When it comes to French restaurants in New York City, diners searching for that authentic saveur française may feel a little overwhelmed given the throngs of old and new establishments lining Manhattan’s streets, all vying to outdo one another in the race to provide the city’s best French fare. Whether you’re a long-time Francophile looking for that perfect bouillabaisse, or on the hunt for an elegant evening meal replete with decadent helpings of foie gras and steak frites, here’s your low-down on the best spots in town for authentic French cuisine, whatever your taste.
Bagatelle, 1 Little West 12th St., Meatpacking District
A well-established resident of the always achingly hip Meatpacking District which we reviewed a few months back, popular lunch spot Bagatelle is the place to go for Mediterranean-style fare in a laid-back and very trendy atmosphere. Their lunch menu, consisting mostly of light seafood, should be enjoyed with a crisp glass of rose wine on their sprawling street terrace, where you can while away the afternoon gawking at MPD’s uber-chic residents and their dogs.
La Sirène, 416 Amsterdam Ave., Upper West Side
Now off to somewhere a little more down-to-earth La Sirène in the Upper West Side doesn’t mess around with their no-frills, hearty serving of rural French classics, guaranteed to leave you satisfied and bursting at the seams. Try their gut-busting cassoulet Toulouse (the chef’s specialty) for a meaty taste of village life which is just as comforting as it sounds. What’s more, this place has also opted for a more contemporary approach as it also accepts payment in Bitcoin (but not credit cards, funnily enough), which is fast becoming the payment of choice for a growing number of real and online vendors, from sandwich shops to online casinos complete with roulette and blackjack games, with more details of how best to spend your Bitcoin now easier to find than ever.
Le Coucou, 138 Lafayette St., Soho
Trendy newcomer Le Coucou takes the gauntlet for one of the hardest places to get a table in town at the moment, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a Manhattanite who hasn’t tried since this place opened back in 2016. More refined than the previous entries on this list, Coucou focuses strictly on high-end, traditional French cuisine, albeit in a slick and quintessentially downtown atmosphere without any of the stuffiness one might expect from a place that takes such pride in tradition. If you’re blessed enough to bag a table at dinnertime, opt for their tout le lapin (literally “all of the rabbit”), with a heavy glass of house pinot noir.
Le Grenouille, 3 E. 52nd St., Midtown
It would be a crime not to pay homage to the place that arguably defined French cuisine in NYC and has kept its doors open for over 50 years, making it by far the oldest French restaurant in the city. For a heady blend of old-world European elegance and a taste of a long-vanished, elegant New York, a visit to Le Grenouille is absolutely mandatory. Definitely the priciest option on the list, the longtime chefs are fanatically committed to traditional, unaltered Parisian fare, meaning this place tops the lot on the authenticity scale.
Are there any French restaurants you think we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments which ones deserve justice, and bon appetit!