52 Rue de Saintonge, 75003 Paris
AFTER FOUR CONSECUTIVE YEARS ON THE LIST, everyone knows Candelaria’s shopfront is a bright, busy taqueria with frozen Margaritas and Mexican beers. Everyone knows that, hidden behind an unmarked door in this tiny taco joint, is a dimly lit bar serving some of the city’s best cocktails.
While the bar features plenty of tantalising tequila options, Candelaria is no one-trick pony. Its regularly changing menu highlights house creations, while its Reserve Menu (on request) offers dozens of old-school options and modern-day classics.
Candelaria first made news with exceptional drinks, a south-of-the-border detour from the prevalent Prohibition/speakeasy style and the introduction of Toby Cecchini’s Guepe Verte, which became a Candelaria classic and continues to inspire bartenders across the city to create their own versions of this cool cucumber drink.
It’s easy to see why it landed on the list, but what keeps it there? Owners Adam Tsou, Josh Fontaine and Carina Soto Velasquez don’t need a full-on facelift to keep their flagship bar relevant. Instead they never stop tweaking things to perfection: updating menus (both physically and spiritually), a new mirror here, better bar stools there.
However, some of the most significant improvements are behind the scenes. The trio handpick staff who share their ethos and cultivate creative tendencies. This shared vision and innovative group dynamic makes for a coherent menu and comfortable, family vibe that spills out over the bar to include the many, many locals and tourists who elbow their way in nightly.