Smaller is Better, a guest post by Flavia Schepmans
Let’s face it: Beef tartare, onion soup, duck confit and crème brûlée are all delicious. But too much of a good thing can get cloying. Yes, French bistros are perfect, but all too often, after a hearty Coq au vin, I feel like I’m turning into the Michelin Man and long for lightness and variety. That’s why I’m always on the lookout for great wine and tapas bars where they serve small plates you can wash down with a delicious wine or cocktail. Here are my favorites, from the little French joint that dishes out an assortment of “canailles” (the local version of tapas), to the trendy cocktail lounge with surprising finger food options.
A tiny, magical place where you stand at the zinc counter, order delicious piggy bites from the friendly servers, and drink glass after glass of wine. I’m a regular here, with good reason. The chef behind this perfect hole-in-the-wall is Yves Camdeborde, who also runs the fabulous Comptoir du Relais bistro (and adjacent 4-star hotel), right next door. Good luck getting a table there, but you can hang here until 12am.
9 Carrefour de l’Odéon 75006 Paris
Mojita et Bob
A trendy, sleek, French “tapas” place where the service is warm, the cocktails are tasty, and the small savory and sweet plates are inventive.
3 rue Oberkampf 75011 Paris
Aux Deux Amis
A narrow, faux-seedy wine bistro with semi-bright yellowish neon lights and mirrors everywhere that gets packed to the gills with local hipsters. The burrata, piquillos, and other small plates are prepared with love using top ingredients. You’ll feel like a real Parisian, mingling with cigarette-puffing stylish girls and their copains.
45 rue Oberkampf 75011 Paris
In the front, it’s a bright, neon-lit taquería. The tacos are good, and the guacamole even better (the chef, Luis, is Mexican and some of the recipes are hand-me-downs from his abuela.) In the back, hidden behind a camouflaged door, it’s a cozy and dark cocktail lounge where the drinks are outstanding and the guest DJs spin excellent electro and alternative music.
52 rue de Saintonge 75003 Paris
It’s dark, it’s sexy, and it’s surrounded by strip joints. We are, after all, a stone’s throw from Pigalle. Wash down the delicious gourmet hot dogs with surprising cocktails and Brooklyn Brewery beer on tap. From the cool folks that brought you Candelaria.
7 rue Frochot 75009 Paris
Le Mary Celeste
This oyster and cocktail bar, named after a legendary ghost ship, promises to be just as cool as its sisters Candelaria and Glass. It opens at the end of January. I can’t wait to check it out.
1 Rue Commines 75003 Paris
Le Baron Rouge
Open only until 10pm, this true-blue Paris spot doesn’t concern itself with trends. The wines and the charcuterie plates are cheap and tasty, and on winter weekends at noon they truck over fresh oysters from Normandy, shucked on the spot and served with bread and butter.
1 rue Théophile-Roussel 75012 Paris
Les 36 Corneil
This hidden spot (there’s no sign at the door) serves tasty French-style small dishes in a rustic, low-lit bistro-like setting. The best part? The place turns into an impromptu DJ dance party later on in the evening.
36 rue de Rochechouart 75009 Paris
Flavia Schepmans is a designer, art director, and prop stylist who moved from New York City to Paris in 2011, looking for new inspiration and a change of pace. She has been busy discovering great restaurants, bars, shops, and hidden museums in this beautiful city. Her outlook on life is: The more you travel and discover, the more open-minded you’ll become, and the happier you’ll be. She is also working on launching an online customized concierge guide for travelers to the City of Light. Find her Twitter posts about places and tips @flaviainparis. You can also view her portfolio and travel writing samples at www.flaviaschepmans.com