BP take: Astier is a legendary institution in Paris- and a long-time favorite for the writers at Bonjour Paris. This is the way a classic bistrot should be: a convivial ambiance, cheery staff, quality wines, and generous, great-tasting food.

Opened in 1956 with a zinc bar and red-checked tablecloths, Astier was taken over in 2006 by accomplished Paris restaurateur Frédéric Hubig-Schall who is a charming host. His restaurants now number five, also including La Marée Jeanne, a popular new seafood restaurant; Jeanne A, Jeanne B, and Sassotondo.

The menu focuses on great classics of French cuisine- like marinated herring or foie gras to start, followed by a hearty côte de bœuf or Merlan façon Colbert served with a heaping side of richly buttered puréed potatoes.

A recent meal only confirmed our love for this bistrot. We stepped into this warm, welcoming place and quickly thawed from the outside cold. A hearty chestnut soup was drizzled with truffle oil, and the wild boar stew was served in a casserole with smoked bacon and lovage-flavored gnocchi.

You can’t come to Astier and not partake in the famous, “all-you-can-eat” cheese platter. Piled high with 15 different fromages from all over France, the tray is left at your table so you can serve yourself.

For dessert, we’ll let you in on a little secret. (Shhhh! Mum’s the word.) It’s not on the menu, but Astier makes the best Grand Marnier soufflé in town. There’s room in the kitchen for one to be baked at a time, and it’s a large dish- so perfect for sharing. Though you may fight with your fellow diners over the last spoonful.

“Astier is another one of my favorites. It’s friendly and welcoming with food that’s exactly as you’d hope bistro food would be — simple, satisfying, and prepared with care.” —Bryan Pirolli (Eurocheapo, Expedia’s City Diaries blog, CNN Travel)

“…the very impressive serve-yourself cheese tray piled high with all the chèvre, Camembert, Roquefort, Cantal and other delicious French fromages anyone might ever want. Desserts might include a nectarine soup with wine syrup and honey-almond ice cream, or a traditional baba au rhum with chantilly.” — France Today

Astier,  44 Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, 75011. Tel: +33 01 43 57 16 35. Daily chalkboard lunch special for 15 euros. Three-course meal (entrée, plat and dessert) for 35 euros, available lunch and dinner. Add the cheese course and it’s 45 euros.

Lead photo credit : Restaurant Astier/ Credit Roberta Valerio

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