Chez Gladine’s

Party like a Parisian at Chez Gladine’s

One of the best ways to discover how Parisians enjoy a night out is to visit Chez Gladine’s. Situated at the base of the charming Butte aux Cailles neighborhood in Southern Paris, this lively hangout specializes in hearty Basque salads and service with an attitude.

Come early to avoid the crowds, or party like a Parisian and arrive later in the evening. Most locals don’t finish work until seven o’clock, so wait times begin around eight and last through the night. Offer your name, grab a drink and head outside. You can roam up the rue des cinq diamants and explore this quaint area, or roll a cigarette and strike a pose against the graffiti walls with the young crowds standing by for their turns to come inside.

With its simple menu and time-worn habits, Chez Gladine’s is practically an institution. Prepare to be seated with strangers, and don’t worry too much about your order. Choose one of the five salads, served simply in large, stainless steel bowls. The all-inclusive salade des cinq diamants, a Chez Gladine’s specialty, is stuffed with tomatoes, eggs, potatoes, liver, gizzards and two types of cheese.

This restaurant hasn’t changed in decades. A large Basque flag hangs against a dirty wall. Barrels of peeled potatoes sit in water in a far corner. Through a small, secret door at one end of the bar, servers rush in and out of an underground cave. The regulars are welcomed warmly. The tourists are tolerated with a cool shrug and a smile. Spend too much time choosing a wine and your server will make the decision for you. Don’t be surprised to find a sign in the bathroom, hand-written on a sheet of paper, that reads, “Utilizez le couteau pour l’eau” (translation: pull on the butter knife to flush the toilet).

No one is made to feel rushed at Chez Gladine’s. Bread and water will be refreshed until you choose to go. Your table mates will want to get to know you. After perhaps a brief shock, you’ll embrace the no-frills attitude at Chez Gladine’s and enjoy sitting back to talk loudly for a long time with new friends.

To reach the original Chez Gladine’s in its Butte aux Cailles location, exit at Mètro Place d’Italie in the 13th Arrondissement and walk five minutes along the Avenue Auguste Blanqui. Then turn left and walk one block up the hill to 30 rue des cinq diamants. You can also find newer Chez Gladine’s restaurants in St. Germain, Halles, Batignolles and Charonne.

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