French food might not dominate the Dallas dining scene like it once did, but it's still going strong. From light-as-air soufflés to coq au vin and steak frites, the city can be a Francophile’s paradise–provided you know where to look.
And one of the best places to start is on Lower Greenville Avenue at The Grape. This cozy bistro has been dishing up French classics (think grilled beef tournedos and roasted chicken) for over 40 years to much success.
Over in the Oak Lawn, you'll find Parigi (meaning Paris in Italian)– a popular neighborhood spot, that even three decades in, remains just a good as ever. Perhaps it's because this place successfully combines great food with good booze and terrific hospitality.
In the mood for a soufflé? Then you're in luck at Rise, where you can get stuck in to a menu devoted to this puffed up French classic.
Locals have been flocking to Mercat Bistro for a French fix ever since it opened in Uptown back in 2013. This place serves all the classic hits, from charcuterie to veal sweet breads and steak frites. It also cranks out a killer menu for brunch and lunch. The croque madame here is definitely not to be missed.
But wait, there's more: From upscale restaurants to classic bistros, here are ten of the best spots to get your feast on French style. Bon appétit.
Photo courtesy of Instagram User Brittany Smith
Continually packed with Dallas' well-heeled happy-hour crowd, this New York offshoot has atmosphere in spades. Even if the food wasn't good, folks would still be coming here for late-night drinks and leisurely afternoons out on the terrace. But luckily the food is good too. On the menu, expect to find excellent renditions of French hits in the form of grass-fed steak tartare, saffron suffused mussels, duck breast a l'orange, pan seared branzino and Moroccan spiced rack of lamb. Cocktails are a must. And so is weekend brunch, which is also much easier on the wallet if you're pinching pennies. Don't miss the brioche French toast dipped in crème brûlée. Speaking of crème brûlée, it's a solid pick for dessert. So is the floating island. Be sure to book ahead.
Recommended for French because: Le Bilboquet is the best the best spot to hit when you want to be part of the "it" crowd.
Ilene's expert tip: Brunch-fiends take note: One Saturday a month, Le Bilboquet offers a DJ brunch, but you need to sign up on the website to get all the details.
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Photo courtesy of Cadot Restaurant Instagram
This polished Far North Dallas bistro is widely loved for its seamless service and consistently delicious food. Not only that, everything is sensibly priced, especially considering the quality of the offerings. The restaurant belongs to long-time chef Jean-Marie Cadot, whose culinary lineage includes stints in Dallas' top French restaurants as well as several of Paris' Michelin star establishments. The menu majors in boldly flavored French hits such as duck terrine, escargot and coq au vin. If you're feeling carnivorous, you can't go wrong with Cadot's flat-iron steak, it's served with peppercorn sauce and crispy frites. Elsewhere on the list, you'll find modern American options like watermelon salad with candied ginger and blackened Ahi tuna with quinoa. They even give a nod to Italy with the likes of gnocchi and veal scaloppini. Pace yourself for dessert, there's everything from profiteroles to crème brûlée and soufflé. When you're in the mood for some old-school ooh-la-la brasserie fare, this is the place to be.
Recommended for French because: If you want a beautiful and classic French meal without having to break the bank, Cadot is where you want to go.
Ilene's expert tip: Cadot offers happy hour Monday – Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. with drink specials served on the patio and in the bar.
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Lavendou Bistro Provencal
Photo courtesy of Lavendou Bistro Provencal Facebook
Don't let the strip mall locale fool you. Pascal Cayet's romantic, brick-walled gem wins fans for its friendly staff, terrific food and reasonable prices. And it's been kicking it up Provençale style since 1996. The menu features a roster of French hits, ranging from mussels in saffron cream, foie gras terrine and lobster bisque to rack of lamb, roasted duck and grilled tilapia Provencal.
The steak au poivre (cracked-pepper-crusted steak with cognac cream sauce) is out of this world. So are the desserts. Folks rave about the soufflés, but it's hard to pass up the crème brûlée. It might just be one of the best renditions in town. Oh, and did we mention that there's a daily rotating prix fixe, three-course menu (lunch only) that's a steal for only $18.95?
