What do you do when you want to eat out in Paris but don’t have the time or inclination for a leisurely three-course meal in a restaurant and, like me, cannot bear to eat unappealing food under the soul-killing fluorescent lighting of a fast-food outlet?
This used to be a problem in Paris, but happily that is changing with the advent of eateries offering high-quality versions of what used to be considered junk or snack food in more or less comfortable surroundings. We all know about the hamburger craze in Paris – just about every café and many restaurants now offer them and some places specialize in them, but there are many other options out there.
One of my favorites in this category is Al Taglio. There are two locations in Paris, but I always go to the Marais branch, where the staff is unfailingly charming. You choose your pizza
from the variety on display at the counter and indicate how big a slice you want (you will be charged by the weight). You then take a seat at one of the high tables and the server brings the pizza – piping hot and nicely cut up in small pieces so you can share with your companions. Decent wine and other drinks are also available.
My favorite (and that of all the friends I have taken there) is unquestionably the truffle pizza with a creamy sauce and paper-thin slices of potato. it sounds strange, but it is truly exquisite. Everything I have tasted there has been delicious, however, and hot pizzas made with fresh, quality ingredients are constantly coming out of the oven. Desserts include tiramisu and incredibly good Pozzetto ice cream (although they often seem to be out of it).
Nearby is Candelaria, a tiny hole-in-the-wall taqueria where you can sit at the counter sipping Mexican beer and watch the cook whip up homemade tacos, something that’s very
difficult to find in Paris. They are very tasty and especially satisfying for anyone who misses good Mexican food.
If you are wondering why there is sometimes a bouncer at the door in the evening and people keeping marching through the little restaurant and disappearing through a door in the back, it is because a trendy bar, winner of many awards for its cocktails, is located behind the door. I tried the worderful dark-red, slightly mouth-puckering and not-too-sweet Douce France (€12), made with Bonal (a French apéritif), Engenho da Vertente cachaça, a reduction of blackcurrant juice, lemon and lavender-flavored bitters.
Another Mexican option is El Guacamolé, run by a sweet duo who serve up tasty guacamole, tacos and burritos. I prefer the burritos
(called burros here) to the tacos and love the guacamole with great tortilla chips.
Also from South America − Argentina in this case − is Clasico Argentino, which serves only one thing: gourmet empanadas. Three or four of these delicious turnovers and a salad make
a quick, surprisingly satisfying meal. The pastry is perfect, and the fillings are made with fresh, quality ingredients. They are served with chimichurri sauce in a comfortable dining room with a handsome blue and white decor. For dessert try the helados, chef Gaston Stivelmaher’s homemade ice cream, or our favorite, a pastelito with dulce de leche and vanilla ice cream.
One location, near the Hôpital Saint Antoine in the 12th arrondissement, also has a video library from which customers can borrow Argentinean films for free for up to two weeks.
The chef’s addictively good empanadas are available at a takeout shop, Clasico XS, near the Place des Vosges (picnic idea), which also sells Argentinean beers and other groceries, and from the El Carrito food truck.
Candelaria: 52, rue de Saintonge, 75003 Paris. Métro: Filles du Calvaire. Open Sunday-Wednesday, 12:30pm-11pm and Thursday-Saturday, 12:30pm-midnight. No reservations. candelariaparis.com
El Guacamolé: 37 rue Yves Toudic, 75010 Paris. Métro: Jacques Bonsergent. Tel.: 01 42 41 09 09. Open Monday-Saturday, noon-11pm. www.r-m-g.fr
Clasico Argentino: 56, rue de Saintonge, 75003 Paris. Métro: Filles du Calvaire. Tel.: 01 44 61 00 56. Open daily noon–11:30pm. Clasico Argentino: 217, rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine, 75011 Paris. Tel.: 01 56 06 95 14. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Métro: Faidherbe-Chaligny. Clasico XS: 8, rue du pas de la Mule. 75003 Paris. Tel.: 01 71 26 93 26. Métro: Chemin Vert. www.clasico-argentino.comFavorite