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Frenchette duck frites
Duck frites at Frenchette.
Louise Palmberg/Eater NY

16 Timeless French Bistros and Brasseries in NYC

The best steak frites, onion soup, chocolate souffle, and more

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Duck frites at Frenchette.
| Louise Palmberg/Eater NY

There’s something immensely satisfying about a great French bistro meal, from luxuriously buttery snails to an excellently seasoned steak tartare. It’s often filling fare that doesn’t skimp on robust flavors and offers plenty of richness — and is meant to be paired with wine. Luckily, New York City has a strong range of bistros and brasseries around the city.

Some are spacious, bustling operations run by major restaurateurs, like Keith McNally’s Balthazar and Andrew Carmellini’s Lafayette, but most are venerable family-run joints committed to timeless classics. Ahead, 16 excellent options for when a French onion soup craving or strong hankering for steak frites strikes.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Manny’s Bistro

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A handful of restaurants — Cafe Fiorello, Boulud Sud, and the Smith — are known as the default spots for New Yorkers and tourists beelining to Lincoln Center for a night at the symphony, ballet, or opera. Next time, consider Manny’s Bistro just a few blocks away from the arts hub. Manny Colon was the general manager of this restaurant, called Bistro Cassis for 15 years before it shuttered during the pandemic. He reopened the the spot in October 2020 as Manny’s Bistro and kept French standards like the trout almondine and steak frites on the menu while also adding new items like biodynamic wines. If anything, the establishment feels more like a neighborhood spot than ever before: Occasionally, there’s live music, or catch Manny singing a tune himself some nights.

A plate with a filet of trout topped with butter and almonds with sides of fingerling potatoes and a wedge of lemon.
The trout almondine at Manny’s Bistro.
Bao Ong/Eater NY

Benoit New York

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This Alain Ducasse-helmed spot is the U.S. spinoff of a Parisian bistro that’s been around for over a century. The Midtown bistro got a makeover in 2016, complete with a fresh paint job and some new additions to the menu. Plenty of familiar classics are still served up, like escargot, roast chicken, and hand-chopped beef tartare. The restaurant recently announced that Alberto Marcolongo is the new executive chef.

The white and blue entrance to Benoit.
The entrance to Benoit.
Benoit

Tournesol

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Solid French fare can be found at this Long Island City spot, which has an affordable menu filled with dishes like croque-monsieur, foie gras terrine, and endive salad with blue cheese, pears, and walnuts. Appetizers mostly ring in under $14, with entrees ranging from $19 to $29. Brunch is also very reliable for dishes like a ham-and-cheese croissant or French toast.

L'Express

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This Gramercy spot is stocked with all sorts of French bistro classics, from steak frites to croque- monsieurs. While it was known for being open 24 hours, the restaurant’s hours have changed (currently open 9 a.m. to 11 p.m Sunday through Thursday and until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday). Still it’s a solid late night choice for onion soup gratinee or escargot. When the weather allows, a series of doors are flung open at the airy corner space, affording an ample breeze throughout.

La Ripaille

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A pint-sized bistro in the West Village, La Ripaille — which translates to “the feast” — is a quaint, candlelit space, complete with a fireplace and rustic, farm-themed antiques. The unexpected signature starter is a deeply flavorful broccoli mousse served with butter lemon sauce; other standouts include steak frites doused in a three-peppercorn sauce.

A slab of steak doused in a mustard color sauce with a side of french fries.
Steak frites in a three-peppercorn sauce.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Tartine

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Gaggles of New Yorkers have flocked to this tiny West Village stalwart for the BYOB factor, but the classic range of French bistro fare, with almost all entrees sticking under $30, is the real draw. The food here goes a bit beyond the standard steak frites and onion soup; the menu also includes dishes such as veal milanese and spicy chicken with guacamole and fries. Expect a wait, even on weeknights.

