Apr 30th, 2019, 03:50 PM

Navigating Paris’ Oldest Passages

By Reilly Folsom
The inside of Le Passage des Panoramas. Image Credit: Reilly Folsom
An overview of the best restaurants inside the famous Passage des Panoramas.
This article was co-written by Reilly Folsom, Olivia Cowden, Cristina Mendoza, and Kathleen Sharp.
 

Built in 1799, ‘Le Passage des Panoramas’ is considered the first covered walkway in Paris. During this time, the streets of Paris were unpaved, sometimes unsafe, and crowded, thus ‘Le Passage’ was intended to present a clean, well lit, elegant shopping space with a stone paved floor. Today, the Passage des Panoramas has been renovated, but still retains its original 19th century charm. Most of the shops have turned into restaurants, but few bookshops, jewelry stores, and shops full of collectors' item from stamps to postcards to coins remain. Make sure to look at one of the knick-knack stores, eat at one of the classic tea rooms, or even one of the new ethnic restaurants towards the end of the passage. Walking through the passage from the street, you are transformed from 21st century Paris to 19th century Paris. The old-fashioned feel remains and shares the true merchant spirit of the former Parisian lifestyle. When planning your visit to any of the passages, or specifically the Passage des Panoramas, keep in mind that many restaurants and shops shut down in the late afternoon, and open back up around dinner time.

A Taste of Argentina in Paris

Le Passage des Panoramas features several restaurants, including Clasico Argentino Empanadas y Helados. Empanadas are filled pastry pockets and a staple in Latin American culture and cuisine. Clasico Argentino offers a variety of empanada flavors ranging from sweet to savory and include vegetarian options. They also have special flavors of the month. In my experience, I haven’t found many Latin American restaurants in Paris, so it was a nice surprise to find an entire establishment dedicated to empanadas. Being Colombian, I find food such as empanadas to be a strong connection to my heritage.  

Clasico Argentino is open every day (Saturday 12:00 to midnight, Sunday 12:00 to 23:00, Weekdays 12:00-15:00 and 18:00 to midnight) and there are various locations throughout the city in addition to the one located in Les Passages des Panoramas. Empanadas are a great treat to enjoy seated or on the go. In addition to empanadas, Clasico Argentino also offers homemade ice cream and traditional Argentinian pantry items such as chimichurri sauce and dulce de leche available for purchase.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Crispy empanadas and greens on a wooden serving board. Image Credit: Instagram/@iamkevin.d 

Japanese Ravioli in a Parisian Maze 

Having never stepped foot inside the Passage des Panoramas, one might find his way into the Gyoza Bar just following his nose. Despite its tiny surface area, the flavors and smells of this Japanese restaurant’s food is larger than life. With dishes like gyoza, fried Japanese raviolis, and savory edamame beans, the Gyoza Bar lives up to the hype it has earned online and on social media. Each ravioli is cooked to crunchy perfection and pairs well with the restaurant’s authentically Japanese Kagua beer. 

Restaurant goers watch their meals being prepared before as the head chef and cooks work behind the counter where they sit. The restaurant experience feels much more authentic when one can see the manual labor behind a product: the rolling and pinching of the dough, the umami soy sauce carefully measured out into pristine bowls. The viewing experience and proximity to the kitchen allow diners to better use all their senses throughout the entire process – but it takes will power to sit close to the rising wafts of pork, ginger, and sesame without wanting to reach over the counter and sneakily pluck a dumpling before it is served. 

The Gyoza Bar is open for lunch from 12:00 to 13:30 and dinner from 18:30 to 22:30 everyday but Sundays. As the size is limited, it is wise to arrive before a queue forms. Itadakimasu! 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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A meal of Gyozas, edamame, and rice at the Gyoza Bar with a chef preparing more food behind the bar. Image Credit: Instagram/@jeannelelay  

Parisian Time Warp 

If you’re seeking a break from the modern world, look no further than Victoria Station. As the name insinuates, this restaurant is train themed. In fact, the whole restaurant is an old train car. With its main entrance jutting out next to the archway of Le Passages de Panoramas and its body crossing into the narrow passageway, it’s hard to ignore. The way Victoria Station is placed makes the size deceiving, as there is much more room inside than one would expect. The restaurant is packed with fringe light fixtures and rows of old-fashioned train car seating; you can even store your bags in a luggage carrier above your head. Near the entrance, restaurant-goers can watch chefs preparing meals through the open kitchen, such as onion soup, the Spécial Victoria pizza, or the Orient Express ice cream sundae. As the jazz music fills the air, it is easy to forget that you’re in 21st century Paris. Victoria Station is open seven days a week from 11:30 to 14:45 and 18:30 to midnight. 

The train car themed restaurant. Image Credit: Olivia Cowden