French Restaurants in Philadelphia: The Ultimate Guide

Where to go when you crave braised meat, red wine, lots of cheese and all the butter.

Snacks at the bar in Forsythia. Photograph by Michael Persico

Before, almost every fancy restaurant in America was French, but these days we’re just as likely to splash out on an Israeli or Thai meal as we are over a decidedly French meal. In fact, it’s getting harder and harder to find classic French restaurants that don’t have some sort of new American or modern twist. But we still have a few places in Philly, and it’s their season: the colder months are when we crave braised meats, red wine, and onion gratin. These are the places we head to when those cravings strike.

June, Collingswood
Rich Cusack opened in June in a small space on East Passyunk Avenue in late 2019, but the restaurant, while excellent, was unable to escape the terror of COVID. Cusack tries again, now in a slightly larger space in Collingswood. It’s old-fashioned French cuisine – like roasted venison, pig’s trotters (yes, that’s pig’s trotters) and duck breast roasted in red wine. June is the type of restaurant that revels in the long gone traditions of French cuisine, but makes them all feel new. Sort of.

Bistro La Minette, Queen’s Village
Le Bistrot la Minette is the epitome of the authentic French bistro experience: Beouf bourguignon, steak tartare, a crispy baguette with lots of butter, professional service, and of course, several glasses of wine.

Park, Rittenhouse
Let’s be honest: Philadelphians don’t correct I love Parc for its food. We love it for its vibe straight out of Paris, its exaggerated seafood tower, and its lovely, comfortable sidewalk seats where we can sit for hours and people watch.

Royal Butcher, Old City
Everyone wants Royal Boucherie to be in their neighborhood. Either way, their Gruyere burger is just as satisfying as their fancy dishes: foie gras terrine, lobster cocktail, and bay scallops in red wine. Ah, and the bar? Excellent cocktails, delicious wines and no fuss in sight.

Forsythia, Old City
Chef Christopher Kearse has started again with Forsythia, an upscale French restaurant that’s a step above his little BYOB, Will. It’s a more glitzy space with a full bar program, luxurious service, and a constantly changing seasonal menu. And a great happy hour to boot.

Tavern of the good king, Queen’s Village
The Good King Tavern manages to be one of our favorite restaurants and one of our favorite bars at the same time. The menu is extensive, classic cuisine that always seems to have a surprise or two in store (a recent visit cemented the humble radishes with butter as their favorite dish in recent months). Upstairs, you’ll find Le Caveau, a moody wine bar with Parisian hot dogs on the menu.

Creperie Beaumonde, Queen’s Village
An absolutely adorable French cafe that offers savory crêpes stuffed with cheese and French ham, and sweet crêpes brushed with Nutella or stuffed with baked pears.

Cafe Caribou, Downtown
French cuisine doesn’t have to be fancy, and Caribou Cafe knows it and shows it with a laid-back bistro experience. Choose from their $ 20 two-course lunch menu or their $ 39 three-course menu, and enjoy a great salad, steak fries, and profiteroles for an incredibly affordable and satisfying meal.

Louie louie, University town
Louie Louie has just about everything you could ask for: lots of seafood, a very cheesy French onion soup, duck confit and crème brûlée. They also happen to serve French toast with crème brûlée at brunch, which isn’t traditional in itself, but it’s absolutely delicious.

Spring mill coffee, Conshohocken
In this 19th century post office transformed into a general store, the Spring Mill Cafe has a quintessentially French country vibe and an assorted menu. Rabbit braised in white wine, pork chop topped with white buerre, and a so, so, so much pâté.

Laurel, Passyunk East
Is Laurel a strictly French restaurant? No. Nick Elmi draws his inspiration wherever he hears it. But his training is clearly French. He ran the kitchen at Bec Fin and worked in French restaurants around the world before opening Laurel. You won’t find a la carte duck confit here, but the French fond is there if you are looking for it.

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