Traveling is one of life’s great pleasures, and for some of us, Paris is at the top of the to-visit list. The reasons why are plentiful, beginning with heady visions of wining and dining. Romantics swoon at the thought of sipping a glass of rosé or a tiny tasse de café at a St. Germain des Prés terrace table, just like Hemingway did back in the day, and foodies revel in the fantasy of dashing waiters serving steaming plates of … well, this is where vegan and vegetarian travelers' dreams hiccup. What does an herbivore eat in the City of Light? The short answer is anything she wants!
In the last few years, the Parisian dining scene has exploded with vegan and vegetarian options. From Indian dosas and thalis to Brooklyn-style burgers to faux pho and raw pizza, the edible world is the herbivore’s oyster in the French capital. These are just a few of my favorite spots, pulled from the pages of my newest book, Vegetarian Paris.
178 rue du Faubourg Saint Denis
This friendly little spot right around the corner from Gare du Nord offers both North and South Indian specialties, including dosas, utthapam, and thalis, but Sangeetha’s edge over the other veg Indian restaurants is chaat, otherwise known as Indian street snacks. Bhel puri, sev puri, and other tasty treats brimming with the flavor of chilies, cilantro, and citrus are the house specialties, and most everything on the menu rings in at less than €10. Other possibilities include idly sambar, vada, and bonda. Live classical Indian music on Friday nights makes the dining experience a bit more special.
41 rue des Bourdonnais
Métro: Chatelet-Les Halles
This welcoming restaurant is 90-percent vegan, and a relaxed spot for dinner with friends or a leisurely weekday lunch. The food is “French,” meaning that patés, terrines, and big salads feature prominently. Try the Escalope de Seitan or the Assiette Composé—the culinary equivalent of a trip to a health spa—and don’t miss the terrine de champignon served with onion chutney. Wine is served, as well as desserts like vegan crème brulée, carrot cake, and fruit crumbles. Lots of gluten-free options to choose from, too, including beer. Prices for the mid-day formule (first course, main course, dessert) run €15.90; the evening formule is €18.90.
24 rue Brochant
Many Paris restaurants promise healthy, delicious food, but My Kitch’n really delivers. Amazingly delicious green smoothies (€4.50), potent and tasty Fairtrade Marley coffee (€2.50), and imaginative sweet and savory dishes. The daily soup (€4.50) might be carrot-ginger, and odds are good there’ll be raw carrot cake (€4.50) or maybe a tasty fig cake with lavender icing (€3.20). The homemade gluten- and soy-free burgers (€12.50) come with roasted potatoes and green garnish, and are one of the main reasons to make a detour to this fast-casual spot inside the Batignolles covered market; the super-friendly service is another. Jennifer, the lovely English-speaking proprietor, is a fountain of knowledge and will happily explain her culinary philosophy and share facts related to plant-based diets. A small seating area inside, and take-away options galore. More good news: A second My Kitch’n location is opening this month right around the corner!
We're giving away one copy of Vegetarian Paris to a lucky reader. For a chance to win, tell us: If you could hop a plane, train, boat, or bike and travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
photo courtesy of Cafe Pinson