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Balthazar
The king of French brasseries, Balthazar
Photo by Daniel Krieger

20 Charming French Bistros and Brasseries in NYC

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

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The king of French brasseries, Balthazar
| Photo by Daniel Krieger

There’s something immensely satisfying about a great French bistro meal, from luxuriously buttery snails to an excellently seasoned steak tartare. It’s filling fare that doesn’t skimp on robust flavors and plenty of richness. Luckily, New York City has a strong range of bistros and brasseries around the city, with large concentrations in Midtown, the Upper East Side, and the West Village.

Some are spacious, bustling operations run by major restaurateurs, like Keith McNally’s Balthazar or Odeon and Andrew Carmellini’s Lafayette, but most are venerable family-run joints committed to timeless classics. Ahead, 20 excellent options for when a French onion soup craving or strong hankering for steak frites strikes.

Note: This is an updated version of a map originally published in 2018.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Maison Harlem

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341 St Nicholas Ave
New York, NY 10027

This snug bistro — along with its sister restaurants and wine shops A.O.C — open since 2013 has quickly taken root in the Harlem neighborhood. The exposed brick wall, dark-framed mirrors, and intimate space reflect Parisian bistros, while the menus, made out of old vinyl record jackets, and the paintings around the room all ring true to Harlem’s art and music scene. The menu has a range of the classics, from French onion soup to a filling, slow cooked duck leg confit, with entrees well under $30.

A musician holds a guitar inside Maison Harlem Maison Harlem [Official Photo]

2. Chez Lucienne

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308 Lenox Ave
New York, NY 10027
(212) 289-5550
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Enjoy a lively atmosphere at this bistro found in the heart of Harlem. Space inside is open and light, and in the summer, patrons quickly fill the sidewalk seating. The skirt steak, marinated in a special garlic herb mix is not to be missed, and the Cocote de coq au vin, braised chicken in a red wine sauce served over linguini, is a crowd pleaser. Hours throughout the week range between 11 aa.m. to midnight, but join the 2 a.m. crowd on Saturdays for drinks and a lighter fare.

3. La Mirabelle

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102 West 86th Street
New York, NY 10024
(212) 496-0458
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La Mirabelle, open since 1984, is a family-run Upper West Side favorite that’s been serving up bistro fare in a jovial, unpretentious manner. Beyond the classics like onion soup and steak au poivre, there’s also several offal options such as chicken livers served with shallots and raspberry vinegar; veal kidneys in mustard sauce; and sweetbreads with lemon and capers.

4. Chez Napoléon

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365 W 50th St
New York, NY 10019
(212) 265-6980
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A venerable Theatre District bistro dating back to 1960, Chez Napoleon is stocked with all sorts of French organ-meat classics. Offal highlights include calf’s brains in caper-studded black butter, sweetbreads meuniere, and kidneys in mustard sauce. A tomato-based cassoulet, garlicky escargot, and a chocolate souffle that can take up to an hour to make are all less-adventurous, but nonetheless excellent, orders. The place has been owned by the same family for over three decades, and it’s covered in Bruno lineage memorabilia as well as various French-themed ephemera.

The brick facade of Chez Napoleon Chez Napoleon [Official Photo]

5. Benoit New York

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60 W 55th St
New York, NY 10019
(646) 943-7373
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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 pâté en croûte (wrapped in a pastry crust). Indecisive diners will appreciate their hors d’oeuvre setup, which includes three appetizers for $15 or five for $21, ranging from pork rillettes to roasted, smoked eggplant to rabbit porchetta.

The white and blue entrance to Benoit Benoit [Official Photo]

6. Le Relais de Venise L'Entrecote

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590 Lexington Ave
New York, NY 10022
(212) 758-3989
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Brought here from a Paris chain with a cult following, Le Relais de Venise L'Entrecote specializes in steak frites. For just $29.95, a feast of beef in green sauce and fries hits the table, preceded by salad with mustard vinaigrette and walnuts. Go in for seconds on steak and fries, and then follow it up with chocolate profiteroles for an incredibly satisfying meal.

7. Tournesol

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50-12 Vernon Blvd
Long Island City, NY 11101
(718) 472-4355
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Solid French fare can be found at this Long Island City spot, which has an affordable menu filled with things like croque monsieur, foie gras terrine, and endive salad with blue cheese, pears or apples, and walnuts. Appetizers mostly ring in under $10, with entrees ranging from $16 to $22, but note that only American Express or cash are accepted. Brunch is also very reliable for more morning-geared dishes like a ham-and-cheese croissant or French toast.