Recommended for French because: If you fancy a taste of the South of France, Lavendou has it covered.
Ilene's expert tip: Lavendou serves a French-style high tea Monday to Saturday, from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The menu includes finger sandwiches, mini pastries and scones for $18.95.
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St. Martin's Wine Bistro
Photo courtesy of St. Martin's Wine Bistro
Often billed as one of the most romantic restaurants in Dallas, this much-loved neighborhood stalwart oozes old-fashioned glamour with its dimly-lit Victorian decor, intimate little nooks and a menu that shines with comforting, Francophile classics. Expect old school bistro-style dishes to cover everything from escargots to beef tartar, lobster thermidor and roasted duck. Not to be missed is the champagne brie soup, it's legendary. Equally impressive is a wine list that includes over 150 bottles from around the globe, many of which are priced at less than $50. There's also an extensive selection available by the glass too. End with one of the souffles, they never fail to impress. Keep an eye out for the three-course set menus, which can usually be found during weekend brunch and on holidays.
Recommended for French because: St. Martin's is arguably one of the most romantic bistros in town, it also offers terrific live piano music every night and during Sunday brunch.
Ilene's expert tip: Be sure to check St. Martin's Facebook page for happy hours, wine tastings and special dining deals.
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Bishop Arts District
Photo courtesy of Boulevardier
Veer off the beaten path from the main Bishop Arts dining area to find this lively rustic bistro serving delicious Gallic specialties to a packed house every night. You're sure to find all of your favorites like beef tartar and steak and frites, but there are also other dishes here that merit a try. Everyone raves over chef Nathan Tate's fluffy crawfish beignets that come with a smoked pimentón aioli drizzled over the top. There's also a bouillabaisse made ever so flavorful by its rich lobster saffron broth. A casual, yet chic decor comes complete with exposed brick, hardwoods, a stunning wrap around bar and cozy, convivial dining areas. A creative craft cocktail program and an affordable wine list with 14 options by the glass contribute to Boulevardier's "trés sympa" vibe.
Recommended for French because: Boulevardier serves up the best bouillabaisse this side of the Atlantic.
Ilene's expert tip: Boulevardier has a great happy hour every Wednesday with $1.95 East Coast oysters, $.50 Gulf oysters, $6 house cocktails and $9 glasses of champagne.
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Photo courtesy of Parigi
Comfortably chic with a bustling atmosphere and a friendly vibe to match, Parigi (meaning Paris in Italian) is a cozy neighborhood bistro, that even three decades in, remains as popular as ever. Owner and chef Janice Provost deals in delicious platefuls of seasonal ingredients from which she mostly sources from local farmers and purveyors. The menu, with its Italian, American and French influences– is a frequently changing list that takes in everything from starters such as deconstructed California rolls (a fan fave) and garlicky escargot to grilled fish, lamb T-bones, roasted chicken and even gourmet pizzas. To finish, the chocolate glob, a mainstay on the menu since it opened, is as decadent and gooey as it sounds. Do try to take a seat on the tiered sidewalk patio, it's the ideal place to sip a glass of bubbly or one of Parigi's signature cocktails.
Recommended for French because: Parigi is an ever-popular bistro with friendly staff, good cooking, reasonable prices and a terrific wine list.
Ilene's expert tip: Parigi serves an awesome brunch as well. Just make sure to reserve before you come or be prepared to wait for a table, the restaurant is small and always busy.
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Toulouse Cafe and Bar
Photo courtesy of Toulouse Cafe and Bar
With its fin-de-siécle decor and all the de rigueur trappings of a proper bistro–Café Toulouse would sit just as comfortably on the Left Bank of Paris (or perhaps in the center of Toulouse) as it does in Dallas. From weekend brunch to all-day lunch and late night dinners–the menu encompasses all the Gallic classics, from charcuterie, steak tartare and croque monsieurs to frog legs, duck confit and bouillabaisse. Mussels are a big draw here and there's several ways to have them. The ones with jalapeño, ginger and shiitake mushrooms are delicious. The mile-high chocolate soufflé is also a must, be sure to order it in advance. Do try to snag a seat on the terrace– it's the best spot to catch all the action along the Katy Trail.
Recommended for French because: Toulouse Cafe not only serves good food, it also offers one of the most French-cafe-like experiences in Dallas.
Ilene's expert tip: Sign up for Toulouse's emails so you can receive special offers for free food on your birthday and wedding anniversary. And keep an eye out for monthly wine pairing dinners too.
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Photo courtesy of The Grape
With its cozy, rustic surrounds, seamless service and sensibly priced repertoire of smartly executed bistro cuisine, it's easy to see why this Greenville Avenue fixture has enjoyed an enduring appeal for over four decades. In addition to a chalkboard filled with nightly specials, the menu takes a spin through Gallic greats, such as housemade charcuterie, moules frites, steak frites and roasted chicken. And it also includes hits like braised lamb tartines topped with onion jam and an onion soup that's out of this world. Speaking of hits, The Grape's signature cheeseburger (only offered on Sunday and Monday) was named best in the state by Texas Monthly. The reasonably priced wine list is of a caliber to match the food and includes around two dozen options by the glass. Be sure to save room for desserts, the chocolate terrine is simply irresistible.
Recommended for French because: The Grape offers amazing bistro fare at an equally amazing price point–no wonder the place has been a Dallas mainstay of over four decades.
Ilene's expert tip: Along with monthly wine tastings and weekly specials, The Grape offers happy hour Monday through Friday with discounted wine, cocktails, beer and bar snacks. Check the website under menus for hours and details.
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Rise No. 1
West Lovers Lane
Photo courtesy of Rise No. 1
It's a rarity to find soufflé on a restaurant menu these days, much less a place boasting a menu almost entirely devoted to this puffed up French classic. Enter Rise, a rustic French-inspired bistro showcasing ethereal soufflés in versions both savory and sweet. You could easily come here for dessert alone, but then you might miss out on things like the restaurant's signature marshmallow soup, a tomato carrot bisque topped with pesto and tiny goat cheese soufflés. Or soufflés made with everything from jambon and Gruyere to lobster and foie gras. There's also non-soufflé options like salads, sandwiches, and even steak frites. And good luck choosing which decadent dessert to try. Of course, there are items like creme brulee and fruit tartes. But this place is all about soufflés. The chocolate mint one is undoubtedly the best. So is the pumpkin. Oh, and don't miss Rise's violet soufflé, it will have you swooning as much as it did for the folks who featured it on Food Network's The Best Thing I Ever Ate.
Recommended for French because: Rise is one of the best places to indulge in souffles in Dallas.
Ilene's expert tip: Rise accepts reservations for parties of 5 or more.
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Photo courtesy of Mercat Bistro
If you want somewhere more French than this Uptown eatery, you'll need to hop a flight over to Paris.
And though it bills itself as a European contemporary bistro–everything about Mercat– from the menu items scrawled across the mirrors over the bar to the snug marble tabletops and charming retro decor is decidedly and gloriously Gallic. And ditto for most of the offerings, which run the gamut from charcuterie, steak tartare and salad Lyonnaise to grilled branzino and cote de boeuf. That's not to mention the sinfully delicious croques and burgers that can be had during lunch. Or the house-made pastries and lobster eggs Benedict they crank out for breakfast and brunch. And of course, you can't miss the desserts either. There's a shooter tray, with tiramisu, chocolate mousse, lemon curd custard and white chocolate panna cotta– that's calling your name.
Recommended for French because: Mercat Bistro is where you can get a French fix for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Ilene's expert tip: Check out the event calendar on the website to find out about weekly specials. And note that there's live music on Monday and Friday evenings.
Read more about Mercat Bistro →