Try Londoner expat Giovanni Alpa’s hearty Italian-oriented fare, like rigatoni and sausage ($18), at Sole Caffe e Cucina (1 avenue Trudaine, +33 01 42 81 11 34), where Gus Van Sant, photographer Jean-Baptiste Mondino, the White Stripes, and Arcade Fire have all dined. The big white room evokes seventies Soho with accents like a sexy vintage photo of French pop icon Françoise Hardy.
Discover the quiet charms of Montmartre at Le XVIIIème Barathym (2 rue Ramey, +33 01 42 54 61 31), a cozy three-level, stone-walled restaurant where chef Sébastien Héloin serves subtle twists on classic French fare like filet mignon of pork over creamy polenta ($26). Saturday nights, sit up at the front bar and share a bottle of Côtes de Blayes ($36) while listening to live jazz manouche, France’s particular brand of “gypsy jazz.”
Book a few days in advance for dinner at Chéri Bibi (15 rue André-del-Sartre, +33 01 42 54 88 96), a perennially packed boîte where artsy locals flock for the three-course prix fixe ($34), including a mijotaï de boeuf (beef in a Thai marinade of coconut milk, basil, and lemon). On the third Monday of every month, a friend of the staff guest-chefs and serves a meal for $14 at 7:30 p.m.