Ernest Hemingway referred to Paris as a moveable feast, and indeed, it is. I often get nostalgic for my days as young man stumbling across the crooked streets of the Latin Quarter, warm from the wine, seduced by the virtues and vices of Paris. And though I'm 5,000 miles away, these are the places I turn to in Los Angeles, usually with a good book, when I'm feeling sentimental for the City of Light.
Figaro Bistro is a beautiful Parisian style cafe in the heart of Los Feliz that also operates as a boulangerie and patisserie. During the day take a seat outdoors and people-watch as if you were in the Latin Quarter and at night sit at the snazzy zinc bar (imported from France) and soak in the atmosphere. Figaro is the only establishment in L.A. that I know which keeps a tap of Kronenbourg 1664 beer (brewed in Strasbourg, France). Happy Hour is from 5 - 7 ($3 beer, $5 Kir Royale).
La Poubelle is a friendly neighborhood French bistro in the heart of Franklin Village. A great place for dinner or drinks after a show at the Upright Citizens Brigade. The food is solid, but the bar is better. They pour their own house lager for $3. For desert, have the Jacquie's Crepe with mascarpone and blueberry jam. Happy Hour is every day from 5 - 7.
Cafe Midi is hidden away among the lighting and rug shops on busy La Brea. If you go through Maison Midi toward the back of the shop, you'll find a quaint cafe lit by skylight and a coffee bar straight out of a Godard film. The food is less French and more Californian so I recommend the salads.
Cafe Stella is a romantic French restaurant at the heart of Sunset Junction that serves French classics with California flare. However, it's the wine bar, tucked away just off the Sanborn entrance, that is truly a gem. The decor will make you feel like you're drinking absinthe in 19th century Paris. The blue cheese burger is not on the menu, but you can order it exclusively at the bar. They also have a nice selection of beer on tap that includes Chimay Tripel, Blanche de Bruxelles, and of course, Stella.
Susina is a charming French bakery with fantastic deserts and sandwiches. The jazz soundtrack helps the locals, cops, and screenwriters mingle late into the night. The ham and cheese croissant and the bread pudding are both delicious. They assemble picnic baskets, which are great to take to the Hollywood Bowl. Parking in the back if you can find it.
The market at Monsieur Marcel is my go-to place whenever I need a hard to find French liqueur. The cafe serves homestyle French fare and is one of the few places in the Farmers Market that has table service. If you're trying to impress a date, order a bottle of white Bordeaux and the fondue savoyarde to share. Stop by the shop and take home a bottle of wine from their French regional selections.
The Little Next Door is a standout among all the lunch spots on 3rd Street. I come here for brunch because their homemade jams are delicious, as is the baguette French toast. Also recommended are the merguez wrap and the ham and butter sandwich. Wine and Dine specials are weekdays from 4 - 7pm and includes half price beer and wines by the glass.
Thomas Keller elevates classic bistro food at Bouchon. The dining room evokes some of the haute cuisine restaurants in Paris from days past. I recommend the steak frites with the New York steak, but make sure to check out the daily three-course prix fixe menu for $45. Either way, don't skip desert. Bar Bouchon downstairs has a great Happy Hour, too.
Papilles is one of the most underrated restaurants in L.A. Chef Tim Carey is taking his cue from the bistronomy and fooding movements in Paris, serving up a 3 course prix fixe menu of seasonal ingredients from local farms that changes weekly. Papilles has a casual, laid back vibe, the decor is straight out of a Picasso painting, and the old world wine selection is very accessible - literally (you can get up and select a wine from the shelf on the wall).
Gorge is a charcuterie restaurant and wine bar by Top Chef All-Stars alum Elia Aboumrad. The restaurant is easy to miss on the busy Sunset Strip, but once you find it, you'll be transported (via the food) to old world France. Chef Elia uses old school techniques to cure her own sausages and terrines. The charcuterie is the star here, but if you like something more traditional, you must try the cornish game hen.