Archive for the 'Ethnic' Category

Pink Flamingo – Pizza with a funky twist

How can you go wrong with a pizza joint that proudly boasts its connection to John Water’s movie Pink Flamingos? Pink Flamingo pizza boxes Not to mention the old school punk music, ala Ramones, on the speakers. Did I mention the VW bus parked on the street as an alternate dining table? Oh, and they have some great, inventive vegetarian pizzas.

Pink Flamingo is all that and more.
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Earth Cafe, the vegan restaurant in Marrakech, Morocco

Vegetable tangine in Marrakech
Boring tagine in Morocco
Morocco is a favorite destination for many Parisians. It’s warm, exotic, and French is a secondary language for most people. Moroccan food is also highly appreciated for its spices, tagines, and couscous. Ask a Parisian about Morocco and a smile appears as they remember one of the many little joys of visiting the country.

It’s possible to get vegetarian food in Marrakech. Most restaurants will sell a vegetable tagine. However, I found them to be quite boring. Perhaps I needed to visit better restaurants.

Earth Cafe

Earth cafe in Marrakech

You can imagine my delight when walking through the market and spotted some hand made signs for “Earth Cafe” a vegan restaurant. I had to find this place and enjoy a good meal, it did not disappoint.

The first thing you see as you step down into this cafe is the open kitchen, a beaming chef will greet you with pride as you enter her domain. As you pass the kitchen the restaurant opens vertically. What seems like a small space grows to several floors with an open space in the center.

The menu

I was surprised to see the menu lacked tagines and couscous. How very non-Moroccan! How very refreshing after dealing with some rather banal versions found in other places.

Instead you’ll find a creative assortment of dishes that span the North African and Mediterranean flavor spectrum. My meal had a variety of vegetables wrapped in filo dough, baked and placed on the plate with mango sauce. It was delicious and very filling.

Earth Cafe also features some yummy smoothies that will hit the spot on a warm African afternoon. The friendly hosts speak French and English. The waiter even walked with me through the souks to find a hammam.

You’ll owe it to yourself to visit Earth Cafe when visiting Marrakech. You’ll get great food, great service, and a jovial, peaceful environment. The flavors are so great that your meat eating friends will also enjoy the meal.

Cafe Earth
Arset Sakia, Marrakech, Morocco
Hours: 11am-late
Vegetarian Restaurant
Accessibility: The restaurant is not accessible to wheelchairs.

  • Overall: 5/5
  • Location: 5/5
  • Taste: 5/5
  • Service: 4/5
  • Vegetarian Friendly: 5/5
  • Vegan Friendly: 5/5
  • M.E.F. Friendly: 3/5

Beirut Down Town – Affordable Lebanese Food in Paris

Vegetarian plate at Beirut Down Town in ParisBehind the Institut du Monde Arabe sits Beirut Down Town, a small restaurant with rough stone walls and a set of simple tables. The front of the restaurant is dominated by a display case filled with hummus, tabouli, and assorted dishes ready for take out. It’s roomy interior is great for large groups.

Lebanese cuisine is filled with vegetarian options and Beirut Down Town’s Assiette Vegetarienne features 7 items for the reasonable price of 11.50 euros. It includes hummus, tabouli, labneh, 2 feuilletes (turnovers) of spinach and cheese, falafel, stuffed grape leaves, and pita bread. It’s a nice variety of dishes for dinner. They also offer a variety of vegetarian sandwiches and plates.

I was looking for something different and this seemed like the perfect place for dinner.

I have to say that I was underwhelmed by the food. It didn’t taste as fresh as I would have liked. I felt like some of the items were pre-packaged or made for the previous day’s lunch time rush (I visited it on a Saturday evening).


However, I have to give them benefit of doubt. The asbestos removal construction across the street had made the nearby restaurants seem like ghost towns. I was the only one in Beirut Down Town.

Student Dining

Beirut Down Town is next to the University of Paris and probably does great business during the week when students are hungry. The portions are large, there’s a nice variety of dishes, and the location is convenient.

I don’t know if I would go back again, but I would suggest it for people in the area looking for something other than another cheese sandwich.

Beirut Down Town
30 rue des Fosses St. Bernard (5°)
Metro: Cardinal Lemoine, Jussieu
01 43 29 98 86
Wheelchair Friendly: The entrance is tight, but the rest of the restaurant is roomy
  • Overall: 3/5
  • Taste: 3/5
  • Vegetarian Options: 4/5
  • Vegan Options: 4/5
  • Value: 4/5
  • Location: 3.5/5

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The Best Miso Soup in Paris

Miso soup restaurant in ParisYou’ll find a small collection of Asian restaurants between the Opera and the Tuilleries. Centered around rue Sainte-Anne, the neighborhood has become a magnet for Asian tourists. You’ll find pho, sushi, noodles, and soup restaurants that range from the quick and cheap to trendy and bustling.

Taisho Ken – Miso Soup Bar

In the center is a small Japanese miso soup restaurant that I’ve been finding myself eating at more and more. It’s a simple place with an open kitchen, large pots of boiling miso broth, and a friendly, bustling atmosphere. This is a simple place that may remind you more of a roadside diner than a French bistro.

Miso soup normally brings to mind a small bowl of broth with a few small chunks of tofu floating amongst green herbs. I was greatly surprised when I ordered the vegetarian soup bowl and was presented with a Texas sized spoon and a big bowl of broth with fresh vegetables and noodles. This is a meal by itself, you won’t need any rice or dumplings.

