21 Essential French Restaurants You Need to Try in LA

From modern takes in the Arts District to ambitious tasting menus on the Westside, get your dose of French fare at these top spots.

It may be hard to imagine now, but LA once had its very own “Frenchtown”—a long-gone section of Downtown LA near present-day Chinatown. Beginning in the late 19th century, the area was home to a large French population. They began to disperse in the 1920s and when the original Chinatown was destroyed to make way for Union Station in the 1930s, Chinese immigrants began moving into the homes and businesses vacated by French and Swiss residents. Before he started making those delicious French dip sandwiches, Philippe Mathieu of Philippe’s even had restaurants in the neighborhood, and French bastion Taix in Echo Park was originally located there as well.


Thankfully, there are still plenty of excellent spots around town serving French classics like Escargot, Bouillabaisse, and Beef Bourguignon, often alongside impressive French wine lists. And while many tried and true spots across the city have shuttered (RIP Bon Temps and Belle Vie), several new French destinations have opened in their place, with more on the horizon—be on the lookout for chef Lincoln Carson’s Mes Amis restaurant at the Thompson Hollywood that’s predicted to open late spring.


From buzzy new restaurants to our favorite brunch spots, and running the gamut from classic techniques to modern spins, hearty Parisian bistro fare to lighter Mediterranean-leaning fare, here are the best restaurants in LA to get your French fix.


Camphor

Arts District
$$$$

A newer addition to LA’s bustling French food scene is this neighborhood bistro which joined the formidable fine dining scene in the Downtown Arts District in early 2022. Led by co-chefs Max Boonthanakit and Lijo George, who both trained under chef Alain Ducasse, expect French techniques informed by the pair’s global upbringing and featuring vibrant, Kerala-sourced spices. The 65-seat restaurant and bar transformed the former Nightshade space with white brick walls, marble tabletops, and blue velvet booths, plus bar seating that offers a view into the busy open kitchen. At first glance the menu seems simple, with dishes named plainly, but don’t be fooled by this presentation: for example, the crowd-favorite chicken is slow-roasted, stuffed with chicken thigh mousse, and finished tableside with chicken jus from an antique silver sauce dish. Similarly, the dry-aged Dover Sole is fileted tableside and topped with blanco Grenobloise. Helmed by Kalani Lau, the wine list features picks from Burgundy and across Europe, with bottles that you’re unlikely to find elsewhere in LA.
How to book: Reservations are recommended but walk-ins are accepted.
 

Available for Reservations
Lumière
Photo courtesy of Lumière Brasserie

Lumière

Century City
$$$$

You’ll feel transported to the City of Lights as soon as you step inside the sparkling new Fairmont Century Plaza. Located on the ground level with an outdoor patio garden attached, this traditional brasserie even brought in furniture and fixtures from France to make you really feel like you're dining in an authentic space. The food here combines French technique with local California produce with outstanding results, including what’s perhaps the best French Onion Soup in the city, must-have Chicken Liver Mousse with olive oil jam, Steak Frites, and more. The sprawling indoor-outdoor space also serves breakfast and lunch, and is an ideal spot for after-work drinks with an old-school bar in the center of the restaurant.
How to book: Walk-ins are welcomed, but reservations are recommended.

Available for Reservations
Bicyclette
Photo by Anne Fishbein, courtesy of Bicyclette

Bicyclette

Pico/Robertson
$$$$

Chefs Walter and Margarita Manzke (Republique) debuted this bright, Parisian-inspired bistro mid-pandemic in a warm and lively space off Pico Blvd. Using California ingredients the Manzkes bring classic French cuisine to life, including a must-have caramelized Onion Tarte Tatin and Soft Egg in the Shell, while notable mains include Bouillabaisse fish stew and Steak au Poivre. Save room for chef Margarita's famous desserts and of course, start your meal with her famous baguette with Rodolphe Le Meunier Normandy butter. The wine list spans regions like Burgundy, Provence, Bordeaux, and Rhone Valley, and the cocktail program features a selection of aperitifs, collins, royales, sours, and a few spirit-forward creations. C’est magnifique!
How to book: Walk-ins are welcome, though reservations are highly recommended.

Available for Reservations

Manzke Restaurant

Pico/Robertson
$$$$

Housed above their new-ish Bicyclette Bistro is this experimental tasting concept from chefs Walter and Margarita Manzke. The menu draws influence from the cultural intersections of LA and the greater Southern California region with produce-driven, hyper-seasonal ingredients prepared with classic French techniques. The chic space feels like you’re dining at a French diplomat’s home with olive green walls, hanging copper light fixtures, dark wood tones, and stylish, button-tufted leather banquettes across two floors of seating. The multi-course tasting menu is ever-changing, but recent features have included a Monterey Bay Red Abalone with a generous shaving of black truffles and Japanese Hamachi with passion fruit served in a glimmering clam shell. A sommelier is on hand to guide you to the perfect selection from the restaurant’s expansive cellar and an optional wine pairing is also available.

