After the sushi-to-go fad, food truck frenzy, burger bonanza and the lobster roll, the latest food craze to hit the food capital of the world is “healthy” junk food. Yes, you read that right. Junk food can now be as healthy and balanced as the next calorie-counted meal. Here are our three favorite places Parisians flock to when they need to gorge completely guilt-free.
Located at the very cool Cité de la Mode (aka Les Docks), M.O.B. Paris is the place to go for completely meat-free, gluten-free and lactose-free burgers and pizza, but also cheesecake. “Cheese-free cheesecake?” we hear you exclaim; and as surprising as it is, it’s true and it’s darn good. So it’s hardly a wonder that Bill Clinton and Mos Def are among the regulars at the original Brooklyn restaurant, where its menu can’t be mistaken for anything else but hearty all-American food from pancakes to burgers, fries and shakes. “M.O.B.’s a movement in movement,” says founder, philosopher and urbanist Cyril Aouizerate, for whom a widespread change in our food habits is vital. “But hang on, we’re not here to [tick] people off,” he reassures us. Although political with a profound message to go with every bite, M.O.B. isn’t just for vegans or vegetarians. With its slick cardboard packaging and modern, cheerful diner interior, it’s in a league of its own and attracts diners for its good tasting fare rather than militant animal-friendly values.
Forget escargots and steak frites. The top of any menu in Paris at the moment is the burger, which has been transformed to no ends — foie gras burger, bacon crunch burger, slider, veggie burger, salmon burger, burgers with black bread, curry bread, fat-free burgers, gluten-free burgers. Burgers have seen both ends of the spectrum and everything in between. One end of the scale is marked by the most mouth-watering of creations, giving the burger a deluxe kick, landing it miles from those conspicuous household golden arches and greasy spoon diners. And at the very other end of the stretch, to ease that junk food-seeking conscience, is Bio Burger and its foolproof organic burgers. Whether you’re after a tofu steak, a regular beef patty, a double beef burger or a double beef burger with bacon on top, it’s possible at Bio Burger. And when it comes to décor, its two outposts (one in the 2nd arrondissement and one in the 9th) are quite refreshing to sit in thanks to minimalistic retro interiors.
That sizzling slab of ground meat spinning on itself behind greasy-finger-marked windows in the world’s kebab shops wouldn’t quite get all appetites going; but sometimes one just can’t ignore that petty need that haunts every hunger pang. And as a Brit, and therefore a natural-born kebab fiend, I stumbled upon heaven in the shape of a new sort of takeaway: Grillé. The made-over kebab served here reaches right out of the seedy kebab shop and up a few notches to satisfy more refined palates (and smaller waistlines). Created by Frédéric Peneau, an alum of iconic Parisian restaurant Chateaubriand, Grillé has changed the way the kebab is to be seen forever. Deluxe junk food searchers can expect freshly baked organic bread and meat sourced from famed butcher Hugo Desnoyer, not forgetting delicately picked fresh herbs, mint leaves, as well as tasty olives, creamy feta, pickled lemon and whatever other toppings tickle your taste buds. The downfall? The frustratingly long lines and the fact that Grillé is closed on the weekends. However, once you get your dose, you’ll be back for more, come rain or shine.
Photos Courtesy of M.O.B., Grille and Bio Burger