With Bastille Day around the corner, we’ve got France on our mind. Want to know where to ring in Independence Day, Part Deux in Seattle? Our Top Ten French Restaurants will make you jump for joie de vivre.
The most authentic bistro on this side of the Atlantic, Le Pichet looks, feels, and tastes Parisian thanks to the co-owners; chef Jim Drohman studied cooking there while Joanne Herron has tasted her way through France’s boutique wineries. Le Pichet’s loyal fans (full disclosure: I’m one of them) adore the classic fare: brandade, rillettes, boudin noir, and hazelnut, tarragon salad. Their annual Bastille Day fête features live music and food specials from 6 p.m. til close.
This bistrot à vins could be plucked right out of Paris, with its French-only wines, lovely little nibbles, and the special bonhomie that stems from popping corks. Owner David Butler educates and entertains with each glass poured. Don’t miss the best steak tartare in town and the poissonière (fisherman) plate: housemade salmon rillettes, sardines, and smoked trout.
Savor a slice of Paris at Café Presse. As in France, this convivial café is open from 7 a.m. - 2 a.m. That means many ways to get your French fix, from morning bowls of café au lait to late-night Croque Monsieurs. Don’t miss the Vin Expresse happy hour: $9 - $15 bottles of wine to stay or go. Each July, World Cup and Tour de France show in the front bar.
At Jamie Miller’s beloved bakery, his transcendent croissants rival those made in the City of Lights. Watch Miller and his crew meticulously craft pain au chocolat, creamy quiche, and buttery, ginger biscuits. Do not be deterred by lines out the door, but do arrive early to ensure your pick of the pastries.
Since 1984, Café Campagne has been the Gallic hub of the Pike Place Market. With moules marinière, duck confit, and chèvre salad, the menu gives an edible education in French cuisine. For Bastille Day, Café Campagne will join in the annual Post Alley celebration, featuring street food, oysters, wine, and can can girls. The fête begins at 4 p.m.
As the name implies, Red Cow is where you can find the beef. Modeled after a French brasserie, Ethan Stowell serves some of the tastiest steak frites in town, complete with mouthwatering sauces for fry-dipping. Like traditional brasseries, Red Cow offers fresh shellfish, frisée salad, and housemade charcuterie. For Bastille Day, the burger, a two-fisted beauty, will run just $10, while $5 glasses of wine and classic French dishes are added to the menu.
Boat Street Café
This rustic, Provençal retreat is at the tip of modern Belltown. Chef Renée Erickson’s travels to France have inspired the market-driven menu; dive into roasted radishes, tarragon-flecked clams, and Carlton Farms pork chops. Choose from the shabby-chic interior or the garden patio, which hums at happy hour Tuesday through Thursday when tartines and wine deals are offered.
Honoré Artisan Bakery
Considering that Honoré is named after the French patron saint of baking, it’s no surprise their croissants are downright divine. Other heavenly options include canelé, macarons, and the sugary, butter-bomb: kouign amann. You may have to wait for a seat, however, as there’s limited seating in this itty-bitty shop.
Seattle’s longstanding French chef, Thierry Rauterau, runs this delightful neighborhood spot. Rub shoulders with regulars as you savor boeuf bourgignon, trout amandine, and a Niçoise tartine. For the 14th of Juillet, Luc is participating in Bastille Bash, Madison Valley’s annual street fair, with food booths, wine tastings, and even a Marie Antoniette impersonator.
Bastille is a French bistro with American attitude. A rooftop garden, indoor fire-pit, and hand-crafted cocktails compliment the lovely food. For the holiday that shares its name, Bastille offers not just one, but two ways to celebrate. On July 12th, pétanque, roast pigs, and rosé bubbles will be served from noon – 8 p.m. Come the 14th, diners can enjoy jazz on the patio with Djangomatics, then move to the back bar for burlesque by Shanghai Pearl.\