After I returned from Paris, people asked me what I did there. Although I did actually see a good amount of sites and attractions, I always answered with a simple:
Those trips to the catacombs, the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre were fun and eye opening and educational, but mostly they were attempts to walk off the previous meal and kill time before the next one. The French really do have every right to be arrogant about their food, it is that good, and it's not just the really nice restaurants that are that good, the tiny corner creperies and bakeries are phenomenal. I ate like five meals a day there.
The trouble when traveling in Paris is finding the best restaurants. Of course there are famous ones where you can spend hundreds of dollars for a meal. You can do research online, but given how many quality restaurants there are, it seemed silly and limiting to choose a few before I got there, given that I might maximize my time there by eating where I was when I was exploring. Of course I could've planned a serious itinerary before I met, researching restaurants near sites, and creating spreadsheets of restaurants based on price and location. But really, who wants to be that guy?
I believe maximizing fun and enrichment while traveling requires a delicate balance between spontaneity and planning. You don't want to be a slave to lonely planet, but you also want to have a general idea of the best stuff in the area you’re in. The best way to do this is to talk to locals, but often times that requires being in a place for a while. I was in Paris for two days and I speak no French, so I relied heavily on the Trip Advisor app on my smartphone.
The app I had let me figure out where I was in Paris (which was useful by itself) and see restaurants around me and how they were rated. They had all 7000+ restaurants (or the ones listed on trip advisor) in Paris, and I could quickly see the exact rank of each restaurant around me. So although I might not be eating in the best restaurant in Paris, I knew whether I was eating in a top 100 or top 1000 establishment, which isn't an exact recommendation, but it certainly gave me a general idea about a restaurant's quality.
Of course these rankings are generated and compiled by Trip Advisor, so the truth is I was seeing the restaurants tourists loved the best. Some reviews were in French, but many were in English. So the sampling was obviously flawed. I wasn't going to find the new hole-in-the-wall authentic Parisian bistro that nobody knows about yet. But then again, not being able to speak French, the chances of me finding that place were pretty damn slim to begin with. I'm sure there were better restaurants then the ones I ate at, but the one's I managed to find in my wanderings were pretty damn good.
Here are some photos. Yes, I was totally that guy photographing his food.
Here's some delicious Pate.
Foie Gras, which is totally worth force feeding goose to get. The head of PETA would eat this. It's that good.
Rabbit leg. Raw jumping power tastes delicious.
And of course, French Onion Soup, with some Sancerre in the background.
You really don't need to find the absolute best restaurants in Paris. You'll find some phenomenal restuarants, and you'll enjoy them, regardless if they're the very best or not.