8. L'Express

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249 Park Ave S
New York, NY 10003
(212) 254-5858
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This Gramercy spot is stocked with all sorts of French bistro classics, from steak frites to Croque Monsieur. What’s most notable here, though, is the fact that it’s open 24 hours, so onion soup gratinee or escargot at the crack of dawn are a possibility here. When weather allows, a series of doors are flung open at the airy corner space, affording an ample breeze throughout.

9. La Ripaille

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605 Hudson St
New York, NY 10014
(212) 255-4406
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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 and filet of bass with a Champagne-rosemary sauce.

10. Tartine

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253 W 11th St
New York, NY 10014
(212) 229-2611
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Gaggles flock here for the BYOB factor at this tiny West Village stalwart, but the classic range of French bistro fare, with entrees sticking under $30, is the real draw. Food here goes a bit beyond the standard steak frites and onion soup; the menu also includes dishes such as steamed curry mussels and spicy chicken with guacamole and fries. Expect a wait, even on weeknights.

A white plate with chicken, guacamole, and french fries Tartine [Official]

11. Le Midi

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11 E 13th St
New York, NY 10003
(212) 255-8787
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Le Midi has all the bistro classics with some especially appealing deals, especially for being in Greenwich Village. A two-course weekday lunch runs for $19.95, while a three-course dinner until until 6:30 p.m. on Sundays is $28.95. There’s also happy hour, featuring $7 wine and $8 cocktails weekdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and weekends from noon to 7 p.m. Take it all in while watching a film that plays behind the bar.

Diners sit at tables lit by candlelight Le Midi [Official Photo]

12. Buvette

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42 Grove St
New York, NY 10014
(212) 255-3590
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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 come for a late weekday breakfast for (slightly) more breathing room. For weekend brunch, the wait can be quite long. There are also outposts in Paris and Tokyo.

Bartenders dressed in white pour glasses of wine for customers who are sitting on barstools. Daniel Krieger/Eater

13. Lafayette

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380 Lafayette St
New York, NY 10003
(212) 533-3000
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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 soft scrambled eggs with leeks and truffle vinaigrette 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, is great for an excellent croissant and coffee break.

Tables in the grand dining room of Lafayette Lafayette [Official Photo]

14. Raoul's

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180 Prince St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 966-3518
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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 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 escargot, pâté, frisee with lardons and a poached egg, or steak tartare.

A burger topped with melted Saint-Andre cheese, watercress, onions, and cornichons Nick Solares/Eater

15. Lucien

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14 1st Avenue #1
New York, NY 10009
(212) 260-6481
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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 Nick Solares/Eater

16. Balthazar

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80 Spring St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 965-1414
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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 Daniel Krieger/Eater

17. The Odeon

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145 W Broadway
New York, NY 10013
(212) 233-0507
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Another Keith McNally institution — he is the king of the New York brasserie, after all — the Odeon prevailed as a Tribeca hotspot throughout the ’90s, when dining options were really slim in the area. The cool quotient has mellowed out some over the years, but it’s 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 sweet corn ravioli with pecorino cheese or a vegetarian purple sticky rice bowl.

The entrance to the Odeon, with a big neon sign bearing its name overhead The Odeon [Official Photo]

18. Chez Moi

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135 Atlantic Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(347) 227-8337
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Come for the big bowls of mussels available five different ways — options include a dijon mustard sauce and a chorizo- and paprika-flavored Basquaise version — at this charming, white brick-walled French spot perched on the border of Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill. Also worth considering: crispy frogs legs, escargot with parsley butter, and French onion soup, or mains like steak tartare and seared duck breast.

Mussels in a big bowl with frites Chez Moi [Official Photo]

19. Bar Tabac

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128 Smith St
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 923-0918
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Expect a solid bistro menu served late into the night 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 Bistro Jules and Le Singe Vert. Note: American Express or cash only.  

Foosball next to windows at Bar Tabac Bar Tabac [Official Photo]

20. Le P'tit Paris Bistro

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256 Prospect Park West
Brooklyn, NY 11215
(718) 369-3590
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This lowkey Windsor Terrace place is run by longtime pals Mathieu Couratin and Olivier Jouannard, who met at age 15 working as cooks in France and opened up L’Ptit Paris Bistro together in 2011. The family-friendly place is mainly filled with regulars who live in the area, coming in for gently-priced French fare, priced well under $20 a plate.