Available for Reservations

Perle

Pasadena
$$$$

Expect classic French dishes as well as French-Californian interpretations from Michelin-trained chef Dean Yasharian who has previously cooked at Bar Boulud in New York and London. The Parisian bistro in Old Town Pasadena serves up an a la carte menu or a four-course tasting menu which changes bi-weekly. Quintessentially French dishes on the regular menu include a Charcuterie Board with pates and terrines, French Onion Soup, Escargot, and Coq au Vin, while the tasting menu features a crispy Scotch Egg with duck confit and poached Alaskan Halibut, all served in a lively, indoor-outdoor atmosphere off Union Street. There are also separate a la carte and tasting menus for vegetarians. Pair dinner with wines curated by general manager and certified sommelier Lisa Witkowski, who has worked at Petit Trois Le Valley, among other places. Don’t skip out on the dessert, where a Chocolate Souffle and Apple Tarte Tatin shine.

Available for Reservations

Violet Bistro

Westwood
$$$$

Opened just ahead of the pandemic in January 2020, Westwood hasn’t seen a neighborhood hot spot quite like this one in a while. The always busy Violet is a breath of fresh (French) air in the college neighborhood that typically features more casual options. The historic 1930s brick building features a plant-filled patio with string lights and a retractable roof, though there’s plenty of seating on the interior as well. Snag a table before feasting on what they describe as “Cali-French” bistro fare, including a sumac-aleppo-rubbed Provencal Chicken and a daily-rotating quiche dish. A selection of California and French-produced wines are available by the bottle and glass, and a short but worthwhile cocktail menu is also available. The restaurant also has a cooking school to teach you how to make these delectable plates at home.
How to book: Walk-ins are welcomed but reservations are recommended.

Available for Reservations

Perch

Downtown LA
$$$$

Tuck into one of the mismatched garden chairs at this charming, multilevel restaurant that’s known for its rooftop bar and stunning views. The 15th floor dining room and patio is, well, perched over the Downtown LA skyline, with floor-to-ceiling windows on the interior so practically every table has a jaw-dropping view. The dinner menu includes French classics like Moules, Baked Brie, and Little Bunny Frou Frou (rabbit ravioli), but the prix-fixe dinner menus are also worth your attention, with your choice of three or four courses, and featuring popular items like the Fromage and Charcuterie Plate to start and Boeuf Bordelaise as an entree option. Perch is a popular weekend brunch spot, with its own three-course, prix-fixe menu and seasonal fruit sangria offered by the glass or the pitcher.
How to book: Reservations are required — Make a reservation by calling the restaurant at 213-802-1770. Tables booked for 8 pm or later are for the 21 and over crowd.

Available for Reservations
Kendall's Brasserie
Photo courtesy of Kendall's Brasserie

Housed within the Music Center for almost two decades, the restaurant is back after a redesign and redevelopment, with a completely new menu. Inspired by mid-century French art and the iconic blue colors of France, the team brought in local muralist Adrian Kay Wong to revamp the space, which includes streetside patio tables, as well as cozy, velvet-backed booths and bar seating. Expect seasonal, elevated dishes with a focus on French-style cooking, like Brussel Sprouts and Verjus Glaze that features spring pomegranates and apricots with crispy bacon and melted Gruyere, and slow-braised Prime Beef Bourguignon. Full cocktail and mocktail menus are available, as well as a brief wine list.
How to book: Walk-ins are welcomed.

Available for Reservations

Pasjoli

Santa Monica
$$$$

With a moody, industrial chic interior and a streetside deck with hanging plants and string lights, Pasjoli is perfect for a special occasion or date night out. For dinner, award-winning chef Dave Beran presents noteworthy options like an eight-hour braised Pork Shoulder and Gnocchi Parisienne, or try a slew of shareable plates like Caviar, Foie de Poulet, and Demi Baguette with butter. Save room for the classic Chocolate Souffle or Strawberry Tart for dessert. All of the wines come from France and there is even a speciality section featuring six non-alcoholic drinks.

Available for Reservations
Melisse
Melisse Interiors by Wonho Frank Lee

Melisse

Santa Monica
$$$$

Celebrated chef Josiah Citrin’s venerated palace of modern French cuisine and fine dining remains one of the best destinations for (very) special occasions and those with fat wallets. Expect two Michelin star-caliber service as you dig into nine courses that utilize traditional techniques with imaginative flair and local ingredients. Prepare for a night of caviar-topped Beef Tartare, and Corvus Farm’s guinea hen “Peas à la Française" with liver, along with plenty of optional flourishes and a deep wine list. Taking over a portion of the original Mélisse space is younger sister-restaurant Citrin, a modern California restaurant that offers a tasting menu experience or an a la carte menu that features many Mélisse classics and favorite dishes.
How to book: Make sure you have a reservation for Melisse and Citrin. Walk-ins at the Citrin bar are welcomed.

