Boston’s best French restaurants right now
From traditional pillars to naughty little bistros, these are the French places around Boston with that I do not know what.
French cuisine is known to be difficult to perfect. Fortunately, Boston’s most talented chefs are up to the task. Whether you’re looking for a no-frills bistro serving coastal classics or a decadent multi-course extravaganza that doesn’t skimp on butter, you’ll find something to appeal to any Francophile here. And unlike your recent frenzy of guilty pleasure Emilie in Paris, these restaurants will not embarrass you in front of your French friends.
This bistro by longtime Boston restaurateur Seth Woods may be named after the region in southwestern France that’s home to the wine mecca, Bordeaux, but Aquitaine is an entirely Parisian bistro. Dim lighting, burgundy booths, tiled floors, and printed crockery of the same name make the South End place quite chic, as does the newly created outdoor patio, where you can nibble on triple cream cheese with a glass of Fronsac. while looking at people under the shade of a striped umbrella. Wherever you settle down, including the Aquitaine suburb of Chestnut Hill, indulge in a hearty meal of duck a l’orange served with mashed parsnips and braised kale. Please, however, avoid the risk of embarrassment: leave the beret at home.
569, rue Tremont, Boston, 617-424-8577, aquitaineboston.com.
Whether you want to reassure yourself with ton of love in a lavish terracotta cabin or channel your inner Hemingway from the expat era quietly daydreaming at the bar, this Lyon bistro tucked away in the South End has a place for you. Jamie Mammano, the award-winning chef behind Boston staples like Mistral and Mooo…., Wanted to bring a taste of eastern France in the form of a little Cork. He has certainly succeeded: while Bar Lyon is perhaps Mammano’s smallest business, its menu is full of flavors with its duck confit soaked in “broken garlic butter” on a bed of Lyon potatoes or its classic pike quenelle, a delicate pike dumpling swimming in a creamy, velvety lobster base.
1750 Washington St., Boston, 617-904-4020, barlyon.com.
Bistro du Midi
This Provencal-inspired Back Bay staple perched above the public garden may make you sit a little straighter and check your shirt buttons. Yet with a quick swipe of a silver table piece, the Bistro du Midi gently dispels the haughty stereotypes of French waiters. With their approachable demeanor and eagerness to discuss Chef Robert Sisca’s “New England-inspired” French seafood dishes, these professionals deliver high-quality service to match the stellar menu. Expect to feast on foie gras and bouillabaisse in the elegant upstairs dining room or visit the more relaxed space downstairs for lunch on mussels and fries while sipping Sancerre. How is this quote going? Oh yes, they eat clams!
272 Boylston St., Boston, 617-279-8000, bistrodumidi.com.
Around the corner of Commonwealth Avenue (just kidding, but imagine for a second) and Mass Avenue is a sleek and modern French restaurant and lounge that draws stylish crowds and even wines and dine on the best chefs in the world. city. Perfect for a fourth or fifth date – you know, when the going gets tough – Deuxave offers the right sultry setting and seasonal dishes to help seal the deal. Things can get a little scorching once the 9am French Onion Soup arrives, but Chef Christopher Coombs knows how to keep things cool with a plate of rhubarb vacherin to end the night.
371 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, 617-517-5915, deuxave.com.
Come enjoy pancakes and croque-monsieurs in the morning, then find yourself sipping an aperitif before a dinner of duck breast at this laid-back South End wine bar. Unsurprisingly, the Parisian-inspired bistro offers a totally French menu with classics such as coq a vin and steak frites. While you might be tempted to find a perch at the glittering white marble bar, aim for a spot in Frenchie’s glass-fronted veranda lit by twinkling bistro lights and pretend you’ve just plucked the rose from your table right in the gardens of your own castle.
560 Tremont St., Boston, 857-233-5941, frenchieboston.com.
Celebrity chef Jacky Robert left France for Boston in the 1970s to help his uncle open the late and legendary Maison Robert. Ultimately, however, this pioneer of fusion cuisine and Master chefs of France (Maîtres Cuisiniers de France) inductee spawned his own culinary revolution, first in San Francisco, then back in Boston where he opened several Petit Robert Bistro locations. He has since left those restaurants and you will now find him at Ma Maison, his most traditional and personal dining room. Adorned with silver platters, wine bottles and white tablecloths, the charming charming Beacon Hill is the perfect setting to dine on beef bourguignon, frog legs and other classics.
272 Cambridge St., Boston, 617-725-8855, mamaisonboston.com.
When it comes to Boston chef Barbara Lynch’s iconic restaurant collective, Menton is its crème de la crème. Named after a quaint French town on the French Riviera near the Italian border, Menton is a love letter for French and Italian cuisines and wines. Chat with the sommelier, make yourself comfortable at one of Menton’s rustic provincial tables, and get ready for a luxurious meal of dishcloth of foie gras and cappelletti topped with A-5 wagyu beef. Or, perhaps, let Lynch, winner of a James Beard Award and Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux, whisk you away with her Chef’s Whim menu.
354 Congress Street, Boston, 617-737-0099, mentonboston.com.
The first, and arguably the most famous of Jamie Mammano’s productions, has been serving one of the best Franco-Mediterranean cuisines in Boston since 1997. The Back Bay-South End border when it opened. Since then, the whole city has exploded, but the Mistral remains in vogue thanks to its delicate balance of flavors. Admire the robust gastric with dried cherries drizzled with pan-seared foie gras or the hot caper and lemon and butter sauce poured over a delicate Dover sole. A single meal can use up a large chunk of your funds for rainy days, but that’s life.
223 Columbus Ave., Boston, 617-867-9300, mistralbistro.com.
Bistro Petit Robert
If you ignore the peek-a-boo sight of the Prudential Center behind the church across the street, you can almost imagine this South End bistro is parked right next to Notre Dame. Le Petit Robert is the perfect place to live out your French fantasy – and contemplate which Parisian arrondissement would suit you best – while enjoying a Lyonnaise veal liver garnished with caramelized onions or a risotto flavored with mushrooms and hazelnut butter with sage. The church bells will ring as you raise a glass of Sauvignon Blanc to your adventurous (and very well-fed) alter ego.
480 Columbus Ave., Boston, 617-867-0600, petitrobertbistro.com.
You could roll your eyes at the ultra-trendy influencers flocking to this Back Bay spot just to take selfies over a glass of rosé. But try not to blame Rochambeau, which offers – and at a reasonable price – fine French-inspired cuisine served with a flash edge. There is certainly a dashing energy to the place, starting with the Art Nouveau-inspired architecture and the millennial pink mid-century modern chairs. Bring a crowd, pop bubbles, order plenty of appetizers, and dive into Parisian truffle gnocchi and crispy French fries to match.
900 Boylston St., Boston, 617-247-0400, rochambeauboston.com.
Troquet to the south
When this cozy French-New-American bistro moved from its Boylston Street location to a much larger space in the Leather District, Bostonians heaved a collective sigh of relief. Now everyone has the space to lean into a laissez-faire mindset and order as much wine as they want from owner-sommelier Chris Campbell’s award-winning list. Besides the Magnificent drink options, Troquet on South offers new take on French staples with dishes like its trio of melting pork, served with sundried tomato French toast, as well as its Russian-inspired salmon coulibiac. If you want the full royal treatment, opt for Chef Tyler Stout’s four-course tasting menu, which is sure to keep you satisfied.
107 South Street, Boston, 617-695-9463, troquetboston.com.