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Aug 6, 2007 10:44 AM

Best French Bistro in NYC?

Hi. I used to live in NYC but i came back to Luzech (Southern France). I am back in the city for 2 weeks and I have a very special birthday that I would like to celebrate in a GREAT Bistro, but I am outdated, lost... I remember going to balthazar, artisanal, payard, raoul's, pastis, odeon, gavroche back in the days...BUT which is the Best Bistro as of Today? I will REALLY appreciate the help. jacques

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  1. Jacques, I haven't a clue as to the "best" bistro in nyc, but I've enjoyed Lucien's on First and First (mixed reviews among the Hounds, but I've always enjoyed it). I keep wanting to go to Gascogne, on Eigthth Ave. around 18th St., which has been well-reviewed.

    I'm sure the bistro experts will soon pipe up and share the best, though. Happy Special Birthday....make it one in which you Bistro-hop!

    6 Replies
    1. re: 280 Ninth

      I have been to Gascogne on both my trips to NYC and love the place... especially the courtyard... but the food is great

      1. re: Mel

        Does anyone have had a bad or mediocre experience at Gascogne?I think im going for it...

        1. re: jacques gaudet

          I've been to Artisanal (has a prix fixe) more recently and Balthazar some time ago. Both are lively, noisy, crowded (I need to be in the mood for the bistro scene).
          I want to try Gascogne next. You might want to do a search of this site to see what comes up for Gascogne. You can find menus on

          1. re: jacques gaudet

            Never had a problem, plus they have a lovely garden!

            1. re: jacques gaudet

              I love this place.. i have had the cassoulet which is wonderful.. the specials also are great... i had a mango crab salad, hubby had seared scallops.... i also had duck another time... enjoy it!

          2. re: 280 Ninth

            i like Lucien too, especially the bouillabaise and steak frites and endive salade...i also like Balthazar...never been to Gascogne but have heard very good things here...

          3. Because "French Bistro" has not been the fashion for a number of years, you won't find the scene much changed. I would say that Odeon and Raoul's have declined since their heyday. Balthazar is still doing what it always did (as, I expect, is Pastis, although I haven't been). I can't think of a new bistro which surpasses this standard.

            Cafe d'Alsace on the UES made a splash when it opened, partly because it's a bleak neighborhood for dining, but also for the unusual and extensive beer list. Might be worth a thought. In any case, I think the best in the city has long been L'Absinthe.

            1. I'm not sure why you'd want to come all the way over here to go to a French Bistro when you live in France.

              Why not go somewhere really good that isn't a charicature of what you already have at home? Having said that, there's a really good, fairly unknown (no scene) bistro on 54th between 1st and 2nd called Jubilee.

              I really enjoyed Cafe D'Alsace then I went there a few weeks ago. Heard good things about Lucien, but havent' been there myself.

              5 Replies
              1. re: egit

                i just like the whole 'french bistro' construction in new york city, i used to like it when i lived here and i miss it. I also have to say that i live in luzech (a small rural village in the south, with INCREDIBLE food but there are no bistros there, just great food in your own garden) not in Paris. thanks from the recommendations, i will love to hear more.

                1. re: jacques gaudet

                  I can tell you where not to go at thats Les Halles..

                  1. re: Daniel76

                    Daniel, what's wrong with Le Halles, exactly?

                    I am just asking because I have never eaten there.

                    1. re: roger_gastronomy

                      I can only speak for Les Halles downtown location which is very inconsistent. It's a shame because I used to go and it's open on weekends (many places dowtown close on the weekends).

                      1. re: roger_gastronomy

                        Park location is super loud, super crowded, with long waits for poor service. The food is good enough, but it's a trying overall experience. On a saturday night, we waited 45 min past our 9:30 res for a table in a cold corner. Weeknights might be different, with less people going for the ghost of A Bourdain.....

                2. Not sure which is the best, but I have two personal favorites right now. For casual inexpensive left bank type place--La Bonne Soup. For more of a right bank feel and a little for expensive, Petite Auberge on Lexington.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Ora

                    i wouldn't know what to choose between Gavroche, Balthazar or L'Absynthe really good? Oh and Raoul's used to have a nice patio, but i heard the food is not what is was.

                  2. Took my wife to Le gigot on Cornelia street in the village last year for her bday and we just loved it. A small neighborhood bistro with top notch food, service and cozy space. The owner sources her oysters from an island in the pacific NW and explained to us how she found them during a trip. Solid classics that did not disappoint. Excellent wines paired by the waiter. Honestly we never got past the starters menu. Started with a dozen oysters (buttery smooth, small and clean flavor) and then worked our way down the list matching wines along the way. Have gone back on special occasions just to get the oysters and wine.


                    5 Replies
                    1. re: pulled pork

                      How could I forget Le Gigot--sweet little place (though a tad pricey).

                      1. re: Ora

                        so between le gigot, balthazar l'absynthe and let's say gavroche....what would you choose?

                          1. re: Ora

                            better than gascogne or l'absinthe?

                            1. re: gurmanda

                              I was less than impressed w/ L'Absinthe - thought it was over priced and the food mediocre. Only went once b/c of that though, so I may have hit them on an off night. Le Gigot is wonderful and IMHO much better than L'Absinthe. Haven't been to Gascogne since the early 90s so I won't comment (that's just out of ignorance of how their food might be today).