Paris is the home of flaky croissants, garlicky escargots, colorful macarons, redraw steak tartare, and wagon wheels of cheese.

One thing Parisians hold close to their hearts is their cuisine is so unique, people flock from all over the world to get the chance to chew on a crispy baguette overlooking the Eiffel Tower. Trust me, I’ve had endless people join my food tours in Paris who tell me they’ve flown all the way just for the food.

In a culinary scene as vast as the one in the City of Light, it can be easy to get lost in all the French dishes. That’s why I’ve written this list of the 5 must-try foods in Paris to show you what the Parisians think is hot and what’s not!

Croissant

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Starting off this list of best foods in Paris with a classic that we all know too much about: croissants are the mother of all snacks here when the sun starts to rise.

For those of you who are unaware of what a croissant is (very few, I can imagine), they’re crescent-shaped pastries that can be found in any pâtisserie. You know what you’re getting with a croissant: it’s warm, flaky, and buttery, and it leaves you yearning for another when you’ve scoffed it down.

I’ll let you in on a little secret about these delicacies; they actually originated in Vienna around the 13th century, but they popped up in France around the 19th century. It’s a touchy subject in France, so keep your lips sealed when you’re there.

Where To Eat It?

One notable pastry shop in Paris on the corner of Rue de Marseille I think you should try out for its croissants is Du Pain et des Idées. This spot first came on my radar when I saw the great Anthony Bourdain visiting on his show; knowing how much of a foodie icon he was, I knew it was going to be special.

When I walked through the door of this Boulangerie, I immediately noticed its distinct charm, from the golden paneling to the crowds coming and going to grab their daily baguette.

I can say with confidence the almond croissant is the best I’ve tried to date; I spotted it on the glass-covered shelf as soon as I walked inside and knew it had me written all over it.

The dough was divine; it was quite rich, soft on the inside, and so flaky that the exterior broke into little pieces when I picked it up. The chopped almonds added a nutty element to it, and it was lightly glazed, which gave it a sweet kick.

Du Pain et des Idées (€€) – 34 Rue Yves Toudic, 75010 Paris, France – Monday to Friday, 7:15 am to 7:30 pm, and closed on Saturday and Sunday

French Onion Soup

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Warm yourself up on a cold winter day in Paris with another famous food, a delightful bowl of French onion soup. This speciality from the French cuisine is made with beef stock and caramelized onions and then topped with melted cheese and little bits of bread.

While any type of cheese can be used to top French onion soup, the most popular type that’s used in Paris is gruyère.

There are many theories about the origins of French onion soup. Some experts have suggested that the Greeks and Romans first consumed it with normal onions, and then the French took the recipe and added caramelized onions.

Where To Eat It?

Should you fancy sampling some French onion soup, check out one of my favorite brasseries on Rue Coquillière, Au Pied de Cochon. It has such an elegant feeling to it with the dangling chandeliers, refined interiors, and pricey menu, but it’s absolutely worth spending the extra couple of euros for the experience.

I couldn’t get over the presentation of the French onion soup; it came out in a bowl that was more like a teapot, with the cheese burnt around the edges.

The first spoonful was such an explosion of flavors, from the sweetness of the caramelized onions to the creaminess of the melted cheese, and the beefiness of the broth was the tastiest part for me.

Au Pied de Cochon (€€€) – 6 Rue Coquillière, 75001 Paris, France – 8:00 am to 5:00 am, every day

Escargots

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It’s not really a trip to Paris unless you’ve gone out for escargots at least once! If you’re not up-to-date on your French food knowledge, you probably haven’t a clue what escargots are. Without grossing you out too much, escargots are snails. 

Escargots are such a massive part of Parisian’s lives; they absolutely love them, and some will eat them no matter the time of the day. They’re usually served in portions of a dozen and come loaded with garlic, butter, and other flavorful fillings.

