Le Camion Qui Fume
All over Paris; visit website
for locations and times.
06 23 19 74 92.
44, rue d’Argout, in the 2nd Arrondissement.
Mon–Sat, noon–2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.–11 p.m.
With the arrival of Le Camion Qui Fume and Blend, the odds of finding a good hamburger in the French capital have dramatically improved. Sure, there are plenty of Paris restaurants and cafés that serve “les burgers,” but I gave up my dream of discovering a decent burger in Paris a long, long time ago.
I’m admittedly bringing an American standard to the table. Burgers in Paris tend to be on the lean side, while my ideal burger is a messy, chin-dripping affair. This might be part of the problem: “messy” is not really in the Parisian repertoire, made evident by, among other things, the locals’ preference for eating burgers with a knife and fork.
This is not an option at Le Camion Qui Fume, the burger joint on wheels, where your grub is handed over for eating on the street. That’s right: the food truck phenomenon has crossed the Atlantic. Would-be burger eaters have to check the website or Twitter feed to find out where the truck will be parked.
The woman flipping the patties Paris is flipping for is Kristin Frederick, an American. She gets it right. This is a hefty, juicy burger with a side of good, salty fries. I go for the “classique,” which is worthy of its name, with cheddar, lettuce, tomato and mayo, plus pickles and onions. There’s the “campagne,” with mushrooms and caramelized onions, and a BBQ burger, too, with bacon, cheese and—burp—an onion ring. Yes, you’re still in Paris.
And then there’s Blend, a sleek little joint in the 2nd, where the beef comes from star butcher Yves-Marie Le Bourdonnec. The meat is seriously good—it’s almost a shame to cook it, really. And they barely do, giving it the “aller-retour” treatment so that it’s like a barely seared tartare. House-made condiments, such as a bacon, onion, and Roquefort compote, add a gourmand touch; there are two veggie burgers offered, too, along with sweet potato fries (“sweet potato fries” being a phrase I never thought I’d utter in Paris except in sweet longing for what I couldn’t have).
Blend also has great buns, courtesy of American pastry chef and Girls’ Guide contributor Camille Malmquist, who is producing the finest brioche buns around, plus chocolate chip cookies and cheesecake that should be required eating for Parisians wanting to know les vrais desserts americains. She also curated the excellent beer list. If we weren’t already friends, I might start stalking her.
What Blend and Le Camion have in common is limited capacity and high demand, which means you may end up waiting for your burger, wherever you go. This is not fast food, in any sense; it’s much, much better.
In a nutshell: On or off the street, with or without fries, Le Camion Qui Fume and Blend have raised the bar for burgers in Paris.
Price check: Burger and fries at Le Camion Qui Fume: 10 euros. Burgers à la carte at Blend: 10 euros; sides 3–5 euros.
Editor’s note: For a gourmet walking tour, check out our DIY downloadable tours.