Food & Drink

The Best French Restaurants in LA

Published On 09/06/2016 Published On 09/06/2016
Republique
Republique | Sierra Prescott
Melisse Restaurant

MĂ©lisse

Santa Monica

Chef Josiah Citrin’s venerated palace of modern French cuisine and fine dining remains one of the best destinations for (very) special occasions, those with fat wallets, or, you know, when you’re in the mood to drop a month's worth of rent for dinner. Expect Michelin star-caliber service and four courses or more of food that utilizes traditional techniques with imaginative flair and local ingredients. Prepare for a night of foie gras, caviar-topped eggs, and Dover sole prepared tableside along with plenty of other optional flourishes and a deep wine list. 

Spring Los Angeles

Spring

Downtown

This stunning new addition to Downtown’s dining scene comes from the duo behind Church & State, the French bistro in the Arts District. Inside, you’ll find an expansive light-filled atrium with a fountain and pepper trees at the center with plenty of marble, gold, and green accents throughout. The menu skews towards lighter, vegetable-driven and Mediterranean-inflected French fare that relies more on olive oil than heavy sauces. You’ll find wild Burgundy snails with tomato and fennel, seared duck breast with adorably tiny vegetables, and the saffron, fennel, and garlic-driven bourride, a traditional fish stew of Provence. Oysters and cocktails in the stylish lounge is also a perfectly acceptable option.

Papilles

Hollywood

Tucked within an unassuming strip mall near the entrance to the 101 hides a charming and vastly underrated bistro that has remained mostly under the radar for the past several years (shhhhhh, don’t tell anyone). The cozy and casual space offers a weekly (and sometimes daily) rotating prix fixe, three-course menu that’s a steal starting around $38 per person. Chef/owner Tim Carey turns out expertly prepared plates of flat iron steak or scallops with chanterelles, with some options available for a slight price upgrade. You can order wine by the glass or peruse the wall of bottles that feature plenty of great Old World and natural French wines.

Bouchon Bistro | Deborah Jones

Bouchon

Beverly Hills

Here you can feast on Thomas Keller’s celebrated French bistro fare without having to make the trek to Napa Valley. You’ll find plenty of old-school bistro vibes here, with plenty of polished brass, mirrors, and vested waitstaff. You’ll also find all the hits, from country pâté and croque madame to steak frites and an excellent roast chicken. Brunch is also an excellent time to visit, and should you find yourself here on a Monday night, definitely order the famous buttermilk fried chicken, which is totally a French thing as long as you have a glass of wine with it.

Petit Trois

Petit Trois

Hollywood

While the coveted tickets and tasting menu of Trois Mec may receive plenty of deserved accolades, Petit Trois -- the more casual younger brother next door -- is just as fun and far more accessible. The cozy 21-seat operation from chefs Ludo Lefebvre, Jon Shook, and Vinny Dotolo serves up an elevated rendition of the French neighborhood bar experience with classics like steak tartare, confit-fried chicken leg, and the best damn omelette you’ll ever eat.

A Food Affair

Pico-Robertson

Straight outta Aix-en-Provence, chef Christian Royere catered to the stars and worked in LA kitchens for decades before opening A Food Affair with his wife Babette a few years back. You’re in good hands here, with modern renditions of classics like beef bourguignon, bouillabaisse, and duck rillettes.  And while the BYOB policy is currently on hold as they apply for their beer and wine license, you can still enjoy the excellent house mocktails made with fresh fruit. With stone walls, antique French furniture, and a small garden patio, this date-night favorite is a great (and well-priced) romantic option without too much fuss.

Patina

Patina

Downtown

One of the few remaining standard bearers of formal fine dining in the city, Patina offers all the elegant flourishes of tradition while still feeling modern. Founder Joachim Splichal recently brought on chef Paul Lee -- who like most before him worked in legendary European restaurants -- and has shifted the focus to several tasting menu options, which vary depending on the size of your bank account. And while you’ll find classic French favorites made with old-school techniques, stocks, and sauces, they’re often presented in unexpected ways, like quail with black mole and sesame corn risotto, or veal cheek with coconut red curry. And as you’re probably here for a special occasion, you’ll definitely want to look into tickets for a show at Disney Concert Hall next door.

