Chez Denise, also known as La Tour de Montlhéry, is famous for being one of the last “authentic” restaurants in the former market district of Les Halles. It transports diners back to the days where butchers and fishmongers lined the streets, where everyone from Paris and beyond showed up to buy the finest ingredients and stopped at Chez Denise for a glass of wine and a meal to satisfy them for the day. Let’s be honest: the restaurant is very well known. Visitors crowd the restaurant’s tables, covered in traditional checkered tablecloths, and order typical hearty French cuisine. The portions are ridiculously huge, wine flows freely, and the chocolate mousse and île flottante are to die for.
However, Chez Denise is so much more if you show up for a meal outside popular dining hours. After a night at the opera, or after catching a concert or two, head down to Les Halles and stop in for a meal after 11 pm or midnight: this is when the fun truly starts. Loyal patrons and groups of real-deal French eaters stream in, and the atmosphere goes from loud to frankly jovial. The restaurant is open until 5 am, which leaves enough time to sit back, enjoy your steak-frites, and do some of the best people-watching Paris has to offer.
Photo credit: Zagat