Growing up in a Los Angeles suburb well before the era of hipster food trucks, street food wasn’t much of a thing, especially since you rarely left the car to use your feet. Aside from the thirst-quenching Mexican paletas (popsicles) made from real watermelon or strawberry that I bought as a kid from vendors pushing white carts along scorching sidewalks, noshing on something delicious while ambling around simply wasn’t a ritual in my home town.
So when I first moved to Paris, I was surprised at how frequently I observed people huddled around street corners, casually ambling or perched on park benches– and gobbling down anything from crepes and bakery sandwiches to falafel and Vietnamese spring rolls.
It’s not just the tourists, either: despite the decidedly French– and often vocal– disdain for “le snacking” (eating outside of “normal” meal times), Parisians are increasingly gaga about street food.
It’s becoming recognized as a culinary category in its own right, where in the past French people often viewed it as something that unfortunate office workers with too-short lunch breaks had to endure, deprived of a proper meal and forced to eat sur la pouce (literally, “on the thumb”– in a rush).
Without further ado, Paris Unlocked Contributor Rachel Naismith and I share some of our favorite spots for a cheap and casual bite– perfect alternatives to avoid spending a fortune on a sit-down meal.
They also make great quick meals when you’re roaming the city and can’t be bothered to take the time for a more formal lunch or dinner– or for easy, spontaneous picnics.
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Falafel Heaven On Rue des Rosiers
This is one street food ritual in Paris that’s been running strong for years, well before “foodie” culture took hold– and it happens to remain my tried and true.
Of course, I’m not at all original in my steady love for the remarkably delicious, distinctive falafel served at a string of restaurants on Rue des Rosiers, in the heart of the old pletzl (Jewish Quarter).
The Israeli-style pita sandwiches served at L’As du Fallafel manage to combine a pleasing crunch (from cucumbers, deep-fried chickpea balls and chopped purple cabbage) with a soft, warm, oily goodness (think thick pita, melting slices of fried eggplant, and a slathering of creamy tahini dressing).
The combined effect is purely addictive, even if handling the overflowing pita often results in unsavory accidents and dribblings of tahini down your coat.
- Address: 34, rue des Rosiers, 4th arrondissement
- Metro: St-Paul
Other Falafel Restaurants We Like
Some of the other falafel joints on Rue des Rosiers are almost just as good– I especially love Chez H’Annah (at number 54). When I’m craving more raw vegetables and less greasy sauce, I beeline there, as their sandwiches are chock full of shredded carrots and cabbage, and somehow seem a bit healthier.
The lines are generally shorter here than at L’As, too. Chez Marianne, meanwhile, (2 Rue des Hospitalières Saint-Gervais, at the corner of Rue des Rosiers) is best for eating in: I find their take-out pitas degrees less delicious and satisfying than the ones served elsewhere on the street.
See more of our picks for the best falafel in Paris— including suggestions on where to find excellent Lebanese-style versions of the sandwich.
The falafel ritual in a nutshell (er, pita):
There’s no hard and fast rule for how to eat your falafel. I generally try to delicately eat some of the fillings with the aid of a fork before consuming the rest like a traditional sandwich, thus avoiding the aforementioned spillages.
You can either eat right outside the restaurant, or carefully transport your goods to a nearby park or square (Place des Vosges is a great place for a casual picnic).
Yiddish bakeries in the area
Also make sure to check out the traditional Yiddish bakeries lining Rue des Rosiers, selling delectable traditional breads, cakes, and savoury lunch items typical of Eastern European Jewish cuisine. Korcarz is my reigning favorite (29, Rue des Rosiers).
Man’Ouché: For Lebanese Pizza and Other Goodies
Coming in a close second to falafel from Rue des Rosiers are fresh Lebanese pizzas from Man’Ouché, a small stand situated in the city center, a block away from the Centre Georges Pompidou. Made by hand on a hot, dome-shaped griddle, these large flatbreads are meal-sized versions of the smaller ones served in most Lebanese eateries.
Traditionally smothered with a layer of za’atar, a distinctively aromatic seasoning made by crushing sesame seeds, sumac, thyme and other herbs and blending with olive oil, other common toppings include Lebanese cheese, fresh mint leaves, black olives and shredded meat.
