Restaurants

New York’s best French restaurants, according to the experts

From old-school bistros to Michelin-starred fine-dining palaces, check out our Expert’s Choice picks for the finest French restaurants in the Big Apple.

While its most iconic foods are arguably pizza and bagels, New York is also a superb city for French food. The exacting precision the cuisine demands fits well with the city’s constant quest for perfection. There’s hardly a better antidote to the constant bustle of activity than an ethereal meal that unfolds over several hours in a dimly-lit cocoon of a well-appointed restaurant or in the loving leather folds of an oversized bistro booth. Below are our Expert’s Choice picks, from casual bistros to jackets-required restaurants with multi-course tasting menus.

Stately columns line the perimeter of Daniel’s main dining room, where jackets are mandatory for gentlemen and ladies receive a little seat for their purses. An amuse bouche trio opens each meal, which typically lasts about three hours, and includes chef Boulud’s take on classic dishes like escargot (he uses an aged garlic emulsion) and a foie gras sourced locally from the Hudson Valley.

After years of working in some of the finest restaurants in Gotham, Gabriel Kreuther opened his namesake gem to give his home region Alsace its due. Reclaimed wood beams pay homage to the chalets that fill the villages, and the menu is filled with refined comforts like heritage pork loin drizzled with black truffle coulis. The cocktail menu folds the history of Bryant Park, which is just across the street, into its extensive offerings. Try the GK Sazerac with duck jus and tea smoke in place of the customary absinthe rinse.

Steak frites might be the most popular order at this iconic brasserie, but the burger is even more satisfying. Pair it with a goat cheese and caramelized onion tart for a truly decadent meal. Snag a booth if you can, and come at odd hours to increase yours chances. The kitchen stays open till at least midnight, making it ideal for post-show meals.

The New York Times exclaims of Le Bernardin, “no other restaurant in the city makes the simple cooking of fish seem so ripe with opportunities for excitement.” This is because fish is merely chef Eric Ripert’s medium to craft his ethereal dishes that excite the palate in striking ways. Dare we say even people who dislike fish would love Le Bernardin. For a great bargain, come for the 3-course “City Harvest” lunch, served only in the lounge.

Chef Michael White trained in Italy before building his fleet of restaurants in New York, but Vaucluse proves he has the chops to make the most discerning Parisian happy. Start with the escargot, which is served with bone marrow, and then get the dry-aged duck breast with foie gras mousse. If you agree with Mae West that “too much of a good thing can be wonderful,” add a pasta course like squid ink spaghetti with calamari.

Raoul’s exudes ramshackle charm with a hodgepodge of artwork cluttering the walls, and the specials written on a black chalkboard amidst a crowd of tables and tiny booths. The menu is so old school that appetizers like steak tartare (theirs is made with a quail egg) are listed as “entrees” while the mains are “plats principaux.” Of the latter, try the short rib bourguignon.

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