The bar at Le P’tit Paris Bistro, set in front of an exposed brick wall Le P’tit Paris Bistro [Official Photo]

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1. Maison Harlem

341 St Nicholas Ave, New York, NY 10027
A musician holds a guitar inside Maison Harlem Maison Harlem [Official Photo]

This snug bistro — along with its sister restaurants and wine shops A.O.C — open since 2013 has quickly taken root in the Harlem neighborhood. The exposed brick wall, dark-framed mirrors, and intimate space reflect Parisian bistros, while the menus, made out of old vinyl record jackets, and the paintings around the room all ring true to Harlem’s art and music scene. The menu has a range of the classics, from French onion soup to a filling, slow cooked duck leg confit, with entrees well under $30.

341 St Nicholas Ave
New York, NY 10027

2. Chez Lucienne

308 Lenox Ave, New York, NY 10027

Enjoy a lively atmosphere at this bistro found in the heart of Harlem. Space inside is open and light, and in the summer, patrons quickly fill the sidewalk seating. The skirt steak, marinated in a special garlic herb mix is not to be missed, and the Cocote de coq au vin, braised chicken in a red wine sauce served over linguini, is a crowd pleaser. Hours throughout the week range between 11 aa.m. to midnight, but join the 2 a.m. crowd on Saturdays for drinks and a lighter fare.

308 Lenox Ave
New York, NY 10027

3. La Mirabelle

102 West 86th Street, New York, NY 10024

La Mirabelle, open since 1984, is a family-run Upper West Side favorite that’s been serving up bistro fare in a jovial, unpretentious manner. Beyond the classics like onion soup and steak au poivre, there’s also several offal options such as chicken livers served with shallots and raspberry vinegar; veal kidneys in mustard sauce; and sweetbreads with lemon and capers.

102 West 86th Street
New York, NY 10024

4. Chez Napoléon

365 W 50th St, New York, NY 10019
The brick facade of Chez Napoleon Chez Napoleon [Official Photo]

A venerable Theatre District bistro dating back to 1960, Chez Napoleon is stocked with all sorts of French organ-meat classics. Offal highlights include calf’s brains in caper-studded black butter, sweetbreads meuniere, and kidneys in mustard sauce. A tomato-based cassoulet, garlicky escargot, and a chocolate souffle that can take up to an hour to make are all less-adventurous, but nonetheless excellent, orders. The place has been owned by the same family for over three decades, and it’s covered in Bruno lineage memorabilia as well as various French-themed ephemera.

365 W 50th St
New York, NY 10019

5. Benoit New York

60 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019
The white and blue entrance to Benoit Benoit [Official Photo]

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 pâté en croûte (wrapped in a pastry crust). Indecisive diners will appreciate their hors d’oeuvre setup, which includes three appetizers for $15 or five for $21, ranging from pork rillettes to roasted, smoked eggplant to rabbit porchetta.

60 W 55th St
New York, NY 10019

6. Le Relais de Venise L'Entrecote

590 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10022

Brought here from a Paris chain with a cult following, Le Relais de Venise L'Entrecote specializes in steak frites. For just $29.95, a feast of beef in green sauce and fries hits the table, preceded by salad with mustard vinaigrette and walnuts. Go in for seconds on steak and fries, and then follow it up with chocolate profiteroles for an incredibly satisfying meal.

590 Lexington Ave
New York, NY 10022

7. Tournesol

50-12 Vernon Blvd, Long Island City, NY 11101

Solid French fare can be found at this Long Island City spot, which has an affordable menu filled with things like croque monsieur, foie gras terrine, and endive salad with blue cheese, pears or apples, and walnuts. Appetizers mostly ring in under $10, with entrees ranging from $16 to $22, but note that only American Express or cash are accepted. Brunch is also very reliable for more morning-geared dishes like a ham-and-cheese croissant or French toast.

50-12 Vernon Blvd
Long Island City, NY 11101

8. L'Express

249 Park Ave S, New York, NY 10003

This Gramercy spot is stocked with all sorts of French bistro classics, from steak frites to Croque Monsieur. What’s most notable here, though, is the fact that it’s open 24 hours, so onion soup gratinee or escargot at the crack of dawn are a possibility here. When weather allows, a series of doors are flung open at the airy corner space, affording an ample breeze throughout.

