French cuisine has been a favorite of New Yorkers since the good people of France gifted us Lady Liberty (that would be 1886, FYI). But in the last few years, it’s largely been the same tired steak frites, mussels and chocolate soufflés showing up on every menu. No more. When it comes to French fare, there’s a renaissance of sorts happening right now. Here, six of the most exciting French restaurants in NYC.
6 of Our Favorite French Restaurants in NYC
A newish kid on the block, this upscale French bistro in Tribeca is absurdly good. Known for its vast selection of natural wine and traditional menu with a modern twist, you definitely need a reservation at this bustling spot. Fan favorites include brouillade (a soft scrambled egg with escargot and garlic butter) and the roast chicken with puréed potatoes and maitake mushrooms (served in a Le Creuset dish because, of course). The duck frites is also outrageously delicious. Pro tip: While there’s no bad seat in the house, go as a group of four and call ahead so you can secure one of their handsome rounded leather banquette tables.
241 W. Broadway; frenchettenyc.com
This jaw-droppingly beautiful restaurant tucked away on a quiet block of the Upper East Side is the kind of place that Carrie Bradshaw’s Parisian dreams were made of. Sophisticated and refined like The Lowell hotel in which it sits, Majorelle is one of the finest splurge-worthy restaurants in the city. Striking floral arrangements and top-notch service (the waiters all speak French) make this the ideal spot for a special occasion, but the elegant food will have you coming back again and again. With the addition of a new Michelin-starred chef breathing life into a seasonal menu of French Mediterranean hits (think oysters married with endives, duck liver with port wine and a grilled dover sole with haricot verts), this plush restaurant also boasts a year-round outdoor dining garden. In a word (and in the voice of Lumière from Beauty and the Beast), it’s magnifique.
28 E. 63rd St.; lowellhotel.com/restaurants-and-bar/majorelle
3. Dirty French
It’s hard to miss this French bistro located at the Ludlow Hotel with its playful decor (including a gorgeous, broken antique French carnival mirror and plenty of neon pink roosters), but why would you want to? Featuring an international twist on French fare, menu highlights at this cool eatery include orange blossom water beignets with a side of chicory caramel sauce, poached lobster with curry aioli and Moroccan-inspired chicken and crêpes. And let’s not forget the wine. Dirty French is known for their extensive list that highlights the finest produits de France.
180 Ludlow St.; dirtyfrench.com
When this popular bistro closed in 2014, New Yorkers let out a collective le sigh. But happily, Pastis is back and it’s better than ever. Now in a new location just around the corner from its former Meatpacking spot, the famed French bistro can instantly transport discerning diners to Paris in a New York minute. The burger and fries are what put the O.G. restaurant on the map, and they’re still as finger-licking good as before. Nightly specials and traditional French hits round out the menu—both steak and moules frites, beef bourguignon, trout amandine and a salad niçoise that never disappoints. Whatever you choose, we recommend leaving room for the baba au rhum and the vanilla bean crème brûlée, both of which will have you scraping your plate.
52 Gansevoort St.; pastisnyc.com
5. La Mercerie
Located inside famed design mecca Roman and Williams Guild, just being surrounded by all the beautiful decor and treasures from around the globe is a unique dining experience in its own right. And while this Canal Street–adjacent cafe could rely on its looks to draw in a crowd, it doesn’t. Instead, the round-the-clock eatery serves brioches and pain au chocolat that dazzle the eyes as much as the taste buds in the morning, with savory crêpes and a velouté du jour come après-midi. There’s an aperitif menu if you’re looking for some nosh in between meals, and beef bourguignon is the star at dinner. Bon appétit.
53 Howard St.; lamerceriecafe.com
6. Le Jardinier
This fashionable urban garden greenhouse oasis received a Michelin star less than a year after opening (no big deal). Sample chef Alain Verzeroli’s vegetable-driven cuisine via the tasting menu or go a la carte: roasted cauliflower, an heirloom beet dish with kumquats and pearled barley risotto with mushrooms are just a few of note. On a sunny day, stop by for a midtown power lunch to see the restaurant in all its glory, bathed with sunlight that warms the sleek marble walls. Or if you’re looking to go on the cheap, check out the happy hour when elevated bar bites like short rib croque-monsieur sandwiches, crispy cheese sticks and even a crudo are all under $15 a plate.
610 Lexington Ave.; lejardinier-nyc.com