Elie Obeid

For the past 15 years, Lebanese-born Elie Obeid has called Paris home. Kicking off his professional journey as barista at Fragments cafe, he went on to being involved in projects including cinnamon bun hotspot Circus Bakery and cocktail bar Cravan. In short: he’s no stranger to new-wave Parisian drinking and dining, as demonstrated by this hit-list that takes in Japanese bakers, the capital’s best Lebanese players, underrated classic bistros and hip caves a manger.

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The Paris Food Scene of Today

I think Paris has always been much slower than other European cities in adapting to a changing food landscape. Paris has a long history of good looking and good tasting plates, so the city is never very open to change. The pandemic hasn’t helped in that aspect, but Paris looks very different than it did when I moved here. People’s habits have changed, especially with regards to how they go out for drinks or food. More of the places that are opening are more along the lines of wine bars with small plates to share and less really-good-looking restaurant or classic bistro. I think French cuisine is not so much about some magical or perfect taste, but more about the culture that embodies it: the weekly markets loaded with excellent French produce, the cheese shops, the wine bars, the bakeries.

Casual, No-Reservation Places

I love going to these new places that are centred around socialising with friends and the people that are there: around good wine and good food that comes in small sharing plates. These casual, no-reservation kinds of places are much more than a restaurant or a bar and are somewhere in between. You just go there to enjoy your time. Chambre Noire was kind of the first natural wine bar I started going to in Paris. I’ve known owner Oliver Lomeli since the opening, almost. He has always been on point in his international natural wine selection, which makes his place one of the best in the city’s wine scene. Chambre Noire also serves small plates to share, and the quality is always very good.

My Favourite Natural Wine Bars in Paris

I love going to Vivant a lot. It has one tiny bar where you sit and watch the chef cooking, and he then hands you food over the bar. The sommelier is very good and really passionate, he’ll explain every bottle of wine for you and suggest good pairings. Septime La Cave is literally a cave a vin: a wine shop where you casually sit in between wine bottles and share small plates of cheese and charcuterie with very good, mostly natural, wine. Le Verre Volé is known for its impressive selection of wine from the wine shop it has. It’s somewhere between a bar and a restaurant and serves beautifully plated tapas to share, using very good quality ingredients, with lots of fresh meat and fish. These are the top three places I go to when I go out.

A Reimagined French Cafe Making Paris More Fun and Laidback

Martin Boire et Manger is a very cool place that looks like an old French cafe, but once you’re inside, you’re in for a surprise. The people who own it also own other restaurants in the city, but the way they’ve changed up this old space and the vibe they’ve created is what’s actually making Paris more fun and laidback. Martin Boire et Manger has a very nice selection of artisanal beers and good wines, and serves really good food. There is a big table inside that you can share with people. Alternatively, you can sit outside or stand around a barrel and share a nice beer with friends.

Coffee Shop Turned Sourdough Bakery

For the last three years, a lot of new bakeries have popped up all over the city. I’m talking about the new-wave kind of bakeries with very high quality sourdough bread baked using different grains and flours, and pastries that are less French and more on the Scandinavian side, plus some popular American ones. Since Circus Bakery closed, Ten Belles has become one of my go-tos for these. It was one of the first sourdough bakeries in Paris and used to be a coffee shop before the people behind it opened the bakery. They really have some of the best bread in the city and very nice cakes. Some of these cakes used to be served at the coffee shop, and you can now buy any of them at the bakery. I also like going to Du Pain et des Idées. It’s one of the most popular bakeries in Paris, famous for its chocolate and pistachio escargot. I go there for this particular pastry. It’s very nice and they have it in many other flavours as well. You can also buy other good viennoiseries there.

Pastries that Combine French Tradition With Japanese Creativity

In the 7th arrondissement, there’s a shop by a Japanese pastry chef called Mori Yoshida. I just love everything he does, whether it’s pastry, chocolate or viennoiserie: it all looks and tastes perfect. He’s very picky about the ingredients he uses and the kind of pastries he makes. The shop doesn’t have a salon de thé or anything: it’s just a grab and go. It’s not usually busy, not because it’s unknown, but because it’s not in the most central location. I don’t usually go to that area myself, because there’s nothing happening there, no coffee shops, no good bakeries. I go there specifically for his creations, because I end up enjoying every bite of it. 

Where I Spend Most of My Mornings

I love coffee. I start every morning with a good cup of it. Dreamin Man is where I spend most of my mornings in Paris. It’s a coffee shop owned by Yuichiro and Yu, a Japanese couple that I’ve known for six years. He used to be a barista at another coffee shop and his girlfriend baked for that place. He now has his own cafe. It’s very small, with only three tables inside and a small terrace outside. I like the vibe there. It always plays good music, you get to meet a lot of interesting people that walk in and out of the place, and the coffee is very good.

The Rise of House-Roasted Coffee in Paris

When it comes to coffee roasting, Paris is no Copenhagen, but more coffee bars are roasting their own beans. Partisan is a good example: a very nice coffee shop owned by Georges Karam who’s also Lebanese. We met very randomly five years ago while having a cup of coffee somewhere, and he told me about this project he was working on. We became friends and I now frequent his cafe. It’s very different from what you usually see in Paris. It’s bigger in size compared to the much smaller coffee shops we’re used to. The interior has an industrial feel and the roasting machine is in view. You get to smell coffee being roasted while enjoying a brewed cup of house-roasted coffee.

