New York City

7 of the Best French Restaurants in Manhattan

by Tracy Kaler  |  Published May 3, 2024

Francophiles have no shortage of culinary choices in Manhattan. Bistros, brasseries, and cafés serving French classics abound.

A true brasserie, Balthazar in Soho is open from 8 a.m. until midnight every day.  (Photo by Ralph Daily via Flickr CC By 2.0 Deed)

New York’s eternal obsession with French cuisine is understandable. The rosy center of a steak au poivre, the gooey, cheese-laden croque monsieur, and the ultimate splurge reflecting an unforgettable meal in Paris––the chocolate souffle––are superb (and flavorful) reasons to seek out the distinct cooking style in New York City.

For a taste of France, be it the country’s most classic dishes, light, airy pastries, or nouveau creations by lauded chefs, book a table at one of the best French restaurants in Manhattan.


A boutique charmer tucked inside The Lowell Hotel on the Upper East Side, this upscale spot executes French favorites with Mediterranean and Moroccan nuances, such as sea scallops Provencale, sauteed foie gras with pears, seared duck breast, and filet au poivre. On the sweet side, the shareable chocolate soufflé and creamy chocolate mousse are divine. Ask the seasoned wait staff or sommelier for suggested wine pairings from Domaine d’Ott, Joseph Drouhin, and other notable French producers. Attracting a well-heeled clientele, Majorelle promises exquisite service, complementing the thoughtfully prepared fare, graceful interior, and a garden for al fresco dining year-round.

28 E 63rd St

The chocolate mouse and chocolate soufflé at Majorelle are worth the calories. (Photo by Tracy Kaler for TravelMag)

La Ripaille

Founder and owner Alain Laurent has helmed his tiny West Village restaurant for over 40 years. La Ripaille,” meaning “To Feast,” is an appropriate name for such a spot plating rich, if not decadent, French dishes. The kitchen’s highlights include the signature broccoli mousse in velvet butter lemon sauce, tiger shrimp in saffron sauce, and chicken in calvados and green apple sauce. But La Ripaille’s must-order dish is likely the escargot, removed from the shells and floating in an unexpected tomato basil cream sauce. The intimate, brick-walled dining room, quaint sidewalk seating area on Hudson, and friendly waitstaff elevate the cuisine all the more.

605 Hudson St

Café d’ Alsace

Almost every neighborhood has at least one French bistro, and on the Upper East Side, it’s this staple set in what was once Elaine’s, the storied celebrity hangout spotlighted in Woody Allen’s “Manhattan.” Occupying a space half a block away for 16 years, Café d’ Alsace shifted gears in 2021 when its building was slated to be demolished. The new location has a fresh, contemporary look but retains its Alsatian-inspired specialties, such as grilled artisan sausage, farmhouse chicken, and charcuterie, alongside French go-to’s like moulés frites. Beyond featuring an excellent wine list, the café is known for its extensive brew selection curated by a beer sommelier.

1703 Second Ave

Amelie Bistro & Wine Bar

According to co-owner and manager Germain, the goal was to “make good wine accessible, affordable, and fun” at Amelie. With two locations––one in Greenwich Village and one on the Upper West Side–-these well-priced neighborhood haunts have succeeded in that mission as Amelie pours some of the city’s best French wine sans the pretense. Grouped as “Bon,” “Tres Bon,” and “Excellent,” the by-the-glass list also suggests a limited selection from Spain, Italy, Argentina, and California. The food at Amelie is also noteworthy––a busy kitchen churns out croque monsieur, crab tartine, coq au vin, and its signature ravioles du royans­-–cheese-filled pasta with squash, shitake mushroom, pine nuts, and optional black truffle. For a budget-friendly outing, Amelie features “Happier Hour” on weekdays until 7 p.m. and 6 p.m. on weekends.

22 W 8th St and 566 Amsterdam Ave 

Behind the bar at Amelie, a French wine bar with locations in Greenwich Village and the Upper West Side. (Photo by Tracy Kaler for TravelMag)


An authentic brasserie in the sense that it opens at 8 a.m. and closes at midnight every day, this Soho institution from restaurateur Keith McNally still lures hungry diners years after its debut in 1997. A top choice for locals and tourists, Balthazar delivers French fare in an Old-World-inspired space reminiscent of the brasseries in Paris. The frites are arguably the most perfect French fries you’ll eat in the city, worth ordering the Balthazar burger or steak frites to revel in their crispy, salty deliciousness. Additional French classics range from frisée aux lardons to duck confit to bouillabaisse, Friday’s plat du jour. An entirely French wine list accompanies the food––think Burgundy, Bordeaux, and the Loire Valley, among other regions, including an impressive vintage and non-vintage Champagne collection. Check out the bakery next door for French pastries and a baguette that will transport you to Ile de France.

80 Spring St

Le Gratin

Chef Daniel Boulud is probably best known for his namesake upscale 2-star Michelin restaurant on East 65th Street, but the Lyon native proves that the Financial District’s culinary scene is picking up steam. Aiming for a more relaxed experience than Daniel, the chef launched Le Gratin with the concept of “welcoming ambiance and soulful cuisine,” reflecting the food served in bouchons in his hometown. Choose from steak tartare, branzino and vegetables in yellow wine sauce, French onion soup, and “gratin Dauphinois comme Marie,” Daniel Boulud’s mother’s creamy and cheesy potato gratin. Meanwhile, the wine list offers more than 100 options, with a selection celebrating the region surrounding Lyon.

5 Beekman St

Le Bernardin

Maguy Le Coze and Chef Eric Ripert’s accoladed jewel has won numerous James Beard awards and firmly held on to its four stars from the “New York Times” since it opened in 1986. The three-Michelin star destination focuses on seafood with the belief that “the fish is the star of the plate.” The heavy-on-the-wallet tasting menu––eight courses for $325 and $495 with wine pairings––showcases tuna and sea urchin, langoustines, halibut, and Dover sole, among other seafood dishes blending French and global flavors. For the cost-conscious, a 4-course menu for $210 and a 3-course lunch for $127 are also available. Staged on the ground floor of a Midtown office building, Le Bernardin boasts a sophisticated, big-city vibe. Warm wooden paneling, starched white table cloths, and artist Ran Ortner’s 24-foot oil on canvas: “Deep Water No.1,” distinguish the elegant interiors.

144 W 51st St

The Dover Sole at Le Bernardin melts in your mouth. (Photo by Tracy Kaler for TravelMag)