The Ultimate Paris Food Guide: 12 Typical Parisian Foods to Try

One of the biggest reasons to visit Paris? To eat. And then eat some more. And maybe after you’ve eaten, you’ll be tempted to eat again as you walk by yet another patisserie, boulangerie, or restaurant. It’s a (good) problem anyone might experience on a trip to Paris. In a city with thousands of restaurants, knowing which Paris food to try may be the most difficult part.

To save you from stressing about what to eat, I’ve put together this list of 12 traditional foods in Paris worth eating on your next trip.

1. Soufflé

Soufflé is a light and airy classic French dish that can be sweet or savory.

The first time I went to Paris, I made a reservation at a restaurant called Le Soufflé. Little did I know that this would be one of my favorite meals in Paris (and a restaurant I would return to several times). I highly recommend visiting this restaurant for the ultimate soufflé experience.

The exterior of Le Soufflé restaurant - Paris foods to try

Savory soufflé dishes at Le Soufflé include bœuf bourguignon soufflé, chicken and mushrooms, classic cheese soufflé. When you order this fluffy dream of a dish, the soufflé comes straight from the oven, with the filling on the side. You then pour the filling (bœuf bourguignon, chicken and mushrooms, etc.) into the soufflé’s center, and eat.

In addition, you can order soufflé desserts (the chocolate is divine!). It’s the ultimate experience to have a savory and then a sweet souffle for dinner.

Where to Eat Soufflé: Le Soufflé or Le Recamier

2. Steak & Frites

Many people visiting Paris want to try classic steak and frites. It’s important to note that Parisian steak is different from steak in the United States. One of the main differences is that French chefs do not like to cook steaks well-done. If you ask for a well-done steak, there is a good chance that the chef will still prepare the steak to medium or medium-rare.

Why? Because the flavor of the beef is better when it’s medium compared to well-done.

Steak and frites in Paris are often served with Bernaise sauce, a peppercorn sauce. It’s delicious and worth experiencing at least once in your life.

Where to eat steak and frites: Le Relais de L’Entrecote is a popular choice as it’s very affordable. For a more luxurious experience, try La Maison de l’Aubrac.

3. Croque Monsieur

Oh, how I love a good Croque Monsieur! I’ve eaten a few of these in Paris (different variations), and they never disappoint. A croque monsieur is nothing like an American grilled cheese. Instead, it combines hearty bread with bechamel, good-quality ham (“Jambon”), and crispy, melty cheese (often Gruyère cheese, but it can also include Emmental or Swiss).

Croque Monsieur croissant at A La Croix Patissier in Paris
Modern Croque Monsieur at A La Croix Patissier

A Croque Monsieur is broiled so that the top is melty and golden. It’s a little slice of heaven.

You can eat good Croque Monsieurs around the city at most traditional cafés. If you want a fun variation, try the version at À La Croix Pâtissier made with a croissant (it’s my favorite sandwich ever). This is one Paris food you can’t miss, as it’s classic and essential to Parisian culture.

Where to Eat: Faste Croque Monsieur Paris, Le Petit Cler, and many Paris cafés

4. Escargots

Escargots, aka snails, is another typical Paris food that you’ll see on many menus at cafés and brasseries. I have yet to try them, but don’t let that stop you (it’s a texture thing for me). The snails are cooked in a butter and garlic sauce that essentially is the main flavor of the dish. The snail meat is served in large snail shells. You’ll typically order escargots as an appetizer (aka entrée in Paris). They come on a round platter with a little fork so you can easily scoop the cooked snails out of their shells.

Where to Eat Escargots: Brasserie Vagenende, Bistrot des Tournelles, Le Procope, and many more. You can find this dish at practically every café and brasserie in the city.

5. Foie Gras

Another French classic, foie gras, is popular among Parisians. This delicacy is made from duck or goose liver. Foie gras is often served in the form of paté. It’s known for being rich and flavorful because of how the liver is prepared.

Where to Eat: Comptoir de la Gastronomie, Il était une oie dans le Sud Ouest, and many restaurants across Paris

6. Croissants & Pain au Chocolat

Croissants and pain au chocolat are both quintessential Parisian pastries. A pain au chocolat is different from a croissant in shape, and it has chocolate inside (yum!). Both pastries are made with layers of dough and rich butter, which create their characteristic flaky layers.

croissants and pastries at Paris Boulangerie- Bo&Mie

Buy either of these pastries to start your day. It’s a very Parisian thing to do. Take your pastry to a park (like Luxembourg), or sit by the Seine and eat. Whatever you do, don’t walk and eat (as this is something Parisians never do). When in Paris, do as the Parisians do!

