The pillars of French cuisine were definitely not built on vegetables. If there’s some greenery on the menus of traditional French bistros, it’s usually in the form of rather simple side dishes. In my little series on vegetarian friendly restaurants in Paris, I’m organizing my top picks into different categories, like the previous post on Casual & Cool restaurants and Classy & Chic options. In this article, I took on over a hundred years of tradition and managed to find five great restaurants where a vegetarian won’t be stuck with a plate of steamed vegetables. Pick up your green fork and dig in.
When some visiting friends suggested having dinner at the Bistrot Vivienne last summer, I secretly sighed. Such an historic place surely wouldn’t have anything interesting for me to eat. So before committing to go, I quickly checked their menu online and was astonished to find at two decent sounding vegetarian main courses. Perhaps some of the veggie vibes of Maceo, located across the street are rubbing off or maybe they’ve cleverly adapted to the taste of foreign customers? Whatever the reason, I was very pleased to be able to dine at this beautiful bistrot. Located at the beginning of the Galerie Vivienne and built in 1823, the twinned dining room has deep burgundy drapes, vast windows, and leafy plants. The seasonally changing menu features dishes like risotto with wild mushrooms, sprinkled with fresh herbs and Grana Padano, plus the salad is usually vegetarian or close to it. The night I was there, the friendly English speaking staff were also extremely adaptable (a rarity at French restaurants) and made some changes for me without a fuss, making the experience of dining here more than merely visually appealing.
Le Grand Colbert
Petit Bouillon Pharamond
With a first opened in the Les Halles market in 1832, the Pharamond family moved their restaurant, specialized in tripe and other specialities from their native Normandy, to its current location in 1879. Like other savvy restaurateurs of the time, the Pharamonds refurbished their venue in the Art Nouveau styles for the 1900 World’s Fair. Although the restaurant has had a number of owners since, its name, gorgeous historic decor and excellent cuisine have stood the test of time. The restaurant underwent a renewal a few years ago to a “bouillon” format which means a menu of French classics, including nods to Normandy, available at very reasonable prices.
One of the most beautiful art nouveau restaurants in the city, the Bouillon Racine was built in 1906 by the brasserie tycoon Chartier brothers and today it’s been listed as a national classified monument. The bright dining room features vast mirrors held in by delicately carved wooden frames exemplifying the organic forms of the art nouveau movement. For 15 years Alexandre Belthoise has been at the kitchen’s helm preparing French classics with a twist, among these dishes is usually at least one vegetarian main course as well as several starters such as Jerusalem artichoke soup drizzled in truffle oil and porcini mushrooms risotto. If you’re not completely wowed by the food, you’ll definitely be enchanted by its magical ambiance.
- Casual & Cool Restaurants
- Classy & Chic Restaurants
- International Restaurants, World Cuisine
- Vegetarian Friendly Restaurants in Montmartre
- Best Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurants in Paris (Part I)
- Best Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurants in Paris (Part II)