Bistro Paul Bert

With a friendly, arty crowd and wonderful food, this back-beyond-the-Bastille bistro would be well worth seeking out even if it weren’t one of the best buys in town. Don’t be put off by the slightly cliquish vibe—no one’s going to cold-shoulder you; it’s just that this place has a devoted following of regulars, all of whom seem to know one another. So settle into one of the moleskin banquettes, enjoy the snug dining room’s flea market kitsch (including a chandelier that looks like it’s made of melting ice cubes), and inspect the regularly changing blackboard menu. What’s cooking depends on what’s in the market, but typical starters include a wild mushroom omelet and sautéed squid with risotto, while mains run to perfectly cooked cod steak with chanterelles and guinea hen with bacon-spiked cabbage. Finish with the serve-yourself cheese tray or the chocolate ganache cake draped in pistachio cream.

This little street east of the Bastille has become a bit of a gastronomic haven in recent years: on the same street you’ll find the popular modern bistro Le Temps au Temps (whose original chef, Sylvain Sendra, now cooks at Itinéraires in the 5th), the buzzy Argentinian restaurant Unico and the Bistrot Paul Bert’s seafood annex L’Ecailler du Bistrot. This vintage bistro offers a quintessential experience, with its lived-in décor, classic French fare and lively cosmopolitan crowd. A meal might start with lamb pâté or lamb’s lettuce salad with truffles in season, followed by exemplary steak-frites (served “blue, rare or badly cooked”) and an enormous île flottante dotted with pink pralines and toasted almonds. The wine list is unusually extensive (and expensive) for a bistro, but you can also choose from the more affordable wines on the chalkboard.

The prix fixe menu costs €34.

18 Rue Paul Bert, 11th.

Tel: (1) 43 72 24 01.

Closed Sun. and Mon.