Somehow, over the years of living in Paris, a visit to the Marais for us, often goes hand in hand with a pit stop for falafel in the old Jewish quarter. With most restaurants on the Rue des Rosiers vying for the top spot in the world’s guidebooks, L’As du Falafel is the most popular. On most days, queues of tourists extend right to the café next door. While their food is good, just as good in fact as Mi-Va-Mi’s across the street, the only real difference is that it’s served by a crew of handsome, somewhat cocky waitors.
Historically, following the emancipation in the 19th century, the Rue des Rosiers (road of rosebushes) became the epicentre of a flourishing Jewish community (although prior to the expulsion, Jews were established here as early at the 1300s). Today, little remains of the old quarter. However, the street is still the place to go for your falafel cravings. In fact, tourists often line the street feasting on takeaway wraps, as though adhering to an unspoken tradition.
Directly across the street from L’As du Falafel, Mi-Va-Mi is usually packed with a crowd of locals and Jewish people. The owner, who greets newcomers from the open kitchen, and her staff roll trays and trays of crunchy-on-the-outside-soft-on-the-inside falafel. And they go perfectly with the warm cooked salads. Other dishes include meat chawarma cooked over a coal and wood fire with fries or in wraps.
Although the staff often seems a little overwhelmed, they’re efficient and somehow always find you a spot to sit. Avoid the crowds and go outside of mealtimes or in the week outside the Easter and summer holiday season.
WHICH FALAFEL to order:
Humous and falafel for 9€ or the falafel pita for 8€. Our favourite is the assiette royale falafel at 15€, which comes with salads like aubergine caviar and humous.
At a glance:
+ There is rarely a queue to sit in. All the food served here is fresh – don’t miss the aubergine caviar.
– The staff can seem a little cold at times.
Mi-Va-Mi, 23 rue des Rosiers, 75004 Paris (no website; closed on Saturdays for Sabbath).