Washington, DC is home to good French cuisine in all its variations, from traditional to contemporary, and spanning casual bistros to white table cloth brasseries. Here are some of the best restaurants for French fare around the city and for some of that “je ne sais quoi”.
This boisterous bistro in Dupont Circle is known for their authentic fare prepared by French natives in a no frills, casual atmosphere. The escargot, which come swimming in the most delicious garlic butter are to die for, the steamed mussel pots are delicious and a hearty portion, the steaks come with deep sauces, winter calls for heartier dishes such as the cassoulet, and of course dessert (chocolate soufflé) is a must. They are open late every day so you can satisfy that French craving even after an evening of imbibing.
Le Diplomate recreates the experience of the quintessential Parisian café with not just its food but also the décor and the ambiance. Try some of the classics here like the onion soup gratinee and the steak frites, or go for the Burger Americain, which is easily one of the best burgers in the city. This is one of those spots that is time and again proving to be well worth its repute whether it’s for dinner, lunch, or brunch.
This Georgetown spot is a popular neighborhood bistro that is well known for their classic fare. The restaurant is cozy and a bit old school but not stuffy. You can expect to find a lot of stalwarts on the menu – foie gras, terrines, soups, salads, a delicious onion tart, and a number of excellent entrees as well that are not as commonly seen at other restaurants – veal kidneys, calf liver, risotto stuffed quail. Non-adventurous diners need not worry – their beef medallions or perfectly crusted salmon are excellent choices as well.
This Cleveland Park gem may not be on everyone’s radars just yet, but it’s hard to beat for a romantic date night out or for anyone who wants the charm of a Parisian bistro. It is small and it can get busy, so make reservations! The duck confit is sheer perfection, as is the steak tartare. The fish dishes are also excellent, but the game meats such as venison and rabbit are also incredibly nicely done and really show off the prowess of the kitchen. If I lived nearby, it would be on my regular dining rotation. If you live nearby, it should be on yours.
Et Voila is a French-Belgian restaurant in the Palisades neighborhood, that is absolutely a must visit for their mussels, the most perfect oniony-cheesy French onion soup, beef stew, and their signature mussel burger. The menu is concise and shows off the confidence and honest quality of their dishes. A solid spot to experience a slice of Europe in DC.
Other spots that deserve mention are the charming Chez Billy Sud in Georgetown, which has an amazing wine bar attached and the cutest patio, Marcel’s, which offers a fine dining experience, and the more contemporary French-American Mintwood Place.