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Food in Paris Just Average/Overrated?

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11 posts
3 reviews
2 helpful votes
Food in Paris Just Average/Overrated?

Hi Everyone,

Thanks so much for all the great info on here. I am heading to Paris for 4 days in August and have been trying to do a ton of research regarding where to eat. I have many friends who are foodies that have been to Paris, and to my surprise, all of them say that the food is terribly overrated there. This includes friends where money is no object, had done their research before, etc.

I am completely surprised that this is their opinion of food Paris and can only think something isn't right. I'm curious if you have any advice so I have a different experience from them with the food? I can go off of reviews, but I feel like reading all of them has just confused me more. I know that regardless of one person loving a place, someone else can have a bad experience (e.g I've had this happen plenty of times where "great restaurants" treated me differently simply because I am in my 20's). I will be celebrating an engagement in Paris, so I want to have a great experience. Thanks in advance for any advice/suggestions you may have. Have a good one!

Paris, France
Level Contributor
6,833 posts
118 reviews
338 helpful votes
1. Re: Food in Paris Just Average/Overrated?

Many people are disappointed with food in Paris, regardless of where they have eaten.

I think the hype about the quality of food here has been so blown out of proportion that very few places could hope to measure up to everyone's expectations - in addition, everyone has wildly different expectations, at that...

You don't have to spend a fortune to eat well in Paris, but you do have to have some common sense and do a lot of sleuthing around. Food reviews and "respected food journalists" are a dime a dozen, these days, and knowing who to trust - and how much your lifestyle compares with the author - has a lot to do with a positive outcome.

Due to the economy, a meal in a casual cafe or moderately-priced restaurant is more often than not reheated stuff that comes from a can or freezer. There are different levels of quality, as far as these products go - and many people have been eating them for years in some very well-known places in Paris. For some, if the ambiance is there - exposed stones and beams, romantic lighting, cute or interesting waiters - the food is secondary, and the overall experience is rated "good".

If you care about what you eat, you will go digging around to find a reviewer whose "voice" matches the one in your head. Also, look for review sites that show real photos, as opposed to those supplied by the establishment. This alone will tell you a whole lot more than a slew of adjectives.

Frankly, a lot of us just tend to eat at home, these days...

Val-de-Marne, France
Level Contributor
9,779 posts
2. Re: Food in Paris Just Average/Overrated?

I can't speak of the high end places, but for your average restaurant and brasserie that you would just walk into randomly, yes, the food is usually just perfectly adequate if you are hungry but it's average to below average in my opinion. It's just food, not a treat. When it's REALLY good, then it's a good surprise / good luck.

As a French person, I can't say it's necessarily overrated since the French do not look up to Paris for food quality, but maybe it is overrated by foreigners, I don't know.

Saratoga Springs, NY
Level Contributor
6,767 posts
168 reviews
141 helpful votes
3. Re: Food in Paris Just Average/Overrated?

Another factor is that food is different than what we are used to in the US. We have come to learn that hamburgers really aren't the same in Europe and we shouldn't consider them a "safe bet" for our son. Steak cuts are different and the beef tends to be grassfed -- grassfed beef needs to be cooked more rare in order to be pleasant. Pizza is different -- crust is thinner, toppings are less generous. Pasta isn't drowning in sauce.

All of these things can throw off an American palate, I'm sure!

And there are definitely some crappy restaurants hoping to make a buck off of unsuspecting tourists. We've had a few bad meals. We will never again try to eat anything near the Champs Elysees, unless it is fast food from Paul (realiably, reasonably good industrial fast food) or a macaron from Lauduree. Actually, we just try to avoid the Champs Elysees, period. Avoid any restaurant that has someone outside trying to urge you to go in. Avoid any restaurant with photographs of the food.

There is some really great food as well though. We have had far more great meals than bad or mediocre ones. The pastries are unbelievable. Read trip advisor reviews. And change your expectations. It's French food, not American food. I think one mistake is ordering something and expecting it to be anything like what you have at home.

Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
17,520 posts
76 reviews
27 helpful votes
4. Re: Food in Paris Just Average/Overrated?

The term "foodie" is what is overrated.

Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
29,947 posts
95 reviews
68 helpful votes
5. Re: Food in Paris Just Average/Overrated?

In our experience, we can get rather spectacularly good food at hotel dining rooms in rural areas of France for very reasonable prices. We ate four times over the years at a small hotel in the Dordogne where a 3 course plus amuse and mignardise meal was 35 Euro. We have found many treasures in small towns. (there are guides to help identify these ahead although sometimes we have just stumbled on them as we did in Domme where we happened into what turns out to be a well known delight)

In Paris for that kind of money at dinnertime you get a rather ordinary meal. There is excellent food in Paris and you can often stumble upon pretty good food just walking around, but we have not been astounded by its quality in general. We do love the simple lunches at cafes e.g. the baked brie and honey and salad or the salad composees etc. I am sure if you pay Michelin prices you can get great food -- but we rarely spend 200 Euro and up for this kind of food. In fact last time we did that was at Alinea in Chicago. (money well spent, but not spent often)

There are ample opportunities for good food but we haven't found that much great food except in the countryside.



SeaTac, Washington
Level Contributor
1,486 posts
44 reviews
14 helpful votes
6. Re: Food in Paris Just Average/Overrated?

When I was in Paris last September I simply picked places to eat as I walked by. I didn't worry about reviews, though I did post some of my own. Every restaurant/cafe posts its menu (la carte) outside, so I checked the menus and looked at what the other diners were eating. One of my best lunches was at Cafe Le Danton where I saw people eating salmon, which was the plat du jour. It was poached with a light sauce and served with a huge pile of perfectly steamed vegetables, which is a rarity in many French restaurants. At another place I had one of the best bites I've ever had: foie gras ice cream! Sounds odd, but it was absolutely wonderful. This was at La Rose de France. My lunches ranged from 10 to 30 euros, and yes, I did have some that weren't outstanding, but mostly those were the ones where I was eating on the run and didn't choose carefully. Since I was staying in an apartment I ate most of my dinners there, which helped keep my food costs down while allowing me to splurge a little more on lunches..

Another thing to consider is everyone's expectations are different, so if expectations are high, the chance of disappointment is also high. And, French food isn't necessarily what most Americans expect it to be. Approach eating in Paris with a sense of adventure and you probably won't be disappointed. Have a wonderful trip.

Paris, France
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18,531 posts
20 reviews
81 helpful votes
7. Re: Food in Paris Just Average/Overrated?

+1 for WEQueen

Val-de-Marne, France
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9,779 posts
8. Re: Food in Paris Just Average/Overrated?

+ 2 ;-)

Level Contributor
4,678 posts
44 reviews
27 helpful votes
9. Re: Food in Paris Just Average/Overrated?


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12,881 posts
12 reviews
7 helpful votes
10. Re: Food in Paris Just Average/Overrated?