Feature

12 Hottest French Restaurants in America

By Patty Lee | August 5, 2014 By Patty Lee  |  August 5, 2014

A French-food revival is underway in cities all across the country. Brasseries and bistros — some decidedly old school and others more forward thinking — have not only sprung up in big dining hubs like New York and San Francisco, but also in cities like Austin and Miami. Click through our slide show to see what these new Gallic restaurants are offering and for details on more spots set to open this year.

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  • Photo by: Lesley Balla

    Petit Trois in Los Angeles

    A sophomore effort from the Trois Mec team, this diminuitive 21-seat spot aims to recreate France's neighborhood bar experience in Hollywood. Burgundy native Ludovic Lefebvre focuses on the simple, more humble fare of his homeland, sending out dishes such as mussels marinières and a Boursin-filled omelet to diners sidled up at the marble bar.

    718 N. Highland Ave.

  • Bastille Kitchen in Boston

    Fort Point's thriving food scene got another heavy hitter with the June opening of this 11,000-sq.-ft. behemoth backed by hospitality guru Seth Greenberg (Mistral). Adam Kube ​— one of Boston's 30 Under 30 honorees ​— looked to two different places for inspiration: some of the dishes lean classic French (bouillabaisse, onion soup), while others pay homage to the nearby Tea Party Museum (smoked mussels marinière with Earl Grey salt, tea-brined lamb shank).

    49 Melcher St.; 617-556-8000

  • Claudette in New York City

    Restaurateur Carlos Suarez (Rosemary's, Bobo) expanded his West Village empire this spring with yet another charmer: a cozy, 80-seat restaurant specializing in Provençal cuisine. James Beard Award winner Koren Grieveson (Avec in Chicago) whips up classics with a North African twist such as bouillabaisse en croute featuring monkfish, mussels and octopus and grilled lamb seasoned with za'atar.

    24 Fifth Ave.; 212-868-2424

  • Photo by: Pubbelly Media Group

    L'echon Brasserie in Miami 

    The Pubbelly crew puts their signature whimsical touch on French standards at this homey, oceanfront eatery inside the Hilton Cabana Miami Beach. Playful family-style dishes include foie gras-and-Nutella toast, cochon de lait (sucking pig) in mustard sherry jus and escargot with potato-leek foam.

    6261 Collins Ave.; 312-498-0824

  • Georges Bistro in Houston

    Longtime restaurateurs Georges and Monique Guy have opened a number of French restaurants in Houston (Chez Georges, Bistro Des Arts) but their latest — set in a Craftsman-style house in Lower Westheimer — marks the couple's return to simpler Provençal cuisine. Diners will find dishes inspired by Guy's childhood in the region: roasted duck smothered in orange sauce, escargot stuffed with garlic and more.

    219 Westheimer Rd.; 832-831-0921

  • Photo by: Sarah Dodge

    The Luminary in Atlanta

    Top Chef alum Eli Kirshtein became the first to cook inside Krog Street Market — the highly anticipated Beltline food hall set to debut this year — when he opened the doors of his airy, 140-seat brasserie. Southern influences pop up on the Atlanta native's Gallic-inspired menu, featuring plates like chicken-liver mousse with pickled mushrooms, crispy catfish brandade and duck au poivre with confit sunchokes. Ian Cox, formerly of Wrecking Bar Brewpub, mans the bar, pouring local and regional beers along with French wines.

    99 Krog St. NE, Ste. Y​; 404-246-7835​

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller

    Monsieur Benjamin in San Francisco

    After stints at restaurants like Benu and Blue Ribbon, Corey Lee and Jason Berthold are going back to their French Laundry roots. The duo first met while working at Thomas Keller's lauded Yountville restaurant, and the influence is palpable at their modern Hayes Valley bistro, where the 40-item menu boasts a slew of reinvented classics such as sweetbreads grenobloise, lamb leg steak and Camembert beignets.

