Last night was my third and final visit to La Perla.  I’m guessing that at least half of the customers at this semi-Mexican in the lower Marais think they are meeting at the hipster bar Le Perle. You can see the confusion wash over their faces when they’re greeted by neon beer signs with no sign whatsoever of Romain Duris.

I, too, was hoping that a mistake had been made and that we would be drinking at Le Perle. Alas, the friend with whom I’d made the plan had surrendered to a pretty girl who wanted La Perla. She also, it turned out, wanted to order for everyone at the table. The result was this:

Lobster-papaya quesadillas. With cheese and sour cream. The horror!

They were truly revolting – creamy and fishy with a gagging sweetness – so we sent them away and turned our attention to what remained on the table: a small pile of chile con carne and a large platter with twelve chips suffocating beneath a mountain of cheese and cream. The French men at the table thought the nachos were totally fine, as did I during those desperate years before good Mexican came to town. But they were not, and there is no reason to eat this sort of slop when better options abound.

To learn more about these better options, check out David Lebovitz’ recent post on Mexican Restaurants in Paris, or visit Paris by Mouth to read about the Mexican restaurants we like most, El Nopal and Rice & Beans. You can also read my earlier post about El Nopal here.

Some parting advice: the next time somebody asks to meet you at the pearl, make sure it’s the bar and not this place. And don’t let skinny girls order your dinner.

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8 Responses to Review: La Perla

  1. Kim says:

    Thanks for the warning – I wont be going to La Perla in a hurry. I’m no connosieur of Mexican food, but I recently tried Rice and Beans and thought it was great!

  2. Joan says:

    Meg,

    My husband instists on looking for Mexican food when we travel abroad (from CA). Some of the disasters looked just like your photos & included many a “salsa” that was nothing more than canned tomato sauce & several versions of what seemed to be tomatoey chilli with beans.

    However, along the way we made a discovery that generated one of our traveling catch phrases. “Mexican food in Dublin is better than pizza in Cordoba.”

    Take it easy,

    Joan

  3. FN says:

    Thanks for the link. Been a long time since my terrible meal at La Perla and sadly I still haven’t had any excellent Mexican in Paris.

  4. Jon says:

    I think France needs a Texan to open a texmex joint in paris.

  5. David Jaggard says:

    The last time I ate at La Perla (and by “last” I mean both “most recent” and “last time ever until I die”) was about 20 years ago and I share your opinion. I like a Mexican meal with lots of different ingredients so I ordered whatever it was on the menu that seemed to have the most components. When it came, it did indeed have meat plus beans plus guacamole, etc., etc., except that it was all mushed up together with little bits of tortilla floating around in it. It looked like they scraped the leavings of the last 15 dinners onto my plate, an impression that was heightened by the presence of a burned match in the middle of the mess.

    Revolting indeed.

  6. MT says:

    “She also, it turned out, wanted to order for everyone at the table.”
    “And don’t let skinny girls order your dinner.”

    As the foodie at the table, you weren’t able to provide any input whatsoever?

    Thanks for the post, will definitely avoid lobster-cream-papaya concoctions from now on!

  7. Allesandra says:

    I agree that the food at La Perla is awful — however the margarita’s are the most authentic I’ve had in Paris (and I used to live in Mexico). I would recommend going to La Perla for Happy Hour (1/2 price margarita’s!) and go eat dinner elsewhere.

  8. Nona says:

    Yesterday, I went to “Rice and Beans”. But it has gone for a makeover and has reverted to being “Rice and Fish” again!

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