The 21 best French restaurants in America

March 9, 2016
By: Ruth Tobias and Time Out editors

Looking for a mind-blowing French restaurant? We’ve rounded up the best French restaurants in America, for haute cuisine and beyond.

You've been through America’s best burgers. And the country’s best pizza. (And, yes, we think you’ve probably downed a few tacos at the best Mexican restaurants in the U.S.) Now it’s time to get fancy with French. But French stateside is a little different than it used to be. What’s the difference between your average upscale French restaurant and its New American counterpart today? Judging by their repertoires these days, the answer is not much other than “whatever the chef says it is”—which is fair enough. First, fine dining was and is built on the foundations of haute cuisine, perfected at fine French restaurants. Second, several decades ago, haute cuisine itself underwent a shift, bringing local ingredients and global influences to bear on classical technique. Whether preaching tradition or moving the conversation forward, these 21 restaurants speak with passion and authority to the idea that French cooking is our universal heritage. They are the best French restaurants in America, and you want to be eating in them.

Restaurant August
There may be no bolder, more commanding interpreter of the French legacy in New Orleans than visionary chef-restaurateur John Besh, whose own legacy begins with the aptly named August. Occupying a historic (and, some say, haunted) former tobacco warehouse in the Central Business District, his celebrated, elegantly appointed flagship stresses the Gallic accent on Louisiana Creole cookery—and vice-versa—with a regularly changing menu that ranges from smoked local redfish rillettes to Sauternes-poached pear with fried cornmeal pudding (though the blue crab-and-black truffle gnocchi has graced the menu since opening day back in 2001). The superb wine list displays its own brand of Creole as a mixture of Old and New World bottles, but Burgundy’s a (very) strong suit.