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Cafe to practice my French?

Okay, not me - my neighbor.

She wants a place for casual gatherings with people in her French class to meet, eat & practice their French with native speakers (the waiters). Since she preferred a downtown venue, I suggested Cafe Claude. And I also mentioned Metro Cafe on Divisidero.

Any other recommendations?

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  1. I believe they have French speaking nights at Zazie in Cole Valley.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Maya

      I find that a little too cute and bohemian for my taste though it is a perfect opportunity for a French class. Clementine is my bet as the staff is more friendly than some of the more bored waiters in the Downtown and Mission locales. For one notch more up-market, try eating at Chapeau! for lunch on an offday.


      1. re: zwilliams

        Chapeau! serves "le brunch" on Sundays, but don't think it's open for lunch.


        1. re: Melanie Wong

          No, even the brunch has been discontinued. They never took it off the website. I inquired about a year back and they said there were not plans at that time to start it up again.

    2. The waiter I liked at Cafe Claude is from Eastern Europe, and I think Metro had new owners (at least there was a sign in the window July 4th weekend, last time I walked by).

      Doesn't the Alliance Francaise have a cafe? She might also check out the places that Paris in Expatriate Eyes meets.

      1. The restaurant in the Alliance Francaise building is called La Cave.

        2 Replies
        1. Not a cafe but Clementine usually has a French speaking waitstaff. (Not to mention they are often fun to look at too.)

          1 Reply
          1. re: sailorbuoys

            The one time I dined at Clementine, our server started off by asking us if we preferred to communicate in French or English. My host wanted to practice his french, so we were a french speaking table for the evening. Or at least he was. (g)

            1. Haven't been there for awhile, but Fingale's always had French waiters. Plus, it's a great place to eat.

              1 Reply
              1. re: rtmonty

                Absolutely true. French reigns at Fringale.

              2. Well, if your neighbor and classmates ever feel like making a field trip, Cafe Society in Napa has French Conversation on Monday evenings.


                1. I just had a French waiter at Cafe Grillades (named Lucas, if I believe the bill). Food is unexpensive, if uneven, but at least a large party like a French class would fit there without reservation.

                  Bissap baobab is one of the most French-speaking restaurant in the city. Not downtown, but easy to get to from downtown, a short bart hop away. Plus, a few Fleurs will boost anyone's confidence to speak in a foreign language.

                  Bistro clovis is closer to downtown than metro, and easy to get to on market street. Truly French staff.

                  Chez Maman: depends which one, maybe. The potrero one, most likely; the bernal one was not French speaking when I went. A good place to practice Spanish, however. There were plans to open other Chez maman, did that happen? From the same people, chez papa, baraka, plouf, all as French a crew as can be.

                  Very French: l'annexe. Pretty casual, and Sylvie, a French waitress when I checked. In the old ponte veccio space on valencia.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: cedichou

                    The 3rd Chez Maman went with a different name: Couleurs Cafe, down on De Haro between 16 and 17th. Haven't tried it yet.

                    1. re: Joan Kureczka

                      the third chez maman has been open on union street in cow hollow for several months.

                      couleur cafe, is the same owner but it is not the third chez maman. The menu is similarish but different to a chez maman.

                  2. Cafe de la Presse is great, they have french magazines and newspapers too. I recommend their madeleines.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: adelgadorey

                      My original post was "where I can I practice my French with native speakers?" Every time I've been to the new Cafe de la Presse, the cafe waiters were non-French-speaking Chinese and the restaurant waiters were non-French-speaking Americans. Are you saying that situation has changed in the 2 months since I was last there?

                      1. re: larochelle

                        Our server on Bastille Day at Cafe de la Presse was very French.


                    2. It would be funny if your neighbor could go to Garcon and see if the staff there is all really French as they claim to be.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Atomica

                        Disclaimer: I know a lot of the staff at Garcon and yes they are all really French. Last time I was there, a couple of months ago, every staff member I encountered was indeed genuine French.

                        Belden Lane [disclaimer - where I also know everyone very well from being a frequent diner], on the other hand, is more mixed. At Plouf and Bastille the staff range from Swiss to Bulgarian to Russian to Italian to Brazillian, to American, with a sprinkling of French as well.

                        All 3 of these mentioned share the same French owners.

                      2. Try one of the French bistros on Belden Lane in SF - very European.