Nine Notable Paris Brasseries

With their metropolitan glamour, convenient hours, and gorgeous interiors, Parisian brasseries (the city's original beer halls) are easy to love. Unfortunately, most of them are now owned by one of two large chains, which has resulted in increasingly mediocre food. Here are some wonderful exceptions.

The Latin Quarter took up arms when Brasserie Balzar, a much-loved stalwart next to the Sorbonne, became part of the Groupe Flo chain nine years ago. Happily, not much has changed. Waiters in long white aprons still serve onion soup, marinated herring, and roast chicken to a stylish international crowd. Just across from the Bourse, Le Vaudeville is an intimate spot with a smoke-ambered Art Deco interior (and a tiny but pleasant terrace) that's ideal for a late supper of, say, oysters and grilled cod with potato purée. (Very popular; be sure to reserve.) Recently renovated, the bustling, good-humored Au Pied de Cochon, in the heart of town, still has its brass pigs'-feet door handles and frosted-glass sconces. It serves fine classics like oysters, onion soup, and the signature trotter. The main reason to go to La Coupole, the Art Deco dining room that has anchored Montparnasse since 1927, is the wildly heterogeneous crowd. Stick to simple dishes like oysters, soups, salads, and grilled meats. Fan-patterned mosaic floors, etched-glass partitions, and wood paneling—plus the frisson of impending arrivals and departures—make Terminus Nord, across the street from the Gare du Nord, a good choice for a last meal before a trip to London, Brussels, or Amsterdam. Christian Constant, formerly of the Crillon, has signed on as consultant at the recently renovated Les Grandes Marches, an airy, contemporary space next to the Opéra Bastille. The terrine of crab and the guinea hen with wild mushrooms are particularly impressive. Dark-wood paneling, sassy waiters, and appealing dishes like coq au Riesling and choucroute garnie keep the long-running, tavernlike Brasserie de l'Île St-Louis popular with Parisians and tourists alike. On the outer edge of the Latin Quarter (and lacking some of the buzz of the better-known places), Restaurant Marty serves some of Paris's best brasserie food. The escargots and navarin d'agneau make for a fine feast, and desserts like caramelized Mirabelle plums with vanilla ice cream in a pastry tulipe are impressive. The Alsatian connection (fresh choucroute is delivered weekly from a small producer near Strasbourg) explains the popularity of Chez Jenny, a festive spot in the 3rd arrondissement. Try the choucroute with rotisseried pork knuckle and (instead of one of the ordinary desserts) splurge on a good Riesling.

Brasserie Balzar, 49 rue des Écoles; 5th; 01-43-54-13-67
Le Vaudeville, 29 rue Vivienne; 2nd; 01-40-20-04-62
Au Pied de Cochon, 6 rue Coquillière; 1st; 01-40-13-77-00
La Coupole, 102 boulevard du Montparnasse; 14th; 01-43-20-14-20
Terminus Nord, 23 rue de Dunkerque; 10th; 01-42-85-05-15
Les Grandes Marches, 6 place de la Bastille; 12th; 01-43-42-90-32
Brasserie de l'Île St-Louis, 55 quai de Bourbon; 4th; 01-43-54-02-59
Restaurant Marty, 20 avenue des Gobelins, 5th; 01-43-31-39-51
Chez Jenny, 39 boulevard du Temple; 3rd; 01-44-54-39-00

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