Miso soupParis is a great place to have a big lunch with friends and a simple dinner of soup or salad. I’ve added this place to my list of regular stops. It’s especially nice on a cold rainy night when the windows fog up and you are surrounded by the smell of the broth.

Taisho Ken
40 rue Sainte-Anne (2°)
Metro: Pyramides, Opera
01 42 61 11 59
Wheelchair Friendly: It’s a small, tight restaurant with a small step to enter
  • Overall: 4/5
  • Vegetarian Options: 3/5
  • Vegan Options: 3/5
  • Value: 4/5
  • Location: 3.5/5

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Petite Mumbai de Paris – Indian food and culture

Little India, Paris FranceI’ve been looking for good Indian restaurants since arriving in Paris. I’ve found some decent ones, but none has triggered a desire to return. I’ve been looking for the spirit and joviality I’ve experienced in Bangalore as well as the Indian neighborhoods of San Diego and the Bay Area.

I had heard about some good restaurants north of Gare du Nord but never found this mysterious Hindu Eden. While flying from San Francisco to Paris on Air France I came across an article that described this small neighborhood of saris, sweets, and restaurants. I took the magazine home with me and read the article several times. Finally I had a weekend to do some Paris exploring and jumped on the metro a couple weeks ago to La Chapelle (metro 6).

Rue Cail

Rue Cail seems to be the heart of the community. You’ll find a great assortment of vegetarian restaurants, sweet shops, grocery stores, jewelry shops, and places to find Saris, shirts, and more. My first visit was also punctuated by an impromptu protest rally for an event in India.

Krishna BhavanThere are two restaurants that get the most attention. Krishna Bhavan and Dishny. Both straddle the street with dual identities, formal and casual restaurants. Krishna Bhavan is 100% vegetarian and this makes me very happy. I love being able to order anything off the menu.

Krishna Bhavan

I visited the casual version of Krishna Bhavan. It reminded me of the neighborhood taco shops of San Diego or similar simple restaurants of any city and culture. They serve dosas, rice dishes, samosas, as well as a hearty fixed price menu.

I ordered the basic menu at 13 euros. This includes a drink, entree, dinner, and dessert. For the drink you get your choice of a lassi (mango, salt, sweet, or banana). Entrees include vegetable, tomato, or broccoli soup, potato, onion, eggplant, or banana dumpling, or a green salad. The dinner is either vegetable curry with your choice of rice (coconut, lemon, or yogurt), Biryani, Capatti, Barotha, or Poori. Finally for dessert you have the house cake, gulab jamoun (soft ball in a honey liquid), or laddu (a sweet ball with cardamom). It’s a big meal for a small price.
Krishna Bhavan in Paris
The vegetable soup (dal) is very nice. It’s a light flavored lentil soup. The vegetable curry w/rice was more like rice with curried vegetables. The rice is the star of the plate with the eggplant and potatoes as supporting actors. As with other authentic dishes, you need to be a bit careful eating the rice. It had some hard seeds that could cause pain if bit into them unexpectedly. But don’t let that stop you from enjoying it. The rice is very light; almost floating on the fork. Mine was mixed with coconut, onions, and spices. Finally, when you think you couldn’t eat another bite it is time for dessert.

Chai

Krishna Bhavan in ParisOne of my fondest memories of visiting Bangalore was this small opening into the kitchen of the Yahoo! offices. From this little passage came cups of the strongest, sweetest chai tea you can imagine. Forget what you now of chai from Starbucks. Chai should fill you body with warmth.

Need I bother mentioning my excitement when I looked into the small hole of the kitchen and saw the cooks making what looked like chai. It’s awesome! This is worth the visit alone.
Little India, Paris France

Shops

This is an area to enjoy during the day. There are several grocery stores to purchase indian spices, teas, and ingredients. I also found my beloved instant meals that you can find at any Indian grocery store. These packets are filled with good, spicy curries that you simply heat and eat.

You’ll also find a variety of Hindu god and goddess sculptures, henna tattoos, jewelry, music, videos, saris, and other clothing. I found one shop that specialized in arts and crafts from around the world. The back of the store has a huge selection of jackets, pants, and shirts from Tibet and South Asia. The styles are fairly western but with the strong colors and unique lines of the region.

Indian Sweets

Little India, Paris FranceIndian sweets are hard to describe to someone that hasn’t experienced them before. They are brightly colored, geometric, soft, sweet, and full of spices. They are very different from the sweets you’d find elsewhere in Paris. They are typically softer and less sweet than you’d expect. Frankly most Americans that I know are not big fans of the Indian sweets. That said, they are better than any I’ve tried in California.

A little bit of nostalgia, comfort, and spice in Paris

I can’t believe it took me so long to discover this corner of Paris. Rue Cail brings back my fondest memories of eating with colleagues in Bangalore, shopping for spices with Jim, teaching my mother about curry and naan, and the joy of food cooked without a fear of spice. If you like Indian food you’ll love the rue Cail area. If you love Indian food and culture you will have found one of the finest places to visit in Paris.

Krishna Bhavan
24 Rue Cail (10°)
01 42 05 78 43
Metro: La Chapelle
Indian Restaurant
Wheelchair Access: bathrooms are in basement. Entrance is accessible.
  • Overall: 5/5
  • Location: 4/5
  • Taste: 5/5
  • Service: 5/5
  • Vegetarian Friendly: 5/5
  • Vegan Friendly: 5/5
  • M.E.F. Friendly: 3/5

Dishny Restaurant
25 Rue Cail (10°)
Metro: La Chapelle
Indian Restaurant

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