Many people who visit Paris seem to think that the 11th arrondissement is the only place where it’s possible to drink killer natural wines and eat well. Sure, it’s a neighborhood not to be missed, but just a bit to the north is an area that’s brimming with some of the most idiosyncratic, charming, and in some cases iconic spots on the Right Bank: the 10th arrondissement. Starting at the Canal Saint-Martin and spanning westward, with the Gare du Nord as its northern border and the Boulevard Saint-Denis along the southern, it’s a great area to drink and eat well and stylishly, without spending too much.
Here’s a brief guide to the restaurants and wine bars that liven the somewhat gritty streets of Paris X. With the exception of the cozy natural wine bar La Cave à Michel, and Faggio and Pacchio, which are walk-in only, reservations by phone or website are recommended or essential at all of these restaurants. None of these places are particularly formal or expensive.
The vibe here is warm, casual, with hearty, comforting food, most notably the famous sausage and mash dish, but with some more delicate, composed offerings, as well. The staff is relaxed and friendly, and the wine selection is extensive and eclectic, going far and beyond French regions to showcase Italian, Central European, and Australian natural wines. Saturday lunch here is a long, boozy affair; if you’re lucky, there will be an accordion player and the whole place will burst into song. Open Tuesday through Saturday for lunch and dinner.
Parisians’ favorite spot for apéro (a glass or three of wine before dinner), a casual date, or just partying with your friends long after this narrow wine bar is meant to be closed. When you order oeufs mayo, instead of coming in the form of deviled eggs—sliced, with sauce on top—you’ll get two hard-boiled eggs alongside a pot of aioli. Simple pasta dishes and some composed smoked fish plates are also on the menu. There’s a killer natural wine selection here, including some harder-to-find bottles from favorites such as Ganevat, as well as newer darlings of the natural wine world such as Pierre Rousse. Chef-owner Romain Tischenko also has a very good restaurant nearby called Le Galopin, if you want something more sit-down. Open Wednesday through Sunday evenings.
At this iconic Paris institution, the most important thing is to understand that this is nota wine bar: It’s a restaurant. Come hungry, order plenty of fresh seafood starters, share the hearty main courses, get the boudin noir if it’s available, finish with a cheese plate. The wine selection changes regularly and it goes far beyond what’s visible on the shelves for takeout sales; just say what you’re in the mood for and your server will hopefully surprise you with something fun. Open seven days a week for lunch and dinner.
A Brazilian and Italian who met while cooking in Milan are making seasonal and innovative food, with regularly changing menus, straight from their hearts. The flavor combinations are adventurous yet seem to always harmonize, and the plating is stunning (yes, you’ll impress your Instagram followers). Don’t skip dessert. Plenty of good Champagne, Burgundy, and Rhône Valley wines from small growers will be found here. Beautiful natural lighting fills the place at lunch, for your Vitamin D fix during the city’s grayer days. Open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner.
The precocious and idiosyncratic chef Pierre Touitou cooks miraculous yet simple dishes, sometimes channeling his Tunisian heritage, at Vivant, one of the tiniest restaurants in the city. There is literally no kitchen here: It’s all done behind the bar, with loud music blasting to keep the team energized. Starters are fish- and veggie-centric, adulterated only through pickling, and accentuated by various creamy, flavorful sauces. The meal culminates with fresh, light pasta, which you can watch Touitou make for you if you’re seated at the bar (recommended). Plenty of tasty wines from around Europe are displayed in the glass case; the staff has deep knowledge of the selection and can help you find something exciting. Open Monday through Friday for dinner. This fall, Touitou will open a new spot down the street, a standing-room-only wine bar called Deviant, which will have delicious snacks and glass pours from jeroboams on weekends.
Technically, these sister restaurants are in Pigalle, which is adjacent to the 10th. At Faggio, you’ll find seriously good pizza with perfectly crunchy, just-slightly-burnt-in-the-right-places thin crust, fresh out of the Cantabrian oven, and lots of fresh toppings, as well as many fun glou-glou bottles and kitschy yellow checkered tablecloths. Across the way is the small-plates restaurant Pacchio, serving fresh pastas, seasonal veggie dishes, and a really nice octopus and hummus dish, all artfully plated. The walls are tastefully adorned with portraits of quirky natural winemakers around the world, including Massimo Marchiori of Partida Creus, Patrick Bouju (and Action Bronson), and Jean-Yves Perón. Great wines, easygoing atmosphere, and no reservations: These spots could be your ideal Thursday night out. Open Wednesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner.
Le Mordant is a simple bistro serving excellent, classic dishes made with seasonal ingredients and plenty of funky wines. This place is ideal for lunch or dinner—the atmosphere is perfect elegance, with black cushions softening the landing on wooden banquettes, exposed brick, and sculpted black light fixtures. Despite the design-forward setting, this is still a Parisian bistro at heart, with well-made mainstays such as razor clams, steak tartare, and slightly more offbeat dishes such as American-style ribs. It’s a great place to catch up with a friend over a long, yet affordable, lunch. Open Tuesday through Friday for lunch and dinner; Saturday for breakfast only.
The idea behind this recently-opened eatery, whose first selling point is its beautiful interior design—the dining room is filled with plants, lemon trees, and natural fibers adorning the light fixtures, a handmade clay sink basin in the bathroom, a handsome communal table near the bar, and comfy banquettes loaded with pillows—is to treat producers with utmost respect. To this end, Les Résistants works directly with farmers and winegrowers, cutting out the middleman, and offers detailed descriptions of purveyors on their menu. What this means, in terms of wine, is that you’ll find some gems here at a lower price than you would elsewhere—thanks to the elimination of a distributor. For example, nearly the entire lineup of Julien Guillot’s excellent wines from his historic family estate in the Macôn is to be drunk here. On a recent visit, a Côt from Mikaël Bouges was perfectly easy and interesting to drink alongside every course.