with bored staff you hardly trust to open a bottle of Heineken, never mind mix a decent old-fashioned).

I find the more I love a place, the harder it is to describe it. So let me just put it this way: I pretty much lived here for two months. Joe, the owner, and his staff are some crazy cats — sort of like the laid-back, edgy guys in college I always wanted to befriend, but didn’t think I was cool enough to hang out with — and I loved heading here for brunch, happy hour, going-away parties, welcome-back parties, pre-dinner drinks, post-dinner drinks, nightcaps, and “it’s nearly 2 am let’s go close down the bar” drinks.

The cocktail board is always changing slightly, but a popular and solid staple is the Wild West Side (tequila, lime, cucumber and pepper).

3. Brunch — Emperor Norton

Emperor Norton Cronuts at Red House, Paris by Expat Edna

You may have seen Emperor Norton around Paris — run by Californian power duo Omid and Alannah, they’re the ones behind your banana bread at Loustic, hot dog buns at Glass, bourbon pecan sticky buns at Telescope, you get the idea. They’re all over the city and highly creative (their first brunch I attended featured kale-cannon, a play on the Irish colcannon), something most evident at their monthly brunches.

One of my favorite Emperor Norton creations is pictured above, from a Fourth of July brunch where I was joined by Ashley at Red House for bloody marys and these bastardized cronuts with a whisky cream filling. Because nothing rectifies the monster that is the cronut like a creamy boozy center.

While the brunches used to be held at Red House (because I didn’t spend enough time there already), I believe they’ve changed venues — best to follow them on Facebook or Twitter for updates on upcoming brunch, not to mention pretty pictures of the food they’re sending out into the Paris wilderness.

4. Hand-pulled noodles, cold dishes — Pâtes Vivantes

Pates Vivantes, Paris by Expat Edna

It pains me to think of all the times I walked past this place once I moved to Île St-Louis, all the times I’d searched Paris for decent and cheap Asian food, not knowing the answer sat literally five minutes across the river.

The handpulled noodles, both hot and cold, are pretty standard and run around ten euro — but their tofu with century egg and cucumber with jellyfish almost made me cry. One taste and I felt like I was back in Shanghai again; except you know, without the melamine and fake cooking oil.

Oh, plus ridiculously cheap carafes of decent house wine. Sold.

(Huge thanks to Niki and Jeff for taking me here.)

5. All the coffee — La Caféothèque

Cafeotheque, Paris by Expat Edna

Like Pâtes Vivantes, this one’s another ‘rediscovery’ for which I’m now kicking myself. I’d been to Caféothèque once before but for some reason it didn’t strike me as extraordinary — even though yes, I did appreciate that they roast and grind their own beans, and the resulting heavenly smell that wafts through its doors; and yes the décor is pretty sweet, with their four or five sitting rooms decorated so that each has a completely different feel to it.

But then I moved to the island, and decided to give it another try — and by give it another try, I really mean, “have coffee dates with friends there because it was the closest option and I’m lazy.”

And that’s when I discovered: this place is a godsend for Paris coffee. My mistake the first time around had been to order a latte — forget anything with milk in it, the beans here are so good that the best drinks are black (and especially iced).

I became so enamored with their menu of selections from around the world — especially the roasts from Guatemala — added to the cozy atmosphere perfect for chatting, that this became my go-to whenever someone asked to catch up…and even then I still hoped more friends would call me up so I could pay Caféothèque another visit.

6. Burger — Le Signal

Le Signal, Paris by Expat Edna

Um, how has no one thought of this before? It’s a hashbrown. On top of a burger. (A hashburg? Brownger?)

One day my friends Niki and Jeff had a brilliant idea to host a sushi brunch: you gather rice and seaweed plus breakfast foods (scrambled eggs, bacon, avocado, salmon, etc), invite your friends to roll their own sushi creations, then cut them up and serve with wine and mojitos. Next thing you know it’s nighttime and the sushi’s gone and you’re finishing off the whiskey and cognac and suddenly hungry again.

