While the coffee and pastries here are enough reason to go any time of the day, get there at noon for the peppery shakshuka. At six euros, this warm, spicy egg dish delivers a punch of flavors you won’t find in most Parisian cafés. And you’ll have enough left over for a cup of coffee afterwards.
Baguette sandwiches can sometimes get boring, so the little shop in an old garage tucked away in the Marais does something a bit different. The Belgian sandwich called the pistolet is served on softer bread, and is filled with hot or cold concoctions, like duck, spiced apples, and balsamic onion sauce. At just eight euros, it's a thing you can almost get two of, and still be on budget...
Soupe à l'oignon gratinée
Finding a good, affordable, traditional café in Paris isn’t as easy as it sounds. Some have cheap but poor food, and the good stuff usually goes beyond the 10 euro budget. At Les Philosophes, however, both cheap and good collide. The onion soup, at nine euros, is a cheese-topped meal all by itself. Remember that bread comes with everything, so the calorie-to-euro ratio is in your favor.
Ham and cheese crepes
The take-away crepes at this stall in the Marché des Enfants Rouges are some of the most monstrous you’ll find in Paris. Stuffed with Parmesan, ham, tomatoes, and basically a whole head of lettuce, they are literally dripping with deliciousness. It may take up to 30 minutes to score one of these crepes, but at under 10 euros, it’s worth the wait.
Solid, Italian-style pizza is easy to find in Paris, but Pink Flamingo has upgraded it: their four shops across the city have some crazy pizza combinations, but their classics are just as good. At just 9.50 euros take-away, the Dante (a cheese pizza topped with fresh tomatoes and basil) is a super-solid choice. If you’re lucky, you’ll have some left over for breakfast... the pizzas are just as good eaten cold the next day: tested and approved.
Banh mi thit nuong
France brought Vietnam the baguette. Vietnam in return gave France the banh mi. This Vietnamese sandwich consists of pork with fresh carrots, cucumber, and herbs on a crusty baguette. At this small, nondescript shop off Place de la République, they pack some heat into this delicious sandwich with chili paste. So if you ask for it spicy, be prepared for it to burn so good... though at just 7 euros, at least it won’t be burning through your wallet.
Ah, falafel: the king of cheap eats in Paris. For just six euros, the sandwiches at L’As, topped with marinated eggplant and fresh cabbage, are pretty much objectively the best thing to eat on rue des Rosiers. Pro tip: be sure to ask for the spicy sauce on top.
Paris is no San Francisco when it comes to burritos, but the team at Bocamexa comes pretty close. Its generous bean- and meat-filled burritos fit the bill, ringing up at just around 10 euros. Students and homesick expats typically frequent the little shop on rue Mouffetard in the Latin Quarter, one of the only reliable Mexican joints in the whole city... yeah, we said it, Chipotle.
The "formule" lunch special
St. Thomas d'Aquin (& other locations)
Bakeries offer the best bang for your buck when it comes to traditional French items... plus, they are seriously on basically every corner. Various combinations of salads, sandwiches, and quiche with a drink and dessert can cost below 10 euros at any of the Eric Kayser bakeries in Paris. This formule is the best way to go when trying to make the money last.
A favorite in the Belleville district, this no-reservations restaurant serves up one of the city’s cheapest bo buns. This Vietnamese dish is a simple bowl of vermicelli swimming in a special sauce, and topped with beef & fresh vegetables, as well as spring rolls. Add a little Sriracha for an extra kick.
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Bryan Pirolli is a Paris-based writer, photographer, tour guide, and PhD candidate at the Sorbonne who is more than likely currently drinking wine. Follow him on Twitter right here.
1. Café Oberkampf3 rue Neuve Popincourt, Paris
2. L'Improbable5 Rue des Guillemites, Paris
3. Les Philosophes28 rue Vieille du Temple, Paris
4. Chez Alain39 Rue de Bretagne, Paris
5. Pink Flamingo105 rue Vieille du Temple, Paris
6. Banh Mi81 Rue de Turbigo, Paris
7. L'As du Fallafel34 Rue des Rosiers, Paris
8. BocaMexa127 rue Mouffetard, Paris
9. Éric Kayser18 rue du Bac, Paris
10. Tin Tin17 Rue Louis Bonnet, Paris
This tiny coffee shop, just off rue Oberkampf, offers up chai tea and cold brew coffee. It’s Aussie-run, so you can be sure the coffee is as good as it’ll get in Paris. If you can get a seat during lunch, try one of their weekly sandwiches followed by something from their Instagrammable pastry case.
Fitted with an eclectic range of furniture, this timeless, tucked away cafe in Marais -- which was once a garage -- is known for its hearty pistolet sandwiches. These Belgian delights are served on soft bread, and can be filled with a number of hot and cold ingredients like duck, spiced apples, or balsamic onion sauce. Other affordable, sophisticated street food items are offered here, too.
This 4th arrondissement haunt is owned by Xavier Denamur, who is known to hate industrial ingredients and pre-prepared meals, so you know your meal will be prepared fresh and with the best ingredients possible. The service is efficient and the prices are affordable, making this French cafe a true find amidst other overpriced, low-quality options.
If you want real street food at a reasonable price then you need to head to the back of Marche des Enfants Rouges to Chez Alain. Here a guy named Alain serves up the classic street food from Nice, like socca, which is like a crepe, but made with chickpea flour, and Alain douses it in salt and serves it to you in a paper bag.
Solid, Italian-style pizza is found at this Les Archives location of Pink Flamingo, which boasts four spots across the city. In addition to some crazy, uniquely specialized pizza combinations -- like the "Obama," with ham and pineapple chutney -- Pink Flamingo also offers some classics, like the Dante: a cheese pizza topped with fresh tomatoes and basil.
This hole in the wall eatery in République combines the best of both worlds: crusty, French bread and Vietnamese pork, vegetables, and herbs. As the name suggests, Banh Mi does the banh mi right, spicy or otherwise. Alongside these substantial, affordable sandwiches, this shop also supplies bobuns and tarts.
Rue des Rosiers has a number of places that claim to have Paris' best falafel, but we'll let the fact that L'as du Fallafel is the only one with a seemingly endless line speak for itself. This famous Marais spot serves up enviable pita sandwiches with freshly fried falafel, requisite creamy hummus, mild pickled red cabbage, fried eggplant, and more. The real L'As experts know to order french fries on top of their mass of chickpeas and veggies.
Paris is no San Francisco when it comes to burritos, but the team at Bocamexa comes pretty close. Its generous bean- and meat-filled burritos fit the bill, ringing up at just around 10 euros. Students and homesick expats typically frequent the little shop on rue Mouffetard in the Latin Quarter, one of the only reliable Mexican joints in the whole city.
Located a walk from the Musee D'Orsay, Eric Kayser delivers at his world-famous patisserie. And although literally any sandwich you get here is guaranteed to be the best sandwich you've ever had, be sure to also try the various combinations of salads, quiche, and dessert, which can all cost under 10 euros. The formule lunch special is the best way to go when trying to make the money last.
Although this Vietnamese spot in Belleville offers an incredible selection of authentic dishes, Tin Tin is widely recognized for its cheap, delicious bo buns. This Vietnamese dish is a simple bowl of vermicelli swimming in a special sauce, and topped with beef and fresh vegetables, as well as spring rolls. Add a little Sriracha for an extra kick.