The best restaurants in Paris are closely-guarded secrets – locals are protective of their favourite establishments for fear of inviting the hordes in. So, if the name of a restaurant is whispered to you, you know it’s going to be good. Margo is the kind of hush-hush establishment Parisians love – this vine-clad spot in the 11th is praised by neighbourhood die-hards for its relaxed vibe and meticulous dishes care of chef Yurika Kitano.
Kitano’s exacting cooking style blends Japanese and French techniques to great effect. Think skate wings doused in dark squid ink sauce or beef tartare scattered with bottarga and red dulse; every dish brimming with umami and salt, and made with hand-selected local produce. “I’m very intentional about my ingredients,” she says. “I use irregularly-shaped carrots that are grown by a local farmer, for example. I don’t like rules when it comes to aesthetics.”
Her keen sense for knockout flavours and well-sourced ingredients earned her a San Pellegrino Award for Social Responsibility in 2019, elevating her profile from cult-status chef to global upstart.
Here, Kitano gives us her insider tips for other against-the-grain restaurants in Paris.
Septime, 80 Rue de Charonne: “I used to work in the kitchen here. I love the elegant but unfussy atmosphere and incredible set menu from a talented chef.”
Mr. T, 38 Rue de Saintonge: “Mr. T is the nickname of the chef, Mister Tsuyoshi San, who I respect so much. His dishes are so original and always delicious – try the mac & cheese, which is deconstructed with brûléed cheddar.”
Vantre, 19 rue de la Fontaine au Roi: “The wine menu here is as thick as a book and the food is amazing. I recommend the pâté en croute – so warming and delicious.”
Cheval D’Or, 31 rue de la Villette: “Their carefully-prepared tasting menu of Chinese dishes pays the highest respect to its ingredients, and pairs excellently with their menu of natural wine.”