Cafe Stella

Silver Lake

Hidden behind a wall at the heart of Sunset Junction, Cafe Stella offers a bustling Parisian-style bistro complete with eclectic wall hangings, wicker furniture, and excellent French eats. Kick the night off with a bit of steak tartare or silky chestnut soup and consider moving on to the moule frites or the red wine-braised short ribs. The burger at lunch is also excellent, and brunch here is always a winner.

Courtesy of Avec Nous

Avec Nous

Beverly Hills

Nestled inside the Beverly Hills' L'Ermitage Hotel, this elegant, new-ish spot focuses on bistro classics with a contemporary spin and offers a glitzy, Saint-Tropez-inspired vibe. The service is sharply attentive, and the roaming Champagne and boozy candy carts are an added bonus. Some of the highlights include the foie gras l’orange, the tableside cote de boeuf for two, and a whole-roasted, curried cauliflower if you’re not digging on meat. You’ll also want to save room for desserts like the classic amaretto floating island, or the chocolate & caramélia mille-feuille. And if you’re feeling particularly baller, you can opt for a secluded private table with a cool, glass-walled wine cellar.

Little Door

The Little Door

Beverly Grove/West Hollywood

Hidden behind an actual little wooden door, the sparkling garden patio of The Little Door has played host to countless romantic dates and an untold number of wedding proposals. On the French-Moroccan-leaning menu, you’ll find winners like spicy mussels with a ras el hanout broth, lamb stew with merguez sausage and couscous, and some great desserts like a near-perfect crème brûlée. And if you’re looking for some more traditional brassiere options, you can always head over to The Little Next Door, where you’ll find roasted bone marrow, duck confit, steak frites, and roasted chicken.

Cafe Beaujolais

Eagle Rock

This laid-back neighborhood favorite is a refreshing option to some of the pricier French outposts around town, and has the added charm of an all-French waitstaff. There’s plenty of hearty comfort fare to be had thanks to plenty of great options like the oven-baked chicken with Cognac and morels, or the rack of lamb with a mustard sauce. And starting with the buttery-garlicky escargot is kind of a no-brainer. There’s an excellent selection of wines, as well as several not-often-seen French beers.

Church & State

Church & State

Arts District

One of the early pioneers of the recent Arts District transformation, Church & State continues to be a reliable go-to for the full French bistro experience (even if you are dining inside the old Nabisco factory).  You’ll find top-notch renditions of your favorites here, including escargot hidden beneath puff pastry, chicken liver mousse, bouillabaisse, and roasted duck breast, and they also always have excellent sweet and savory tarts.

Republique | Sierra Prescott

Republique

Mid-City

While we can’t say for certain if Charlie Chaplin was a fan of French fare, we have a good feeling he’d be stoked to dine in his former office space. The space -- which also previously housed the long-standing favorite Campanile -- is now a stunning cathedral-like hotspot (unsurprisingly, a perennial pick on our Eat Seeker list) where chef Walter Manzke turns out exceptional renditions of French hits using farm-fresh ingredients. You’ll probably want to start with the house-baked bread with pan drippings, before moving on to the house charcuterie, escargot, or seared foie gras, followed by the steak frites or the roasted lamb rack. And if you’re feeling even more decadent, there’s the classic tournedos rossini with foie gras and truffles. You also don’t want to miss any of Margarita Manske’s amazing baked goodies.

Marvin

Beverly Grove

This fun, casual bistro is perfect for grabbing a glass of wine and steak tartare at the bar for happy hour, just as it is for a dinner date with steak frites, Dover sole, and other great choices on the French-leaning menu. Solid picks also include mussels and chicken liver pâté. Earlier in the day, you’ll find some excellent brunch options, including the jamon tomato toast and the asparagus with fried egg.

L'Ami Restaurant

L'Ami

Santa Monica

Formerly the Westside outpost of The Little Door, L’Ami offers a more casual option for French-Mediterranean cuisine in a breezy and romantic Saint-Tropez-inspired setting with white walls and blue ceilings. You’ll find some excellent seafood options, including oysters, mussels in white wine, and sesame-crusted scallops, as well as land-faring options like couscous royale with lamb chops, all of which you can enjoy on the killer patio.

