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Posts Tagged ‘Inspiration’

As you can tell from the title, I went to Charleston a few weeks ago for a girl’s weekend getaway.  I had heard much about Charleston’s culinary scene and being that my companions were also fellow foodie lovers, it’s no surprise that our weekend getaway was largely centered on food!  Of course we still managed to squeeze a few activities in between meals and check out what Charleston has to offer.  Here’s our take on a 3 day getaway to the South!

Day 1:

I can’t think of a better way to start our trip than with a decadent Southern brunch!  Poogan’s Porch definitely lived up to it’s reputation as a great brunch spot.  We arrived there slightly before opening time at 11:30am on a Thursday and by the time we got seated, the restaurant already had a wait!

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While we ate at a bunch of great restaurants, this place was hands down everyone’s favorite of the trip.  To start, you get a basket of warm, sweet biscuits that were moist and delicious.  We shared the duck confit grilled cheese (duck confit, crispy bacon, pimento cheese, I mean, how can you go wrong??!!), the buttermilk fried chicken, and the shrimp and grits (one of many that we would be trying throughout the trip!).  All three dishes were great, but the clear winner was the duck!

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Some exploring and walking was in order after all that rich food.  Downtown Charleston is really charming and full of historical buildings.  King Street between John and Broad Street, is really the heart of the downtown Charleston shopping district.  There’s a number of boutiques, eateries, high end stores, and big chain retailers housed in historical structures.  Walk east on Market Street to check out the City Market, an indoor/outdoor market space full of vendors selling local products that make for great souvenirs like sweetgrass baskets and low country culinary mixes (shrimp n’ grits, gumbo, hush puppies, she crab soup, etc.).  You’ll also pass by a number of fudge and praline shops so be sure to stop by for free samples!  We also stumbled upon a few old fashioned stores selling candy that will make you nostalgic over your childhood (Mallo Cups! Bit O Honey! Razzles!).

charleston7So what is there to do after brunch and snacking? Why, dinner of course!  Since we were in the South, we wanted to try fresh seafood. We debated between Pearlz Oyster Bar and Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar, and ended up with Amen since it had a wider selection of dishes.  Both are located on East Bay Street, which boasts tons of restaurants and is a great area to visit if you’re looking for dining options.  As you can see below, we certainly ordered a number of dishes but to be fair, all but one of them are starter dishes so we created our very own seafood tapas meal.  We had the hush puppies served with wildflower honey, fried green tomatoes, hot shrimp & crab sandwich, she crab soup, Amen Street’s famous shrimp corndogs, fried oysters, and a mix of raw oysters (not pictured).  Again, each dish was delicious and you can’t go wrong with any of them.  I particularly enjoyed the hot shrimp & crab sandwich, it was flavorful and the baguette was so soft, I wanted to buy a roll to take home!  The shrimp corndog was also memorable and the fried oysters were cooked just right, crispy batter on the outside while the oyster texture stayed smooth and soft.

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Day 2:

No visit to the South would be complete without visiting a plantation.  Middleton Plantation is one of the more popular plantations known for it’s extensive grounds and beautiful gardens.  It’s located about 20 minutes outside of downtown Charleston and requires a car to get there.  There may be tours that go there but our hotel was not aware of any.  The cost of a rental car for 1 day was about $30 so it’s not a huge cost if you go that route and you do have it for 24 hours.

The grounds were certainly beautiful with magnificent Oak trees and Camellia’s in bloom.  But the real highlight of the visit was seeing all the animals.  There were sheep and their lambs grazing openly in the fields, huge Belgian draft horses, cashmere goats (!), water buffaloes, hogs, and tons of roosters running around.  What’s also great about the plantation is that they have a number of free tours that were interesting and informative.  We spent about a half day there (4 hours), which included 3 tours and some touring of our own.  There’s a really nice restaurant on site that looks over the grounds, but we opted for a quickie lunch since we had other plans for food later on!  If you have an early start there, you may also want to visit Drayton Hall nearby.  It’s another historic plantation that is highly regarded, especially for it’s main building, which survived the Civil War.

charleston9So what was our foodie plans? Why Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits!  I had heard much about this famous fried chicken chain so I was stoked to find one on the way to Middleton Plantation.  I have to say, it did live up to it’s reputation! I like it more than the other chicken chains, like KFC and Popeyes, the sides were delicious (dirty rice! mac ‘n cheese!), and the sweet potato pie was a great ending to the meal!