That’s when a burger at Le Signal was suggested, and it was the perfect meal for a casual evening out with good friends: flavorful, not too heavy, hitting all the right spots of burger satisfaction with the warm goodness of fried potatoes on top. Perfect with either wine or beer and a glorious find, even when you haven’t spent nine hours eating homemade sushi.

7. Ice Cream  Glaces Glazed

Glaces Glazed, Paris by Expat Edna

In the gelato world where you’ve got classic standbys like Pozzetto, Berthillon, Amorino, and Grom, Glaces Glazed are the French rock stars shaking things up, serving scoops out of their ice cream truck in inventive flavors like “Black Sugar Sex Magic” (chocolate, wasabi, ginger), “Pump Up the Volume” (mango and espelette pepper), and “Cococaine” (coconut sorbet and hyuganatsu).

I can’t be bothered to chase down food trucks but luckily they came to an event at La Cuisine Paris, where I indulged in the above: Black Sugar Sex Magic and Billie Jean – brousse and graines de pavot, otherwise known as the crazy yet surprisingly good combination of goat cheese and poppy seeds.

8. Reuben  Frenchie To Go

Reuben, Frenchie To Go, Paris by Expat Edna

Here’s my rundown: Frenchie restaurant? Don’t feel like reserving months in advance. Frenchie Bar à Vins? Gets a bit pricey, not to mention crowded (and slightly pretentious, if we’re being honest [victim of its own success, possibly?]).

I debated even putting this on the list, because I’m getting tired of reading about rue du Nil all the time, but I have to admit Frenchie To Go is a good solution: quality you’d expect from a Greg Marchand production, but cheaper (€12 for the above reuben) and with a much quicker turnaround time – making it easy to meet someone for breakfast or lunch, or grab takeaway and avoid the Frenchie crowds altogether.

Plus, they carry craft beers, and homemade ginger beer and pickles, which are really all I need for a good ol’ Anglo lunch.

FYI, don’t be deceived by the reuben — I thought it looked a bit small when it arrived, but I was struggling to finish it by the end. (More on FTG by Sugared & Spiced here.)

Don’t worry, this isn’t the end of 5BTIA: Paris — I’m headed back next weekend armed with a long list of places I’ve been wanting to try!

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  1. A great list Edna – adding it to my neverending “to try in Paris” list :)

    • Thanks Mardi! Oh I have such a tortured relationshp with my ‘to try in Paris’ list, it’ll never end…better to have too many options than not enough though, right?

  2. You’ve come along way. I remember you were battling trying to “just like” and “appreciate” Paris and now you can’t get enough! Sounds like Paris is a never-ending paradise for eating, drinking and socializing!
    Enjoy your trip back!

  3. Oh. Dear. God. We left Paris, why?

  4. Hey! Love the reco for the pulled noodles. I was just thinking the other day how I really wanted cold pulled noodles – and here we go. I probably would have just sent you an email anyways since you have all the best recos! Hope Dubai is fun!

  5. Yayyy you’re back! And that coffee looks incredible… *tootles off to go and make a much inferior version using instant coffee granules, sigh*. Miss you! x

    • Thanks Louise — miss you too! We should have a Paris reunion sometime x

      • Ouiiii, j’suis d’accord! We’ve recently booked to go the first week in May (6-11th) if you can schedule that in. I’m also still researching coming to Italy!

        • Oh goodie! Not sure about May yet (I know I’ll be in Azerbaijan until May 2) but keep me updated!

  6. I’m officially drooling. That rueben, those noodles, the picnics, the cocktails… I officially need to move my life to Paris. Pure foodie heaven!

  7. I feel a bit like I’m dying when I read your food posts. My God, so much deliciousness. <3 I do plan to move myself to Paris in the future when I need to be closer to my family (as they get old) and god help my waistline. ;-)

  8. That ice cream looks sooo good! I always forget not to read your food posts when I’m hungry…

  9. I´m going to get a “Paris piggy-bank” now, and put coins in it solely for another flight to Paris to eat at all these places.

    *cue stomach growl*

    • That’s probably a good idea — and keep a piggy bank for all the food you’re going to eat too!

