EXCLUSIVE | Paris: Where to Eat
By Joe Okonkwo | AN OUTTRAVELER.COM EXCLUSIVE
There is a time in life to diet, and your trip to Paris is not it. In the Marais, there is not a single restaurant that isn't gay-friendly. The gay-marketed restaurants don't always have the greatest food, but those here in Paris fare much better than those in less gastronomically inclined capitals. For prices, we have listed the cost of an average meal (or prix fixe meal) per person.
LE MARAIS (3E, 4E)
Paris has a number of restaurants that cater to a primarily gay clientele. Le 3 (3, rue Ste-Croix de la Bretonnerie, 4e; +33-1-42-74-71-52; prix fixe menus from 36 EUR) is a stylish (and extremely gay-popular) bistro deep in the heart of the gay Marais. Expect inventive creations alongside traditional French cuisine: a truly adventurous entr?e of stuffed ni?oise artichoke accompanied by frog legs in garlic and parsley, and for your main plat, calamari stuffed with diced vegetables and fish served in a seafood bisque with crunchy angel hair. If you don't like seafood, try a flank of roast lamb accompanied by a peanut-based polenta with dates, surrounded by lamb gravy infused with North African allspice and homemade cumin potato chips. Le 3's charming and cute waiters can help you navigate the menu and moderately extensive wine list.
Le Petit Picard (42, rue Ste-Croix-de-la-Bretonnerie, 4e; +33-1-42-78-54-03; 13.50-27 EUR), is a budget-pleasing bistro with a great cast of characters and the gayest d?cor you could ever expect. Whether or not you get a seat near the naked Greek statue protruding through the wall, the waitress/proprietress will treat you like a king (or queen). She is a charming, salt-of-the-earth type, and the food she serves is simple French fare that's well prepared. The usual clientele are gay men over 30 fueling up for a long night ahead at the popular gay bars in the area.
Known as the place to have your rendezvous, Starcooker2 (32 rue des Archives, 4e; +33-1-42-77-12-17; 12-20 EUR) is a comfy and hip place to meet for a meal or cocktail before painting the town. Low couches and numerous cushions in shades of violet and magenta make for a chilled-out atmosphere in the center of the Marais. Described as having "cuisine gourmandise," the food is classic and tasty, with some creative touches. There is also a brunch on Sundays. Less than a five-minute walk away, the original Starcooker (20 rue de la Reynie, 4e; +33-1-42-71-89-86; 14-26 EUR) is differentiated by being labeled as "Carnivore," meaning that they concentrate on serving meat as the main dish in this equally hip place. Reservations wouldn't hurt in either.
Anahi (49 rue Volta, 3e; +33-1-48-87-88-24; 23-38 EUR) serves South American cuisine and has received acclaim in the previous two years' editions of Paris Pudlo, a local guide to good restaurants. Situated in a former butcher shop dating back 100 years, this Latin restaurant was once popular with the fashion crowd. It doesn't really matter if there are models or not: you'll be too busy enjoying the food to notice.
La Fontaine Gourmande (11 rue Charlot, 3e; +33-1-42-78-72-40; 15-35 EUR) is a quiet little gem on street that, despite being tucked away, continues to accumulate a few trendy businesses, boutiques, and art galleries (sort of like Chelsea 10 years ago). It's a small, non-touristy restaurant with a friendly wait staff who may not speak English, but the food speaks for itself. Fresh and light, all the dishes are flavorful and thoughtfully prepared, and the desserts are not to be missed.
Famous historic caf? Les Philosophes (28 rue Vieille du Temple, 4e; +33-1-58-87-49-64) and La Chaise Au Plafond (10, rue du Tr?sor, 4e; +33-1-42-76-03-22; 20 EUR) are two excellent lunch destinations perched on a left-of-center corner in the Marais. They are listed together because they share a kitchen, and thus a menu. One could easily have a well prepared and delicious French dinner at either of these caf?-restaurants, but the lunch salads are oases of fresh produce and cheese-and-meat ingenuity, and the people-watching during the daylight would be foolish to miss. If for some reason all of the sexy drifters that prance around the Marais during work hours are on an off day, the waiters are just as cute and very polite. La Chaise is a little quieter and intimate, while Les Philosophes is right on the street and tends to get crowded.
R?confort (37, rue de Poitou, 3e; +33-1/49-960-960; 15-25 EUR) is a charming, gay-managed and gay-popular restaurant. With modern, comfortable dining rooms on two floors and an inventive menu, it's cutting edge and fun without the snobbery. Les Pi?tons (8, rue des Lombards, 4e; +33-1-48-87-82-87) is famous for its genuine Spanish atmosphere, not only in the menu (mainly tapas 3-5 EUR, entrees 10-12) but with respect to the music and the d?cor, including the waitstaff. It's a very good address to get you going before setting off for a club. Ask the bartender for a tequila paf at the counter. The crowd is mixed gay-straight, but you are still in a gay-ish neighborhood, so don't be afraid to flirt a little with your waiter.