Bon Appétit: The 10 Best French Restaurants in Washington, DC

Whether you're craving a simple roast chicken or foie gras and Champagne

April 30, 2024 6:38 am
plates of food, wine glasses, burgundy booth
L'Avant Garde
L'Avant Garde

As such a global and transitory city, there’s no shortage of international food options throughout DC. But it certainly feels like you can throw a stone and hit a really impressive French restaurant without much effort. Post-pandemic, it seems the number of Parisian-style outposts has doubled, perhaps because diners crave what the cuisine does best: sometimes rich, always fresh and delicious meals alongside good bubbles and even better friends. French dining just feels fancy, even if you’re eating a simple roast chicken at a sidewalk table. But with so many options in the city, it’s hard to prioritize where you should go first. Our list of the best French restaurants in DC will help you narrow your choices down. Just make sure to have a warm, buttery roll or two on our behalf. 

tables with chairs, green walls, lights on ceiling
Chez Billy Sud
Chez Billy Sud

Chez Billy Sud

Georgetown

This Georgetown French outpost has made quite a few appearances on our site in recent months because it’s damn delicious. Tucked away just off the hustle and bustle of M Street, Chez Billy is decidedly intimate. The recently refurbished dining room boasts a minty-fresh hue, and old baroque mirrors make it feel like you’re eating inside a private supper club. That’s to say nothing of the adjacent bar, Le Bar à Vin, whose brick and wood interior makes the space feel expansive, retro and slightly cavernous in the way a good bar should. Can’t-miss entries include duck confit and moules frites. 

1039 31st St NW

Le Diplomate

14th Street

This beloved, well-storied Stephen Starr restaurant continues to stand out because of how well-suited to all facets of life it is. You can take visiting parents there during the week or have a boozy weekend celebration, and no one will blink twice. The main dining room remains a beloved and treasured space for dining, the bar is always bustling and full of kinetic energy, and favorites like steak tartare and trout amandine are always done right. No list of French brasseries is complete without Le Dip — it’s one of the few places in town that everyone agrees on.

1601 14th St NW

burger with three small stacked pickles
EPB Wagyu “smashburger”
EPB

Ellington Park Bistro

West End

Nestled inside the Gregory Hotel, Ellington Park Bistro draws its name from the nearby Duke Ellington Park and pulls all kinds of inspiration from the beloved icon. The intimate restaurant orients itself around the spectacle of its massive central bar, providing dinner and show. The rotating list of daily specials means you can always try something new or be there on your favorite day of the week to grab a beloved classic. 

2033 M St NW

souffle with powdered sugar and spoon
L’Avant Garde
L’Avant Garde

L’Avant-Garde

Georgetown

L’Avant-Garde’s goal is to bring one capital to another. Owner Fady Saba and Chef Sébastien Giannini’s French outpost in Georgetown feels like what you’d see walking by the Moulin Rouge, as sultry red curtains, leather booths and wood paneling make the whole space feel extravagant. The food matches that feeling, fusing a more southern style of French cuisine with inspiration from other European countries while retaining a decidedly Parisian tone. Think turmeric emulsion lobster and eight-hour duck confit.

2915 M St NW

two tables with blue booth, purple flower wallpaper, lights hanging
Le Mont Royale
Clarissa Villondo

Le Mont Royal

Adams Morgan

This French-Canadian-inspired outpost in Adams Morgan is an ode to the rollicking Parisian wine bars you may stumble into during a night out in the city, featuring a vibrant interior ready for a good time. Sure, the downstairs might be rolling with a DJ spinning vinyl, but that doesn’t mean you can’t wander up to the bar and snag oysters or a bottle of Champagne. Upstairs is a more quiet affair where you can grab beloved staples like prime rib and steak frites.

1815 Adams Mill Rd NW

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The Champagne cart at Le Clou
The Champagne cart at Le Clou
Le Clou

Le Clou

Noma

The showstopper at Le Clou is easily its impressive Champagne cart with its stunning silver presentation, making the cheery, bright, modern space feel even more alive. But outside of the deliciously crisp cart offerings, Le Clou specializes in all kinds of bold new executions on old favorites, like a foie gras chicken liver parfait, roasted organic half chicken and pan-roasted catch of the day. Oh, and don’t miss the French Martini.

222 M St NE

Bistrot Du Coin

Dupont Circle

What we love about Bistrot Du Coin is its inherent old-school charm and appeal. Stepping into the space feels like stumbling into a corner bistro you’d find in Paris itself, exemplified by the building’s wood exterior. Inside, the cozy space offers a ton of seating and even an upstairs area for larger parties. Entering its 24th year of business, it’s a classic DC institution, well worth dipping into and feeling like you’re being transported elsewhere. 

1738 Connecticut Ave NW

a bright cobalt blue and brick restaurant featuring a bunch of plants
Lutèce
Lutèce

Lutèce

Georgetown

Lutèce is the French name for Lutetia — the Roman city where Paris currently stands — and offers a simple, clean and modern take on French cuisine. The restaurant offers a two-fold approach in the form of a chef’s choice tasting or a la carte options, which include gnocchi with oyster mushrooms, poached cod, roasted chicken and more, all within a cheerful space you’ll want to visit again and again. 

1522 Wisconsin Ave NW

Convivial

Shaw

Convivial’s aspirational goal is right in its name: good times with good friends around good food. The Shaw outpost delivers in spades with bold and playful takes on classics like steamed mussels, beef bourguignon, foie gras and the beloved bouillabaisse. A clean interior with homespun touches makes it a must. Just look at their Instagram and try not to find yourself getting hungry at all the decadent options. 

801 O St NW

Vol Au Vent De Champignons
Vol Au Vent De Champignons
Rey Lopez

Bistro du Jour

The Wharf, East End

This all-day Parisian cafe gets bonus points for being suited to everyone’s needs, whether it’s a pastry and coffee in the morning or dinner on the outdoor patio with family. Located in two prime and high-trafficked areas (The Wharf and East End near Union Station inside the Royal Sonesta), Bistro du Jour is primed and ready to hit all quadrants of French food, including a playful smoked salmon sandwich, gnocchi, a croque madame and plenty of Champagne pours. 

99 District Square SW / 20 Massachusetts Ave NW

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