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Being that we had a heavy, albeit delicious, late lunch, we capped the night off with desserts back in downtown Charleston at Kaminsky’s Most Excellent Cafe.  What can I say, we’re wild girls!  The desserts there were definitely most excellent! We had the tollhouse cookie pie, key lime cheesecake, italian cream cake, and their flavored steamed milks.  They were all really decadent and delicious but the tollhouse cookie pie was the clear winner!  I highly recommend going there for an after dinner night cap since they’re opened pretty late.

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Day 3:

We started our last full day in Charleston with a visit to the famous Hominy Grill for brunch.  We had heard that the wait could be pretty long on the weekends, but we ended up going around 10:30am on a Saturday and had no wait, which was a very pleasant surprise.  Although by the time we left around 11:30am, there was a sizable wait list.  The restaurant itself is very homey and the staff is friendly.  We ordered the home made pop tarts, the big nasty biscuit (fried chicken biscuit sandwich), shrimp ‘n grits, and one of their beef specials (the dish name escapes me).  We finished off with a slice of their buttermilk pie.  I thought the home made pop tart was excellent and while I’m certainly no expert in shrimp ‘n grits, it was definitely the best I ever had.  The other dishes were good as well, although the group consensus was that Poogan’s Porch offered a better brunch.

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After brunch, we headed over to Market Street for our Carriage Tour.  On our way there, we stumbled upon a hip coffee shop, Kudu Coffee House and ordered a couple of iced coffees.  If you love coffee, I highly recommend stopping by here.  It’s just off King Street, has great coffee and a cute outdoor seating area.

Apparently one of the highly rated activities in Charleston is a carriage tour, and it did not disappoint!  We went with Palmetto Carriage Works, but there’s a number of carriage companies there which I imagine to be quite similar.  The tour is 1 hour long and takes you through Charleston’s historic district and by the waterfront.  Our guide was extremely informative and provided lots of historical tidbits.  I highly recommend the tour as a good way to orient yourself to the history of Charleston.  We went back and did our own leisurely self guided tour after the carriage tour and I’d say we definitely viewed the antebellum homes with a lot more appreciation after learning about the architecture and history from our guide.

Cute kids at Palmetto Carriage Works:

charleston13Beautiful mansions:  Fun fact, the mansion below is the Calhoun Mansion, which was in the Notebook.

charleston14Again for dinner we opted for seafood.  When in Rome right?  This time we chose Coast Bar & Grill, which is known for some of the freshest seafood in Charleston.  We had the BBQ local oysters, lobster and crab gratin, plantain encrusted mahi mahi, and the duo seafood platter of oysters and scallops.  Looking back, we certainly ate our fair share of fried food for such a short weekend!  My favorite dish of the evening was the lobster and crab gratin, hands down.  The oysters were very good as well.  I must say, Charleston certainly does oysters very well, whether raw, BBQ’d, or fried, the oysters were consistently good.

charleston15Day 4:

So this is where we say goodbye to Charleston, but not without one last meal!  Even with a morning flight, we made sure to stop by Wildflour Pastry at 8:30am for their cinnamon rolls.  If you read their reviews, most people rave about Sticky Bun Sundays, but the cinnamon buns are the same, only with a hefty serving of frosting on top so feel free to get those if they run out of sticky buns.  We got there at 8:30am and they were already out of sticky buns!  Being that we had a flight to catch, we couldn’t wait for the next batch, so we got the cinnamon buns instead and they were delicious! Happy faces all around!  They have many other pastries that looked yummy as well.  Word of warning though, the buns seriously are the size of your head so plan to share or you’ll end up eating it throughout the day.

