GAY-FRIENDLY PARISIAN WINE BARS
Paris is full of chic bars ? vins (wine bars), all the rage with trendy Parisians for a glass or two of their favorite replacement for water and a light meal. Among the best are A La Cloche des Halles (28, rue Coquilli?re, 1e; +33-1-42-36-93-89), which serves delightful Saint-Joseph wines accompanied by delicious saucisson; Le Coude Fou (12, rue du Bourg-Tibourg, 4e; +33-1-42-77-15-16), where you can get a full meal with your wine without breaking 40 EUR; and the 250-wine boasting Le Robe et le Palais (13 rue des Lavandi?res-Ste-Opportune, 1e; +33-1-45-08-07-41, 40 EUR).
Willi's Wine Bar (13, rue des Petits Champs, 1er; +33-1-42-61-05-09; 35 EUR) is a historically American haunt but also a great place to try difficult-to-find regional wines. La Tartine (24, rue de Rivoli, 4e; +33-1/42-72-76-85), named for its inexpensive open-faced sandwiches (but serves fabulous p?t?s, cheeses, tarts, etc.), is popular with local seniors, artsy types and gays.
If you tire of bistro food (huh?!), Paris offers equally good dining of many different fares. Joe Allen (30, rue Pierre Lescot, 1e; +31-1-42-36-70-13; 15-40 EUR) caters to a mixed clientele with a scattering of show folk. The menu is similar to what you'd find in New York, and the friendly staff speaks English. This is the place to have Thanksgiving dinner if November finds you in town. For excellent Thai in an authentic setting, make reservations at Restaurant Krung Thep (93, rue Julien Lacroix, 20e; +33-1-43-66-83-74; 15-22 EUR), which means "City of Angels." Although it's a bit of a schlep from the Marais, it is gay-friendly, though with primarily straight clientele. But those in the know and in the neighborhood eat here because it's some of the best Thai food in the city.
Babette de Rozi?res is a busy woman. She worked for national television as an announcer and producer only to discover that her true passion, the cuisine of her native Antilles, would make her a star. After running a restaurant in St. Tropez (and knocking out a few award-winning cookbooks), she bought the three-Michelin starred Robuchon creation Jamin, and made it La Table de Babette (32 rue de Longchamp, 16e, +33-1-45-53-00-07; 24-55 EUR). Since 2006 French gastronomie has de Rozi?res (and her grandmother) to thank for opening their eyes to the succulence and vivacious nature of Antilles spices and sauces.
Mediterranean-style Chez Marianne (2, rue des Hospitali?res St. Gervais, 4e; +33-1-42-72-18-86; 9-23 EUR) steps up to the plate as the premier Jewish eatery in the Marais after the legendary Eastern European Jewish Jo Goldenberg closed for good in March 2008. Get a sampling platter and dine on hummus, chopped liver and eggplants fried or in a salad. You'll be happy (and stuffed) all day.
For a quick snack on your way to the Picasso museum, check out L'As du Fallafel (34, rue des Rosiers; +33-1-48-87-63-60; 4-10 EUR), smack-dab in the middle of the Jewish area on rue des Rosiers. Service is speedy but brusque (bordering on too French), but the sweet, swarthy Israeli boys running the joint will take your mind off it. It shamelessly plugs itself as being the preferred falafel joint of rock singer Lenny Kravitz. Opt for the special falafel pita sandwich (4 EUR), crispy, spicy and dripping with tahini.
Just down the street is Chez H'anna (54, rue des Rosiers; +33-1-42-74-74-99), another Israeli falafel place, with less attitude but more authenticity: the family can be seen chopping up the vegetables for the delectable dishes at one of the tables near the kitchen. Here you are truly entering a Jewish kitchen -- don't be afraid to talk to them as though you are mishpocha -- and certainly try the eggplant.
If you're looking for something sophisticated and suitable for a business dinner, try Au Bascou (38, rue R?aumur, 3e; +33-1-42-72-69-25; 25-50 EUR). Conveniently placed in the northern part of the Marais, it is friendly and energetic while serving excellent Basque food to a mostly straight crowd. Here you can find traditional Southwestern cuisine seasoned in olive oil and espelette peppers, marvelous pheasant topped with foie gras, and the traditional Basque dessert of creamy white cheese topped with wild cherry preserves.
If you simply must sample another Basque restaurant, L'Auberge de Jarente (9, Rue de Jarente, 4e; +33-1-42-77-49-35; 15-25 EUR) is unpretentious and satisfying. Located around the corner from Place de Vosges on a quiet and picturesque street, l'Auberge is managed by a local family. The fresh platters and friendly service are wonderfully complimented by unheard-of deals for the neighborhood: A 20 EUR menu that includes a pitcher of Iroul?gy, a flavorful Southwest/Basque table wine.
You can find another interesting meal with a great view at the Institut du Monde Arabe (1, rue des foss?s Saint-Bernard, Place Mohammed V, 5e; +33-1-40-51-38-38), a beautiful museum and library combining Arabesque and ultra modern architecture. The library has photo-reactive windows that open and close like a camera shutter to regulate the sun. The roof has an indoor/outdoor Arabic restaurant, Le Ziryab (+33-01-55-42-55-42 ) with a panoramic view highlighting the Seine and Place de la Bastille.
Fans of sharp, spicy, and sour cuisine will be in heaven at Kim Anh (51 avenue Emile Zola, 15e; +33-1-45-79-40-96; 18-40 EUR), an enthusiastically recommended Vietnamese restaurant with a devoted following.