A corner restaurant with seating in the street covered by umbrellas.
Tartine offers seating from a picturesque corner of the West Village.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Buvette

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This beloved all-day cafe from chef Jody Williams (Via Carota) has uniformly delicious offerings for any mealtime that include, but aren’t confined to, some bistro standbys. A morning (and Instagram) standout is the delicately steamed eggs, served with proscuitto and parmesan or smoked salmon and creme fraiche. Lunchtime and dinner bring a range of salads, steak tartare, and a trio of croque sandwiches. The lovely, snug space can feel cramped during really busy times, but there’s now outdoor seating that seems to have doubled the amount of seating. For weekend brunch, the wait can be quite long. There are also outposts in Paris, Tokyo, London, and most recently, Mexico City.

Bartenders dressed in white pour glasses of wine for customers who are sitting on barstools.
Buvette, restaurateur Jody Williams’ first NYC restaurant.
Daniel Krieger/Eater NY

Lafayette

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Chef Andrew Carmellini’s lavishly appointed bakery and brasserie is situated in a spacious, gleaming corner space, with tall ceilings and big arched windows on both sides. It’s particularly nice during the daytime, with plenty of natural light and a lovely brunch menu that includes fluffy omelettes stuff with ham and cheese or smoked salmon Benedict. Opt for anything involving baked goods on the menu, or come solely for the fine pastries. The bakery, located in the front and open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., is great for an excellent croissant and coffee break.

A restaurant dining room with leather banquettes, tables with wine glasses, and big windows.
Lafayette’s dining room.
Daniel Krieger/Eater NY

Raoul's

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This Soho bistro has garnered a passionate following for its burger: The peppercorn-crusted Pat LaFrieda brisket blend is seared in butter, topped with creamy Saint-Andre cheese, watercress, onions and cornichons, and served on a challah bun from Amy’s Bread. Duck fat fries and a side of cream and cognac sauce for fry dunking accompany it. A dozen or so patties are available nightly at the bar, but it’s also now available on the weekend brunch menu. Don’t miss the well-executed range of bistro standards that comprise the rest of the menu, like pâté, frisee with lardons and a poached egg, or steak tartare.

A burger topped with melted Saint-Andre cheese, watercress, onions, and cornichons.
The legendary burger at Raoul’s.
Nick Solares/Eater NY

This East Village spot opened in 1998 but seems like it’s been around much longer. Highlights include the lapin a la moutarde (rabbit in a dijon mustard sauce) and duck liver mousse served with pink peppercorns and cornichons, but skip the steak tartare, per Eater’s Robert Sietsema. The narrow, warm space is filled with all sorts of paintings of France, and the crowd transitions from an older set of regulars in the early evening to a younger demographic later on.

The entrance to Lucien with a red awning.
Lucien has been open since 1998.
Nick Solares/Eater NY

Balthazar

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This Keith McNally institution opened in 1997 and has had a considerable impact on the city’s dining landscape. The sprawling space is filled with massive distressed mirrors, dark wood, and red banquettes. It’s a uniformly excellent menu, from expense-account power breakfasts to special-occasion dinners; don’t miss the Balthazar plateaux or chicken for two, and make sure to try something from the bakery at some point of the meal, regardless of the time of day.

The entrance to Balthazar with a red awning.
Balthazar is one of Soho’s busiest restaurants.
Daniel Krieger/Eater NY

Frenchette

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French bistros can feel staid at times with their tried-and-true formula: a bowl of mussels with a side of fries, a smokey mirror, and antique-looking posters. At Frenchette, Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson opened a modern day bistro that felt refreshing. Natural wines have been paired with dishes like duck frites, blowfish tails a la diable, and smoked eel fritters. This Tribeca spot continues to draw a crowd since opening in 2018.

A bartender stands behind a counter, pouring an orange-colored liquid into a wine glass.
The inviting bar at Frenchette.
Louise Palmberg/Eater NY

The Odeon

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Another Keith McNally institution — he is the king of the New York brasserie, after all — the Odeon, which the restaurateur’s ex-wife owns and runs, prevailed as a Tribeca hotspot throughout the ’90s, when dining options were really slim in the area. The cool quotient mellowed out some over the years, but it’s also become popular again and is still a reliable classic decked out with recognizable red awnings and pitch-perfect brasserie interiors. The menu ranges from bistro stalwarts (steak tartare as an appetizer or entree; French onion soup gratinee; steak frites) to more new-fangled offerings like an Impossible burger or a vegetarian purple sticky rice bowl.