The handmade, doughy flatbread is rolled into a wrap with your desired ingredients and then encased in foil to keep it warm and melty– perfect for strolling around and nibbling, or settling to sit (as per my own tradition) on the enormous, sloping plaza overlooking the Pompidou.
Just watch out for the pigeons– they love the stuff too, and certainly aren’t shy about trying to steal your food.
Man’ouché also sells falafel wraps, kebab and a variety of other Lebanese specialties for takeaway.
- Address: 62 rue Rambuteau, 3rd arrondissement
- Metro: Rambuteau or Les Halles
The Crepes (Savory Galettes) From Breizh Cafe
Paris has multitudes of crepe stands and restaurants, but not all are good: lower-quality vendors prepare a heaping pile of crepes in advance, then reheat them, making for a gummy and less-than-fresh tasting pancake.
When looking for crepes (sweet pancakes filled with jam, nutella, sugar, lemon or other dessert fillings) or galettes (Breton-style pancakes made from a nutty, hearty buckwheat flour and topped with savory ingredients such as cheese and egg), make sure you choose vendors who pour the batter onto the crepe pan right in front of you. Also verify that the ingredients look reasonably fresh.
My favorite creperies in Paris offering take-out crepes and galettes include Breizh Cafe ( 111, rue Vieille du Temple, Metro Hotel de Ville), long-renowned by foodies and now adored by locals as well.
While it can be very difficult to get a table at the sit-down restaurant, especially on weekends, the adjoining epicerie/grocery mercifully sells them to go.
With their focus on fresh regional ingredients and delicious, inventive fillings (their “Bretonne” savoury galette is a favorite, combining mushrooms, cheese, poached egg, smoked ham, creme fraiche and Basque Espelette pepper), Breizh has never disappointed me, despite being rather picky about crepes.
As a (mostly) vegetarian, my favorite savory galette there features sliced and grilled zucchini, egg, tomato, cheese and spinach. For dessert, their apple and salted butter caramel crepe is equally divine.
Heading across the Seine to the left bank, another takeaway stand I like is L’Avant-Comptoir in the Latin Quarter/St-Germain district (3, carrefour de l’odeon, Metro: Odeon).
This is a no-nonsense but consistently good option for a crepe or galette before or following a night of drinks in the Quartier Latin, or a show at a nearby theatre.
Le Food Market in Belleville
This recently conceived pop-up market in my beloved long-time neighborhood of Belleville runs two times a month, and sees 20 food vendors set up shop to serve everything from tacos and gourmet burgers to Vietnamese Pho and Moroccan tajines, as well as French specialties like moules-frites.
Main dishes will set you back less than 10 Euros each, and if you’re lucky you’ll snag a seat and one of the large tables, making for a convivial (and remarkably cheap) evening out.
Le Food Market – Ménilmontant to Couronnes
- When: Every second Thursday of the month, from 8:00 to 10:30 pm. See this page for forthcoming dates.
- Metro: Ménilmontant or Couronnes (along Boulevard de Belleville/Boulevard de Menilmontant), 20th arrondissement
Gourmet Grilled Cheese & Other Sandwiches from Fric-Frac
I discovered Fric-Frac on a gourmet food tour with Eating Europe, and it’s now one of my favorite places along the Canal St-Martin for a quick bite. Their specialty are croques-monsieurs, traditional French grilled sandwiches with cheese, béchamel sauce and ham.
Luckily, they also have several options for vegetarians, including a delicious sandwich filled with avocado, tomatoes, pine nuts, asparagus, basil, mint and green-pea pesto.
- Address: 79 Quai de Valmy, 75010 Paris
- Metro: République or Jacques-Bonsergent
The Gelato From Pozzetto
Especially in the summer when temperatures soar, there’s little more satisfying than a cup or cone of creamy ice cream or thirst-quenching sorbet. One of my very favorite places for a cold treat is Pozzetto, a gelateria in the Marais that makes small-batch gelatos with intense, true-to-life flavors onsite. While they offer a variety of intensely fruity, refreshing sorbets (think lemon or fragola (strawberry) I mostly go for their densely creamy milk-based gelatos.
The pistachio flavor at Pozzetto is rich, nutty and has nothing of the sickly green hues or artificial flavors of more industrial counterparts. Meanwhile, try the gianduja (chocolate-hazelnut) if, like me, you can’t get enough of that particular combination of flavors.