The Best Lebanese Restaurant in Paris

I worked for some Lebanese restaurants as a student and I thought, “no way, this is not Lebanese food. This is not what we eat every day and is not the quality we know.” Luckily, many more Lebanese restaurants have opened since, especially in the last two years, and they’ve raised the quality of Lebanese food in France. I’m so happy that a few weeks ago, Tawlet by Souk El Tayeb opened in Paris. It’s a project that I’ve been following for a long time. I’ve been helping out since the opening and I’m really happy it’s finally up and running. It’s definitely the best Lebanese restaurant in Paris at the moment. It feels and tastes like home. Tawlet in Beirut was never only a restaurant to me. It’s a place where I went to feel like home. You talk to these amazing women cooking the cuisine of their region in the kitchen, and they are so generous and so happy to be there. It’s really the same vibe in Paris. All the women cooking there are Lebanese women who live in Paris, and every month one cook comes from Lebanon to check on the recipes and shine the light on more regional cuisines from Lebanon. When I’m craving very authentic Lebanese food, I now know where to go. Tawlet also sells a lot of Lebanese products like olive oil, preserves, zaatar, sumac, Lebanese wines and arak. This Dekenet corner is a big part of the place, where you can get your hands on some of the best producers of Lebanese pantry essentials.

Modern Lebanese Favourites

Liza has been open in Paris for more than 17 years now. It was the first Lebanese restaurant in Paris with a modern face and is still doing really well. There is a new one called Tintamarre owned by chef Gabrielle Beck, a Lebanese interior architect who decided to learn how to cook, and her journey led her to opening this restaurant. She has a new way of looking at Lebanese food. It’s a place you go to discover new tastes and to see how French ingredients mix in with Lebanese cuisine in a very interesting way.

“I Discovered Real Japanese Cuisine in Paris”

Street food doesn’t really exist in Paris. For me, street food is a meal that is affordable to everyone, a bite you pick up from a small kiosk any time of the day and can enjoy while walking. The culture in Paris is still that most restaurants close from three to seven in the afternoon and it’s very hard to find a good place to eat during these times. I discovered real Japanese cuisine in Paris, and I really appreciate it. Udon is one of my favourite things to eat. I go to Sanukiya to have it, an authentic Japanese place that opens non-stop all day and closes at 10 in the evening. This is something I would do at least once a week. Onigiri (Japanese rice balls) seems to be another new trend in Paris now, and there are new places opening up that specialise in it. O-Komé Onigiri opened only a few weeks ago in the Saint Germain des Près area in the centre of Paris. You can enjoy these small bites of rice with very good fish any time of the day.

My Favourite Italian in Paris

Italian cuisine is my favourite. Racines is a small restaurant owned by Italian chef Simone Tondo and is one of my favourite places to eat seasonal Italian food, paired with excellent wines from Italy. The recipes there are not strictly Italian, but they mostly are with Sardinia being well represented. Dishes rotate on a blackboard. My favourite meal there is definitely his lamb stew tagliatelle. The restaurant received a Michelin star two years ago.

Japan Meets Lebanon in a Café-Bakery With the City’s Best Cookies

Mokonuts is one of the places I keep going to since it opened almost six years ago. The chef, Omar, is Lebanese: his wife, Moko, is Japanese and is just adorable. The food Omar serves isn’t exactly Lebanese, but he has always liked to add his Lebanese touch to it. For example, labneh is always on the menu, and you find zaatar, sumac or tahini unexpectedly in some of his dishes. What I love about this place is that I can go there at nine in the morning for some labneh with fresh bread that Moko bakes, plus some of her cookies which to me are the best cookies in Paris. It serves very decent coffee as well. Mokonuts opens from Monday to Friday for breakfast and lunch only, but if you’re eight to 10 people, you can book the place at night and they will offer you a host table. It’s an amazing experience to have.

The French Bistro You Should Visit at Least Once

Le Baratin is a very old French bistro owned by Raquel and her husband Philippe. They are always present, in the kitchen and in the service. They are both very authentic and the food they serve is just perfect. There are dishes that you can’t find easily in Paris, like cow tongue and brain. My favourite meal there is the beef cheek. I wouldn’t say that they follow the trend necessarily, but they always know what to serve. They have an impressive selection of wine from independent producers to delicious natural ones. The place itself is very authentic and is one of my favourite bistros. It’s a bit far from the centre of Paris, but it’s really worth going up the hill to Belleville for dinner there at least once when visiting Paris.

The Best Meat in Paris

Chef Jaïs is a friend who’s journey I’ve been following for a while. He’s very authentic and generous. Le Petit Célestin is his first venture, a small bistro in a very beautiful old place where he serves very good French cuisine. He opened Jaïs five years ago which has more bistronomy vibes, a lot more diversity and creativity. I know that he serves the best meat I can eat in Paris there. He always makes sure to get the best fish, so I’ve enjoyed really good fish dishes at his restaurant as well.

“I’ve Had the Best Seafood in Paris There”

There are a lot of classic bistros that I recommend to people visiting the city, like Bistrot Paul Bert, Chez Fred, Aux Deux Amis, Le Châteaubriand, Septime and Le Relai de Venise which is an all-time classic. Michelin-starred Septime has a sister restaurant nearby called Clamato that’s all about seafood. I’ve had the best seafood in Paris there. I usually go for an early dinner, around six or seven. Since they have a wine bar I get to enjoy a glass from a very good list that pairs perfectly with their shellfish platters, raw fish dishes and whole fish.

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