New York City boasts no shortage of French establishments—however, not all bistros and boulangeries are created equal. While finding a buttery croissant or crusty loaf of bread isn’t exactly difficult, seeking out authentic iterations of these culinary delights—and French delicacies beyond these traditional staples—is key. Not sure where to look? We’ve got your back. Check out our top five French establishments for pastries, wine, and savory meals in Manhattan, here.
115 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003
Few French bakeries hold a candle to Le Fournil. Founded by Normandy-born Jean-François Hebert in 2020, this traditional boulangerie is located in the city’s East Village neighborhood (Second Avenue between 6th and 7th Streets) in the former space of Moishe’s. After spending a decent part of his childhood in his grandfather’s French bakery, Hebert toyed with the idea of starting his own business. After taking the plunge and moving abroad—as well as cutting his teeth at a few French restaurants—Hebert officially opened Le Fournil just before the pandemic. However, while other businesses’ doors shuttered, Hebert’s new bakery thrived—and upon first taste of his world-class bread and pastries, you’ll see why. Le Fournil offers a variety of handmade breads, from traditional baguettes to more intricate loaves, as well as a number of croissants, pastries, and mini cookies. During the holidays, seasonal delicacies are also produced on-site (for example, the classic bûche de noel at Christmas is unmissable). However, it’s the simple-yet-meticulous mastery of the traditional day-to-day items that makes Le Fournil so great. Bonus: We were lucky enough to sit down with Jean-François in 2021 to hear his story and learn his go-to method for baking bread. To try your hand at Jean-François’ grandfather’s baguette recipe, click here.
Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels
249 Centre St, New York, NY 10013
Although the original Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels is located in Paris proper, dare we say that the New York outpost feels just as—if not, even more—French than the OG? Located on Centre Street in what is now deemed Little Paris, this dimly lit wine bar is the perfect place to indulge all of your French wine and snack cravings. While the encyclopedia-like list boasts references from all over the world, the bar’s French wine section is undoubtedly its most expansive, offering everything from natural wines to Grower Champagne to high-end bottles from sought-after producers. The kitchen, which is spearheaded by talented chef Eric Bolyard, offers everything from bite-sized snacks (think olives and popcorn) to cheese and charcuterie boards, gooey French Onion grilled cheese, and heartier plates, including asparagus and charred little gem, roasted prawns, and “super” French beef tartare. Perhaps the least French thing about the bar is the spot’s unbelievable emphasis on hospitality—no rude servers here! The welcoming team of young sommeliers promises to lead you to the perfect bottle, no matter what your budget may be. Pro tip: Sit outside and enjoy your vin al fresco for an even more French-inspired feel.
249 Park Ave S, New York, NY 10003
For traditional French bistro favorites, there’s no better place to head than L’Express. Situated on Park Avenue South, this Lyonnais-inspired bouchon serves up classic French fare, including steak tartare, escargots, frogs’ legs, and Merguez sausages—and those are only the appetizers. For main courses, expect traditional dishes like croque monsieur / madame, mussels marinière, and steak frites to grace the menu. Vegetarians, worry not—a number of hearty salads, including endive au roquefort, salade niçoise, and frisée aux lardons topped with a perfectly poached egg are also available, along with a handful of pastas and fish dishes. L’Express charming, bistro-inspired décor is perfectly executed, and also promises to bring you back to casual, wine-laden meals in France. Best of all, the spot is open 24/7—meaning whether your craving for something French strikes at breakfast, lunch, or dinner, this all-day bistro has your back.
37 Canal St, New York, NY 10002
Le Dive is one of the newest—and most authentic—French places to hit the NYC wine scene. Inspired by the casual atmospheres of traditional French tabacs, this Canal Street-based bar serves up natural wines and simple small plates, all crafted to bring guests back to their favorite memories of Boulevard Saint-Germain. Spearheaded by Jon Neidich of The Nines and Le Crocodile, Le Dive’s trendy atmosphere and simple-yet-well-curated menu promise to please a variety of palates. The bar offers 9-12 wines by the glass regularly, hailing from not just France but all over Europe. Current French selections include Domaine Saint-Cyr Beaujolais, Valérie Forgues’ Pineau d’Aunis, and Nicolas Reau 'Attention Chenin Méchant' Chenin Blanc. Small bites include mushroom paté, marinated tinned sardines, raclette, falafel, and beef tartare, though we’d be remiss not to tell you to get the ricotta with wildflower honey and fennel pollen.For seriously good, French-inspired dinner party vibes, Le Dive offers family-style meals for larger groups. Inquire directly with the restaurant to book.
5 Beekman St, New York, NY 10038
Located on the ground floor of the Beekman Hotel, Le Gratin is Daniel Boulud’s latest establishment in his New York-based French empire. Similar to L’Express, Le Gratin comes inspired by the great bouchons of Lyon, offering classic, hearty fare—though at a relatively high price. To start, a variety of raw seafood is available, including oysters, crab, and caviar, followed by a number of vegetable-based starts, including leeks with vinaigrette, beet salad, and onion soup. Featured mains include frisée salad, steak tartare, and spaghetti with pistou niçois, as well as sole grenobloise, magret de canard, and baked cod with paprika crust. It goes without saying that dabbling in the restaurant’s creamy gratin dauphinois is a must try—and even comes inspired from Boulud’s own mother’s recipe.
Claud - 90 E 10th St, New York, NY 10003 - European-inspired wine bar from Joshua Pinksy and Chase Sinzer, formerly of Momofoku
Balthazar - 80 Spring St, New York, NY 10012 - Long-standing French brasserie on Spring Street with classic red booths and bistro-inspired fare
Boucherie - 99 7th Ave S, New York, NY 10014 - Two-level French restaurant focused on dry-aged meats and bistro favorites; also a second location on Park Avenue South
Miss Madeleine - 400 E 82nd St, New York, NY 10028 - Hole in the wall boulangerie on the UES with the best pain au chocolat in NYC
Benoît - 60 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019 - Midtown-based French dining establishment by Alain Ducasse modeled after the original location in Paris
Tartine - 253 W 11th St, New York, NY 10014 - Cozy West Village BYOB French restaurant with ample sidewalk seating; expect no-frills bistro favorites and a warm ambiance
Buvette - 42 Grove St, New York, NY 10014 - Small French restaurant / bistro serving all three meals of the day and boasting late hours (2AM for dinner)
Lucien - 14 1st Ave., New York, NY 10009 - Long-standing East Village bistro known for its mussels marinières and Burgundy-inspired escargots