20 03 2011

Tired of mediocre Mexican fare in Paris? So was Luis. He came to the conclusion that the only way he was going to get a good taco in Paris was to open up his own taqueria. Fortunately for the rest of us, he did just that.

Candelaria, Paris

The storefront at 52 rue Saintonge in Paris’ 3rd arrondissement, conveniently located between the République and Filles du Calvaire Métro stops, is decidedly unassuming.  Rustic, mostly white with brightly colored shelves and fresh flowers livening up the décor, it does have a bit of that taco-shack-on-the-beach feel.

daffodils at candelaria

But that is far from the best part.

I certainly didn’t eat there twice in one week for the décor.  No, these are the best tacos this side of Juarez.  The menu changes periodically, but the carnitas are a standout and are probably already a menu staple.  On both of my visits there was a taco featuring cheese melted directly on the griddle – once it was filled with beef and “poblano” peppers, the other time it was rajas.  They also serve an excellent tostada – none of that overly salad-filled taco shell business here.  Instead, it’s a freshly fried corn tortilla topped with something wonderful.  So far, choices have included chicken tinga, black beans and cheese, and (my personal favorite) a deliciously messy pollo pibil.  Chef Luis, who hails originally from Mexico, promises to offer tacos al pastor in the near future, because “it’s not a taqueria without al pastor.”

tostada pollo pibil, taco rajas con queso, taco carnitas

A little-known but excellent Mexican hot sauce by the name of Valentina is in ready supply, as are communal bowls of house-made salsas.  One is mango-based and somewhat spicy (super piquant pour les français), the other features peanuts and chipotle peppers, and is surprisingly mild.

jamaica agua fresca

At lunchtime, a bowl of agua fresca sits at the end of the bar.  Last Wednesday it was jamaica, aka hibiscus.  At dinnertime it’s dessert – a flourless chocolate cake graced the spot on opening night.

Sodas, beers, and tequilas at Candelaria

To drink, Candelaria serves a range of Jarritos sodas and Mexican beers.  And is that Mexican Coke?  If you’re in the mood to party, you can have a shot of tequila, but the real bar part of the venture is in back, through the semi-hidden door.  It’s a complete change of scenery, dark and sassily decorated with hipster bartenders mixing a selection of intriguing drinks, from hibiscus margaritas to Singapore slings.  My personal favorite is the “Guêpe Verte,” or “green hornet,” a dangerously drinkable tequila concoction infused with cucumber, chili pepper, lavender, and lime.  Depending on how you want your night to play out, you could have your drink first and then fill up on tacos, or vice versa.  In theory, food isn’t allowed in the bar, but I’m willing to bet more than one taco has been smuggled in already.

I said it before on Facebook, and I’ll say it again here: Candelaria puts the rest of the Mexican food in Paris to shame.

On this day in 2008: Food Fair, Concluded (Part 3 of a three-part series on my first visit to a French food salon.)

Originally published on Croque-Camille.




20 responses

20 03 2011

Sounds FAB! My tummy is rumbling and my tastebuds are tingling in anticipation. I MUST go now!

20 03 2011

Oh my GAWD!!!! I cannot wait to try this!

20 03 2011
hungry dog

Mexican food in Paris, why not? Perhaps I’ll add this to our list of places to try on our trip (which is in ONE MONTH!!)

21 03 2011
Anna Johnston

Ahhhhh, I love the opening line… ‘Tired of mediocre Mexican fare in Paris?’ I dream of one day being able to say that exact line. 🙂 Officially added to the bucket list. Love Mexican!

21 03 2011

Wait, so what you’re saying is that instead of bemoaning Canberra’s lack of raw food, I should enrol in that incredibly expensive raw chef certification course in a America and then open up a restaurant here myself? 😉

That aside, seriously envious of that plate of yours! We don’t have any good Mexican here at all at all at all.

21 03 2011

Was just there this weekend for a party but MUST go back for tacos!

21 03 2011

Thanks for sharing! Love Mexican food. I’ll be in Paris again in less than a month & will be sure to try out this place 😀

21 03 2011

OMG I’ve been so excited about planning a trip to Paris I never thought about where to fill my taco fix. I might have to go to Vancouver’s version Dona Cata since you’ve got my mouth watering and no plane ticket in sight! Great post!

21 03 2011

I have passed this on to my cousins who live in the Marais (students at Sorbonne) and fell in love with Mexican food during their visits to Northern California to see us. I am sure they and there friends will go there often. I look forward to checking this out for myself next time I’m in Paris.

21 03 2011
Omid Tavallai

San Franciscan taqueria-addict approved! 😉

21 03 2011

cannot wait to try it 🙂 i’ve heard too many good things about this place now!

21 03 2011
The Mistress of Spices

Wow Camille…you made it to Candelaria! My hubby and I tried to go last Thursday but it was super crowded and we were too hungry to wait, but I’m sure it won’t be long before we make it there (maybe even this week). What time of day did you go…lunchtime? Those unique salsas (peanut!?) and the green hornet cocktail sound amazing! P.S. Have you managed to make it to Rice and Beans yet?

21 03 2011

Katia and Ann – YES!

hungry dog – So exciting!

Anna – Thank you!

Hannah – You absolutely should!

Lindsey – Yes, you should. 🙂

Grapefruit – That’s great! Hope you have a great time!

Allison – Looks like my work here is done. 🙂

Michel – Great! I’m sure they’ll appreciate the tip.

Omid – Indeed!

drp293 – You won’t be disappointed.

Mistress of Spices – I went on opening night for dinner and again for a late lunch last Wednesday. It was not too crowded at 8pm, but filled up fast. The lunch at 3pm was very calm. I went to Rice and Beans for the first time a few days before Candelaria opened. Candelaria wins, hands-down!

22 03 2011
Fiona at Life on Nanchang Lu

Looks damn good! A few Green Hornets and you could probably crank the chili up to eleven without even noticing 🙂

22 03 2011
Cowgirl Chef

I was supposed to go last week, but a nasty cold kept me home. Valentina ET al pastor? I can’t wait to try.

23 03 2011

How weird! A friend of a friend just had his birthday party there. I passed on the festivities (interning!) but I need to make it out there soon.

24 03 2011

Fiona – Probably. But why would I want to miss the chili goodness? 🙂

Cowgirl Chef – Hope you’re feeling better, and get a chance to go ASAP.

Jessica – Yes, you do! 🙂

27 03 2011
Kitchens I Have Seen « Croque-Camille

[…] case you’re wondering what I’ve been up to for the last few weeks, apart from eating tacos, I’ve been looking for an apartment.  Again?  Yes.  I haven’t mentioned it here […]

9 04 2011

Dios Mio (mon Dieu) I might visit Paris this Spring and If I can make it to La Candelaria I will the happiest-mexican-expat-chica-living-in-Asia! (Mexican food in HK and Macau is lowsy).

ok pinning your post on my little paris guide.


10 04 2011

heidileon – De nada. 🙂

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