The Best French Restaurants in Boston Right Now
From traditional mainstays to saucy little bistros, these are the French spots around Boston with that je ne sai quoi.
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French fare is famously difficult to perfect—fortunately, though, Boston’s most talented chefs are up to the task. Whether you’re looking for a no-fuss bistro serving coastal classics or a decadent multi-course extravaganza that doesn’t skimp on the butter, here you’ll find something to please any Francophile. And unlike your recent guilty-pleasure binge of Emily in Paris, these restaurants won’t make you feel embarrassed in front of your French friends.
This bistro from longtime Boston restaurateur Seth Woods may be named after the region in southwestern France that happens to be home to wine mecca, Bordeaux, but Aquitaine is a thoroughly Parisian bistro. Low lighting, burgundy booths, tiled floors, and namesake printed dinnerware make the South End spot quite chic—as does the newly minted outdoor patio, where you can nibble on triple crème fromage with a glass of Fronsac while people-watching under the shade of a striped umbrella. Wherever you take a seat, including at Aquitaine’s suburban location in Chestnut Hill, treat yourself to a hearty meal of duck a l’orange served with parsnip puree and braised kale. Please, though, avoid the risk of embarrassment: Leave the beret at home.
569 Tremont St., Boston, 617-424-8577, aquitaineboston.com.
Whether you want to cozy up with ton amour in a plush, terracotta booth or channel your inner expatriate-era Hemingway quietly musing at the bar, this Lyonnaise bistro tucked in the South End has a seat for you. Jamie Mammano, the award-winning chef behind Boston staples like Mistral and Mooo…., wanted to bring a taste of Eastern France stateside in the form of a petit bouchon. He certainly succeeded: While Bar Lyon may be Mammano’s smallest venture, its menu packs big flavors with its “broken garlic butter”-drenched duck confit on a bed of Lyonnaise potatoes or its classic quenelle de brochet, a delicate pike dumpling swimming in a creamy lobster velouté.
1750 Washington St., Boston, 617-904-4020, barlyon.com.
Bistro du Midi
This Back Bay Provencal-inspired staple perched above the Public Garden may encourage you to sit up a little straighter and double check the buttons on your shirt. Yet, with one swift swoop of a silver table crumber, Bistro du Midi gently brushes aside haughty French waitstaff stereotypes. With their approachable demeanor and eagerness to discuss chef Robert Sisca’s “New England-inspired” French seafood dishes, these pros provide all-star 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 downstairs space to lunch on moules frites while sipping on Sancerre. How does that quote go again? Oh yes, let them eat clams!
272 Boylston St., Boston, 617-279-8000, bistrodumidi.com.
At the corner of avenue de Commonwealth (just kidding, but imagine for a second) and Mass Ave. lies a sleek, modern French restaurant and lounge that draws stylish crowds and even wines and dines the city’s top chefs. Perfect for a fourth or fifth date— you know, when things are getting more serious—Deuxave offers just the right sultry setting and seasonal dishes to help seal the deal. Things may get a little steamy once the 9-hour French onion soup arrives, but chef Christopher Coombs knows how to keep things cool with a rhubarb vacherin plate to round off the night.
371 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, 617-517-5915, deuxave.com.
Come for the crepes and croque monsieurs in the morning, then find yourself sipping an aperitif before a dinner of duck magret at this easy-going South End wine bar. Unsurprisingly, the Parisian-inspired bistro boasts an utterly French menu complete with classics such as coq a vin and steak frites. While you may be tempted to find a perch at the glittering white marble bar, aim for a spot in Frenchie’s glass-enclosed conservatory lit by twinkling bistro lights and pretend you just picked the rose on your table straight from the gardens of your own chateau.
560 Tremont St., Boston, 857-233-5941, frenchieboston.com.
Celebrity chef Jacky Robert moved from France to Boston in the ’70s to help his uncle open the late, legendary Maison Robert. Eventually, though, this fusion cooking pioneer and Maîtres Cuisiniers de France (Master Chefs of France) inductee spawned his own culinary revolution—first in San Francisco, then back in Boston where he opened multiple locations of Petit Robert Bistro. He’s since moved on from those restaurants, and now you’ll find him at Ma Maison, his most traditional and personal dining room. Adorned with silver trays, wine bottles, and white tablecloths, the homey Beacon Hill charmer is the picture-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 iconic Boston chef Barbara Lynch’s restaurant collective, Menton is her crème de la crème. Named for a quaint French town on the Cote d’Azur near the Italian border, Menton is a love letter to both French and Italian cuisines and wines. Have a chat with the sommelier, get comfortable at one of Menton’s rustic provincial tables, and prepare yourself for a luxurious meal of foie gras torchon and cappelletti topped with A-5 wagyu beef. Or, perhaps, let Lynch—a James Beard Award-winner and Relais & Châteaux Grand Chef—whisk you away with her Chef’s Whim menu.
354 Congress St., Boston, 617-737-0099, mentonboston.com.
The first, and arguably, most famous Jamie Mammano production has been serving some of Boston’s finest French-Mediterranean cuisine since 1997. Named for the wind that blows through the South of France, Mistral helped move the center of buzz in Boston’s dining scene to the Back Bay-South End borderline when it opened. Since then, the whole city has exploded—yet Mistral remains in vogue thanks to its delicate balancing of flavors. See the robust dried cherry gastrique drizzled over seared foie gras or the warm, buttery lemon caper sauce poured over delicate dover sole. A single meal may max out much of your rainy-day fund, but c’est la vie.
223 Columbus Ave., Boston, 617-867-9300, mistralbistro.com.
Petit Robert Bistro
If you ignore the peek-a-boo view of the Prudential Center behind the church across the street, you can almost imagine that this South End bistro is parked right by Notre Dame. Petit Robert is the perfect place to live out your French fantasy—and contemplate which Parisian arrondissement would suit you best—while digging into foie de veau Lyonnaise topped with caramelized onions or fragrant mushroom risotto with sage brown butter. 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 might roll your eyes at the ultra-trendy influencers who flock to this Back Bay spot just to snap selfies over glasses of rosé. But try not to hold that against Rochambeau, which delivers—and at a reasonable price point—on fine French-inspired food served with a side of flash. There’s certainly frisky energy to the place, starting with the Art Nouveau-inspired architecture and mid-century modern millennial pink chairs. Bring a crowd, pop some bubbly, order lots of hors d’oeuvres, and dive into some Parisian truffle gnocchi and crispy pommes frites accordingly.
900 Boylston St., Boston, 617-247-0400, rochambeauboston.com.
Troquet on South
When this cozy French-New American bistro moved from its Boylston Street location to a much roomier space in the Leather District, Bostonians breathed a collective sigh of relief. Now everyone has the space to lean into a laissez-faire mindset and order as much wine as they please off owner-sommelier Chris Campbell’s award-winning list. Besides the magnifique beverage options, Troquet on South offers new takes on French staples with dishes like its melt-in-your-mouth pork trio, served with sun-dried tomato pain perdu, 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 bound to satisfy.
107 South St., Boston, 617-695-9463, troquetboston.com.