Available for Reservations

Petit Trois

Hollywood and Sherman Oaks
$$$$

With two locations in LA —L’Original Petit Trois is in an unassuming stripmall off Melrose and Highland, and the other Petit Trois Le Valley, occupies a larger space in Sherman Oaks, are both helmed by acclaimed chef Ludo Lefebvre and serve as the pinnacle of French fare. At both locations, you can expect an elevated rendition of the Parisian brasserie experience, with classics like Steak Tartare, Confit-Fried Chicken Leg, Burgundy Escargots, and the best damn omelette you’ll ever eat. A creative cocktail list is on offer, as well as a selection of French-leaning wines available by the bottle or glass.
How to book: Walk-ins are welcomed.

Available for Reservations

A Food Affair

Pico/Robertson
$$$$

Straight out of 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 nearly a decade ago. You’re in good hands here, with modern renditions of French classics served in a moody dining room or on the string-lit patio with umbrellas. Standout dishes include Mushroom Tourte, Roasted Bone Marrow, and Mom's Beef Bourguignon, and are perfectly paired with an extensive wine list featuring mainly French pours with some California wines. There's also a rose and bubbles section as well as sangria, cocktails, international beers, and more. 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.
How to book: Walk-ins are welcomed.

Available for Reservations

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 Steak Tartare or cured French Ham with house butter and baguette, and consider moving on to the Moules Frites or the red wine-braised Short Ribs. The Stella Burger with lettuce, shallot marmalade, Gruyere, and tomato confit is a crowd favorite, especially when served alongside a classic cocktail or one of the wines from their French-leaning list.
How to book: Walk-ins are welcomed but reservations are recommended.

Available for Reservations
Avec Nous
Courtesy of Avec Nous

Avec Nous

Beverly Hills
$$$$

Nestled inside the Beverly Hills' L'Ermitage Hotel, this elegant 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 skipping the meat. You’ll also want to save room for desserts like the classic Amaretto Floating Island, or the Chocolate and Caramélia Mille-Feuille.

Available for Reservations

The Little Door

Beverly Grove
$$$$

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. Celebrate the occasion with an option from their long list of classic cocktails, bubbles, domestic and international wine lists, as well as aperitifs, digestifs, and dessert wines.
How to book: Reservations are required and seating is limited.

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 a mostly-French waitstaff. There’s plenty of hearty comfort fare to be had, 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.
How to book: Reservations are available via Yelp.

République
Photo by Sierra Prescott, courtesy of République

République

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 expansive space with exposed brick and large, front-facing windows is now a stunning, cathedral-like hotspot 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 Beef Tartare or Sonoma Duck Pate en Croute, followed by the Dover Sole a la Meuniere or red-wine Braised Beef Short Ribs (a Korean-inspired rendition of this dish is a staple on the brunch menu as is the Kimchi Fried Rice). 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 pastry chef Margarita Manzke’s amazing baked goodies.
How to book: Walk-ins accepted for breakfast, lunch, and brunch, but reservations are required for dinner.

Available for Reservations

Marvin

Beverly Grove
$$$$

This fun, casual bistro is perfect for grabbing a glass of wine and Steak Tartare at the bar, but can easily serve as a dinner date with options like Steak Frites, Dover Sole, and other great choices on the French-leaning menu. Earlier in the day, you’ll find some excellent brunch options, including the Jamon Tomato Toast and the Asparagus with Fried Egg. For parties larger than nine, food is served family-style for $55 per person, with plates like Ratatouille and Goat Cheese, Meatballs, Roasted Chicken and Fish du Jour on offer. There's also an early evening happy hour from 6-7 pm with $10 wine, $6 beer, and favorites including Mussels, Mac and Cheese, Oysters, and of course Marvin's famous Cheeseburger.
How to book: Reservations are recommended.

Once located Downtown in LA's since-vanished Frenchtown, and having relocated to Echo Park in the 1960s, this nearly century-old institution still serves up hearty French Basque country fare. Grab 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 (on Saturdays only), Braised Lamb Shank (Wednesdays), and Frog Legs, before finishing off the night with Chocolate Mousse or Crème Brûlée. The beloved Echo Park hot spot was even given a historic monument designation in 2021.
How to book: Make a reservation online or by calling the restaurant at 213-484-1265 for Friday and Saturday nights. The more casual lounge and bar take walk-ins on a first-come, first-served basis.

Mistral
Photo courtesy of Mistral

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 paneling, 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.
How to book: Don’t forget to make a reservation — it’s a classic place.

Le Petit Paris

Downtown
$$$$

The spectacular interior of the former El Dorado Hotel lobby here at this Downtown brasserie 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 since you’re there, you might as well stick around for the Crispy Duck Breast, or go big with the Cognac-Flambeed Lobster or Truffle Burger.
How to book: Reservations are recommended.

Available for Reservations
Ramona Saviss is an LA-native who has a finger on the pulse of everything going on in the city.

Danny Jensen is a regular Thrillist contributor. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter.