Ah Paris – when I think back on my week-long trip to Paris I think of long, leisurely dinners filled with good wine and even better food. I think of creamy cheeses, tender legs of ducks, perfectly roasted scallops (wait, are you sure this is an article for vegetarians…?) and perfectly smooth chocolate mousse. But what is masked by my memories of delectable meals is the anxiety and stress that went into finding restaurants that could accommodate my vegetarian boyfriend. We wanted to eat meals where both of us could be happy and explore the full spread that one of the great culinary capitals of the world has to offer.
In my opinion, it is not super easy to be a vegetarian in Paris, but it is also not exceedingly difficult. There are increasingly more options to accommodate a plant-based diet. However, when searching for potential restaurants, a lot of the recommended options were $$$ or $$$$, such as Alain Ducasse’s much famed veggie-friendly restaurant, or strictly vegetarian or vegan-only, such as the cute Le Potager de Charlotte. Neither options appealed to my budget or taste buds. So the hunt was on with two main criteria:
- A meal needed to be $$-$$$, which I define as less than $50 a person, preferably including 2-3 courses and a glass of wine
- There needed to be both veggie-friendly and meat options to appeal to a diverse set of palettes. They had to be main course options, not just starters or desserts (because who is living off of starters and desserts really?)
The result? 5 delicious meals at 5 excellent restaurants that both my boyfriend and I enjoyed. Despite being a meat lover, I often found myself wondering if I liked his dish even more than I liked my own! Luckily I could eat as much as I wanted of his while he couldn’t take a bite of mine 🙂
5 excellent vegetarian-friendly restaurants in Paris
A cozy bistro packed with tables full of locals and a smattering of visitors, this restaurant offers delicious French comfort food. The solicitous and friendly staff helped me with my coat and were all smiles despite our complete inability to speak French. The meal was heavenly, warming, and rich – just what I was looking for after a winter day walking around the city.
What you can’t miss: the souffles – I thought I knew what a souffle tasted like until I tasted the souffles at L’Auberge Bressane. It made every other souffle I’d eaten seem dense, stolid, and plain because these were the lightest, airiest dessert I have every placed in my mouth. I’d recommend the sampler trio, where you can try chocolate, sea salt caramel and Grand Marnier.
For the vegetarians: tagliatelle with mushrooms or a cheese souffle. The tagliatelle is cooked in a buttery cheese sauce, and the mushrooms add a beautiful depth and flavor. It has all the hearty satisfaction of mac & cheese, but it is not simply pasta and cheese sauce – the flavors are far more complex and nuanced.
For the meat lovers: coq au vin – this chicken dish, slow cooked with wine and noodles until the meat falls off the bones, draws people from far and wide. The lady next to us had come here explicitly just to try the coq au vin because she’d heard that it is the best in the city.
Cost: 90 – 100 Euros for 2 entrees, 1 glass of wine, and a souffle sampler
Le Temps des Cerises appeals to locals and tourists alike with its delicious bistro cooking. It is one of the most memorable meals we had in Paris, where we came in ravenous and left so full we could barely move.
What you can’t miss: the perfect, creamy creme brulee flecked with vanilla bean
For the vegetarians: truffle and mushroom linguini in a light and aromatic cheese sauce
For the meat lovers: Risotto with bacon-wrapped scallops. The sharp saltiness of the bacon pairs perfectly with the mild creaminess of the risotto.
Cost: 90 – 100 Euros for 1 cheese plate, 1 carafe of wine, 2 entrees, and 2 desserts (a great deal!)
You would think that a place named the “The Little Duck” wouldn’t appeal to vegetarians, but among the long list of duck-focused dishes there are some options specially geared towards vegetarians. And did I mention that the duck dishes, from foie gras to confit, are simply divine?
What you can’t miss: the orange duck is their house special. The bright burst of citrus pairs nicely with the rich fattiness of the duck.
For the vegetarians: a vegetarian salad stuffed full of artichokes, cheese, and spinach and feta filo rolls. Beware that the French onion soup looks vegetarian but is alas made of beef stock.
For the meat lovers: A plethora of duck dishes, including their famous orange duck are sure to please any meat lover. Spread their cold foie gras terrine generously over thin pieces of bread or enjoy it grilled and warm.
Cost: 90 – 100 Euros for 1 cheese plate, 1 appetizer, 1 glass of wine, 1 glass of champagne, 2 entrees, and 1 dessert. We took advantage of their 40 Euro set menu, which is really only worth it if you choose the most expensive options on the menu.
This Michelin-starred fine dining restaurant offers inventive and intricate dishes in a white table-clothed environment. Was it a tad too stuffy for me? Perhaps. But the food was delicious and the staff highly attentive. The menu rotates but they often have a vegetarian option or two available.
For the vegetarians: Creamy baked gnocchi under a crunchy bread crumb crust for a main entree and a root vegetable topped Parmesan cracker to start
For the meat lovers: Whole roasted suckling pig atop fresh, flavorful lentils. The skin is perfectly crisped with fat that gently melts in your mouth. A celebration for the true carnivore.
Cost: 90 – 100 Euros for 1 appetizer, 2 glasses of wine, and 2 entrees. They also have a set menu for 40 Euros, which is a good deal if you’re interested in the options on the menu.
How can you go to Paris and not get a crepe? This small and cute crepe shop is located right by the Eiffle Tower but we found that it was mostly frequented by locals. They have a wide range of savory crepes that come in huge portions, along with decadent sweet crepes you won’t be able to say no to.
What you can’t miss: one of their delicious dessert crepes – we almost skipped dessert because we were so full, but we’re glad we stayed!
For the vegetarians: a special veggie crepe made with tomatoes, mushrooms, cheese, and eggplant
For the meat lovers: a pesto prosciutto crepe with savory, sharp flavors
Cost: ~30 Euros for 2 savory crepes and 1 sweet crepe
Paris is definitely a food dream for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. I hope that you eat the most delicious meals and leave dreaming of all that Paris has to offer.
And I know travel is not in anyone’s near future with COVID-19 spreading throughout the world, but I hope that future readers will be traveling again, discovering amazing cities and food. Stay safe everyone!