As I live just next to this area, I go here all the time and it truly feels like escaping big Paris and entering village life. The neighbourhood that is centred around the rue des Cinq Diamants and rue de la Butte aux Cailles is only a few streets big, but well filled with all you could possibly need.
During the day I often take a coffee in the typically Parisian middle-of-the-road café Le Mêlécasse, where I can sit down with my computer and get some work done. On my way back I am often tempted to take detours to discover antique and second hand shops that seem to happily have lost track of time. (At La Clarière you can find 18th century clothing, for example.)
In the evening hours it is hard to make a choice between the many restaurants and cuisines. The ever-crowded Chez Gladines is undoubtedly the best value for money, if you’re up for large portions of Basque food. Just opposite you can get a great couscous for vraiment pas cher, and if you’re out to even spend less go to Soyouz, a bar where you can share your pizzas with friend (which we once did at a get-together with the Paris Spotters!)
The Butte aux Cailles is also a popular spot for street artists. I’m always on the lookout for newly decorated walls, which are of a smaller scale compared to the larger-than-life frescos on the Boulevard Vincent Auriol, not far from here.