The French love to joke that the American diet consists of cheeseburgers, bacon cheeseburgers and diet soda. I find this to be one of the more amusing stereotypes because I’ve actually eaten more burgers in Paris than I ever have on American soil. Despite all their teasing, the French (or at least Parisians) go nuts for a big juicy patty with a side of “American Sauce.” In Paris, if burgers are on the menu, it’s likely to be the most ordered item.
Given the documented use of red meat implanted with hormones in the U.S., I’m more inclined to order a burger in Paris. Yet there are still some elements that need refining, notably when it comes to the burger bun. The majority of restaurants that serve burgers use hamburger buns purchased from the supermarket (Harry’s, most likely) and more often than not, processed cheddar. In a country where breads and cheese are held in religious sanctity, I have trouble digesting (ha!) the lack of effort. Surely restaurateurs could convince local bakeries to supply them with freshly baked hamburger buns or better yet, they could make them themselves! The pre-sliced cheddar is completely unacceptable on all fronts yet very common. So just like the mediocre poulet rôti’s and dressing-imbibed green salads that leave you dismayed, most Parisian burgers suffer the same fate.
But there’s hope (isn’t there always?). In the 4+ years I’ve been in Paris, I’ve sampled enough to know a good burger so I’ve compiled my favorites.
[photo on top of page]
Perhaps the best taste for value burger I have found in Paris. At just under 7€, their hamburger is the perfect size and won’t leave you feeling like you just swallowed a piano. The patty was small but thick and sandwiched between what tasted like a cross between a hamburger bun and a fresh brioche. The burger wouldn’t have been noteworthy without the bun which could have very well been homemade since the bottom floor of Coquelicot is a bustling bakery with a drool-worthy assortment of pastries, mini cakes, macaroons, candy, sandwiches and fresh breads. The only element missing was a nice layer of melted Gruyère but at that price, there’s little reason to complain!
Also worth trying: one of their many quiches
24 Rue Abbesses, 75018 Paris
01 46 06 18 77
When I was interning exactly two years ago (oh, time flies), I was right in the Grands Boulevards/Bonne Nouvelle section of the city which is made up of a mix of shops, restaurants, offices and wholesale stores. I was working in a design agency where most of the full-time employees only went out at lunch to grab a sandwich and run back to their desks, American style, and therefore remained close to the office. After two weeks of grabbing a quinoa salad and dessert from 5 Fruits et Légumes Chaque Jour, a healthy lunch shop, I needed to venture further from the office to see what else was available.
Fortunately, I stumbled upon Super Nature. A very small, minimalist organic canteen that had a cheeseburger on its menu. The first time I walked in I sheepishly asked the owner if the burger was real beef or a substitute (seemed like the kind of place that might actually be vegan) at which point she immediately asked me if I was American. Who knew that inquiring about a burger immediately set off the American alarm?
She chuckled and reassured me that it was beef and without hesitation, I plopped myself down at a little table where she immediately brought a basket of organic buckwheat bread and a pitcher of water. I had low expectations of the burger but couldn’t believe my eyes when it arrived. A thick, juicy patty cooked perfectly as I ordered, on a poppy seed bun with melted cheese, and a generous pile of sprouts. Served with a bit of salad, mostly to fill the plate, and a quinoa cake, I went back to the office energized and impressed. Sweet potato wedges sometimes replaced the quinoa cake (I became a regular).
Also worth trying: their Sunday brunch! At 20€ you get the most original brunch I think you can find it Paris and a choice between the ‘nature‘ and ‘detox‘ menu which I assure you is both unbelievably filling and refreshing. Must reserve, do not eat before going, you need to be at optimal hunger!
12 rue de trevise 75010, Paris
Métro: Grands Boulevards
The best restaurant I’ve tried in the 17th is L’Accolade, but it’s pricey and best at dinner. But where can you go in the 17th for excellent beef and above average service? No, not Buffalo Grill. Le Bistrot de l’Entrecôte is not associated with the famous L’Entrecôte where you walk in knowing exactly what you’re going to be served (no choice): lettuce and walnut salad, steak & fries with their secret butter sauce.
Le Bistrot is completely independent from the other restaurants, far more modern and offers a variety of beef dishes, a small selection of fish and one delightful burger- a large burger with freshly melted cheddar and a side of mini pickles, tomato and sliced onion. The bun isn’t very exciting but the quality of the meat makes up for it. Comes with a copious side of French fries. Le Bistrot wins extra points for serving a plate of mini toasts with fresh tapenade as soon as you get situated at your table. If you go at lunch, expect to be surrounded by businessmen and women but don’t feel out of place – I’ve eaten alone, nudged between two old men enjoying their entrecôtes and newspapers.
Burger: 16€ (but doesn’t disappoint)
Also worth trying: the entrecôte, served with the ‘secret sauce’ and French fries.
10 Place du Marechal Juin, 75017 Paris
Open 7 days a week
A friend of mine recommended Coffee Parisien to me not too long ago and having passed by it several times of the last 4 years, I figured it was time to give it a try. David Lebovitz’s review of their burgers also influenced the decision to go – if he approved, surely it must be decent!
And it was. The burgers are small but full of flavor and while the bun isn’t great, the fries are. I wouldn’t rank them as the best or most authentic but they make an excellent diner burger (without having to actually be in a diner). Fun aside: Gulden’s mustard is front and center on each table, no French Dijon in sight.
Also worth trying: the pecan pie! I’ve had better homemade pies but for a restaurant run by a Parisian, it comes pretty close to the real thing.
4, rue Princesse, 75006 Paris
01 43 54 18 18
Next on the list to try: Le Floréal, as suggested by Paris Notebook.
Any burger favorites you want to add to the list?
Philadelphia native Lindsey Tramuta came to Paris to go to school and stayed on because she fell in love with her now-husband Cédric. This marketing and communications professional also loves food, music and reading. And she willingly shares her often-amusing views on life as an expat in Paris in her blog, Lost In Cheeseland.