A bard with red stools, mirrors, and tables.
The bar at the Odeon.
Daniel Krieger/Eater NY

Chez Moi

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Come for the big bowls of mussels available three different ways — options include Thai coconut curry and a Provencale style with tomatos and garlic — at this charming, white brick-walled French spot perched on the border of Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill. Also worth considering: truffle croquettes, escargot with parsley butter, and tuna tartare, or mains like steak tartare and seared duck breast.

Bar Tabac

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Expect a solid bistro menu at this longtime Cobble Hill joint, which is wood-lined with painted tin ceilings, patterned tile floors, and delicate lace curtains in the windows. There’s a particularly nice salad range, like an abundant nicoise or a warm lentil-based spin on the classic frisee with lardons and a poached egg. It’s a mellow brunch spot, with nice outdoor seating on a pretty side street; later in the evenings, it’s a reliably buzzing local bar scene. The owner, Georges Forgeois, also runs Le Singe Vert.

Bar Bête

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Bar Bête doesn’t fall for cliche American takes on the French bistro with design touches like antique mirrors and Édith Piaf tunes piped through the sound system. Instead, the kitchen here focuses more on the plates — silky chicken liver parfait, a crisp chickpea crepe topped with spiced swiss chard, and creme brulee with green cardamom — and stellar wines (pet-nats and orange wines play a prominent role on the menu). Where the bistro vibe does match up is how the restaurant feels like it’s a cozy spot where regulars return again and again.

a coup of chicken liver parfait with rhubarb and pistachio butter
Chicken liver parfait at Bar Bête.
Bao Ong/Eater NY

Manny’s Bistro

A plate with a filet of trout topped with butter and almonds with sides of fingerling potatoes and a wedge of lemon.
The trout almondine at Manny’s Bistro.
Bao Ong/Eater NY

A handful of restaurants — Cafe Fiorello, Boulud Sud, and the Smith — are known as the default spots for New Yorkers and tourists beelining to Lincoln Center for a night at the symphony, ballet, or opera. Next time, consider Manny’s Bistro just a few blocks away from the arts hub. Manny Colon was the general manager of this restaurant, called Bistro Cassis for 15 years before it shuttered during the pandemic. He reopened the the spot in October 2020 as Manny’s Bistro and kept French standards like the trout almondine and steak frites on the menu while also adding new items like biodynamic wines. If anything, the establishment feels more like a neighborhood spot than ever before: Occasionally, there’s live music, or catch Manny singing a tune himself some nights.

A plate with a filet of trout topped with butter and almonds with sides of fingerling potatoes and a wedge of lemon.
The trout almondine at Manny’s Bistro.
Bao Ong/Eater NY

Benoit New York

The white and blue entrance to Benoit.
The entrance to Benoit.
Benoit

This Alain Ducasse-helmed spot is the U.S. spinoff of a Parisian bistro that’s been around for over a century. The Midtown bistro got a makeover in 2016, complete with a fresh paint job and some new additions to the menu. Plenty of familiar classics are still served up, like escargot, roast chicken, and hand-chopped beef tartare. The restaurant recently announced that Alberto Marcolongo is the new executive chef.

The white and blue entrance to Benoit.
The entrance to Benoit.
Benoit

Tournesol

Solid French fare can be found at this Long Island City spot, which has an affordable menu filled with dishes like croque-monsieur, foie gras terrine, and endive salad with blue cheese, pears, and walnuts. Appetizers mostly ring in under $14, with entrees ranging from $19 to $29. Brunch is also very reliable for dishes like a ham-and-cheese croissant or French toast.

L'Express

This Gramercy spot is stocked with all sorts of French bistro classics, from steak frites to croque- monsieurs. While it was known for being open 24 hours, the restaurant’s hours have changed (currently open 9 a.m. to 11 p.m Sunday through Thursday and until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday). Still it’s a solid late night choice for onion soup gratinee or escargot. When the weather allows, a series of doors are flung open at the airy corner space, affording an ample breeze throughout.

