Richard Nahem, an ex-New Yorker living in Paris, leads private insider tours showing visitors the Paris most of them never see on their own (www.eyepreferparistours.com), and also writes a popular insider's blog www.eyepreferparis.com.
Up until about 18 months ago, Paris was almost a barren wasteland when it came to vegetarian and gluten free food. The less than handful of vegetarian restaurants had unimaginative, barely edible food and the only other options were falafels in the Jewish Quarter in the Marais and goat cheese salad. Things have changed significantly and there is now a healthy selection of vegetarian options with imaginative cuisine.
Located in the trendy, fashionable Northern Marais/NORMA, Café Pinson is a culinary and visual delight. The menu offers vegetarian, mostly vegan, and partially gluten free food. At lunch there is a well-priced prix fixe that includes a soup or vegetable tart, main course, and dessert for just 17 euros. On the day we visited we had a soothing butternut squash soup, risotto made with a gluten free rice, and sugarless dessert with an interesting taste combo, pears and Rooibos tea. The modern but cozy interior is as appetizing as the food. Café Pinson also serves an unusual Sunday brunch consisting of slow cooked eggs at a low temperature, savory Madeleines, a vegetable mousse, raw or cooked granola, fresh juice, and a Nutella type spread made with raw hazelnuts.
6 rue de Forez, 75003
Open 9AM to 7PM, Monday to Friday
Saturday 10AM to 7PM
Sunday 10AM to 5PM
Two sisters and their best friend from Australia move to Paris to fulfill their fantasy. They love the City of Light but miss their local canteen/coffee shop called a Tuck shop in Australia. What to do? Open their own in a hip neighborhood. Voila! The Tuck Shop has been open for a few short months and has become the hit of the Canal St. Martin area. The girls have updated the Tuck Shop model by serving all vegetarian cuisine using only organic ingredients and the lunch special is a bowl of steaming soup, a veggie sandwich, and a homemade cake for only 12 euros. A special brunch is served on Sundays and the superior coffee, a Peruvian and Brazilian mix, has been custom blended by Cotume, the best coffee house in Paris.
13 rue Lucien Sampaix, 75010
Open 9AM to 5PM Tuesday to Sunday 11AM to 7PM Sunday
Gentle Gourmet bills itself as first gourmet vegan restaurant in Paris. From the outside it looks like typical contemporary French restaurant with hardwood floors, slick black furniture, and white walls with modern art.
Chef and owner Deborah Pivain had a successful bread and breakfast in Paris where she cooked a vegan dinner every night for her guests before forging ahead full time with Gentle Gourmet. The highly imaginative menu includes you-could-swear-it-was meat, veggie burgers, vegan fondue, crispy mushrooms with faux foie gras, and crepes with a salted butter caramel sauce. The minimalist presentation on elegant white china takes vegan to a much more sophisticated level.
Gentle gourmet also has a takeout department.
Gentle Gourmet Café
24 Boulevard de la Bastille, 75012