The 15 Best French Restaurants In America

The French take their food seriously. That's why when it comes to gourmet eateries with multi-course menus and extravagant ingredients, no cuisine does quite what French cuisine does. The attention to detail and boldness of flavors lend themselves to class and luxury, and saying stuff like "Beef Bourguignon" and "Haricots Verts" always makes one feel a little more sophisticated.

That sophistication translates well into the dining rooms of the best French restaurants in America. Helmed by chefs who made their names without the aid of "Top Chef" or "Chopped," these restaurants have become destinations on par with any attraction in their respective cities. So whether you're going to see what Thomas Keller can do in Napa Valley, or how Jean-George does it in New York, our nation's best French restaurants are destination dining at its finest. 

Here's a look at the best French restaurants in America, and a what to expect once you get there.

The French Laundry in Yountville, California

Thomas Keller's most fabled Napa Valley eatery has almost become part of the English lexicon, a stand-in any time one wants to describe an over-the-top meal that was worth the eye-popping price tag. "Yeah, the dinner was good," you might mutter after a boastfully mediocre meal at a high-priced restaurant, "but they're charging like it's friggin' French Laundry."

One doesn't even need to know that Keller and his team tend to their ingredients with the care one takes when raising a child — or that the daily tasting menu doesn't repeat ingredients (ensuring every dish is an experience on its own) and that both the chef's tasting menu and the garden-fresh Farmers and Foragers menus are rarely seen twice. You just need to know that the $350-per-person price tag is always worth the cost. Which it better be, since the whole thing is prepaid before you arrive.

Its graced numerous "Best French Restaurants" lists as well, ranking #2 with TimeOut and Business Insider, and notching a top ten spot with Culture Trip.

Le Bernardin in New York City

If anything exists in the culinary world that's close to a undisputed champion, it's Le Bernardin. The white tablecloth fine dining French restaurant has been dazzling New Yorkers since 1986, and you'd be hard pressed to find a list of Best French Restaurants in America that didn't include Le Bernardin, as it's graced the rankings of Business Insider, Time Out, USA Today, and countless others. Under the stewardship of Eric Ripert, it garnered the ever-elusive three Michelin star rating.

Dining here isn't uncomfortably out of reach either, especially by Manhattan standards. You can enjoy the four-course prix-fixe menu for $190, or about $63 a star, but going all-in for the Chef's Tasting with wine pairing will cost you $440 and is definitely reserved for special occasion dining. Pricing aside, you'll never leave Le Bernardin feeling hungry or cheated, as a meal here is an event few will ever forget.

Le Bouchon in Chicago, Illinois

Though not as ballyhooed as some other Windy City French restaurants, this spot in Bucktown packs people in like no other, partly because the capacity is a fraction of what many other French restaurants have to work with, but primarily because the food is pure mastery.

In its ranking of this neighborhood bistro among the Best French Restaurants in America, Time Out cited the onion tart, French onion soup, and veal kidneys with mustard sauce as big reasons it clocked in at #21. But Le Bouchon is also special because its sharable Conrad Roti is tailor-made for date night. It's a feast for two where couples can gaze into each other's eyes over a whole roasted Peking duck, duck fat spaetzle, duck bacon, and other stuff that would make a shotgun-toting Elmer Fudd drool.

If you're planning a visit, you'll always want to plan some extra time to wait for your table. Even on dreary winter weeknights, having a couple drinks at the bar while the party ahead of you finishes up is a time-honored tradition.

LPM in Miami, Florida

Sometimes, you want some first-rate French cuisine, but don't particularly feel like sitting through a nine-course tasting "experience" where the chef gets to pick everything you eat. For those who enjoy fine food on their own terms, there's LPM, a restaurant that took hints from Kentucky Fried Chicken and International Business Machines and shortened their name to an acronym. The former La Petit Maison is a cornerstone of the dining scene in Miami's trendy Brickell neighborhood, with a see-and-be-seen bar that's a social hub for the condo towers that surround it.

But unlike a lot of things in Miami, LPM isn't all substance over style. Its menu features a duck l'orange that could hold its own with any Michelin-starred venue. You'll also find fresh made pastas not frequently featured on French menus, like the creamy mushroom risotto with crème fraiche and parmesan, and homemade pappardelle with veal ragu that tastes straight from the old world. It's all served in a space that's tall yet intimate.

Artelier Crenn in San Francisco, California

Food, especially French food, is often a multi-sensory experience, encouraging you to eat with your eyes as much as your stomach. Never is it truer than at Atelier Crenn, a hillside San Francisco spot helmed by award-winning chef Dominique Crenn. If you're not familiar with her resume, she became the first female to be awarded with three Michelin stars in 2018 and won the World's 50 Best Icon Award 2021. Safe to say, the lady knows what she's doing.

