Paris, one of the world’s most exciting international cities, is home to people from China, Vietnam, Portugal, Africa, Italy, Germany, and Spain, among many other countries. North Africa and the Middle-East have played an especially significant part of French politics, culture, and cuisine. France had strong political ties to Lebanon, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia in the 1800 and 1900s. The largest ethnic population in France comes from North Africa, which includes Morocco, and Tunisia. Although Mid-East restaurants have been a longtime staple in Paris, in recent years there’s been a renaissance of new, innovative chefs reinterpreting Mid-East cuisine in refreshing ways. Gone are the traditional, dark, tented interiors, replaced with gleaming open kitchens, luxurious counter seating, and contemporary design. Israel is the latest entry in the Mid-East restaurant scene in Paris, and a slew of Israeli chefs have been making their mark. We have gathered a list of the best Mid-East restaurants in Paris, spotlighting everything from bustling street food to elegant dining rooms for you to immerse yourself in during your next trip to Paris.
This uber-popular, upscale sandwich bar has a cult following, and during lunch time and all day Sunday, it reaches a fever pitch with lines out the door. Located in the Marais, just across from the famous falafel stands on rue des Rosiers, Israeli-based Miznon elevates pita bread to a whole new status (they make their own on the premises daily) and fills them with non-traditional ingredients such as beef bourguignon, steak and eggs, chicken salad, and lamb stuffed cabbage. Vegans and vegetarians are gladly welcome into the fold with pitas stuffed with ratatouille, mushrooms, cauliflower with tahini, and tomato salsa, as well as spicy eggplant with za’atar. Miznon’s mission is to provide the freshest ingredients and produce, and they prove it with abundant bunches of ridiculously large heads of cauliflower and broccoli, shiny eggplants, massive sweet potatoes, and artichokes piled high in the windows. All of these are grilled or roasted and are listed on the menu. Eager customers patiently wait for their orders, which are taken by the lively and friendly staff, and your order is enthusiastically cooked in front of you in the big open kitchen and grill. There’s a few tables in the front part of the shop and a small dining room in the back or you can order your sandwich to go and enjoy it while walking the ancient cobblestone streets of the Marais. Miznon has two other locations in Paris, and branches in Tel Aviv, New York, Vienna, and Melbourne, Australia. 22 rue des Ecouffes. Tel. +33-9713-45384. www.miznonparis.com
Ahead of the curve in terms of Lebanese food, Liza has been at the forefront of updating Mid- East cuisine in Paris since opening their restaurant in 2005. After their studies abroad, Liza and Ziad had an idea to extend their long meals of Lebanese mezze plates they served and prepared at home and share them in a contemporary restaurant setting. Not only do they bring their revered cuisine to the table, they also inform us of the Lebanese lifestyle and culture with a cookbook. Their mezze menu includes reinvented classics such as hummus with marinated turnips and spiced, marinated beef, pan-fried halloumi cheese served with fig syrup and sesame seeds, minipita with Lebanese cheese and thyme, petite fried cauliflower with lemon, parsley, and Parmesan cheese, and Kebbe (usually made with meat) made of pumpkin, walnuts, and molasses. For a main course, indulge in traditional kebabs of chicken and lamb, or be adventurous and go for either the lamb stew, slow cooked for five hours, served with basmati rice and pistachios and almonds, or a hearty soup of eggplant, yogurt, tomatoes, basil, and Lebanese bread croutons. Fried crepes with cream and orange flower water, halva ice cream, and fresh cream with grapefruit and caramelized hazelnuts are just a few of the enticing desserts served at Liza. Mediterranean inspired cocktails are available such as Champagne mixed with rose syrup, mojitos blended with orange flower water, rum with ginger beer, lime and date syrup, house made lemonade, and iced tea with mint leaves. The romantic setting of the restaurant has low lighting with candlelight, painted ceramic tiles, darkwood floors, and cushy, pillowed banquettes. 14 Rue de la Banque.Tel: +33-1-5535- 0066. www.restaurant-liza.com