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So that concludes our short weekend getaway to Charleston!  I’ll leave you guys with some general information and tips:

  • Stay in the heart of downtown Charleston.  We stayed at the Hampton Inn which was not only convenient but also nice and included a satisfying breakfast.
  • Rent a car.  While downtown Charleston was charming, I felt it didn’t warrant more than a full day of exploring.  Rent a car and go visit a plantation.  If we had another day there, I probably would’ve tried to visit Savannah, GA while we were down there since it’s only a 2 hour drive from Charleston.  If you’re there in the summer, the beach would probably be a good option too.
  • Make sure you make room for all the food!  Charleston certainly lives up to its reputation as a great culinary city.  And a pleasant surprise was that no matter how popular the restaurant, we never had to wait more than 20 minutes, which is so different from NYC and SF!
  • If you’re planning on visiting Charleston, look up their calendar of events before you book anything.  We missed the Food & Wine festival there by about 2 weeks and the Festival of Houses and Gardens by 1 week.  Both seemed like they would’ve been really fun and interesting and had we known those festivals were happening, we might’ve booked our trip to coincide with one of those events.

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Guess where I was last weekend?

It involved southern comfort food…

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beautiful antebellum mansions…

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lush plantations…

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and awesome friends!

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I’ll be back with a full recap of my fun girl’s weekend!

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It’s been 3.5 years since we moved from the East Coast to sunny California!  In that short time, we’ve been so fortunate to have visited so many of California’s great attractions and cities.  Seriously, California truly has it all.  Where else can you go soak up the rays on a beach, ski down powdery slopes, hike to through a breathtaking national park, and eat amazing food, all within a few hours of each other?  I highly recommend a roadtrip through this great state!  Here are the breathtaking sights and cities that we’ve visited.

San Diego/Coronado/La Jolla – Highlights include over 300 days of warm sunshine a year, pandas at the San Diego Zoo, and a laid back Cali vibe:

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Los Angeles – Where to begin? Santa Monica beach and boardwalk, Hollywood hike, Venice Canals, and food trucks!  Stay tuned for future posts on La La land!

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Joshua Tree National Park – Love those Joshua Trees!

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Santa Barbara/Solvang/Santa Ynez Valley – Great wineries, quaint Danish town, and gorgeous Spanish style architecture:

cali 4 San Francisco – I love this city! SF is a charming city with amazing views throughout and an overabundance of great food!

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Napa Valley – Delicious wine and food, and gorgeous scenery to boot…. what else do you need?

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Tahoe – Powdery slopes in the winter, beautiful lake and hikes in the summer:

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Yosemite National Park – One of country’s most beautiful national parks, Yosemite has breathtaking scenery and if you visit from May through September, gushing waterfalls!

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Mendocino – Rugged coastlines and a slower pace of life, this is the perfect area for rest and relaxation!

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And 2 places I haven’t visited  yet, but will eventually!

Death Valley National Park:

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Redwood National Park:

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A few weeks ago, the hubs went on an epic snowboarding trip to Colorado.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to accompany him but that didn’t stop me from daydreaming about other wintry escapes.  Most people think of beach escapes when it’s the middle of winter, but I personally think it’s uber romantic to take a winter wonderland getaway.  I immediately think of cozy fireplaces, untouched freshly fallen snow, hot cocoa, and lots of cuddling!  Here are some places I wouldn’t mind visiting or re-visiting 🙂

Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada:

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Jackson Hole, Wyoming:

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Prague, Czech Republic:

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Zermatt, Switzerland:

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Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria, Germany:

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Bruges, Belgium (stay tuned for my post on Bruges!):

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Hammerfest, Norway:

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Quebec City, Canada – this city truly is a winter wonderland!

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Movie Inspired Destinations

The Oscars is upon us!  In light of tonight’s event, here’s a list travel destinations inspired by oscar nominated movies.

Wyoming, USA – Inspired by Brokeback Mountain, Wyoming seems like a beautiful state of untouched wilderness and sweeping mountain vistas.

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Paris, France – Inspired by Midnight in Paris.  There’s no denying my love for Paris, but this movie made me want to seek out the old Paris of the roaring twenties.

