French food has an air of classiness, eliteness and, over all, deliciousness. A fine mixture of creamy meat dishes, crusty breads and fluffy pastries, this cuisine stands out as one of the more interesting and fascinating ones to come out of the West. And there’s no better way to experience it than to head out to a French restaurant and delve into it yourself. For those from New York City, you’re in luck. Plenty of places are available, ranging from bank-breakers to the pleasantly cheap. Here are the best French restaurants in NYC you need to try.
1. La Boîte en Bois (Upper West Side)
Translating literally to “the wooden box,” this beautiful little place will dazzle you with its spectacular menu, its welcoming atmosphere and its lovely decor. All the staples are here: French Onion Soup (with Gruyère cheese), Provençal Mussels, Paté, Escargot etc. Those looking to delve into the cuisine won’t have to look hard! And for those who love going to Central Park or Lincoln Center, this restaurant is conveniently nearby so check it out next time you’re in the area.
2. La Bonne Soupe (Midtown)
This one’s English translation is quite obvious. But the soups aren’t the only thing that’s great about this bistro. Among other things available are plates of charcuterie, eight different varieties of crêpe, filet mignon au poivre and more. Of course, there’s a large selection of wines and cocktails, for those of drinking age. And when you’re done with your meal, there’s the dessert menu which offers chocolate mouse, chocolate cake, gelati and sorbets. If you’re heading to Rockefeller Center, Times Square or the Theatre District, check out one of the best French restaurants in NYC in this area!
3. Benoit (Midtown)
This Midtown bistro is located near the Museum of Modern Art but it’s practically an exhibit in its own right! The inside of the place is marked by mirrors, copious French posters and stylish light-fixtures. The outside? Blue and white awnings that look marvelous on the building to which they’re attached. The menu is just as special, offering oysters, squid, fois gras, roasted chicken, veal liver and others. And for dessert? How about a slice of mille-feuille, some profiteroles (of cream puffs) or a selection of ice creams and sorbets. Benoit does a lot of advertising but what really matters is the food and, when it comes to that, this place succeeds.
4. Chez Josephine (Hell’s Kitchen)
Chez Josephine is certainly French. It’s decor and design give off vibes of the roaring 20’s which makes perfect sense as the restaurant is named for Josephine Baker, an African-American dancer and civil-rights activist who lived in France during the decade. Her image is strewn all over the establishment and it’s an interesting thing to see while eating your dinner. In that field, Chez Josephine prevails with its escargot, steak tartar, cheese platter and potato croquettes. Its proximity to Broadway also makes it convenient for anyone heading to the theatres. Josephine Baker may not be with us anymore, but if she were, she’d surely be proud of this New York staple.
5. Le Bernardin (Midtown)
Okay, let’s stop beating around the bush for a second. French food is expensive. And no better restaurant exemplifies this expensiveness than Le Bernardin on 51st Street. It’s one of the best French restaurants in NYC, often appearing on best-of lists and for good reason. From the comfortable leather chairs, to the aesthetically-pleasing photography, to the artistic ways the dishes are prepared, Le Bernardin excites and dazzles. Available on its four course fixed dinner menu are oysters, caviar (tartar), scallops, lobster, merluza and lamb. As stated at the beginning though, watch the wallet. It’s $160 a person!
6. La Grenouille (Midtown)
TimeOut Magazine describes this place as a dinosaur of a French restaurant but unlike the dinosaurs, La Grenouille (which translates to “the frog”) is still around and for good reason. Like Le Bernardin, it is stuffy and pricy, something the flowery decor will definitely remind you of. That being said, it offers a vegetarian menu that contains, among other things, truffle soufflé, steamed vegetables and tofu, bok choy, bean salad and a tomato and herb crumble. For dinner, there’s are choices such as lobster bisque, lobster ravioli, oysters, filet mignon tartar, celery in velouté sauce, fois gras, smoked salmon and Israeli caviar, among others. Maybe this place is a dinosaur but you don’t need to be a Jurassic Park fan to come here. You need to be rich instead, or at least have some money laying around.
7. La Mercerie (Soho)
Reviews for La Mercerie almost always note that it’s one of the best French restaurants in NYC for your Insta-feed. They’re right to do this, but other notable things include its all-day status (meaning that breakfast, lunch and dinner service is offered) and its retail side. Yes, at La Mercerie, you can not only eat delicious café food but also buy the silverware you’re eating it with. While that might not be a reason to go, you should nonetheless. Among the items offered are smoked salmon and blinis, omelettes, crêpes, oysters, charcuterie, cheese plates, croissants, pains au chocolat and more. Please your stomach and your Instagram followers with this lovely French place out in Soho. Enjoy!
8. Claudette (Greenwich Village)
Another hip new French restaurant can be found in Greenwich’s Claudette. The place boasts an impeccable interior design, a gorgeously flashy menu and, according to the website, delivery. Yes, really. If you have the money, you can get dishes from Claudette delivered to your door. Now that’s what I call classy! For those wanting to eat out, Claudette offers plenty of dishes highlighting the Provençe region of France. From the dinner menu, one can order chicken liver mousse, potato falafel, burrata, black bass, vegetable targine, sirloin au poivre and, of course, french fries, among other things.
9. La Maison du Croque Monsieur (Greenwich Village)
Let’s get smaller for a second. Much smaller. La Maison du Croque Monsieur offers one dish: the Croque Monsieur sandwich. It’s a simple one consisting only of ham, cheese and sugary bread, usually made in a frying pan. But this café in Greenwich takes it a step further by offering fourteen different variations on that concept, all adding up to a crispy, cheesy snack you can take on the go. Order one with fingerling potato salad or a nice cup of la colombe coffee and you’re ready to hit the streets. Be aware though, as the website warns, they “don’t do substitutions” so be sure you like what you’re getting because you’re sticking with it!
10. Rue 57 (Midtown)
Heading back to Midtown for the final restaurant on this list, Rue 57 offers French cuisine alongside American classics and this contrast is shown in its menu. It’s one of the best French restaurants in NYC to take your less-than-French friends. It contains dishes like tuna tartar, beignets and salade niçoise but also California rolls, breakfast burritos and hamburgers! Despite this, the French selection seems to be emphasized its atmosphere, decor and name are distinctively Parisian. If you want a place to go before hitting Central Park, try this one out. It’s only two blocks away and it’s outstandingly gorgeous.