Paris has thousands (at least) of places to eat, in all categories and prices. For new visitors it’s likely they are following a guidebook and a recommendation from someone. We still do that sometimes, as a couple of our non-mainstream books often suggest really great places, sometimes a bit out of the way, sometimes hardly frequently by tourists.
Over many, many years of visiting Paris, we have discovered “our special” places that we like to return to each trip. But, we still get a thrill from trying new places, often found by just wandering around whatever arrondissement we happen to be staying in. Mostly our finds are pretty good, just sometimes they are rather ordinary, in which case they don’t make our growing list of favorites, or places to return to.
On our last trip, for the first time ever we took a package deal of flights from USA plus hotel in Paris. It worked out fine, even though we might not have reserved that hotel ourselves. But the deal made the flights so inexpensive that we couldn’t turn it down.
We were at esthotel in the 10th, not too far from Gare de l’Est, an area we’ve stayed in a number of times—getting public transport round here is very easy; there are many little shops and grocery stores; St Quentin Market is just around the corner; we can easily walk along Canal St Martin; and…there are many places to eat, although some are very ordinary just around the station.
In the past I’ve written about Les Ecuries twice (https://vivsfrenchadventures.wordpress.com/2015/04/09/and-testing-the-new-in-paris/ and https://vivsfrenchadventures.wordpress.com/2017/02/01/paris-a-restaurant-re-visited/ ) and L’Atmosphere (https://vivsfrenchadventures.wordpress.com/2016/08/04/a-place-full-of-atmosphere/ ), two of our favorites in the city near Gare de l’Est. Of course we returned to both, but we were also keen to try a new (for us) place very close to our hotel.
The name is La Paella, at 50 Rue des Vinaigriers
It’s a Tapas Bar, and bills itself as the oldest Spanish restaurant in Paris. Normally, we prefer to go to a “French” restaurant, but recently Rod had a post-doc from Spain and she raved about her home region, so we thought…why not?
It’s a lovely place with very friendly staff (some Spanish speaking) and things do have a Spanish flavor—from the menu, to the wine, to the Spanish soccer game on the TV, which many people came to sit at the bar counter to watch. There is limited seating outside, but we opted for inside, which has a bright, cozy atmosphere.
We had a bottle of the Spanish house rose wine, with jamon iberico, which Rod wanted to try. This jamon is prized for its texture and rich, savory taste. It’s a cured ham from the Iberian Peninsula made from black Iberian pigs, or cross-bred pigs so long as they are at least 50% Iberico, and is found in both Spain and Portugal. After weaning, the pigs roam freely in pastures and oak groves, where they eat grass, roots, herbs and acorns. As slaughter time approaches, the pigs’ diet may be limited to acorns and olives, which then give the ham its distinctive flavor. It was flavorful and certainly different to other hams we know; it was a little strong for my taste, actually, but Rod was delighted with it.
We then shared a huge dish of paella, with lots of seafood and chicken, but no mussels.
The owner had told us when we ordered that he couldn’t get mussels that morning, and was worried that we might not want the paella after all. But, it was very tasty anyway.
Would we return? I think we would, if we stay in this area again.