La Ripaille

A slab of steak doused in a mustard color sauce with a side of french fries.
Steak frites in a three-peppercorn sauce.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

A pint-sized bistro in the West Village, La Ripaille — which translates to “the feast” — is a quaint, candlelit space, complete with a fireplace and rustic, farm-themed antiques. The unexpected signature starter is a deeply flavorful broccoli mousse served with butter lemon sauce; other standouts include steak frites doused in a three-peppercorn sauce.

A slab of steak doused in a mustard color sauce with a side of french fries.
Steak frites in a three-peppercorn sauce.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Tartine

A corner restaurant with seating in the street covered by umbrellas.
Tartine offers seating from a picturesque corner of the West Village.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Gaggles of New Yorkers have flocked to this tiny West Village stalwart for the BYOB factor, but the classic range of French bistro fare, with almost all entrees sticking under $30, is the real draw. The food here goes a bit beyond the standard steak frites and onion soup; the menu also includes dishes such as veal milanese and spicy chicken with guacamole and fries. Expect a wait, even on weeknights.

A corner restaurant with seating in the street covered by umbrellas.
Tartine offers seating from a picturesque corner of the West Village.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Buvette

Bartenders dressed in white pour glasses of wine for customers who are sitting on barstools.
Buvette, restaurateur Jody Williams’ first NYC restaurant.
Daniel Krieger/Eater NY

This beloved all-day cafe from chef Jody Williams (Via Carota) has uniformly delicious offerings for any mealtime that include, but aren’t confined to, some bistro standbys. A morning (and Instagram) standout is the delicately steamed eggs, served with proscuitto and parmesan or smoked salmon and creme fraiche. Lunchtime and dinner bring a range of salads, steak tartare, and a trio of croque sandwiches. The lovely, snug space can feel cramped during really busy times, but there’s now outdoor seating that seems to have doubled the amount of seating. For weekend brunch, the wait can be quite long. There are also outposts in Paris, Tokyo, London, and most recently, Mexico City.

Bartenders dressed in white pour glasses of wine for customers who are sitting on barstools.
Buvette, restaurateur Jody Williams’ first NYC restaurant.
Daniel Krieger/Eater NY

Lafayette

A restaurant dining room with leather banquettes, tables with wine glasses, and big windows.
Lafayette’s dining room.
Daniel Krieger/Eater NY

Chef Andrew Carmellini’s lavishly appointed bakery and brasserie is situated in a spacious, gleaming corner space, with tall ceilings and big arched windows on both sides. It’s particularly nice during the daytime, with plenty of natural light and a lovely brunch menu that includes fluffy omelettes stuff with ham and cheese or smoked salmon Benedict. Opt for anything involving baked goods on the menu, or come solely for the fine pastries. The bakery, located in the front and open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., is great for an excellent croissant and coffee break.

A restaurant dining room with leather banquettes, tables with wine glasses, and big windows.
Lafayette’s dining room.
Daniel Krieger/Eater NY

Raoul's

A burger topped with melted Saint-Andre cheese, watercress, onions, and cornichons.
The legendary burger at Raoul’s.
Nick Solares/Eater NY

This Soho bistro has garnered a passionate following for its burger: The peppercorn-crusted Pat LaFrieda brisket blend is seared in butter, topped with creamy Saint-Andre cheese, watercress, onions and cornichons, and served on a challah bun from Amy’s Bread. Duck fat fries and a side of cream and cognac sauce for fry dunking accompany it. A dozen or so patties are available nightly at the bar, but it’s also now available on the weekend brunch menu. Don’t miss the well-executed range of bistro standards that comprise the rest of the menu, like pâté, frisee with lardons and a poached egg, or steak tartare.

A burger topped with melted Saint-Andre cheese, watercress, onions, and cornichons.
The legendary burger at Raoul’s.
Nick Solares/Eater NY

Lucien

The entrance to Lucien with a red awning.
Lucien has been open since 1998.
Nick Solares/Eater NY

This East Village spot opened in 1998 but seems like it’s been around much longer. Highlights include the lapin a la moutarde (rabbit in a dijon mustard sauce) and duck liver mousse served with pink peppercorns and cornichons, but skip the steak tartare, per Eater’s Robert Sietsema. The narrow, warm space is filled with all sorts of paintings of France, and the crowd transitions from an older set of regulars in the early evening to a younger demographic later on.

