Adventurous eaters journeying to Paris often have a few things on their lists of must-try dishes: frogs’ legs, calf’s brains…and snails.
The traditional preparation of escargots à la bourguignonne sees the snails dressed in their shells and baked with an herbed garlic butter which forms the perfect sauce for crusty baguette. And while the recipe originally hails from Burgundy, today, you’ll encounter it in nearly every bistro in Paris. Here are some of the very best spots to sample snails in Paris during your stay.
The Most Classic: L’Ami Louis
L’Ami Louis (32 rue du Vertbois) is an old-school Paris bistro that’s wildly divisive. Vanity Fair’s profile of the restaurant showed how exclusive (and expensive) it can be, but for escargots, it’s hard to beat. Here, a dozen massive snails are served in a rich butter sauce by bow-tied, aproned waiters that look as though they stepped right out of the 20s for a truly Parisian experience.
The Most Creative (and Gluten-Free!): Le Café des Musées
Bistro Le Café des Musées deviates a bit from tradition by broiling its snails not in their shells but rather in button mushroom caps. This not only allows diners to pick the snails up whole but also allows the mushroom cap to soak up all that extra garlic butter. No bread required!
The Sauciest: L’Escargot Montorgueil
The aptly named L’Escargot Montorgueil has been serving snails on the rue Montorgueil since the mid-19th century, and by now, they’ve got it down pat. Here, not only can diners enjoy the traditional butter and garlic snail, but they can also dip into a variety of other sauces, including Roquefort, foie gras, truffle and curry. Order a half-dozen of each for a crowd, or opt for a sampler platter to help you narrow down your favorite.
The Atypical: Le Petit Gris
At Le Petit Gris, the eponymous petit gris snails—smaller than the Burgundian variety —are a staple feature on the menu, albeit not always in the same way. Sometimes the little snails are folded into a buttery fougasse bread; other times, they’re baked en cocotte with fresh parsley. However they’re served, one thing is for sure: they’re going to be delicious.
The Full Meal: Chez Janou
Escargots are usually served as an appetizer, but at Provençal bistro Chez Janou, they’re elevated to a main course. Here, the snails are tossed with tagliatelle pasta, and the herbed, buttery sauce coats every last strand for a delicious main dish indeed.