One doesn’t usually associate French food with healthy or clean eating. Paris has a reputable culinary reputation closely connected to buttery pastries, sugary desserts, foie gras, and other carnivorous delights. The French love food, but they are not so big on fitness and health fads. (Remember the French don’t get fat, or so a certain book says…) However, healthy living is slowly creeping into the culture as locals acknowledge food allergies and the long term benefits of smart eating. In the past few years, new restaurants and cafes have opened boasting their bio ingredients without gluten or dairy—and lines of people are spilling out of their doors. It seems that even in Paris, vegetables are no longer just side dishes, but the main event.
Coffee culture in Paris is heating up, to the point that it’s hard to keep tabs on the trendy new cafes opening every few months. But Ob-la-di, in the Marais, has stood out in the scene. It’s tempting to Instagram every corner of this chic little space, but you’d be wise to turn your attention to the freshly roasted coffee beans from Lomi, and healthy bites such as yogurt with homemade granola, cookies, cakes, and muffins. The offerings change daily but are always prepared in-house with organic ingredients and are mostly vegan or gluten free.
Perfectly positioned on the Canal St. Martin, IMA, which means "mama" in Hebrew, is a vegetarian restaurant serving Mediterranean cuisine. It opens at 8:30 a.m., so start your day off early (or prepare for lines) with coffee from Belleville Brûlerie and poached eggs with labneh and mint pesto. For lunch, salad options change daily, but expect combinations like bulgar, snow peas, tomatoes, and cucumber or eggplant, pomegranate seeds, saffron yogurt and baby spinach.
New Yorker Marc Grossman was a pioneer on the health food scene in Paris when he opened Bob’s Juice Bar in 2010—when most Parisians weren’t interested in juicing. He has since opened Bob’s Bake Shop and Bob’s Kitchen, but the juice bar is where it all began and where you can still find fresh juices and smoothies. Throughout the day, he also offers vegetarian soups, salads and vegan muffins.
This vegan hot dog and sausage joint started off as a delivery and catering service before settling down in the summer of 2015 in the 10th arrondissement. The dogs are a combination of wheat and soya and are smoked over beechwood, then served in a toasted roll with various toppings such as fried onions, guacamole, tomatoes, or coriander. Prices run from €5 for one dog to €15 for a “bento dog” which includes a veggie-centric side, fresh juice and homemade dessert. Recently, founders Coralie Jouhier and Daqui Gomis collaborated with the brand Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather on a capsule collection of clothes and shoes.
When clean eaters are sick of soup and salad they head to Tien Hiang, an Asian vegan restaurant with a solid following. There is nothing spectacular or Insta-worthy about the decoration—this place is all about the food. You will find typical Asian dishes like beef or chicken curries, satays, and stir frys. Only there is no meat, just the illusion made with vegetable protein substitutes, tofu, tempeh, or textured soy protein. Most meat eaters say they can barely tell the difference.
Following the success of Wild & The Moon in Dubai, Emma Sawko, an organic-eating, juice-loving New Yorker decided to open an outpost of her vegetarian and gluten-free canteen in the haute Marais neighborhood. The decor is simple, with white walls and green plants hanging throughout, but the food is simply delicious: crackers with guacamole, kale chips, soba noodles with vegetables, curry with whole grain rice, chia pudding, acai bowls and, of course, many juices.
Paris has a love affair with the very American burger, so vegetarian are happy for the recent opening of this little burger place in the 11th. There are various burger options such as the East Side (double cheddar, smoked tofu, vegan bacon), the Fromager (cream cheese, tofu, cheddar, sun-dried tomatoes and cornichons), or the Marcello (arugula, gluten meat, tomato sauce). If you aren’t in the burger mood but still want fast food, try the cheese nuggets or onion rings.
The first Café PINSON opened in the North Marais in 2013, with a second restaurant following in 2014 in the 10th arrondissement. The cafe-slash-restaurant boasts a menu of organic ingredients and “superfoods,” as well as wheat-free and dairy free options. The menu changes everyday, but expect to find options like roasted veggies on a bed of quinoa with a coconut tamari cream sauce or roasted potatoes and parsnips with thyme and nutmeg served with a kale and beet salad and a mushroom hazelnut sauce. It’s open for breakfast, dinner, and Sunday brunch, but be sure to catch the €17 three-course prix fixe lunch. (Reservations highly recommended.)