    451 Gough St.; 415-403-2233

  • Photo by: Jody Horton

    laV in Austin

    An Austin power team — chef Allison Jenkins (Denver's Ajax Tavern), pastry chef Janina O’Leary (New York's Per Se) and sommelier Vilma Mazaite (New York's Babbo) — opened this ritzy French restaurant in March with a menu of modern small plates and an impressive 7,000-bottle wine list. The sophisticated, Provençal-inspired fare includes hand-cut pappardelle with lamb sausage and roasted chicken for two, along with sweets like café au lait éclairs and profiteroles with Earl Grey ice cream.

    1501 E. Seventh St.; 512-391-1888

  • Bijou French Bistro in San Diego

    William Bradley — known for turning out haute French plates at Addison Del Mar — returns to traditional fare at this two-month-old La Jolla eatery, a collaboration with longtime sous-chef Shaun Gethin. Modeled after the classic Parisian bistro, the menu is full of tried-and-true favorites like French onion soup, endive salad and steak frites. The room is equally European, decked out in wrought-iron chandeliers and antique mirrors.

    1205 Prospect St.; 858-750-3695

  • Brasserie Gigi in Charleston, SC

    This brasserie from chef Frank McMahon (Hank's Seafood Restaurant) brings a dose of Parisian charm to the heart of the Historic District. Shining a spotlight on his European training, the toque turns out classic dishes like niçoise salad and duck confit, but also nods to Charleston's strong seafood scene with plenty of seafaring options.     

    120 N. Market St.; 843-722-6393

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    Townsend in Philadelphia

    Plates such as rabbit pot-au-feu and foie gras mousse not only give chef Townsend Wentz (LaCroixMcCrossen's Tavern) a chance to flex his fine-dining chops again, but also dive back into Gallic cuisine. The East Passyunk spot is garnering lots of praise as of late — even with just 12 items on the menu — thanks to Wentz's ability to fuse traditional technique with an edgy style.

    1623 E. Passyunk Ave.; 267-639-3203

  • Chateau West in Nashville

    This throwback bistro boasts French standards of a bygone era — think fondue and beef bourguignon — but also appeals to a modern set of diners by making some of the items vegan or gluten-free. Owner Huseyin Ustunkaya, who owns popular Turkish joint Anatolia, overhauled the space so it would resemble a European chateau and also brought on native Frenchmen Alain Treville to oversee the kitchen.

    3408 West End Ave.; 615-432-2622

  • Photo by: Brasserie Bardot

    On the Horizon

    There are more French restaurants expected to roll out later this year. In New York City, the crew behind Carbone and Torrisi will break away from Italian cooking to open Dirty French on the Lower East Side to showcase Rich Torrisi's French training.

    DC brothers Eric and Ian Hilton — who have already made a splash with their Parisian spot Chez Billy — will focus on Southern French cuisine at new spin-off Chez Billy Sud, set to debut in August.

    In Denver, Brasserie Ten Ten alum Joe Troupe will bring bistro fare (coq au vin, pâtés) to Jefferson Park in September with the opening of Amass.

    Finally, at the end of the year, expect to see a new Vegas concept from Michael Mina. Set in the former American Fish space at the ARIA, Bardot Brasserie tips a hat to Paris' cafe and bar culture. Along with food like steak frites and foie gras en croute, there will be classic cocktails with a twist and both new- and old-world French wines.

Places Mentioned

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L'echon Brasserie

BrasserieMiami Beach
Food- Decor- Service- CostM
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Townsend

FrenchEast Passyunk Crossing
Food- Decor- Service- CostE
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Bastille Kitchen

FrenchSouth Boston
Food21 Decor21 Service21 Cost$43
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laV

FrenchEast Austin
Food24 Decor26 Service24 Cost$101
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Petit Trois

FrenchHollywood
Food- Decor- Service- CostM
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Brasserie Ten Ten

FrenchBoulder
Food- Decor- Service- CostM
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Chez Billy

FrenchPetworth
Food24 Decor22 Service20 Cost$34
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CARBONE

ItalianGreenwich Village
Food24 Decor22 Service23 Cost$106
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Michael Mina

SeafoodThe Strip
Food27 Decor25 Service26 Cost$98

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