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

19 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. 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, 19 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.

1. Maison Harlem

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341 St Nicholas Ave
New York, NY 10027

This snug bistro opened in 2013 has quickly become a fixture in the West 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 most entrees priced $30 and under.

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

2. Cafe Luxembourg

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200 W 70th St
New York, NY 10023
(212) 873-7411
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The Upper West Side has a reputation for its sleepy restaurant scene but that’s rarely the case at Luxe, as regulars like to call Cafe Luxembourg. Standard bistro fare is offered on the menu, but its the crowds and regulars that make this spot stand out. Diners share the dining room and bar with musicians who have just finished performing at Lincoln Center, creative types in the neighborhood come to hang in the late hours, and there’s just plain good people watching on any given night as you finish a plate of steak frites.

3. Chez Napoléon

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365 W 50th St
New York, NY 10019
(212) 265-6980
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A venerable Theater 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]

4. 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 hand-chopped beef tartare.

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

5. 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 $32, 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.

6. 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 dishes like croque monsieur, foie gras terrine, and endive salad with blue cheese, pears or apples, and walnuts. Appetizers mostly ring in under $13, with entrees ranging from $17 to $25, 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.

7. 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. 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.

8. 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.

9. Tartine

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253 W 11th St
New York, NY 10014
(212) 229-2611
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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 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 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]

10. 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 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. Daniel Krieger/Eater

11. 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 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, is great for an excellent croissant and coffee break.

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

12. 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

13. 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

14. 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

15. Frenchette

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241 W Broadway
New York, NY 10013
(212) 334-3883
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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.

Frenchette
The inviting bar at Frenchette.
Louise Palmberg/Eater NY

16. 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 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.

The bar at The Odeon
The bar at The Odeon.
Daniel Krieger

17. 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 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.

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

18. Bar Tabac

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128 Smith St
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 923-0918
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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.

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

19. Cafe Luluc

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214 Smith St
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 625-3815
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The menu may not feel particularly French — there’s a spaghetti bolognese and guacamole on the menu, after all — but this longtime Cobble Hill restaurant has the laidback and neighborhood feel of a Parisian bistro. Locals fill up the cozy restaurant for the friendly service and reasonably priced menu. The fruit-studded pancakes are popular, but for a more Gallic dishes, go for the quiche or croque madame.

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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 opened in 2013 has quickly become a fixture in the West 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 most entrees priced $30 and under.

341 St Nicholas Ave
New York, NY 10027

2. Cafe Luxembourg

200 W 70th St, New York, NY 10023

The Upper West Side has a reputation for its sleepy restaurant scene but that’s rarely the case at Luxe, as regulars like to call Cafe Luxembourg. Standard bistro fare is offered on the menu, but its the crowds and regulars that make this spot stand out. Diners share the dining room and bar with musicians who have just finished performing at Lincoln Center, creative types in the neighborhood come to hang in the late hours, and there’s just plain good people watching on any given night as you finish a plate of steak frites.

200 W 70th St
New York, NY 10023

3. Chez Napoléon

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

A venerable Theater 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

4. 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 hand-chopped beef tartare.

60 W 55th St
New York, NY 10019

5. 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 $32, 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

6. 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 dishes like croque monsieur, foie gras terrine, and endive salad with blue cheese, pears or apples, and walnuts. Appetizers mostly ring in under $13, with entrees ranging from $17 to $25, 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

7. 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. 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.

249 Park Ave S
New York, NY 10003

8. 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

9. Tartine

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

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 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 steamed curry mussels and spicy chicken with guacamole and fries. Expect a wait, even on weeknights.

253 W 11th St
New York, NY 10014

10. 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 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.

42 Grove St
New York, NY 10014

11. 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 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, is great for an excellent croissant and coffee break.

380 Lafayette St
New York, NY 10003

12. 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

13. 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

14. 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

15. Frenchette

241 W Broadway, New York, NY 10013
Read Review |
Frenchette
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.

241 W Broadway
New York, NY 10013

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16. The Odeon

145 W Broadway, New York, NY 10013
The bar at The Odeon
The bar at The Odeon.
Daniel Krieger

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 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.

145 W Broadway
New York, NY 10013

17. 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 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.

135 Atlantic Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11201

18. Bar Tabac

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

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.

128 Smith St
Brooklyn, NY 11201

19. Cafe Luluc

214 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

The menu may not feel particularly French — there’s a spaghetti bolognese and guacamole on the menu, after all — but this longtime Cobble Hill restaurant has the laidback and neighborhood feel of a Parisian bistro. Locals fill up the cozy restaurant for the friendly service and reasonably priced menu. The fruit-studded pancakes are popular, but for a more Gallic dishes, go for the quiche or croque madame.

214 Smith St
Brooklyn, NY 11201

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