Terrine

Terrine

West Hollywood

With a gorgeous tree-adorned patio, excellent house charcuterie, and great cocktails, Terrine could probably stop there with enough to get you to visit. But thankfully, chef Kris Morningstar goes the distance with a great lineup of California-leaning French brasserie eats, like roasted duck with kumquats or the braised lamb shank with artichoke.

Taix

Echo Park

Once located Downtown in LA's since-vanished French Town, and having relocated to Echo Park in the 1960s, this institution still serves up hearty French Basque country fare. While chances are you may have seen live music in the lounge, it’s definitely worth grabbing a booth in one of the banquet rooms for dinner: order a bottle of French wine and prepare for a feast of ratatouille, escargot cooked in shell, and bigger dishes like duck à l'orange, braised rabbit, or frog legs, before finishing off the night with a bit of chocolate mousse or crème brûlée.

Canelé

Atwater Village

While this neighborhood favorite is an excellent option for brunch and fried chicken sandwiches, it also happens to have an incredible rundown of rustic, farmers market-sourced French standouts, including chicken liver pâté or salt cod brandade, followed by duck confit or boeuf bourguignon with buttered egg noodles.

Mistral

Sherman Oaks

Since 1988, this classy French bistro has been winning loyal fans with its classic dishes, lengthy wine list, and sharp service. Thankfully not much has changed over the years, including the sparkling chandeliers, dark wood panelling, and vintage mirrored bar. Be sure to check out the reliable takes on essentials like steak au poivre, roasted chicken, and an excellent chocolate soufflé.

L’Assiette Steak Frites

L'Assiette Steak Frites

Fairfax

If you like steak and you like frites, get in here. There are refreshingly few choices to be made at this sleekly modern specialist where your steak frites are served in two rounds -- so everything stays hot. OK, maybe you’ll have to decide if you want truffles or foie gras on your steak (or both!), or if you want to start with the salmon tartare or smoked trout pâté, but there are worse decisions to have to make in life. And for non-steak eaters, there’s also a fish, chicken, and veggie version.

Le Petit Paris

Le Petit Paris

Downtown

The spectacular interior of the former El Dorado Hotel lobby here at this relatively recent Downtown newcomer is worth a visit alone. And while you’re checking out those circular crystal chandeliers and grand staircase, you might as well order up a cocktail and some oysters. And why not stick around for the crispy duck breast, or go big with the Cognac-flambeed lobster or truffled burger? You may even catch a bit of live French jazz if you’re there on a Wednesday, or during the Downtown Art Walk.

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1. Melisse Restaurant 1104 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401 (Santa Monica)

Melisse's a Santa Monica swank-house that's serving French seafood fare. Try out their tasting menu and enjoy the scene.

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2. Spring 257 South Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013 (Downtown)

The co-owners who previously brought Church & State to the CA Arts District now bring their French-Mediterranean fare to Downtown. Drinks wine from a hand-selected Old World list, beer and cocktails. Spring’s dining experience is unlike any other: dark wood and gold-flecked marble light up under an atrium that floods the space with natural sunlight. Vintage details decorate the room and a water fountain sits in the middle. The open kitchen, visible to all, runs the length of the room. Spring is best for brunches and early dinners.

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3. Papilles 6221 Franklin Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028 (Hollywood)

The first thing you notice when you walk into Papilles, a French restaurant tucked in the corner of a strip mall off the 101, is the gallery wall of artwork whose mismatching frames make the dining room feel a tiny bit like Gertrude Stein's salon. The modest and unpretentious bistro is best known for its affordable prix fixe menu that features modern Gallic dishes like frog legs with celery consomme, scallops with chanterelles, and caramelized peaches. The selection of Old World and natural French wines adds to Papille's understated elegance.

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4. Bouchon 235 N Canon, Beverly Hills, CA 90210 (Beverly Hills)

Beverly Hills' Bouchon represents all of the culinary excellence you'd expect from Chef Thomas Keller, who has earned seven Michelin stars between the original Bouchon, the internationally celebrated French Laundry, and New York’s Per Se. Keller's take on age-old French bistro food is traditional but he employs modern techniques. Each dish is as familiar as an old friend, just dressed a little nicer than you remember him: roast chicken is plated atop carrots and onions on a thin pastry disk in a pool of pan sauce, and each garlic-buttered escargot gets a cute puff pastry hat. Brass fixtures, high ceilings, and mosaic tiles evoking La Belle Epoque complete the effect. Still, some things don’t need adornment, like red wine served in carafes and butter-topped steak next to a heaping pile of fries.

