What they're eating in Paris

Home to some of Paris’s most exciting restaurants, the 11th arrondissement packs some real culinary surprises.

Bamako-style fried chicken.

Photograph by Quentin Dresse
By National Geographic Traveller (UK)
Published 28 Mar 2022, 06:08 BST, Updated 28 Mar 2022, 12:15 BST

1. Bamako-style fried chicken

The second of BMK’s two Paris restaurants serves up a smorgasbord of pan-African cuisine, with Bamako-style fried chicken the must-try dish. Organic chicken breasts are marinated in a fiery chilli and ginger paste for 24 hours, coated in plantain flour, fried until golden and then served sliced, sprinkled with smoky paprika. Wash it down with bissap, a refreshing, ruby-red drink made with hibiscus flowers that’s ubiquitous across West Africa. 

2. Molokhia

The queue from late morning to early morning outside Di-Napoli attests to the quality of its Tunisian cuisine. Malawi (stuffed flatbreads) and fricassé (savoury donuts) are delicious, but nothing beats the molokhia, a slow-cooked veal stew given a rich flavour and jade-green hue by the finely ground leaves of the jute mallow plant. Hunks of baguette soak up the sauce and the homemade citronnade is a zesty palate-cleanser. 17 Boulevard de Belleville.

3. Black sesame and lime tart

The vogue for Japanese-style patisserie means the odd dollop of miso and dash of yuzu is now part of any self-respecting Parisian baker’s repertoire. Boulangerie Utopie’s black sesame and lime tart is surely the trend’s ultimate expression. A dome of black sesame mousse is draped in a black sesame sauce, atop a shortbread base, itself packed with black sesame seeds. It’s all topped with lime segments and strands of confit lime rind. 

4. French tacos

If the panini, kebab and burrito were to have a love child, French tacos would be the result. Originating in the North African communities of the banlieues (Paris’s outlying districts), French tacos — a grilled tortilla wrap containing meat, chips, cheese and sauce — has become the fast food du jour in Paris. While it’s sold on almost every street corner, the O’Tacos chain’s version takes some beating.  

5. Vins et glaces

Pairing wine and ice cream is far from a French convention, but that’s exactly what Jessica Yang and Robert Compagnon — the couple behind the city’s celebrated Japanese binchotan joint Le Rigamarole — are serving up at the capital’s first glacier-caviste. Since Le Folderol opened in December 2020, it’s drawn the crowds with creations such as Tuscan olive oil, Mexican vanilla and fig-hibiscus sorbet alongside around 500 wines from the on-site cave. Well worth raising a glace to.

Published in Issue 15 (spring 2022) of Food by National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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