One Of The Best Restaurants In This European Foodie City, According To Anthony Bourdain

The late chef, traveler, and TV personality Anthony Bourdain, who sadly departed in 2018, was a person of eclectic tastes when it came to food. Whether sipping coffee in a Parisian street café, grabbing a beer and taco in Tijuana, or sampling warthog anus in Namibia, Bourdain possessed an insatiable curiosity and wry humanism, driven by a conviction that food is the thing that binds us all. He was just as likely to sing the praises of a dirty-water hotdog in New York as a swanky Michelin-starred restaurant, but that isn't to say he wasn't appreciative of fine dining. Towards the top of his picks was the legendary Le Dôme Café. On a stylish street in the Montparnasse district, it is one place he insisted you must visit on your next trip to Paris.

Four decades after the classic Parisian hangout became an epitome of French New Wave cool in Agnés Varda's film "Cléo from 5 to 7," the self-styled bad boy of the restaurant world came looking for a table in Season 2, Episode 2 of "The Layover." He was treating himself after an encounter with a mime artist in the park ("nothing I hate or fear more") and ready for a frankly daunting platter of shellfish and a "really f***ing expensive bottle of wine." Settling in, he stated: "If there's two things you do in Paris ... this would be one [of them]."

The illustrious history of Le Dôme Café

Le Dôme Café is on the corner of a busy intersection at 108 Boulevard du Montparnasse, in a Paris district that has long been associated with creatives and an international crowd. First opening its doors in 1898, Le Dôme became a popular hangout for artists, poets, and writers of the Left Bank scene. Famous regulars over the years include Pablo Picasso, Man Ray, Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin, Ezra Pound, and Ernest Hemingway; the novelist even devoted an entire chapter of "A Moveable Feast" to describe a meeting with painter Jules Pascin at the café. It was even one of occultist Aleister Crowley's favorite spots for oysters.

Le Dôme has changed a lot over the years. In 1990, writer Otto Friedrich described it as a "plain, bare sort of place" (per TIME) before its 1986 upgrade, where a struggling artist might feast on Toulouse sausage and mashed potatoes for a buck. Movie buffs can glimpse what it was like in the early '60s in "Cléo from 5 to 7." In one scene, the eponymous singer (played by Corinne Marchand) stops into the bustling café to put one of her tunes on the jukebox and order a brandy. By the time Anthony Bourdain visited for the 2012 episode of "The Layover," it had transformed into a plush, white-tablecloth affair where the celebrity chef enjoyed "the royal deluxe version of the best shellfish tower in Paris."

Le Dôme is a must for seafood lovers

Le Dôme Café today is the proud bearer of a Michelin Star, and it is still regarded as one of the best places for seafood in Paris. While the large menu does offer some land-based delicacies, such as asparagus, pan-fried duck foie gras, and Black Angus ribeye steak, it's all about the fruits of the sea. The prix fixe menu offers an appetizer and entrée or an entrée and dessert for 50 euros (around $54) — for all 3 courses, the price is 56 euros (around $60). Choices include Scottish salmon sashimi, octopus salad, skate wing, and monkfish with tandoori and mushroom cream. Outside of the prix fixe menu, other highlights are the bouillabaisse (seafood soup) for two, a Cognac-flamed whole blue lobster, and the Atlantic sole, also for two.

Check your bank balance before booking a table, if you want to pay tribute to Anthony Bourdain and order a seafood stack. The shellfish selections run from the cheapest "discovery platter" at 50 Euros to the mighty "Le Haute Mer" at 205 Euros (around $221). The latter truly is a treat for lovers of seafood, stacked with lobster, crab, prawns, and whelks. While you're at it, why not also order from the excellent wine list and top off the meal with some dessert? After all, if you want to experience Paris like a Parisian, you might as well indulge yourself a little.