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5. Petit Trois 718 N Highland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038 (Hollywood)

This Hollywood bistro from Ludo Lefebvre and the Animal dudes has no phone number, no reservations, only 21 seats, and one of LA's most acclaimed chefs making French classics like steak frites and confit chicken, as well as lunch -- with only 20 servings of two sandwiches offered.

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6. A Food Affair 1515 S Robertson Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035 (Century City)

Cozy and romantic, this Beverlywood eatery with creamy stone walls and low-hanging sting lights specializes in French fare and flair with beautifully executed and presented shared plates, entrees, and devilishly indulgent desserts. A Food Affair's approachable menu flaunts French dishes you can actually pronounce -- like wild-caught crab cakes, spaghetti squash casserole, and organic duck lug confit -- and a changing lineup of creme brulees and flavored mousses that taste as good as they look.

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7. Patina 141 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012 (Downtown)

This French-inspired Downtown eatery is located on the side of the Disney Hall -- making it that much more magical (sorry, we had to). Indulge in the fish or one of many delicious desserts.

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8. Cafe Stella 3932 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90029 (Silverlake)

Whether you prefer dry-aged meats or barrel-aged cocktails, this Silverlake French eatery is armed with rotating menus of both. With dark-wooded tables, red walls dressed in vintage French signage, and a fully-stocked brick-lined bar, the modern-rustic spot is a local favorite for brunch and dinner, alike. Morning plates like clarified butter-topped lemon-ricotta pancakes are served alongside steaming cups of fresh coffee, while the evening crowd typically starts with one of the seasonal house cocktails. Dinner guests enjoy hefty platters of things like red wine braised short ribs, or opt instead for lighter (but equally elegant) charcuterie plates garnished with fresh fruit spreads and herbed crackers. But above all else, every one must taste one of the famous aged cocktails -- after all, they take 35 days to make.

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9. Avec Nous 9291 Burton Way, Los Angeles, CA 90210

Avec Nous at Beverly Hills' L'Ermitage Hotel is a decidedly fine dining spot that focuses on French cuisine by way of St. Tropez. It's more contemporary than the traditional white-linen hotel dining room, a fact that makes the restaurant stand on its own in the crowded landscape of Beverly Hills hospitality. The bistro menu includes charcuterie, escargot, and main courses like a house burger with basil aioli and grilled salmon with freekah and black kale. The chic space includes plush seating, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a palmy terrace.

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10. The Little Door 8164 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048 (West Hollywood)

If you haven’t already wooed a date with the super-romantic hidden courtyard of The Little Door, it's time to whisk one away for a French-Moroccan-inspired evening without shelling out for a plane ticket. At both the original neighborhood favorite (and the equally charming Santa Monica location), you can feast on fare like lamb with merguez sausages and chicken tajine paired with Moroccan wines and a candlelit Spanish tiled patio.

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11. Cafe Beaujolais 1712 Colorado Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90041 (Eagle Rock)

This cute pale-yellow house in Eagle Rock is a surprising location to find serious culinary chops. Classic French training shines in a wide range of dishes like caramelized duck confit, sesame-crusted tempeh, and broiled filet mignon. French speakers -- or at least those who can fake it 'till they make it -- fare well here with the entirely French wait staff, especially since the winding wine list takes a little decoding.

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12. Church & State 1850 Industrial St, Los Angeles, CA 90021 (Downtown)

This Downtown grub hub's home to amazing French cuisine, like an impeccable bone marrow, steak frites, and pork belly.

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13. Republique 624 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036 (Hancock Park)

Republique hails from a crazy all-star team that includes the married chef duo Walter and Margarita Manzke -- who were among the most lauded in all of LA during their tenure at Downtown's Church and State -- and one of the restauranteurs behind Bestia and Sotto. Their 'tails and fare are definitely worth a weeks-in-advance res.