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Kyoto, Japan – Inspired by Memoirs of a Geisha.  The beautiful cinematography of this movie increased my desire to visit Japan, especially Kyoto, with it’s abundance of temples and shrines and women still dressed in traditional kimonos.

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Barcelona, Spain – Inspired by Vicky Christina Barcelona, I had already been to Barcelona by the time I watched this movie, but this movie definitely made me nostalgic for the amazing food and architecture of this vibrant city.

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Santa Ynez Valley, California, USA – Inspired by Sideways, who doesn’t want to visit this beautiful region with rolling hills, great wine, and food?!

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Hawaii, USA – Inspired by The Descendants, need I say more? I’m always up for visiting Hawaii again, but imagine actually living there?  The great weather, beautiful beaches, and the laid back attitudes.

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Utah, USA – Inspired by 127. Okay, so this movie freaked me out a bit, but being that I don’t climb, I’ll never hike by myself, and there’s cell phones now, I feel pretty secure in knowing that this won’t happen to me.  This movie did make want to visit Utah’s national parks though, which I’ve heard are amazing.

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New Zealand – Inspired by Lord of the Rings.  Granted that many of the scenes are CGI, all of the filming was done in New Zealand and many of the sets are still there today.  Check out the cute set of Hobbiton below!  In addition to the cool sets you’ll get to see, New Zealand’s landscape is simply just stunning.  Sign me up for a Lord of the Rings tour!

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Angel Falls, Venezuela – Inspired by Up.  Okay, so I just love this movie, but besides that, who wouldn’t want to visit this spectacular waterfall.  The tallest waterfall in the world and located in a remote area of Venezuela, it’s definitely a once in a lifetime type of trip.

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I wonder how many of these locations have seen an increase in tourism after the debut of these movies?  What are some movie inspired destinations you’ve been wanting to visit?

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So I’ll conclude my french escape recaps with one last post on accommodations and general tips.  First up is accommodations.  The first 2 times I visited Paris, I stayed in hotels in the Montparnasse (14th arrondissement) and Montmartre (18th arrondissement) districts.  Both are located a bit further from the centre of Paris but offer good deals.

Montparnasse was famous in the early part of the 20th century as the heart of intellectual life.  As such there’s many historic cafes and bars located there, famous for serving the likes of Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald (sounds like “A Midnight in Paris”).  That said, the area is less touristy than the other arrondissements, with some good neighborhood restaurants, however I found myself taking the metro quite a bit since it is far from most famous attractions.

Montmartre is the bohemian enclave of Paris, made even more famous by the movies “Amelie” and “Moulin Rouge”.  It’s where the Sacre-Coeur Basilica is located and is very quaint and picturesque.  Similar to Montparnasse it is located far from most attractions.  It’s a bit more touristy, especially the area around the Sacre-Coeur and is hilly, so can make coming home a bit of a  chore after a long day. I didn’t spend much time eating in this area,  however if you are here, one fun place I would recommend is Le Refuge des Fondues.  For a set price, you get unlimited fondue with meat and bread and red wine served in a baby bottle.  It’s definitely touristy, a little grungy, but way fun!

This recent trip, the hubs and I opted to rent an apartment in the Marais (4th arrondissement) district.  First off, I looved this neighborhood.  It’s walking distance to the Seine and therefore close to most sights, making it a very convenient home base.  This lively and charming district is also full of great restaurants, shopping, and parks.  Secondly, I would highly recommend renting an apartment.  Oftentimes it’s cheaper than a hotel, you end up staying in more desirable neighborhoods, and you really get to experience what it’s like to be a Parisian.  I’ve rented apartments in Madrid, Barcelona, Buenas Aires, Vancouver and now Paris, and I’ve had great experiences in each city.  Check out some these Parisian apartments!

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And for those who want a little more luxury or need a bigger apartment.  Check out this 2 bedroom.  Imagine having breakfast or midday wine and cheese on that rooftop terrace?!

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In terms of where to stay, my picks would be either Le Marais (4th arr.), the Latin Quarter (5th arr.), or St. Germain des Pres (6th arr.) because they are all centrally located, great walking neighborhoods, and full of restaurants and shops.  The Eiffel Tower (7th arr.) area is also really nice however a bit of a trek from the city centre so you’ll have to hop on the Metro quite a bit.