Her San Francisco outpost is described by 50 Best as a "poetic sequence of stunning dishes," a two-to-three hour tour of Crenn's culinary mind, where you'll experience classic dishes like French onion soup, brioche, and caviar presented in ways you've likely never seen. Pastry Chef Juan Contreras caps meals off with creations that miraculously find room in your stomach. And if you're looking for a nightcap after, Bar Cren next door has a wine selection just as impressive as the adjacent restaurant.

Per Se in New York City

Thomas Keller proves his skills are just as at home in an office tower overlooking Central Park as they are in the fields of Napa Valley, notching his second entrant on this list at Per Se. When it opened in 2004, Per Se was one of the costliest restaurant projects on record, putting Keller and his investors in a $12 million hole before ever opening their doors (via SF Gate). But the investment has paid off, as it now boasts a whopping three Michelin stars, and remains one of the biggest names on the NYC dining scene.

The concept isn't unlike French Laundry; Keller and his team scour the freshest seasonal ingredients possible, and use familiar stuff in unfamiliar ways. The whole thing is served as either a nine-course tasting menu or its vegetarian alternative, to the tune of $355 per person. That fat check comes with an even bigger view, as floor-to-ceiling windows give diners a sweeping view of Central Park. It's an awe-inspiring experience to say the least, and a geographically accessible way for east coasters to enjoy Keller's creations.

Mélisse in Los Angeles, California

A decade and a half-ago, Josiah Citrin's Mélisse was one of the most decorated restaurants in California, scoring two Michelin stars in consecutive years, from 2008 to 2009. Although Michelin quit ranking Los Angeles restaurants shortly thereafter, that didn't hurt business for the Santa Monica staple as it maintained as one of the most sought after reservations in Los Angeles in the years that followed.

Now paired with Citrin's namesake venue, Citrin, Mélisse is a colorfully-decorated, 14-seat tasting menu restaurant that takes more chances than one might expect at such a fabled locale. With menu items including Hokkaido Scallop Carpaccio, Butter Poached Halibut, Uni Cromesquis, and Corvus Farm's Guinea Hen "En Farci," Mélisse continues to evolve the French fine dining experience.

Speaking of his decision to branch out into two separate venues, Citrin told Robb Report he "wanted to create a different Mélisse ... I didn't want to do the same thing again."

Boca in Cincinnati, Ohio

Though Boca proudly boasts that it serves a mixture of French and Italian food, when you're the longest-running five-star restaurant in America, according to Travel & Leisure, you can notch a place on "Best of" lists in as many cuisines as you want. The ornate chandelier dominating the dining room announces to guests they've arrived somewhere grand, and are about to enjoy a dining experience that harkens back to Cincinnati's riverboat glory days.

You could probably serve someone a glass of water with rye toast in a setting like Boca's and they'd still feel like it was a worthwhile experience. But the menu here masters fine dining classics, whether it's the Filet Boca with King Crab and béarnaise sauce or the Hunter's Pie for two with braised venison and sweet potatoes. Boca's not reinventing anything, mostly because it doesn't need to. When you have its kind of pedigree, sticking to what got you there is never a losing proposition.

Restaurant August in New Orleans, Louisiana

The Big Easy can straddle the line fairly easily between French and Cajun cuisine, and sometimes it can be challenging for diner's to know which is which. Restaurant August is an excellent example, where you'll find stuff like crispy peanut butter and jelly oysters sharing menu space with a classic Scallop Almandine. But that is precisely why it's a standout restaurant in a city full of culinary gems; It offers a fine dining experience while still showcasing a taste for the local culture.

Set inside a 19th-century building a couple of blocks off Canal Street in New Orleans' Central Business District, the ambience of old world elegance is obvious even from street level. Step into the two-story wine room and you'll see just as much care was put into the beverage selection as the locally-sourced menu. August isn't serving up French food in the way you might find it in New York City or Paris, to be certain. But if you're in New Orleans, why would you be looking for that anyway?

Jean-Georges in New York City

Few celebrities can be called by only their first name and the world knows who they are. LeBron. Beyonce. And in the culinary world, Jean-Georges. Part of the reason is because Vongerichten is a mouthful to say, and often egregiously mispronounced, but also because his name looms large over the world of French cuisine, most present at this eponymous landmark in Central Park West.

Jean-Georges goes old school when putting together the Asian-French-American hybrid menu, scouring NYC farmers' markets and gaining his inspiration from what they've got on sale. The price tag seems fairly reasonable after perusing some other big name spots, with a six-course presentation available for $188 per person and an omnivore option for $258. The view alone would be worth the price, as you'll gaze out on Central Park and be the object of envy of everyone passing by, pretzel in hand. The place has proven such a legend, it landed on Business Insider's list of Best French Restaurants in America.