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14. Marvin 8114 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048 (Mid Wilshire)

Tuck into Beverly Grove’s Marvin for a cozy escape from the bustling, traffic-ridden streets into a straight-out-of-France wine bar and brasserie. The bistro-style menu has everything you’d expect from French fare, like oysters, cheese and charcuterie, steak frites and steamed mussels, and over 200 bottles of wine lining the back of the bar. The classic cuisine and rustic wooden tables are juxtaposed by the aluminum can-covered ceiling and hip, modernist nature of the space, but one bite of cassoulet and you’ll forget about the impending traffic jam on Beverly Blvd. on your way home.

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15. L'Ami 246 26th St, Santa Monica, CA 90402

This French-Mediterranean restaurant hones in on the cuisine of St. Tropez, which means fresh seafood like white sea bass and day-boat scallops alongside racks of lamb and couscous stews. L'Ami's decor plays along with the south-of-France vibe with blue-and-white walls, tiled floors, and an airy, garden patio.

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16. Terrine 8265 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048 (Mid Wilshire)

Nostalgic French fare is given the expansive brasserie and a fairytale garden it deserves in Terrine, with chef Kris Morningstar masterminding elegant chicken confit salad, garlic-butter bathed escargots and a steak frites with smoked bone marrow that can be paired with an impressive French wine list. The namesake terrine, made with foie gras and served with apricot compote, proves worthy of the honor. Yet, a visit is utterly incomplete without sampling the charcuterie boards: with truffled chicken liver, terrine de campaign, liverwurst, andouille sausage and smoked beef deckle arranged with pickled morsels on a sturdy wooden disc. Dreamy and casual, the dining room is filled with bistro chairs, distressed brick and umber-hued leather banquettes with ornate mirrors propped behind them. The best part awaits behind an archway in the back, revealing an outdoor lounge with a giant illuminated tree as the centerpiece. The spot is more than an ideal perch for star-gazing, a well-balanced classic cocktail by Ryan Wainwright making you question your balance.

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17. Taix French Restaurant 1911 W. Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026 (Silverlake)

At almost 80, this Silver Lake restaurant's an institution, with dishes straight from the French country from which its eponymous family emigrated: ratatouille, les salades niçoises, Croques Monsieurs. Plus, on Fridays only, it serves up thick, white chowder just swimming with chewy goodness -- and then promptly runs out, because everyone wants some.

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18. Canelé 3219 Glendale Blvd, Los Angeles, 90039 (Atwater Village)

This cozy Atwater restaurant is a go-to for brunch -- just watch out for the sizable weekend crowds. It's worth the wait, though, for ultra-fresh dishes like chilled gazpacho, sweet and savory favorites like thick-cut French toast and baked pancakes, and some seriously tasty house-cured bacon. The chefs here keep things super-seasonal when it comes to ingredients, but no matter when you stop in, their fried chicken sandwich is a must.

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19. Mistral 13422 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

This brasserie-bar combination sitting proudly under its green awning on Ventura oozes old-school French bistro luxury with dark, polished mahogany, soft, white tablecloths, and glitzy chandeliers. The food is no exception to its penchant for glamour: classically French dishes like chunky steaks sides with fluffy fries, tartare, rosemary- and garlic-roasted chickens, and wild grilled salmon showcase a penchant for culinary detail.

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20. L'Assiette Steak Frites 7166 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046

L'Assiette Steak Frites is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. They only have one item on the menu, and you can probably guess what that is. The folks at L'Assiette have decided to maintain the integrity of their meat-and-potato-heavy offerings by focusing on bringing you simply-prepared, excellent filets and pomme-frites.

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21. Le Petit Paris 418 A Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013 (Downtown)

Situated in the historic El Dorado building downtown, Le Petit Paris isn't exactly petit: the sophisticated bi-level brasserie features a downstairs dining area, large outdoor patio, and two bars, plus a grand staircase and an abundance of murals and chandeliers that serve as an elegant backdrop for its traditional French entrees. From brunch to dinner, the menu here features classic dishes such as croque madame, steak frites with bearnaise sauce, Cognac-flambéed whole-roasted lobster, and a truffle rossini burger. You'll want to top off your meal with the bourbon-vanilla crème brûlée.

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