Where to Eat: You can find both of these typical Paris foods at boulangeries and bakeries across Paris. If you are searching for the best croissants to eat in Paris, check out my article here to give you in-depth information about where to go!

7. Boeuf Bourguignon

There is nothing like eating perfectly cooked bœuf bourguignon in a quaint restaurant in the heart of Paris. This dish is a famous food in Paris that you need to eat while visiting.

Bœuf bourguignon at Chez Fernand- Typical Paris Food
Bœuf Bourguignon at Chez Fernand

What is bœuf bourguignon? It’s a typical Parisian dish sometimes called beef stew. It combines beef cheek or other beef cuts, carrots, potatoes, mushrooms (sometimes), and a delicious Burgundy sauce. Good boeuf bourguignon should fall apart and almost melt in your mouth.

If you visit Chez Fernand, you’ll experience the most tender beef stew you can imagine. It’s so good that this meal is the last thing I want to eat before I die.

Where to Eat: Chez Fernand, Chez René, and Au Bourguignon du Marais

8. Crepes

I could go to Paris and eat crepes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and be perfectly happy. Crepes are thin French pancakes. They can be either savory or sweet, so you have the option of ordering a savory crepe for a meal or a dessert crepe.

La Creperie Francaise in Paris
Crepes at a Street Creperie in Paris

If you have never eaten real French crepes before, try at least one in Paris. You can eat at a sit-down creperie, or you can stop by one of the many street crepe stands in the city.

Where to Eat: Read my in-depth article to learn more about where to eat the best crepes in Paris.

9. Poulet Rôti

There is nothing like the sight and smell of whole rotisserie chickens slowly turn on a roaster. Poulet rôti, also known as rotisserie chicken, is a classic Paris food that is inexpensive, easy to find in every neighborhood, and completely satisfying.

For a truly Parisian experience, buy a poulet roti along with roasted potatoes. Some shops place cut potatoes beneath the cooking chickens. As the chickens roast, their juices drip on the potatoes, giving them the most wonderful flavor.

Where to Eat Poulet Roti: Rue Mouffetard, Rue Cler, farmer’s markets, and in every arrondissement.

10. French Onion Soup

I get chills when I think about eating this dish in Paris (or maybe that’s my a/c running). Either way, you must try good French onion soup in Paris. French onion soup is prepared better in Paris than anywhere else I’ve eaten it.

French onion soup at La Jacobine - best Paris Food
French onion soup at La Jacobine

And no, onion soup doesn’t taste the same at every restaurant. Each restaurant has its own broth recipe and way of cooking this Parisian dish.

The best part of the soup is the crusty bread on top, which is topped with grilled or broiled cheese. The combination of the caramelized cheese with the crisp bread and the onion soup and broth is a match made in heaven.

Where to Eat: For the best French onion soup in Paris, visit La Jacobine, Le Procope, or Le Saint-Régis.

11. Cassoulet

Cassoulet is as rustic and old-school as it gets when it comes to eating in Paris. Although it originated in southwestern France, cassoulet is a popular dish in Paris.

cassoulet at Aux Anysetiers du Roy - Paris food to try
Cassoulet at Aux Anysetiers du Roy

Cassoulet is also known as farm food. This stew consist of white beans and various types of meat in a rich broth. Cassoulet a dish Parisians eat in the winter and during the colder months of the year.

I tried cassoulet when I visited Paris in November 2023, and as expected, it was prepared with white beans and several kinds of meat, including duck and sausage.

Where to Eat: Domaine d’Olléac, Comptoir de la Gastronomie, and Aux Anysetiers du Roy

12. Hot Chocolate

While not a “food,” hot chocolate, also known as chocolat chaud, is a highlight of the Paris food scene. In fact, I wrote an entire article about the best hot chocolate in Paris here. The first few times I visited Paris, I didn’t try the hot chocolate because the weather was warm.

hot chocolate at Cafe St Regis - Paris food to try

Now, however, I don’t care if it’s hot in Paris when I visit. I’ll drink a chocolat chaud and deal with being très chaud if it means I’m able to enjoy the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had in my life.

Where to Drink: The most important part of choosing where to go for hot chocolate has a lot to do with your personal preferences. My personal favorite is Carette, where the hot chocolate is slightly thick (but not like pudding), not too sweet or too bitter, and you can drink it with a mountain-high tower of whipped cream.

On your next trip to Paris, be adventurous and try something you’ve never eaten before. Better yet, try more than one typical Parisian food. If you are anything like me, many of the foods you eat will become life-long favorites.

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