Finally, here are my general tips on making your vacation as fun and memorable as possible:

  • Research what sights you have to see, no more than 1-2 per day so you leave plenty of time for enjoying meals and wandering around.  Make note of the opening hours (many museums are closed on Mondays or Tuesdays) so you won’t be disappointed.
  • Research restaurants.  Paris has an abundance of really great restaurants and also really mediocre overpriced restaurants aimed at tourists.  Doing a little bit of research ahead of time can really make your experience that much more enjoyable if you’re not wandering around trying to find a decent place to eat.  Also make note of opening hours, I found many of the restaurants I wanted to go to were closed on the weekends.
  • Make reservations! Most restaurants are small and may not be able to accommodate you without a reservation.  You only need to call 1-2 weeks in advance, but at least it’ll guarantee you a table.
  • Try to group your activities and meals in the same arrondissements so you’re  not criss crossing all over the city.
  • Make time for a picnic.  Buy some wine, fresh bread, cheese and salami, head to a pretty park for a picnic and enjoy the people watching.
  • When booking train tickets, buy as early as possible for the cheapest rates.
  • Learn a few french phrases.  The french are much nicer when you start off with a “Bonjour, parlez-vous francais?” than if you just start talking to them in English.   Think of how you would feel if a tourist came to your country and just started talking to you in their language?

So this is the end of my recaps! I hope this was helpful to many of you in planning your own trips and help inspire others to visit Paris. I know I can’t wait to go back there again!

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Hello looover…. oh, excuse me while I wipe the drool off my keyboard.  So, did I get your attention? That my friend is my favorite new discovery in Paris…the Paris-Brest.  Created to commemorate the Paris-Brest-Paris bike race (the circular shape is representative of a wheel), the Paris-Brest is made of choux pastry, filled with praline cream, and topped with toasted hazelnuts.  This popular dessert is found in many patisseries all over Paris but the best one I’ve had is by Jacques Genin.  I have never been to his patisserie, located in the Maris district, but I have had the pleasure of trying his creations at La Cuisine de Bar.

So this post may very well be my favorite to write and which I hold near and dear to my heart.  Needless to say, the hubs and I love food.  Knowing that we were visiting one of the best food cities in the world, I wanted to make sure we took advantage of our time there and tried as much delicious food as possible.  I have done a lot of research on the restaurants in this post and we loved every single place.  The following are notes of all the restaurants we visited, a list of our favorites, and a list of places we wanted to try but did not have enough time/room in our stomach.  I’ll begin with the restaurants and then go into snacks.  I hope this helps anyone out there trying to plan their Parisian trip and also inspire others to take a food journey to Paris.

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A la Biche du Bois – 45 Ledru-Rollin 12th arr., close to the Opera Bastille and not far from Le Marais district, closed Saturdays and Sundays but open until 11pm Monday through Friday.  A traditional Paris bistro, it serves many Parisian classics in a lively atmosphere.  They are known for their game meats (duck, deer, etc.), but are especially known for their Coq au Vin (some say the best in Paris) and Foie Gras with Fleur de Sel.  We had both famed dishes, as well as a simple steak for the hubs and felt the food was delicious, hearty (good portions) and a great value.

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Le Comptoir du Relais – 9 Carrefour de l’Odeon 6th arr., open daily from noon.  This famous bistro is difficult to score a dinner reservation unless you stay in the hotel it’s located, Hotel le Relais St. Germain, or book way in advance.  My suggestion is to go for lunch, arriving 15-20 minutes before noon and you will likely score a table in the first seating, or else be prepared to wait.  I had been looking forward to this restaurant for a long time and it did not disappoint.  The menu is extensive and in French so come prepared with a translation guide and the food is reasonably price for being prepared by such a renowned chef (Yves Camdeborde).  We had the escargots, tripe (hubs’ is a fan of offal), seafood croquettes, some other dishes that I don’t quite remember but all were delicious.  We probably would’ve gone back for a 2nd visit if we had more time.

