Best French Restaurants in NYC

October 25, 2016
·
by Zagat Staff

From old-school bistros to modern takes on the classics.

Le Bernardin
French · West 50s · $$$$
Food 4.9 · Decor 4.8 · Service 4.9

Prepare to dine on “a higher plane” at this “dazzling” Midtown “star” where Eric Ripert’s “world-class” tasting menus highlight “transcendent” French seafood, earning it No. 1 Food honors in NYC for the eighth year in a row; a “deep” wine list, “exemplary” staff and “soigné” surrounds further justify the “sky-high” tabs, so for a “dream-come-true” meal, this is “as good as it gets.”
Bouley at Home
Flatiron · $$$$

This multifaceted enterprise by David Bouley brings together dining and education, offering nine-course dinners – drawing on French and Asian traditions – at counters arranged around cooking stations, where chefs both prepare and serve the dishes. Designed with streamlined wooden cabinets, the setting has elements of a home kitchen, while also providing culinary classes and a bakery in the same space.
Jean-Georges
French · West 60s · $$$$
Food 4.8 · Decor 4.6 · Service 4.8

“Time after time” , Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s CPW flagship “lives up to its billing” with “exquisite” New French cuisine that “dazzles your palate” served “with balletlike precision” in “a serene, luxurious” setting that requires a jacket; it’ll cost a “king’s ransom” to settle the tab, but those “willing to splurge” can count on an “unforgettable” meal.
Daniel
French · East 60s · $$$$
Food 4.8 · Decor 4.8 · Service 4.8

A “wow every time” , Daniel Boulud’s “luxurious” UES “icon” “sweeps you into another world” with “masterly” New French fare and a “rarefied atmosphere” defined by “magnificent” decor, “VIP” service and a “dressed-up” clientele (jackets are required); granted, the prix fixe–only tabs are “Himalayan” , but “you’ll understand why” – and the bar provides the “same stellar” quality à la carte.
Tocqueville
French · Flatiron · $$$$
Food 4.8 · Decor 4.6 · Service 4.5

“Sophisticated” dining “to be savored” awaits at this “top-of-the-line” Flatiron “oasis” , where chef Marco Moreira’s “knockout” French–New American plates pair with a “wine list that dazzles” in a “pristine” “adult” setting; it runs “expensive, of course” , but that makes a $29 prix fixe lunch even more of “a steal.”
Balthazar
French · SoHo · $$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.0

Keith McNally’s “legendary” SoHo brasserie “still delivers the goods” with its “magnifique” French fare ( “blissful” breakfast, “oh such wonderful” breads) and atmosphere straight out of “Belle Époque Paris” ; it’s “always buzzing” with “locals and tourists alike” , plus a “celebrity or two” , meaning the “tight quarters” can be a “madhouse” – but that’s part of what makes it “a New York classic.”
La Grenouille
East 50s · $$$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.8 · Service 4.6

Ever “intoxicating” , this Midtown “bastion” of “fine-dining nonpareil” remains a “top-tier” source of “fantastique” French classics and “exemplary service” in a “dressy” , jackets-required setting heightened by “stunning floral displays” ; the “steep tabs” are “not for the timid” , but the consistent “level of taste” makes you “feel special.”
Lafayette
French · NoHo · $$$
Food 4.3 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.0

A “gorgeous” , “expansive” space with “plenty of room to breathe” lures “beautiful people” to this “bustling” all-day NoHo cafe that’s a showcase for Andrew Carmellini’s “hearty” French cooking; insiders say it “shines best at breakfast” , though the front bakery is a “great pit stop” for “delicious bread” and “delectable” pastries any time.
Cafe Cluny
French · West Village · $$$
Food 4.1 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.0

A “wonderful vibe” has evolved at this “quaint” West Village bistro, a bona fide “nabe fave” thanks to “appetizing” Franco-American cooking served in a “bright” space; since the weekend brunch can be a “free-for-all” , regulars say “arrive early.”
Raoul's
French · SoHo · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.1

“One of the last outposts of bohemian SoHo” , this circa-1975 bistro remains “jam-packed” with “seen-it-all” locals and other lovers of “just perfect” “old-style French” fare served by “pros” in “cozy, dim” digs; yes, it’s “cramped” and “not quiet” , but that’s all part of the “charm” – it’s a NY “institution” that “should be landmarked.”
Nougatine at Jean-Georges
French · West 60s · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.5

“Jean-Georges style” extends to its “less formal” but “still stellar” front dining area, known for “superlative” New French fare and “on-point” service in a “smart” setting with a “lovely” terrace; “substantial savings” over the main room include a prix fixe lunch that’s “an outstanding deal.”
Le Coucou
French · SoHo · $$$$

Stephen Starr and star-chef Daniel Rose of the Paris hits Spring and La Bourse et La Vie are behind this high-end SoHo French in the 11 Howard hotel offering contemporary takes on classic dishes. Designed with softly toned wood and brick with white tablecloths and specially designed chandeliers, it also offers a pared-down selection of cocktails and a well thought-out wine list.
Bâtard
French · TriBeCa · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.4

“Choose your own adventure” at Drew Nieporent’s “refined” TriBeCa “experience” , where “praiseworthy” European-influenced New American fare comes in a “whimsical” , customizable tasting menu format, matched with an “off-the-hook” , “mostly French” wine list; factor in “gracious” service, and fans say the “high-end” tab is almost “reasonable” “considering the quality.”
Racines NY
TriBeCa · $$
Food 4.3 · Decor 3.7 · Service 4.1

Linked to a Parisian wine-bar outfit, this “fine and funky” TriBeCan offers a “limited” but “well-executed” lineup of French market fare accompanied by a “wine geek” –worthy vino list, featuring many “obscure” and biodynamic bottles; “down-to-earth” service and a “mellow” ambiance are other pluses.