When I lived in Paris the first time in 1987, I was a starving student. My roommate and I saved up for a monthly trip to McDonald's. We discovered that even in France, there is such a thing as a wine so cheap it is literally undrinkable. (It comes in a one-litre plastic bottle.) And the one thing we missed more than almost anything, was the experience of going into a bar and being served warm, salty, home-made tortilla chips for FREE. We stared into the trendy "Mexican" restaurants that were starting to pop up in Paris, but they were too expensive and never served that Mexican manna: free chips.
Well, some things never change: you still cannot get free home-made tortilla chips in any of the bars in Paris that I'm aware of. However, at our favourite local Friday-after-work hangout, we do get the best fries in Paris. Free.
Meet Mario and Suzanne, the life of our Friday evenings. Mario took over the restaurant a few years ago and it happend to coincide with the exact moment that my friends and I had come to the conclusion that we really, truly had to boycott our former hangout, La Gare. (Great location and site - a former train station - but the WORST service in Paris. Avoid it.) The Mozart had always been a great place for a traditional French lunch (and even in the pre-Mario days had pretty good fried potatoes). But with his arrival, suddenly evenings became fun too: the bar was stuffed with boozing international bureaucrats and full of jokes and laughter. And then Mario found a way to make it better: free fries. Really, good free fries. They come out by the plateful, hot and golden brown and well salted and peppered. You want to leave most of them for your friends, but they keep calling you. Mario is now our best friend. We are going to name our firstborn child after him. (Here's hoping it's a boy...) He even treats us to the occasional free beer at the end of the evening. We love him.
If you too would like to join the fun, just show up on a Friday. I'll be the one in the corner with my arm around my friend Mario. Or maybe the one at the bar scarfing down raw oysters...
12 av Mozart 75016 PARIS
01 45 27 62 45
Metro: La Muette
A note on the photos: you are being treated to a photo of an empty plate thanks to the greediness of my friends who ate them all before I arrived. I also did not get a picture of Serge and the other fellow whose name I always forget.