While New York and San Francisco may seem like the obvious French-forward cities in America, Houston actually has quite a lot to—quite literally—bring to the table. From bakeries and boulangeries to bistros and sophisticated dining options abound, this Texas-based city has a whole lot to offer those with an affinity for French gastronomy; however, as always, knowing which spots to scope out is key. Check out our top five French-focused, Houston-based establishments, as well as a short list of bonus options, here.
Étoile Cuisine et Bar
1101-11 Uptown Park Blvd, Houston, TX 77056
Located in Uptown Park, Étoile Cuisine et Bar may just be the best French-focused option in all of Houston; just one look at the name alone and it’s pretty evident that something deliciously French-forward is cooking up behind the front doors. Founded by Master Chef Philippe Verpiand and Monica Bui, this sophisticated-yet-accessible establishment offers a modern twist on French cuisine, while sticking true to a number of regional traditions. Starters range from soupe à l'oignon, escargots de Bourgogne, and tartare de boeuf, followed by heartier mains such as moules marinières, pavé de saumon rôti, and coq au vin, as well as cuisse de canard confit and entrecôte de boeuf. Étoile’s well-executed menu is complemented by a French-heavy (though not entirely French) wine list, with a number of exquisite Champagne options available by the bottle—as well as a number of equally exciting (and back-vintage) dessert wine options. For Francophiles and foodies alike, Étoile Cuisine et Bar is simply a must visit.
2435 Rice Boulevard, Houston, TX 77005
There are a number of reasons to love Croissant-Brioche—including its bustling Rice Village location and relatively low prices—though what really struck a chord with our Taste France Magazine team is the bakery’s superb attention to authenticity. Contrary to the many dense and flavorless croissants that flood the market, Croissant-Brioche’s concoctions strike the perfect balance between buttery and flakey, and their oversized portions are certainly nothing to complain about. For those craving something a bit heartier, the shop offers the option to stuff your croissant with a variety of sweet or savory fillings, including meats, jams, and other delicious accompaniments. Beyond its namesake pastry, Croissant-Brioche also serves up a number of traditional French items, including cream puffs and Napoleon, as well as savory soups, quiches, and more. Best of all? The free coffee refills for those enjoying their culinary delights on site.
3201 Louisiana St, Houston, TX 77006
As implied by the restaurant’s logo, Artisans two main focuses are the kitchen and savoir-faire—two subjects of which Chef Jacques Fox knows a thing or two about. Born in North Africa and raised in France, Fox developed an interest in cooking from a young age. After training at the College d’Enseignement Techniques in Tulle, he worked across numerous kitchens in Paris before expanding his skills around the world with Club Med, which took him to places such as Israel, Greece, Haiti, the Maldives, and more. In 2010, Fox ultimately collaborated with David and Sylvain Denis to create Artisans Restaurant, which officially opened two years later. Today, the Midtown Houston spot is regarded for its elevated French fare, which can be enjoyed à la carte or via tasting menus both for lunch and dinner. Expect classic favorites such as foie gras, noix de Saint-Jacques, and homemade lobster soup to start, followed by bouillabaisse, roast chicken with lobster tail, boeuf bourguignon, seared lamb, and more. Be sure to save room for dessert — the apple tarte tatin and millefeuille au feuilletage caramélisé are truly little slices of heaven.
Bistro Le Cep
11112 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77042
Although many French-focused spots have opened in Houston over the last few years, Bistro Le Cep has been a staple in the city since 2001. Founded by Oved Salmeron, the restaurant’s mission is to mesh high-quality food with meticulous know-how—and the proof is in the delicious bites served up in this rustic-yet-homey ambiance. Bistro Le Cep highlights seasonal ingredients and flavors through rotating their menu a few times per year, and multiple course options (two or three) are offered for both lunch and dinner. Current highlights include salade du jardinier, pâté de canard, and suprême de volaille aux champignons des bois, as well as lapin aux haricots verts, côte de porc, and canard à l’orange. Wash whatever you fancy down with a glass of tasty French wine and you’ll be on your way to reliving your favorite French bistro memories in no time.
2442 Times Blvd, Houston, TX 77005
Wine lovers, listen up. If you’re looking for one of the best places to get your French eating and drinking game on, Café Rabelais is where it's at. Located in Rice Village, this iconic French establishment boasts a list of over 600 wines, which promise to pair perfectly with the restaurant’s seasonally-focused fare. The restaurant was founded by Christophe Paul back in 2000, and over two decades later, continues to capture the hearts of food-and-wine-loving locals and visitors alike. Escargots, sautéed mushrooms, baked bone marrow, and duck paté en croûte are just a few of the café’s signature, savory starters, which promise only to be outshone by the restaurant’s incredibly executed main courses, including salade de chèvre chaud, truite amandine, cassoulet aux trois viandes, stuffed quail with mushrooms, and roasted rack of lamb. Over 10 wines are poured by the glass at all times, meaning the joint’s food and wine pairing options are more than aplenty.
Bouchée Pâtisserie - 1600 W Loop S, Houston, TX 77027
Modern twist on classic French treats served up alongside classic American favorites and robust tea menu, spearheaded by an award-winning pastry chef
Mademoiselle Louise - 1725 Main St #1, Houston, TX 77002
French-inspired bakery located Downtown, beloved for authentic French desserts and unique twists on classic croissants
Brasserie du Parc - 1440 Lamar St, Houston, TX 77010
Elevated French cuisine plus crêpes, wine, and craft cocktails, located on the ground floor of a luxury building Downtown
French Riviera Bakery Cafe - 3100 Chimney Rock Rd Ste B, Houston, TX 77056
Family owned-and-operated breakfast / lunch joint serving pastries, sandwiches, and bread for almost 50 years
Magnol French Baking - 1500 N Post Oak Rd, Houston, TX 77055
Organic French bakery known for breads, pastries, and desserts located on Post Oak Road
Bistro 555 - 13616 Memorial Dr, Houston, TX 77079
Charming French bistro serving up hearty, classic dishes in a warm, cozy ambiance on Houston’s west side