- Address: 39 Rue du Roi de Sicile, 75004
- Metro: St-Paul or Hotel de Ville
For more places to head in the summer months, see my full guide to the 5 best places for ice cream and gelato in Paris.
These glaciers (ice-cream makers/vendors) proffer treats that are full of intense, natural flavor, aren’t made with preservatives or artificial flavors and certainly don’t sit around to get freezer burned in past-expiration-date tubs.
Bành mí from Nonette Bành Mí & Donuts
The Vietnamese community in Paris is vibrant and diverse. While the 13th arrondissement may be home to the highest number of Vietnamese eateries in the city, you can find them all over Paris. Nonette Bành Mí & Donuts is a relative newcomer, opened in 2021. Their menu is simple, and everything is designed to be eaten on the go.
Their Bành Mí – a fusion dish with origins in the mid-19th century, when Vietnam fell under French colonial rule – are crafted around five basic elements which the team claim build “flavor layers”: fat, pickles, fresh herbs, protein, and seasoning. Their meats are 100% locally sourced, their siracha, mayo, and pickles are all made in house, and the artisanal baguettes are freshly baked each day.
For just a few Euros you can feast on a main course of bành mí, dessert in the form of a donut that beautifully fuses French-Asian flavors– like the ‘Kaya’, filled with pandan and coconut milk– and a drink. For me, the vegan bành mí rivals all of the meat options; crammed with flavor, Cà tím chiên consists of wok-fried eggplant cooked in black vinegar, garlic and ginger, and comes with crispy tofu and garlic mayo.
- Address: 71 Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, 75011
- Metro: Couronnes or Ménilmontant
The Asian Pastries from Patisserie de Choisy
Also in the 13th arrondissement (it is well worth a visit), head to Patisserie de Choisy, which boasts incredible Chinese-Vietnamese sweet and savory pastries. Each pastry costs just a couple of euros (at the time of writing), and there are loads to choose from.
Real highlights include the Bành bao, filled with roasted and honey-glazed pork, piping hot taro and pork beignets, and baked brioche rolls stuffed with durian custard.
- Address: 62 Av. de Choisy, 75013 Paris
- Metro: Maison Blanche or Porte de Choisy
Southeast Asian Crepes from Beng Beng
Head north to the 20th arrondissement and discover another of my favorite Southeast Asian street food restaurants, Beng Beng. The self-proclaimed “crêperie of Southeast Asia”, Beng Beng specializes in three types of pancakes: Bành Xeo (a crispy rice pancake from Vietman), Roti Canai (a Malaysian pancake prepared with ghee and wheat flour), and Jian Bing (a Taiwanese pancake made with soy flour and egg).
Wrapped in foil, it’s a portable and tasty light lunch, best enjoyed wandering by neighboring Canal St Martin. The fillings for the pancakes are vibrant and fresh, all topped with zesty homemade slaws and pickles.
- Address: 23 Rue Louis Blanc, 75010 Paris
- Metro: Louis Blanc
Roman-style pizza slices from Delitaly
In 2021 The New York Times declared Paris to be the best city (outside Italy) for Italian food, and we can’t help but agree. There are over 50,000 Italians living in the Paris region, so it’s not too hard to find a slice of la dolce vita here.
The Roman-style pizza from the Italian épicerie Delitaly is sold by the slice, making it an ideal midday snack. It has a crispy, thin base which is perfectly portable, and comes topped with the best of traditional Italian combinations. My favorite’s the white pizza topped with thinly sliced potatoes, then sprinkled with sea salt and rosemary.
- Address: 12 Rue de Bretagne, 75003
- Metro: Filles du Calvaire or Oberkampf
Neapolitan-style pizza from Faggio & Frittza
For something a bit more filling, Faggio offers one of the best Neapolitan pizzas in Paris.
There are two branches in the city, but the one on Rue Marguerite in the 9th arrondissement is less than a 10-minute walk away from Square Louise Michel near the Sacré Coeur in Montmartre, a great spot to enjoy a pizza and some people-watching in the warmer months.
The products at Faggio (Italian for the beech wood that fires their oven) are well sourced from quality farms, and the toppings shift according to the seasons.