The entrance to Lucien with a red awning.
Lucien has been open since 1998.
Nick Solares/Eater NY

Balthazar

The entrance to Balthazar with a red awning.
Balthazar is one of Soho’s busiest restaurants.
Daniel Krieger/Eater NY

This Keith McNally institution opened in 1997 and has had a considerable impact on the city’s dining landscape. The sprawling space is filled with massive distressed mirrors, dark wood, and red banquettes. It’s a uniformly excellent menu, from expense-account power breakfasts to special-occasion dinners; don’t miss the Balthazar plateaux or chicken for two, and make sure to try something from the bakery at some point of the meal, regardless of the time of day.

The entrance to Balthazar with a red awning.
Balthazar is one of Soho’s busiest restaurants.
Daniel Krieger/Eater NY

Frenchette

A bartender stands behind a counter, pouring an orange-colored liquid into a wine glass.
The inviting bar at Frenchette.
Louise Palmberg/Eater NY

French bistros can feel staid at times with their tried-and-true formula: a bowl of mussels with a side of fries, a smokey mirror, and antique-looking posters. At Frenchette, Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson opened a modern day bistro that felt refreshing. Natural wines have been paired with dishes like duck frites, blowfish tails a la diable, and smoked eel fritters. This Tribeca spot continues to draw a crowd since opening in 2018.

A bartender stands behind a counter, pouring an orange-colored liquid into a wine glass.
The inviting bar at Frenchette.
Louise Palmberg/Eater NY

The Odeon

A bard with red stools, mirrors, and tables.
The bar at the Odeon.
Daniel Krieger/Eater NY

Another Keith McNally institution — he is the king of the New York brasserie, after all — the Odeon, which the restaurateur’s ex-wife owns and runs, prevailed as a Tribeca hotspot throughout the ’90s, when dining options were really slim in the area. The cool quotient mellowed out some over the years, but it’s also become popular again and is still a reliable classic decked out with recognizable red awnings and pitch-perfect brasserie interiors. The menu ranges from bistro stalwarts (steak tartare as an appetizer or entree; French onion soup gratinee; steak frites) to more new-fangled offerings like an Impossible burger or a vegetarian purple sticky rice bowl.

A bard with red stools, mirrors, and tables.
The bar at the Odeon.
Daniel Krieger/Eater NY

Chez Moi

Come for the big bowls of mussels available three different ways — options include Thai coconut curry and a Provencale style with tomatos and garlic — at this charming, white brick-walled French spot perched on the border of Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill. Also worth considering: truffle croquettes, escargot with parsley butter, and tuna tartare, or mains like steak tartare and seared duck breast.

Bar Tabac

Expect a solid bistro menu at this longtime Cobble Hill joint, which is wood-lined with painted tin ceilings, patterned tile floors, and delicate lace curtains in the windows. There’s a particularly nice salad range, like an abundant nicoise or a warm lentil-based spin on the classic frisee with lardons and a poached egg. It’s a mellow brunch spot, with nice outdoor seating on a pretty side street; later in the evenings, it’s a reliably buzzing local bar scene. The owner, Georges Forgeois, also runs Le Singe Vert.

Related Maps

Bar Bête

a coup of chicken liver parfait with rhubarb and pistachio butter
Chicken liver parfait at Bar Bête.
Bao Ong/Eater NY

Bar Bête doesn’t fall for cliche American takes on the French bistro with design touches like antique mirrors and Édith Piaf tunes piped through the sound system. Instead, the kitchen here focuses more on the plates — silky chicken liver parfait, a crisp chickpea crepe topped with spiced swiss chard, and creme brulee with green cardamom — and stellar wines (pet-nats and orange wines play a prominent role on the menu). Where the bistro vibe does match up is how the restaurant feels like it’s a cozy spot where regulars return again and again.

a coup of chicken liver parfait with rhubarb and pistachio butter
Chicken liver parfait at Bar Bête.
Bao Ong/Eater NY

Related Maps