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Huiterie Regis – 3 rue Monfaucon 6th arr., open Tuesday through Sunday from noon-3pm and 6:30-11pm.  This small eatery serves a simple menu of raw oysters, shrimp, and sausage, with a side of bread.  Known as one of the best places in Paris for fresh oysters, this place did not disappoint.  Living in San Francisco, we’ve had our share of great oysters, and this place was on par with the quality found in SF.  Some may argue that SF oysters are even better but the lively atmosphere, coupled with great wine, makes this place a must try for any oyster enthusiast.  They don’t take reservations and the restaurant is small (~20 seats) so again, go early.  We went towards the end of their lunch time, right before 3pm and got seated right away.

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Chez l’Ami Jean – 27 rue Malar 7th arr. close to the Eiffel Tower, open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday.  Serving modern bistro food, this celebrated restaurant offers 3 menu options as well as a la carte, 42 Euro for 3 courses (your selection), 55 Euro for 5 courses (chef selection), and 80 Euro for 8 courses (chef selection).  We went with the 55 Euro menu, le petit voyageur, and were completely stuffed, I’d highly recommend the set menus since it was good value for the money.  We had fish soup, turbot, lamb, and 2 desserts, one of which was their famous rice pudding (above picture).  The turbot was one of the best fishes I’ve ever had, so delicate and flavorful.  The rice pudding reputation was justifiable, it was delicious and not too sweet.  The rice pudding came in a large bowl for sharing (easily could’ve fed 4 people) and even though we were stuffed, both hubs and I could not resist licking every last morsel of it.

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L’Atelier Saint-Germain de Joel Robuchon – 5 rue de Montalembert 7th arr., located in the heart of St. Germain des Pres and open daily.  Hailed as one of the world’s top 50 restaurants and boasting 2 michelin stars, hubs and I decided to make this our one special dinner in Paris.  The restaurant only accepts reservations for the first seatings, noon or 6:30pm, the rest is first come first serve.  We had the prix fix menu, 199 euro for ~10 courses.  The food was as expected, delicious and inventive.  The service was prompt and friendly enough.  While we did enjoy the food, we weren’t blown away by it, which is what we were expecting considering the high cost.  Both hubs and I felt that it was a good once in a lifetime experience, but compared to all the other amazing food we had at reasonable prices, L’Atelier just did not live up to expectation.  That said, we would definitely go back to the restaurant for their a la carte menu.

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Les Cocottes de Christian Constant – 135 rue Saint-Dominique 7th arr., close to Eiffel Tower, open daily for lunch and dinner.  Cocotte is the cookware in which many of the main dishes are cooked in, in this case staub cookware.  This restaurant doesn’t take reservations but it’s counter-seating and I’ve read that the wait is quick.  Hubs and I went for lunch on a weekday and there was no wait at all.  The menu is made up of a bunch of smaller plates, tapas style, and larger mains that are casserole style.  It’s heartier fare and decent prices.  Unfortunately we were still full from our meal the night before and didn’t try too many dishes, but what we had was good.  The restaurant is decorated tastefully and has a homey feeling.  I would equate it to comfort food and I would not hesitate to visit this restaurant again, although with an empty stomach so I can try more of the menu.

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Chez Dumonet-Josephine – 117 rue du Cherche-Midi 6th arr., closed Saturday and Sunday.  Another quintessential traditional French bistro, Chez Dumonet is known for really old school French food.  I was looking for a place that serves really good boeuf bourguignon for the hubs and this restaurant came up repeatedly.  They are also known for the duck confit, seared foie gras, and grand marnier souffle, all of which we ordered and thoroughly enjoyed.  Also good is their monkfish and mille feuille.

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La Cuisine de Bar – 8 rue Debelleyme 3rd arr. in Le Marais neighborhood, open Tuesday through Saturday.  This little gem of a place is a great lunch spot.  They serve open-faced sandwiches on bread from next door Poilane Bakery, which many consider to make the best bread in the world.  They serve a prix fix lunch for 14.50 Euro which includes a starter (really fresh and tasty carrot soup when we went), a tartine, and a drink or coffee.  The other draw to this place? They also offer an array of pastries by Jacques Genin (see above Paris-Brest picture)!

