Le cul entre les deux chaises

An American Spaniard in France or: How I Learned to Make an Ass of Myself in Three Cultures


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Quartino: great bathroom in Paris (4è)

Quartino street

Street view

A while back I wrote about how much I like Quartino Pizza in the 4è. Today, I want to highlight that they also have a great bathroom. Technically, you can get away with using it if you don’t patronize the shop, so if you’re in the area and need a clean bathroom, stop by. (You’ll probably still get some pizza though. It’s really good.)

So many hooks to hang things on!

So many hooks to hang things on!

Sink and Dyson-esque hand dryer.

Sink and Dyson-esque hand dryer.

Clean toilet with easily accessible paper dispenser.
Clean toilet with easily accessible paper dispenser.
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Quartino: great pizza in Paris (4è)

The Pizza Cognition Theory, posited by Sam Sifton, former New York Times restaurant critic, states that

The first slice of pizza a child sees and tastes … becomes, for him, pizza.

I don’t necessarily agree with the theory, but I like it none the less. Maybe my problem is that I think there are different kinds of good pizza, depending on the situation.

Quartino street

On Rue Rambuteau, between Rue du Temple and Rue Renard/Beaubourg (if that means anything to you)

If I want pepperoni, the only way I’m getting that in Europe is by eating American pizza (Dominos, Pizza Hut) which is fine as the whole experience is nostalgic. If I want my pizza to be a meal, I’ll go to a more traditional Italian pizzeria or restaurant and get something wood-fired with some cheese, tomato, green stuff and a protein on top.

But if I’m just hungry or want plain good pizza, I head to Roman-style pizzerias and Quartino, located in the 4è near the Centre Pompidou (map), is the best I’ve come across in town. Quartino is an al taglio Roman place meaning that the pizza has a very thin crust and is cut to order from a big rectangular pie.

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The place itself is compact but comfortable. Upon entering, you see all the pizzas currently available under a glass case on the left and if you can’t tell what something is, you have to ask because the pizzas are so fresh and go so fast that they don’t bother putting name markers on them.

After ordering at the counter and paying, your pizza is put into an oven and made piping hot. The person working the counter cuts each slice with scissors into smaller, manageable bites and then serves them table-side on a wooden board. And they always give you napkins, something that I really appreciate.

There are a few family style tables with high chairs opposite the pizza case and some traditional two-tops in the back near the open kitchen. There has been an Italian guy in there making pies every time I’ve been which just makes me feel like I’m in good hands.

Mmmm, that's good.

Mmmm, that’s good.

Perfect for: a quick bite or some pizza to go.

Not ideal for: a place to hang out and have long conversations.

Rating: HIGHLY RECOMMEND. Great pizza, clean place, reasonably priced. Quartino gets the Special Agent Dale Cooper Approval Award, this site’s highest honor.

Just the fax, ma’am

  • Quartino Pizza
  • 19-20 rue Rambuteau
  • Paris 75004
  • tel: 01 44 78 10 24
  • Monday-Sunday, 11h-22h


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Chaak, Mexican in le Forum des Halles

Being a person who loves Mexican food is hard in Europe since there’s (historically) not very good Mex to be had. Part of the problem is surely getting genuine ingredients to the Continent, but there is a demand out there (usually promulgated by Americans and Europeans who’ve lived in the US), so places do exist.

Chaak was one that I’d been meaning to try for some time. The location listed on their site is in an area that I haven’t been to in a while, so it kept getting bumped down the list. When I went to see Skyfall at the big mall in the center of town I found that they’d opened a location right by the theater, so I stopped by.

You can’t tell from the photo, but I got three different tacos: meat, pork and chicken, each with a different sauce (pico de gallo, red chile and green chile, respectively). Sour cream and guac were both additional, I chose guac.

You also can’t tell that the tortillas were cold. Like, from the fridge, cold. The guy who made them pulled them out of a metal warmer which apparently wasn’t turned on because they were properly chilly. This was a very bad start. None of the three sauces had any real spice to them and the pico de gallo especially just added a flavor of “wet.”

Of the three fillings, I strongly recommend against the beef as it was tough and also wet, swimming in the juices that had long since seeped from the actual fiber. The chicken was also diced up so finely that it was reminiscent of ham cubes at a salad bar. The pork was basically just like the carnitas from Chipotle, which is to say all right, and at least had some flavor of a spice rub or some kind of seasoning.

Bottom line

In a perfect world, I’d never go here again. In the world in which I live, where I actually frequent a business that’s right next to this place, I’ll probably go back one more time and ask for heated tortillas with the pork. But I won’t be happy about it.