If you can put the fact that they are snails in the back of your mind, I guarantee you’ll enjoy them. They’re really good for you, fat-free, and filled with iron and magnesium; what’s not to love?

Where To Eat It?

One of the best restaurants for escargots in Paris is the lovely L’Escargot Montorgueil in Rue Montorgueil. It’s up there with some of the city’s most historic restaurants, dating back to 1832, and it still retains its Second Empire designs to this day. Whenever I go here, I feel like I’m in a literal palace.

My order of escargots came with six pieces, but they were huge. The inside of the escargot was very chewy and buttery; it had almost the same texture as beef fat. I found them to be slightly earthy, too, like most snails.

L’Escargot (€€€) – 38 Rue Montorgueil, 75001 Paris, France – 12:00 pm to 11:00 pm, every day

Steak Tartare

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We all know the French are fond of some questionable dishes that you wouldn’t consume at home; one of them is steak tartare. To put it simply, steak tartare is diced raw meat mixed in with some vegetables and mustard and topped off with a raw egg and some light seasoning.

The concept of steak tartare is said to have arrived in France by the Mongols, who used to eat raw horse meat.

It’s important to be aware of the risks associated with eating raw meat, as it’s known to cause bacterial infections. So, if you’re going to try it, make sure it’s at a reputable restaurant that prepares it correctly.

Where To Eat It?

There’s one trendy bistro in Paris near Place des Victoires I can certainly vouch for that serves exceptionally delicious steak tartare, and that’s Les Fines Gueules. 

Everything about this place is special, including the 1600s building, the cozy ambiance, the friendly staff, and the extensive selection at the wine bar.

I would put steak tartare in the appetizer section of most menus, but at Les Fines Gueules, the portion is enough for the main course. It was served with some greens, a handful of buttered potatoes, and a couple of slices of thin cheese, adding an extra tanginess layer to the dish.

The steak tartare mix had a sharp, pungent flavor due to the mustard, and when I dug my fork into the egg and the yolk burst into the steak, it made it taste almost a bit sulfurous.

Les Fines Gueules (€€) – 43 Rue Croix des Petits Champs, 75001 Paris, France – Monday to Friday, 12:00 pm to 2:30 pm and 7:00 pm to 10:30 pm, and closed on Saturday and Sunday

Macarons

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Easily spottable in every pâtisserie, macarons are brightly colored meringue-flavored sweet treats. If you look closely at macarons, they look like mini hamburgers, without the color.

The ingredients used to make macarons include egg whites, almond flour, sugar, and food coloring. They’re normally filled with ganache, jam, or buttercream, depending on where you buy them.

There’s evidence that macarons originated in the Middle East before European sailors discovered them and brought them back to Italy. When Catherine de Medici married Henry II, she brought macarons to France with her, and they exploded onto the food scene there.

Where To Eat It?

Ladurée is the holy grail of macarons in Paris. They have a number of branches spread across the city, but the bakery I frequent the most is on Rue Bonaparte. 

They brand themselves as a premium bakery. When I first walked, I couldn’t believe that it was a bakery; the interiors were so lavish, with fancy seating areas and expansive mirrors spread across the wall.

The macarons were split up into different cases at the front desks and arranged by color. I tried a couple, but the one that still sticks with me was the orange passionfruit option. The passionfruit jam oozed into my mouth with the first bite.

If I were to sum up the flavors in one way, it would be like a tropical breeze, lightly sweetened and ultra refreshing.

Ladurée – 21 Rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris, France – Every day, 8:30 am to 7:00 pm

Conclusion

That sums up my picks for the must-try foods in Paris. I’ve made sure to make it a nice mix of sweet and savory bites to give you some variety for when you get here.

The gastronomic world in Paris is incredibly interesting, and there is so much diversity; you’ll get to try things you’ve never even heard of, along with famous classics. If you’d like to do it with the help of a local guide, take a look at our Montmartre food tours.

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