Bon Appétit—These Are Hands Down the Best French Restaurants in NYC

Updated 09/21/18

Though New York City is over 3000 miles away from Paris and separated by an ocean, the two cities have more in common than you might think. Just like Parisians, New Yorkers love to eat, and they have discerning palates. What the NYC restaurant scene has that other U.S. cities don't is perhaps that it's kept its ties to the cuisine that inspired so many others: classic French fare. More Parisian in essence than in New Orleans, for example, where the cuisine also draws from its Cajun roots, New York French restaurants can't seem to separate from the motherland of culinary prowess.

The range of French restaurants in NYC is vast—from quaint neighborhood bistros to three-Michelin-starred culinary experiences. But one thing is for certain: No matter the style, it never lacks in quality. Are you craving a coq au vin or a bowl of moules marinières? We handpicked the best French restaurants in NYC, from the casual café to pop into for a leisurely lunch to a once-in-a-lifetime gastronomic experience. Close your eyes and practice your s'il vous plait and your merci because the best French restaurants in NYC will make you feel like you've just landed across the pond.

Le Coucou

Best French Restaurants in NYC: Le Coucou
Courtesy of Le Coucou

Get ready for your eyes to be as stimulated as your taste buds. At Le Coucou, Michelin-starred French fare is served in a breathtaking expansive setting where white tablecloths feel anything but stuffy. Chef Daniel Rose, who opened Paris's acclaimed restaurant Spring, returned stateside in 2016 to give New Yorkers a taste from across the pond, and locals are loving it.

Order: Leeks, tomato sweetbreads, halibut in beurre blanc, and filet of beef.

Location: SoHo

Le Bernardin

Best French Restaurants in NYC: Le Bernardin
Courtesy of Le Bernardin

Take your dining up a notch to Le Bernardin—Eric Ripert's three-Michelin-starred seafood restaurant a few blocks south of Central Park. Since Ripert became the executive chef in 1994, the restaurant has received accolades a-plenty, including The New York Times' highest rating of four stars and a coveted spot in the World's Best Restaurants list.

Order: Fluke sashimi, langoustine, and red snapper.

Location: Midtown

Manhatta

Best French Restaurants in NYC: Manhatta
Courtesy of Manhatta

Who needs dinner and a movie when you can have dinner with a view? At Danny Meyer's brand-new FiDi restaurant, Manhatta, on the 60th floor of the midcentury 28th Liberty Street tower, the French-inspired menu is rumored to be even better than the view. Executive chef Jason Pfeifer, previously at Gramercy Tavern, Maialino, Per Se, and even Noma in Copenhagen, serves up French classics high up in the sky.

Order: Peekytoe crab salad, French onion burger, and duck tortellini.

Location: FiDi

Augustine

Best French Restaurants in NYC: Augustine
Courtesy of Augustine

In the popular Beekman Hotel, one of the buildings to revive the once sleepy Financial District, you'll find Augustine, a French brasserie serving up classic French fare in a dimly lit classic atmosphere—as close as you can get to the real deal in Paris while staying stateside. It's a recipe for success and one that has seen troves of New Yorkers through its doors every night since its opening.

Order: Soufflé au fromage, leg of lamb aux fines herbes, and baba au rhum.

Location: FiDi

Le Coq Rico

Best French Restaurants in NYC: Le Coq Rico
Courtesy of Le Coq Rico

In 2016, Michelin-starred chef Antoine Westermann graced NYC with his restaurant's poultry pedigree. The French chef, who had opened the original Le Coq Rico in Paris a few years earlier, was now ready to bring his highly popular poultry restaurant stateside. On the menu, only the highest-quality poultry, from duck to guinea fowl, cooked to the highest standards.

Order: Chicken liver salad, seared duck foie, and Baeckeoffe with a side of macaroni gratin.

Location: Union Square

La Mercerie

Best French Restaurants in NYC: Le Mercerie
Courtesy of La Mercerie

Shop for high-end tableware and furniture while sampling fine French cuisine at La Mercerie, an immaculately designed café inside the Roman and Williams Guild. Here, the food by chef Marie-Aude Rose is classic French with a strong focus on casual lunch/all-day fare. This is where you want to be for a leisurely post-shopping bite.

Order: Cantabric anchovies with vanilla butter, buckwheat crêpe complète, and salmon in sauce meurette.

Location: SoHo

Claudette

Best French Restaurants in NYC: Claudette
Courtesy of Claudette

Step into Claudette and you'll feel as if you've landed in a welcoming local restaurant in a French village. The Mediterranean-accented Provençal restaurant, just steps from Washington Square Park, is casual, friendly, and unpretentious—a true neighborhood gem. Don expect a Michelin star here—just honest, good-quality food with beautiful flavors.

Order: Tomato almond gazpacho, truffle hummus, and whole grilled black bass.

Location: Greenwich Village

Le Turtle

Best French Restaurants in NYC: Le Turtle
Courtesy of Le Turtle

At Le Turtle, opened a few years ago on an unassuming corner on the Lower East Side, French cuisine has a new face. Eons away from the traditional brasserie, this is more representative of the French new wave that's taken over Paris in recent years. Brass lighting, Pepto-Bismol-pink menus, and plywood banquettes feel laid-back yet very hip—and the crowd of regulars confirms it. The place is full of beautiful people ready to eat the restaurant's modern take on French cuisine.

Order: Kohlrabi bisque, whole chicken for two, and a hazelnut financier.

Location: Lower East Side

Jean-Georges

Best French Restaurants in NYC: Jean Georges
Courtesy of Jean-Georges

Though it lost one star this year, Jean-Georges is still undoubtedly one of the best French restaurants in NYC. With its remaining two Michelin stars (still more than most places in the city), the New French eatery overlooking Central Park, now in its 21st year, still serves up its innovative French fare in an airy atmosphere.

Order: Sea urchin with black bread, asparagus with morels, and duck breast with cracked almonds.

Location: Upper West Side

Buvette

Best French Restaurants in NYC: Buvette
Courtesy of Buvette

If you're craving a good glass of wine with an array of small plates in a cozy, intimate atmosphere, head over to the West Village's Buvette, where tiny bistro tables are lined together in true French brasserie style. Here, you'll find no-frills brasserie cuisine, from toasted baguette with anchovies to croque-monsieur. To top it off, an in-depth wine list will make you stretch happy hour into the late evening hours.

Order: Anchovy tartine, mussels provençale, lamb stew with artichokes, and chocolate mousse.

Location: West Village

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