  10. After visiting Paris last December, I left a bit saddened that I didn’t fall in love with it immediately – Thank-you for giving me a very long list of wonderful reasons to give the city another try! Gelato with a name like Black Sugar Sex Magic, how can you not? At the very least just to brag about it.

  11. All of that looks seriously amazing… I am secretly glad you are moving away from Paris as the wanderlust for that city multiplies by 1000000 every time I visit your blog!

  12. These all look great! I especially love the sound of that cocktail bar…I agree that a good set of bartenders is a rare and wonderful thing.

  13. Emperor Norton are at Rice & Fish every Sunday now! They have a killer breakfast burrito.

    Thank you for pointing out the burger from Le Signal, it looks awesome! One note though, hashbrown-topped burgers are a thing in many chain restaurants – Au Bureau has like three different versions – but this one definitely looks like the most well-executed version.

    And Glaces Glazed… I thought Ben & Jerry’s was expensive… but how the hell do those guys get away with charging 30 F-ING EUROS for TWO PINTS? I mean, really, that price is just insulting.

    • Thanks for the heads-up Phil! And I know, those prices…two scoops were enough for me, thanks.

  14. That Reuben looks delicious! I would love to try that. =D

  15. This all looks so good! I should really put one of these together for my last months in Shanghai but am afraid it will make me miss it too much!

    • I know what you mean, it’s tough. The only reason I can keep this going is because I have more trips planned back, I don’t think I could write it up otherwise.

  16. The foods are very attractive. I wish I can grab real one right now. I’m a food lover and I agree that Paris is one of the places where foods are really awesome. I wish you luck in your next job. Keep writing about your experiences!

  17. Catching up on my Feedly, and just to say: everything looks divine. That Reuben! Mmmm. Also, cheese, always cheese.

  18. That Reuben looks UNBELIEVABLE!!! And now I’m hungry and I feel a strong desire to fly immediately to Paris!! <3

  19. Yum! Now you’re making me miss Paris haha. And making me hungry. :)

  20. I’m craving Paris really bad now, although preferably with a better financial situation as I had previously!

  21. What a great culinary journey in Paris. Wow, all of these dishes look very delicious, but I would stick to noodles as I love craving them. I’m not the biggest fan of meat, so burgers would not meet up to my expectations but ice-cream mmmmm that would be nice to have some for a dessert.

  22. I know it’s winter and all, but I may have to return to Paris if only to scoff on the Black Sugar Sex Magic ice cream. I LOVE anything with wasabi. I had wasabi ice cream at a place called Sundaes and Cones in NYC and it was orgasmic. The Wild West Side cocktail sounds amazing, too. And cheese. CHEESE.

  23. don’t mind me, just catching up about a month later. NEED MORE CRUNKNUTS. now.

  24. I always click on these posts and then I always have to click away before finishing because seeing the food makes me crazy since I’m in Thailand…

    • I do the same on posts about Asian food. Let’s call it even. (what I’d do for pad thai…)

  25. OMG this post just made me so hungry!! Love it.

  26. Oh my, that cheese + ham + cheese + beer + cheese? YUM. Love it.

  27. Edna, Saw your older post about Segway Tours in Paris. We have several couples going in two weeks, and we were all set to do a tour…however, we now find out they operate RAIN or Shine. Concerns us a bit since we heard Segways are not great in rain. We are ages 62-74. Thinking about rain and tourists does not seem
    like a good mix. I just did a tour in Sonoma, Calif, and it was fabulous, then did one in Scottsdale, AZ that was a disaster….3 out of 4 people fell. Don’t want to be laying in the streets of Paris, plus your comment about the LONG tour makes sense. We stopped in Sonoma and got off the machine, we were gone for almost 4 hours, but broke up the tour. I would like your feedback about Segways in the rain, since once we book the tour, we go, no refunds!

  28. says:

    Ohhhh! The white cheese


  1. […] were subpar (but hey, not everywhere can be Red House). […]

  2. […] by our favorite bartenders (Joe and Jen of Red House) as one of the best brunches in Paris […]