Nothing signifies a special occasion quite like a meal at a fancy French restaurant. Here is a list of five of the best French restaurants in D.C., all serving authentic French cuisine for a reasonable price. Because the French take food very seriously, you can rest assured that from appetizer to dessert, wine to coffee, you will be enjoying the finest flavors of France.
502 H St., N.E.
Utterly Parisian is the best way to describe Le Grenier, which means “attic” in French. Warm wooden finishings, cozy pillows and eclectic artwork make it a charming spot for dining, and the food makes it even better. Decadence and luxury are the best ways to describe the delicious French fare at Le Grenier. Some of the best appetizers are the puff pastry oozing with earthy mushrooms, leeks and cheese, a hearty beet salad topped with crunchy hazelnuts and creamy boursin and a gorgeous savory baked apple crepe. For your main course, there is a cassoulet, hearty crepes and more. Wine and dessert are an absolute must. The problem will be choosing between a Nutella crepe, profiteroles and crème brulee. A word of advice: just get them all.
1001 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20004
Central is one of DC’s staples, and for good reason. Michel Richard’s French bistro cuisine is hard to beat. The upscale atmosphere is shadowed only by the delicious food, which includes melt-in-your-mouth gougères, French onion soup, a daily selection of French cheeses and the most perfect French fries you will ever have. Desserts such as the apple tatin, the house-made macarons and chocolate cake are absolute perfection.
1394 Chain Bridge Road
Mclean, VA 22101
Although this restaurant is a bit far from the center of town, it is perfect for dinner with a special someone. The dining room is small and comfortable, with warm, attentive staff catering to your every need. The food has a distinctive Mediterranean flair to it, which sets it apart from some of the other local French bistros. Enjoy dishes such as roasted beet salad with endive, cheese and grapefruit, pappardelle à la Provençal and more. The restaurant is especially well-known for its divine desserts. Chocolate lava cake with a perfect liquid center is one of its best, but its gelato with sour cherry sauce, fruit tart and cheesecake are also sinfully good.
Praline Bakery and Restaurant
4611 Sangamore Road
Bethesda, MD 20816
The menu at Praline Bakery and Restaurant varies depending on which meal you are there for, but you can expect delights such as leek, sun-dried tomato and goat cheese quiche, salad niçoise, seasonal soups, omelets and frites. Regardless of what time of day you are there, you must stop by the bakery. Buttery croissants, the most perfect Parisian macarons in every color and flavor imaginable, tarts, baguettes and pound cake are all in abundance, each one better than the last. Call Praline directly to place orders for baked goods to serve at your next party or get-together.
Poste Modern Brassiere
555 8th St., N.W.
What Poste does, it does well. The frites are finger-licking, lip-smacking crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The truffle frites, which are the same frites just drizzled with truffle oil, are so good they should be illegal. Perfect for munching on with a glass of wine, or as a side dish to your main course, they are an absolute must. Then there is the root vegetable crêpe, with sweet roasted vegetables, creamy goat cheese and a silky, nutty pesto sauce. Finally, the butterscotch pot de crème has to be squeezed in no matter how full you are. And voila, you just had the perfect French meal.
Related: Best French Cuisine In The DC Area
Priya Konings is a freelance writer and restaurant critic in Washington D.C. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.