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L’As du Fallafel – 34 rue des Rossiers 4th arr., open Sunday through Thursday until midnight and Friday until 5pm.  The name says it all, this hole in the wall joint is known for it’s falafel, served with hummus and roasted eggplant.  It is by far one of the best falafel’s I’ve ever had.  It’s cheap and tasty, what more can you ask for! Rue des Rossiers is an alleyway in the Jewish quarter of Le Marais.  There’s multiple falafel joints there but this one is the most famous.  It’s so good, we went twice in one day!  Another famous joint on the same street is Chez Hanna at 54 rue des Rossiers.  It’s open Tuesday through Sunday and is also a local favorite, rivaling L’As du Fallafel.

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 Robert et Louise – 64 rue Vieille du Temple 3rd arr., open daily Tuesday through Sunday.  This locals restaurant serves quality meat and offal in a no frills environment.  I knew hubs would be keen to try this place as soon as I mentioned that they served black blood sausage and tripe sausage.  We ordered foie gras, blood sausage, steak and pork ribs.  All the food was prepared simply, letting the taste and texture of the meat shine through and it was very reasonably priced.  If you are a fan of no frills meat, as my Argentinian husband is, then you would love this place.

Onto the snacks!

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Le Berthillon – 31 rue Saint-Louise en Ille, open Wednesday through Sunday.  This is the most famous ice cream in Paris so be prepared to wait.  The ice cream flavors range from creamy classics to seasonal fruit flavors.  The texture is more reminiscent of gelato and the flavors are really quite intense.  There are many ice cream shops in the area that supply Berthillon ice cream so if you don’t feel like waiting or are not in the neighborhood, just pop into a local shop that advertises Berthillon.  You may not get the wide variety of flavors but it’ll still be yummy!

Paris macarons Image Source

Macarons –  Ahhh macarons, so delicate, so flavorful, and so hard to get just right.  Below are the most famous places for macarons:

Laduree – multiple locations.  This world famous brand really has gotten it just right, from the packaging to the beautiful store displays.  Laduree is a must visit for any macaron lover.  They have a wide variety of flavors and really, who doesn’t love the luxurious, pretty packaging??!

Pierre Herme – multiple locations.  I hadn’t heard of Pierre Herme until I researched “best macarons in Paris” and this came up repeatedly.  The storefront and packaging is the opposite of Laduree, sleek and minimalist.  They have less flavors to choose from, but their macarons, in my opinion, really are the best.  They are perfectly light and fluffy, slightly chewy, and pack intense flavor.

Lenotre and Gerard Mulot – multiple locations.  Both of these names came up when I was researching macarons.  While certainly good and still better than most macarons you can find in the States, I would not go out of my way to visit these two after having visited the holy grail of macarons (above 2).  That said, if you find yourself passing by, it’s worth a visit since their pastries are wonderful.

Patisserie Aoki Sadaharu – multiple locations.  Although not widely known, this patisserie makes macarons in asian inspired flavors like black sesame, wasabi, and matcha green tea.  The quality is quite good and this patisserie is definitely worth a visit if you’re looking to try something different.

Paris stohrerImage Source

Patisserie Stohrer – 51 rue Montorgueil 2nd arr., open daily.  Paris’ oldest pastry shop, Stohrer serves a wide variety of mouth watering desserts.  Definitely worth a visit, but be warned, you won’t be able to leave the shop without purchasing at least 5 items! Also, rue Montorgueil is a great street to walk down if you’re looking for something to eat.  It’s filled with many decent locals type restaurants.

Paris kayser Image Source

Eric Kayser/Maison Kayser – multiple locations.  Known for the best breads and great pastries, this place is great for picking up provisions for a picnic.

Paris bon marche Image Source

Le Grande Epicerie Paris – Located in Le Bon March, this is a gourmet grocery store with everything you can imagine.  There’s fresh baked breads, beautiful pastries, ready-made food, and fresh produce.  It’s really a great place to pick up snacks for a picnic.