249 Park Ave S
New York, NY 10003

9. La Ripaille

605 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

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 and filet of bass with a Champagne-rosemary sauce.

605 Hudson St
New York, NY 10014

10. Tartine

253 W 11th St, New York, NY 10014
A white plate with chicken, guacamole, and french fries Tartine [Official]

Gaggles flock here for the BYOB factor at this tiny West Village stalwart, but the classic range of French bistro fare, with entrees sticking under $30, is the real draw. Food here goes a bit beyond the standard steak frites and onion soup; the menu also includes dishes such as steamed curry mussels and spicy chicken with guacamole and fries. Expect a wait, even on weeknights.

253 W 11th St
New York, NY 10014

11. Le Midi

11 E 13th St, New York, NY 10003
Diners sit at tables lit by candlelight Le Midi [Official Photo]

Le Midi has all the bistro classics with some especially appealing deals, especially for being in Greenwich Village. A two-course weekday lunch runs for $19.95, while a three-course dinner until until 6:30 p.m. on Sundays is $28.95. There’s also happy hour, featuring $7 wine and $8 cocktails weekdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and weekends from noon to 7 p.m. Take it all in while watching a film that plays behind the bar.

11 E 13th St
New York, NY 10003

12. Buvette

42 Grove St, New York, NY 10014
Bartenders dressed in white pour glasses of wine for customers who are sitting on barstools. Daniel Krieger/Eater

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 come for a late weekday breakfast for (slightly) more breathing room. For weekend brunch, the wait can be quite long. There are also outposts in Paris and Tokyo.

42 Grove St
New York, NY 10014

13. Lafayette

380 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10003
Tables in the grand dining room of Lafayette Lafayette [Official Photo]

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 soft scrambled eggs with leeks and truffle vinaigrette 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, is great for an excellent croissant and coffee break.

380 Lafayette St
New York, NY 10003

14. Raoul's

180 Prince St, New York, NY 10012
A burger topped with melted Saint-Andre cheese, watercress, onions, and cornichons Nick Solares/Eater

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 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 escargot, pâté, frisee with lardons and a poached egg, or steak tartare.

180 Prince St
New York, NY 10012

15. Lucien

14 1st Avenue #1, New York, NY 10009
The entrance to Lucien with a red awning Nick Solares/Eater

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.

14 1st Avenue #1
New York, NY 10009

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16. Balthazar

80 Spring St, New York, NY 10012
The entrance to Balthazar with a red awning Daniel Krieger/Eater

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.

80 Spring St
New York, NY 10012

17. The Odeon

145 W Broadway, New York, NY 10013
The entrance to the Odeon, with a big neon sign bearing its name overhead The Odeon [Official Photo]

Another Keith McNally institution — he is the king of the New York brasserie, after all — the Odeon prevailed as a Tribeca hotspot throughout the ’90s, when dining options were really slim in the area. The cool quotient has mellowed out some over the years, but it’s 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 sweet corn ravioli with pecorino cheese or a vegetarian purple sticky rice bowl.

145 W Broadway
New York, NY 10013

18. Chez Moi

135 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Mussels in a big bowl with frites Chez Moi [Official Photo]

Come for the big bowls of mussels available five different ways — options include a dijon mustard sauce and a chorizo- and paprika-flavored Basquaise version — at this charming, white brick-walled French spot perched on the border of Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill. Also worth considering: crispy frogs legs, escargot with parsley butter, and French onion soup, or mains like steak tartare and seared duck breast.

135 Atlantic Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11201

19. Bar Tabac

128 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Foosball next to windows at Bar Tabac Bar Tabac [Official Photo]

Expect a solid bistro menu served late into the night 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 Bistro Jules and Le Singe Vert. Note: American Express or cash only.  

128 Smith St
Brooklyn, NY 11201

20. Le P'tit Paris Bistro

256 Prospect Park West, Brooklyn, NY 11215
The bar at Le P’tit Paris Bistro, set in front of an exposed brick wall Le P’tit Paris Bistro [Official Photo]

This lowkey Windsor Terrace place is run by longtime pals Mathieu Couratin and Olivier Jouannard, who met at age 15 working as cooks in France and opened up L’Ptit Paris Bistro together in 2011. The family-friendly place is mainly filled with regulars who live in the area, coming in for gently-priced French fare, priced well under $20 a plate.

256 Prospect Park West
Brooklyn, NY 11215

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