Alternatively, if you really want to push the boat out, the newly opened Frittza in the 11th arrondissement specializes in the Neapolitan street food called pizza fritta: yes – fried pizza! It might sound heavy, but good pizza fritta should be light and crispy, something the team at Frittza nail every time. There are plenty of veggie options, and the lunchtime deals on a small pizza fritta and drink are excellent.
- Address: 72 Rue Marguerite de Rochechouart, 75009
- Metro: Anvers or Barbès – Rochechouart
Shisho Burger: for its adventurous fusion cooking
Shisho specializes in burgers asiatiques (Asian burgers): a fusion dish of traditional American hamburger fillings sandwiched between Chinese-style bao buns. There are two branches: one in the 5th arrondissement and one in the 3rd, but for its close proximity to the Seine River and the Latin Quarter, the branch in the 5th is an ideal spot if you fancy a scenic stroll while enjoying your food.
Don’t be nervous about eating this burger on the go: the soft and light (never doughy) bao bun, held tightly in brown paper packaging, is easy to eat, and they’re so “more-ish” you’ll probably polish it off in three bites.
Fillings include everything from the meat-heavy Bulgogi burger (their bestseller) complete with marinated Angus beef, melting cheddar cheese and teriyaki sauce, to veggie-friendly numbers like their fried tofu and eggplant-filled bao bun, drizzled in homemade spicy mayo.
- Address: 21 Quai Saint-Michel, 75005
- Metro: Cité
Dumbo: For more traditional burgers
For a more traditional burger, I highly recommend Dumbo, which specializes in ‘smash burgers’ (so-called because they’re flattened on the grill to create a crispy outer crust while maintaining a juicy center). The menu is brief and includes only three options, but all the burgers are superbly executed – hot, flavorsome, and not overly greasy.
Meanwhile, for more American-style fare, Michelin-starred chef Gregory Marchand’s latest venture, a high-end takeout eatery called Frenchie To Go, offers elevated classics such as brioche-bun hot dogs and Reuben sandwiches on homemade rye bread.
- Address: 64 Rue Jean-Baptiste Pigalle, 75009
- Metro: Pigalle
Boneshaker Donuts and a few more on-the-go desserts
Most traditional Parisian sweet treats are not designed to be eaten in transit — and I say this as someone who once attempted (and failed!) to enjoy a Paris Brest pastry on a busy metro. Thankfully, there are a number of spots in the city that offer tasty desserts designed to be enjoyed on the move.
Enter Boneshaker Donuts, a donut shop with a distinctively Parisian flair. Using a combination of traditional American and French pastry techniques, the flavors at Boneshaker are dictated by the seasons, and – good news for those avoiding dairy products – they’re also entirely vegan. The best donut I’ve had from the place was a perfectly balanced peach and basil affair, but whichever you opt for, you can’t really go wrong.
- Address: 86 Rue d’Aboukir, 75002
- Metro: Sentier or Bourse
Other great street food desserts include the fleur de sel cookies at popular brunch spot Gramme (the coffee here is brilliant too, an ideal accompaniment to your cookie), as well as the individual babka rolls from Babka Zana (65 Rue Condorcet, 9th arrondissement), which has outlets in both South Pigalle and the Marais. Their halva and lemon zest flavor makes for the perfect afternoon pick-me-up!
Finally, if you care for something a little more traditional, go native and order a slice of flan — the only pâtisserie you’ll ever see Parisians eating on the sidewalk. With a robust crust and set custard center, it’s mess-free and comforting in its simplicity. My favorite is the flan nature (plain flan) at Pain Pain (88 Rue des Martyrs, 9th arrondissement).
More Fantastic Street Food in Paris
While the places and goodies covered here are my long-time favorites, plenty of trendy new food trucks and creative little eateries are offering decent to excellent street food these days in the capital.
For even more suggestions, I recommend this page at Time Out Paris. And make sure to check back here for more suggestions on where to dine out, picnic and nibble in the capital.
Book a Gourmet Street Food or French Culinary Tour
There are some great food tours you can book here (via TripAdvisor). I also highly recommend the food tours of Paris offered by Eating Europe: they’re authentic, culturally enriching and give you plenty of goodies to sample, including some excellent street and bakery fare.
Special offer: Book a Paris tour at Eating Europe and get 10% off the listed tour price when you enter the promocode PARISUNLOCKED at checkout.