Paris rotisserie Image Source

“The Chicken Lady” – Located at the Bastille Sunday Open Market, this specific “chicken lady” stall is famous for juicy rotisserie chicken.  The directions I got were to take the Metro line 5 to Breguet-Sebin, take the Saint Sebin exit to be at the north end of the market.  Take a right down the first row of food stalls and the “chicken lady” is the 3rd stall on the left past Vollailles du Gotinais and La Boule d’Anges des Marches bread stand.  You must get there before 1pm or else she sells out.  Hubs and I never found her, but the Bastille market is large and full of food stands so we were able to get rotisserie chicken from another stand.  It was juicy and good, although maybe not as wow as the chicken lady’s chicken might be.  We walked to nearby Place des Vosges and ate the chicken there, and then went to nearby Gerard Mulot for some pastries (Paris-Brest of course!) for dessert.

Okay, so I think I covered all the food we tried (not including a few crepe street stalls we stopped at), which we managed to pack in 5.5 days!  Now on to our absolute favorites:

My favorites: Chez l’Ami Jean, Le Comptoir du Relais, and La Cuisine de Bar.

Hubs’ favorites: All of mine, plus Chez Dumonet for the boeuf bourguignon, and Robert et Louise.

Other restaurants that looked especially good but we didn’t have a chance to try:

Le Gaigne – 12 rue Pecquay 4th arr., open Tuesday through Saturday.  Small bistro known for inventive cuisine that does not disappoint.

Breizh Cafe – 109 rue Vieille du Temple 3rd arr., open Wednesday through Sunday.  Known for Bretagne style crepes and buckwheat galettes.

Le Cinq Mars – 51 rue de Verneuil 7th arr., open Monday through Sunday.  Cozy, affordable locals restaurant that serves ratatouille, mussels and seabass.

Bistrot Paul Bert – 18 rue Paul Bert, 11th arr., open Tuesday through Saturday.  Offers a reasonable prix fixe (34 Euro) and is a quintessential bistro serving good steak frites.

Le Baratin – 3 rue Jouye-Rouve 4th arr., open Tuesday through Saturday.  Opened by Argentinians (who knows meat better than them?) and Pierre Herme dines here, need I say more?

Les Papilles – 30 rue Gay Lussac 5th arr., open Tuesday through Saturday.  Great value prix fixe menu restaurant.

Tips:

If the restaurant allows it, MAKE RESERVATIONS!  Most of these restaurants are small and the French tend to make reservations so if you don’t, there may not even be seating for walk-ins.  Unlike the States, even at popular restaurants, you won’t have to call more than a week or two in advance so it’s not too much trouble.  It’s as simple as calling them, asking in french first if they spoke english (Bonjour, parlez-vous francais?), most of them do, and telling them what day you’d like to come.

Make note of restaurant opening hours.  Many restaurants are closed Sundays and some are closed certain days during lunch so make sure you plan accordingly to avoid disappointment.  I first made a list of all my must-eats and then I looked up each of their opening hours to make sure I juggled my schedule right.

When in Rome… if you can, eat at a later hour.  Dinner hours are typically from 7pm through 11pm with the earlier time slots taken by tourists and the later taken by locals.  You’ll have a more enjoyable experience if you eat when the locals do, but take into consideration that if you’re eating at 9pm, you typically won’t be done until midnight (the French really take their time) and oftentimes the meal is heavy so you may have trouble sleeping right afterwards, which can delay your schedule for the next day.  But you’re on vacation so just take it easy!

Go with the flow.  The French really do take their time and enjoy their meal, as such the waiters typically will take longer to come around.  Don’t get impatient.  Take into account that meals can last 3 hours and plan your itinerary accordingly.

Pick restaurants close to the sites you will be visiting.  I included the arrondissements the restaurants are located in to help with planning.  If you plan on seeing the Eiffel Tower, plan lunch or dinner at one of the restaurants in the 7th arr.  This will make your trip go more smoothly if you’re not constantly criss crossing town to go to restaurants.

Whew, so this was a long post but I hope helpful!  If you have any questions, feel free to comment and I’ll try my best to help you out!

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