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52 Rue de Saintonge, 75003 Paris
NOW IN ITS THIRD YEAR in the list, Candelaria still burns as brightly as the candle flames from which it takes its name. This hip Paris haunt embracing tacos and South American-inspired cocktails is a beacon to good-time moths.
Co-owner Carina Soto Velasquez Tsou says the neighbourhood’s food industry, young designers, architects, gallery owners and bartenders help to create the energy-filled atmosphere, though the bar is a people’s place first and attracts all types.
The venue is split between the taqueria, which has an open kitchen but is otherwise bleached in white, and the bar, which juxtaposes the light with darkness. The bar’s wood and stone décor is yellow-lit with candles.
The drinks have personality. Tequila, mescal, pisco, cachaça plus French spirits cognac and absinthe make for powerful propositions - especially when mixed in cocktails. The kitchen is Mexican themed but, where possible, French seasonal ingredients are used.
Along with Velasquez Tsou, the bar was opened by Josh Fontaine and Adam Tsou in 2011. The trio also launched Glass in 2012 in Paris and Le Mary Celeste last year, a coaster-throw from Candelaria.
Opening a bar a year means they aren’t behind the stick at Candelaria anymore but they have built a team that knows all the moves. There have been changes to the bar team but that’s "part of getting better, improving and building a place that can live 10 more years", says Velasquez Tsou. The bar’s soul though - that hybrid of Latin America and Paris - still shines through.