We owe the French a lot. They gave us the Statue of Liberty, Léa Seydoux, and the very concept of a restaurant itself. Oh, and they also figured out that baking a layer of cheese on top of onion soup makes onion soup taste delicious. Yet somehow, French restaurants can have a reputation for being sleepy and predictable.
Turns out, nothing could be further from the truth - and this guide is proof. You won’t find mothball-filled dining rooms or dried-out beef bourguignon here. After all, these aren’t just the best French restaurants in LA - they’re some of our favorite places to eat in the entire city.
Republique needs little introduction. Whether you’ve lived in LA your whole life or are just in town for a goat yoga intensive, chances are you’ve at least heard of this French restaurant on La Brea. The massive space looks like the courtyard of a church in the Burgundy countryside, and its varied menus (they’re open for breakfast, weekend brunch, lunch, and dinner) have everything from croque madames to a very non-French kimchi fried rice that might be the best thing on the menu. If you’re hoping to try some of their tremendous baked goods in the morning, be prepared to wait, as lines do get long.
If some of the things you know about French food are that it’s typically rich, and it’s sometimes expensive, then you already know a lot about Pasjoli. Both of those are true at this Santa Monica spot, but that doesn’t stop us from going when we want incredible French food prepared with traditional techniques. That includes a lot of things happening tableside, like canard à la presse - a pressed duck, prepared on a little cart wheeled to your table, then juiced in an antique contraption that could be a 15th-century torture device. It’s an experience that will transform any seal-the-deal date into a home run - because you’re ultimately going to be eating excellent-tasting duck.
Run by the power duo behind République, this cozy, subterranean spot in the old Sotto space in Beverlywood is a traditional French bistro in every sense of the word. Unlike their other restaurants, the focus here is on French home-style cooking; simple, heavy dishes like caramelized onion tarte tatin, crusty baguettes topped with sardines, and beef short ribs served with golden potato mousseline that are so tender, you can slice through them with a butter knife. Bicyclette is indulgence of the purest variety, and sometimes that’s all you want at the end of a long week.
This Pasadena spot isn’t as flashy as some of the other big-name restaurants in the area right now, but what Perle does well is provide a romantic atmosphere and a menu filled with well-executed French food. Our favorite dish is the frisée Lyonnaise salad, which comes topped with bacon lardons, poached egg, chicken liver mousse crouton, and dijon vinaigrette. It’s a savory salad, but still light enough to not fill you completely up. And that’s important, because you don’t want to miss the moules-frites with soft, garlicky mussels and properly crunchy fries and the tangy French onion soup.
Gigi’s is one of the toughest reservations to get in town, but if you’re able to snag a table at this sceney French place in Hollywood, you’ll be treated to a night filled with oysters, burgers, and delicious steak frites. We recommend showing up a little thirsty, too. A night of lounging around on their string lit patio or intimate dining room with plushy green booths, sipping gin martinis, snacking on tartare, and listening to a table of agents next to you scheming how to get ayahuasca to Tulum next week is exactly how we want to be partying right now.
Open since 2014, Petit Trois is an LA institution at this point. Located inside a strip mall at Highland and Melrose, this tiny French bistro is about the size of a small bedroom - if that bedroom also had a bar. It’s loud, cramped, and you’ll definitely have someone hovering near you while you eat. But after you try the chicken confit, burger, or the silky-smooth omelette, you’ll learn to love the organized chaos. If you’re looking for more space though, there’s now a large front patio or a massive second location in Sherman Oaks.
For anyone who lives within a half-mile radius of Beverly and Crescent Heights, Marvin is your Cheers. For anyone else, this is a French bistro with food good enough to drive across the city for, and an atmosphere that’ll make you wish you had something similar in your neighborhood. Things can a little pricey here (most entrees are over $30), so we recommend coming in with the intention of aggressively snacking instead of throwing down for a three-course meal. Just make sure you’re snacking on all of their toasts.
Mignon, a little French wine bar right in the middle of Downtown, is the ideal place for an early date with someone you want to impress. It’s undoubtedly a romantic spot - it’s low-lit, everything is made of mahogany, and there’s a lot of wine being poured. But on top of an impressive list of mostly natural European wines, they’ve got killer escargots à la bourguignonne - buttery, garlicky snails with bread on top - and the best $24 steak you’ll ever eat. And if you’re there alone, this is an excellent place to read while eating a butter and ham sandwich.
You could argue that Oriel is just a wine bar with food, and you’d probably be right. Regardless, we’re still going out of our way to eat French onion soup and bavette steak at this laid-back Chinatown spot any chance we can get. In a tiny space underneath the elevated Gold Line tracks, Oriel feels closer to a high-design diner in Bushwick than a Downtown LA wine bar, and that’s ideal when you’re looking for a first-date spot you haven’t been to a hundred times already.
Loupiotte in Los Feliz lets you know it’s a French cafe from the moment you walk in - the menu is printed on French comic strips, and the wine list has a huge number of French varietals. It’s an ideal place to come at night for some seasonal risotto, or fregola sarda with vegetables, but our favorite time to be here is the morning. The soft-scrambled eggs with parmesan and tomato are great, and the creamy parmesan polenta - which comes topped with a jammy egg and mushrooms - is an ideal way to start the day.
Monsieur Marcel Bistro
Monsieur Marcel has been open for over 25 years and is one of the largest and well-known tenants at the Original Farmers Market at The Grove. The space contains several different concepts including a full gourmet grocery with its own cheese shop, a seafood market perfect for picking up fresh fish to cook later at home, and a sit-down bistro. It’s certainly a great spot to hang out with a wine and cheese flight and dodge the manic afternoon crowds, but try and come to Monsieur Marcel for breakfast. Enjoying a cappuccino and a perfect gooey quiche lorraine while watching the market come alive at 9am is something we never get tired of.