Since the beginning of Philadelphia’s restaurant revival, upscale French cuisine has slowly and steadily become a lauded and celebrated highlight. From South Philadelphia to Center City, read ahead for the best French restaurants in Philadelphia.
Often ranked as one of the nation’s best French bistros, the cash-only BYOB offers friendly service and top-notch cuisine. Chef Pierre Calmels creates seasonal masterpieces, and now features a seven-course prix-fixe menu that is inspired by traditional French cuisine, but still innovative. Diners will taste dishes from Burgundy truffle scrambled egg feuillette to the stuffed rabbit saddle, which is crispy braised leg with parsley root puree, poached quince and natural jus. The foie gras and pumpkin bread are still house favorites on the menu. When making reservations (which you will need), let them know of any dietary restrictions.
Bibou, 1009 S 8th St Philadelphia, PA 19147 215-965-8290
The authentic French bistro offers classic Parisian charm with a romantic neighborhood feeling. The menu is prepared entirely from scratch and changes seasonally with availability of the finest ingredient, humanely raised meats. On the menu, patrons can find traditional bistro cooking, from mustard braised rabbit with house made tagliatelle to vegetarian dishes like the grate provencale. Service is refined but unpretentious here. You’ll also find a curated wine list with rare wines and deals for the better-known French regions. Look out for their French cocktail list, and keep an eye out for American ones made with French spirits.
Bistrot La Minette, 623 S 6th St Philadelphia, PA 19147 215-925-8000
Laurel is a champion of haute cuisine in Philadelphia. The fine dining restaurant offers French-inspired dishes with a creative spin. Only offering a seven course chef’s tasting menu at $85 per person, diners will find themselves dining on seasonal fare. Highlights here are not only the well-cooked plates of corned pork cheek, but the creative contemporary flair it is paired with, like the blueberry miso and chanterelle mushrooms.Call in advance for reservations, as there is a waiting list.
Laurel, 1617 E Passyunk Ave Philadelphia, PA 19148 215-271-8299
The French bistro is an intimate fine dining experience from Chef Calmels of Bibou. Recently, they won the diners’ choice award from Open Table. The menu changes by season and depending on the chef’s mood. On the dinner menu, patrons will find traditional French dishes like the fish Quenelle with lobster tomato sauce or the seared halibut with kohlrabi, tomatillo, baby spinach and purple mustard emulsion. Although just a slight touch of exotic and unique ingredients goes into the plates, the restaurant offers traditional French class all the way. Look to have lunch in the garden area, where you can sit under tall trees and sip cocktails.
Le Chéri, 251 S 18th St Philadelphia, PA 19103 215-546-7700
Townsend liberates the stuffy French atmosphere of upscale restaurants and features an inviting and homey atmosphere in a Philadelphia row home. The bar offers drinks and specialty cocktails until 2AM, while the three course dinner menu is seasonal with an emphasis on wine pairings. The menu gives several options for each course, and some highlights are the foie gras mousse with pear-ginger marmalade and the beef tartare with grilled idiazabal tartine, which is some of the best you’ll have in the area. Escargots balance out the second course with a lava bean ‘mange tout’ and bacon-sherry creme fraiche.
Townsend, 1623 E Passyunk Ave Philadelhpia, PA 19148 267-639-3203