Le Diplomate in Washington, D.C.

Much like he did with his smash hit brasseries at Parc in Philadelphia and Le Zoo in Miami, Steven Starr absolutely nailed the Parisian detail when designing his most upscale French concept at Le Diplomate. This Washington, D.C. eatery is adorned with a zinc bar, mosaic floors, baguettes in baskets, and flowers lining the outdoor seating areas. While no one's confusing Logan Circle with the Champs-Elysees, stepping into Le Diplomate for a quick pan au chocolate and an espresso can at least allow you to pretend you're in Paris for a minute.

The menu is classic French brasserie fare mixed with some seafood-centric flair, where you can pair your plate of farm fresh cheeses with an impressive raw bar platter of oysters, king crab, and scallop crudo. Meat eaters will rejoice in the beef bourguignon, a wine-heavy roast that'll warm you from the inside out. Steak frites and steak au poivre are also highlights, though the gruyere omelette makes a solid, if artery clogging, choice for vegetarians.

Le Pigeon in Portland, Oregon

Though Portland's culinary scene is respected by most anyone who's bothered to eat there, it's generally more renowned for its donuts and craft beer than for fine dining. But the Rose City can do upscale well too, boasting one of the best rooftop restaurants in America, as well as this vaunted French gem. Le Pigeon may serve food that could be plated in Paris, but its roots are still in Portland, keeping the venue small and casual, and offering a vegetarian tasting menu alongside its classic Chef's Menu (the restaurant donates part of each tasting menu sold to Chocolate for the Congo).

But Le Pigeon is more than what's on the menu. Because menu offerings extend well past the fancy tasting stuff, and range into burgers and fries, many guests will be inside for a casual meal too. Craft beer sits right next to fine wine, and that's exactly the dichotomy this place is going for. That's why it's landed itself on Best French Restaurant lists with the likes of Time Out and USA Today without sacrificing any of the personality that made it popular.

Restaurant Daniel in New York City

No roundup of great American French restaurants would be complete without a nod to Daniel Boulud, and while his New York flagship, Restaurant Daniel, is as worthy as any of his outposts, it's almost a stand in for them all. This two Michelin star masterpiece on the Upper East Side redid its dining room in 2021, bringing in lighter woods and crystal barware, as well as art exhibits from Alex Katz and Robert Mapplethorpe (via Forbes).

The food, though, is still vintage Boulud, bringing strong French traditions to dishes that vary according to season. The new-and-improved Restaurant Daniel also added a vegetarian tasting menu to its rotation, and for a meal of seven courses, you'll be paying $275. You'll also find specialty dinners aplenty, whether Boulud is making the most of black truffle season, or putting a French spin on holiday classics. It's landed on several Best French restaurant lists before, including that of Culture Trip and Business Insider.

Joël Robuchon in Las Vegas, Nevada

Though Joël Robuchon sadly died in 2018, his legacy has lived on in Las Vegas. The French master whose restaurants span from Macau to Montreal opened his first American outpost in the MGM Grand, notching three Michelin stars upon its debut. It's now helmed by 33-year-old Chef Christophe DeLillis who heads up a staff of 23 in the kitchen (via Off the Strip). The lavish dining room seats a mere 50 people per night, which can make the 17-feet ceiling feel occasionally cavernous.

Unlike a lot of the thrills in Las Vegas, the 15-course tasting at Joël Robuchon is neither fast nor cheap, ringing in at $445 per person. Of course, when the first course is a heaping 12 grams of osetra caviar paired with king crab, the price seems almost reasonable. You'll then be treated to a selection of gourmet salads, seafoods, and meats. The menu is ever-changing, but the experience is not, so be sure to budget three to four hours to eat.

L'Avenue in New York City

Department store dining seems to b the kind of thing that would have gone in the direction of, well, department stores, as retail outlets shuttered and with them the grand eateries that called them home. But the original Saks Fifth Avenue is still going strong — so much so that it was bold enough to open a new, Philippe Stark-designed gourmet French restaurant on its top floors back in 2019. Celebs began filling the place almost immediately, hosting Gigi Hadid's 24th birthday party, and its guest list including Taylor Swift, Hailee Steinfeld, and others (via Town and Country).

L'Avenue is a New York outpost of a Parisian eatery that's been around for decades, and its wood walls and upstairs locale make you almost forget you're only steps from being involuntarily sprayed by perfume samples. The menu is lighter that one would expect from French food, with stuff like sea bass tartare, ceviche, and dover sole available for the carb conscious. The cocktail menu's a winner, too, a brainchild of Nico de Soto that's also available at the attached Le Chalet.