You might wonder why when I visit cities I don’t immerse myself in the local culture and devote my digestive efforts solely to the indigenous cuisine.
The first reason is that sometimes that can be tricky for vegetarians, though the situation is improving. The second (and Paris, like London, may well be a case in point) is that sometimes the local restaurants or cuisine might not be that good compared with how they do international food. The third is that I really enjoy diners!
Happy Days Diner is just on the boundary of the 2nd and 8th districts. It’s actually a small chain with 6 outlets in Paris and one in each of 5 other towns, mainly in the North of France. The interior is actually slightly more comfortable than normal for these places, with big, soft chairs in pastel colours designed to evoke 50s Cadillacs.
The walls have the typical neon lights, signs and posters, and at the back there are pieces of classic comic book art.
I also liked the classic Pepsi vending machine, though I stuck to American ale. The last nice touch was the TV showing a classic baseball match (the American family beside us were surprised ‘the French’ liked baseball…) The staff were quite good for Paris, and were able to make adjustments to a burger with relatively little fuss.
We started with potato sticks. These were seasoned fried mashed potato fingers, and were really good, especially with the accompanying blue cheese sauce. Oddly, the Americans thought these were ‘fries’, despite the menu being in French and English. Perhaps not very traditional diner fare, but they actually enjoyed them too once they got over their initial mistrust.
I opted for one of the three veggie burger options: the California vegan. This came with vegan cheese, chillis, pico de gallo, coriander, aubergine and guacamole, plus an ocean of skin-on chips. The burger was really good, while the chips were fine though way too many. There is another vegan soy cheeseburger (with Mediterranean toppings) and one that seems to be a huge hash brown burger, also with Mediterranean stuff. Another time, maybe.
Fiancée opted for the seasonal Hawaiian burger, substituting a beef patty for the original Cajun chicken, and adding an egg to the cheese, pineapple, onions and coriander. She was very happy with it, and also struggled with the mass of chips!
Happy Days clearly isn’t going to have the same atmosphere as a traditional French bistro, but it will quite likely have better food and almost certainly have better service. It’s fun too – I recommend it highly.
Address: 25 Boulevard des Italiens, 75002 Paris