Best for Romance
Lasserre, with its over-the-top opulence and retractable ceiling, is an obvious setting for romance. A more affordable romantic option is La Crèmerie, an old milk shop-turned-wine bar on the left bank, with beautiful tiles and an intimate atmosphere.
Best for Families
For kids who are tired of tasting new things, Breakfast in America is a haven of recognizable favorites like hamburgers, milkshakes, and all-day breakfast. Set inside the city's biggest park, Rosa Bonheur allows parents to sample various tapas on a large, outdoor terrace while their kids play in the park.
Passage 53, inside the city's oldest covered passageway, is bursting with postcard charm -- it also has delicious, yet modern, cuisine, and it just received its second Michelin star. Among the three-star Michelin splurges, we're most taken with L'Arpège.
Located just a few blocks from each other in the Marais, the Breizh Café and the Café des Musees, are the places to go when you want to fill up on authentic French comfort food for under 20€ a head.
Of all the lavish three-star restaurants in Paris, Guy Savoy is widely thought to have the most warm and gracious service. On the other side of town, and the other end of the gastronomic spectrum, the restaurant Fish is always a warm and friendly place to go, and the largely expatriate waitstaff are a great help for those who don't speak French.
Best Classic Bistro
In a city with so many excellent bistros, it's difficult to choose a favorite, but we'll narrow it down to Le Regalade, Le Bistrot Paul Bert, and Chez L'Ami Jean. Book in advance for any of these three.
Best for Sunday Dinner
Many restaurants in Paris are closed on Sundays, but L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon is open every day of the year, and Goumard, also open on Sundays, is a fun place to indulge in some fresh oysters.
Best Steak Frites
Run by a former butcher, Le Severo serves some of the city's best steak frites, along with côtes de boeuf, and other massive cuts of beef. Le Relais de L'Entrecôte is a fun dining option that serves multiple refills of steak and fries.
Best for Young, Inventive Chefs
The top restaurants for innovative and modern French cuisine are Le Chateaubriand, Frenchie, and Saturne. Book a few weeks in advance if you want a taste of what's new in Paris.
Best for Wine Enthusiasts
If what's in your glass is just as important as what's on the plate, we recommend a visit to Le Verre Volé, Les Papilles, Vivant, Le Chapeau Melon, or Le Baratin -- all of these places take wine seriously.
The Most Unforgettable Food and Drink Experiences
Eating illicit cheese
Many varieties of French fromage (cheese) are actually illegal in the United States because they're made with raw, unpasteurized milk -- this adds depth of flavor to the cheese. While in France, sample the oozy Brie de Meaux (or Brie de Melun, if it's available), the pungent washed rind cheese Epoisses, or a very young and tangy snow-white chèvre. Our favorite cheese shop is Androuet (37 rue de Verneuil; tel. 01-42-61-97-55; www.androuet.com) in the 7th arrondissement, though there are other locations around the city.
Pairing that cheese with a warm baguette
Just across the street from the Androuet cheese shop in the 7e is the Eric Kayser bakery. Run by an acclaimed Alsatian who has patented several bread-making techniques, this bakery sells at least four different types of baguette, all chewy and delicious.
Filling a box of chocolates
It's impossible to walk into a chocolatarie and not be tempted to take home a box. Choose the size of the box, and then begin the fun task of pointing out whatever pralinés and ganaches you'd like to try. Our favorite chocolatiers are Jacques Genin (133 rue du Turenne, 3e; tel. 01-45-77-29-01) and Patrick Roger (108 boulevard Saint-Germain, 6e; tel. 01-43-29-38-42; www.patrickroger.com).
Going au naturel
Natural wines, which are made from organic grapes and use few preservatives or stabilizing agents, are all the rage in Paris right now. The best place to learn about these (by drinking, of course) is Vivant, a restaurant in the 10th arrondissement that's run by a leader in the vins naturels movement named Pierre Jancou.
Tasting menus that offer no choices are becoming increasingly popular in Paris's restaurants. If you're ready to put yourself in the hands of a talented chef, try Le Chateaubriand, La Bigarrade, or Spring.
Having a picnic
When the weather is nice, the banks of the Seine River and the Canal St-Martin and the city's many parks become lined with Parisians enjoying a picnic in the open air. Bring a baguette, some cheese, and a bottle of wine, and join the locals for some of the cheapest fun to be had in Paris.
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