On another food website someone recently asked “How to eat ‘local“’ which I take it to mean how does one American avoid other Americans sitting near them or worse, talking American English during meals.
And of course, it goes without saying that the reason we’re in Paris is to avoid the very people whom we would be delighted to eat with in the US, but no matter. I’m here to tell you how.
First, eat at lunch not dinner. Lunch is when French folks go to their local places and dinner is when they go home; lunch is when Americans are trying, quite rightly, to see the Louvre, Versailles, the Champs—Elysees, etc., and dinner is when they can kick back.
Second, go to “new” places, that is, places that have not been written up in the New York Times, Financial Times, Food and Wine, Travel & Leisure and the guidebooks, be they in English (Zagats, etc.) or French (Michelin, Pudlo, Lebey, etc.).
Third, eat where the French not Americans are; thus avoid the city center and go to the 5th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th or even better, beyond the peripherique – in Levellois-Perret, Puteaux, Meudon, Issy-Les-Molineaux, Vitry-sur-Seine or Le Perreux-sur-Marne. This recalls the advice given by the mysterious Olivier Morteaux for success, to “go to a culinary wasteland.”
Fourth, check out the blogs, especially those in French, you don’t need to understand the nuances of a wordtwister like Francois Simon to get the point of most writers.
Fifth, read Meg Zimbeck’s excellent weekly summary of news from the blogs in Paris by Mouth (disclosure: I’m in her pocket).
And sixth, look around you, the best food-finder of the last decade came across many finds while motorcycling around Paris; if the restaurant across the street or when flaneuring looks new and the menu intriguing, what have you got to lose?