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Paris Bistros

One thing that’s certainly typically Parisian is the bistro! Be it a brasserie or just a little retro café, the simple menu and convivial atmosphere of a bistro can be found on nearly every Parisian street corner.

A 100% Parisian Concept: the Bistro

What does a Parisian bistro look like? Certain retro touches are obligatory for it to be a true classic. Old Parisian men rest their elbows on the zinc bar with a coffee (or something a bit stronger!) Huge mirrors line the walls, and the banquettes make for comfy places to spend an afternoon. The floors must be tiled, and the tables must be void of cumbersome tablecloths. Simplicity is the law of the land.

A bistro’s menu will be written in chalk on a blackboard. The menu will be simple, including traditional and home-style dishes, designed to fit with the season and the weather. The second you walk into a bistro, you’ll recognize the regulars, standing at the counter drinking glasses of red wine or liqueur, like byrrh, suze or lillet. The atmosphere will be lively – bordering on noisy – and the décor will have a certain well-used sheen to it. Or that’s what you would have seen, once upon a time. While these bistros still surely exist, the current fad is a departure from this authentic version that was once common: today’s bistro caters to a younger, hipper crowd who are after one thing: bistronomy.

Modern Bistros

Paris has witnessed a new wave of bistros: bistronomie is a portmanteau of bistro and gastronomie. Imagine a restaurant that combines the casual friendliness of a bistro (with its wallet-friendly prices, to boot) and the haute cuisine of a real restaurant, and you’ll be getting close to what today’s modern bistro has to offer.

For the past few years, pretty much every celebrity chef has opened a bistro, a sort of annex to their bigger projects. They serve inventive dishes with simple, high quality ingredients. There’s no fancy table setting or multiple forks. And there’s no stiff waiter standing behind you to fill your wine glass the second it’s empty!

Here, you’re more likely to find one waiter, maybe two, serving everyone at tables set with paper tablecloths. The décor is often simple, and the owner may even stop by to shake your hand and talk about his dish du jour. It’s a friendly atmosphere that most people love. It’s not fancy or chichi; it’s just an accessible place where you can go to eat good food. But beware: the modern bistro is also a favorite haunt of bobos… Paris’s answer to the hipster!

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