Sometimes, the urge to have French food strikes, and nothing satisfies until you get it. When that happens, count on 10Best to point you in the direction of San Francisco's best French restaurants. We understand the desire to have a great meal, and we work hard to bring you the top places to eat in San Francisco. We vet restaurants carefully for quality, and when we recommend popular eateries like Fleur de Lys or tell you that Chapeau! gets good reader feedback, you can believe it. From Union Square to Financial District, we'll make sure you get - and eat - what's best.

Consistently regarded as one of the city's best bistros, Fringale has a reputation as a noisy, crowded place that offers sensational Basque-inspired cuisine. Within the neutral-toned space, diners are treated to unique, flavor-packed dishes and a broad array of Californian and French wines. Among the temptations you'll encounter are pan-roasted salmon, rack of lamb, confit of duck leg, steamed mussels, and a Black Angus rib-eye. It can be tough to secure a reservation, but doing so ensures an unforgettable culinary feast. (415-543-0573)

This charming bistro, happily ensconced in its small, friendly neighborhood, always issues a warm welcome. Its comfortably upscale dining room is busy but romantic, and patrons delight in Chapeau!'s well-executed French country fare. Classics like steak au poivre, roast chicken, cassoulet and duck a l'orange are served a la carte, but multi-course prix fixe menus and the early bird special are incredible deals. Crowning everything is a fabulous wine list that features more than 300 selections. (415-750-9787)

Le Colonial
Romantic French-Vietnamese restaurant in Nob Hill. (4159313600)

Café Jacqueline
Long-stemmed roses and candles set the ambience at this small, romantic restaurant. Unique to Café Jacqueline is its limited menu, consisting of souffles that serve two. Selections change daily, and such delicious ingredients as crab, truffles, and fresh fruit infuse main-course and dessert dishes with great flavor. French-born chef-owner Jacqueline Marguilis describes these soufflés as original works of art. (415-981-5565)

Fifth Floor Restaurant
Richly colored, modernist decor invites diners to relax in comfort at this downtown restaurant, a staple on the city's fine dining scene. Contemporary French dishes include caramelized skate wing, lobster cappuccino, and veal tournedos. Rabbit, squab, duck, and venison further solidify the restaurant's reputation. A large wine list is available, and tasting menus let diners partake of the kitchen's culinary sensibility. (415-348-1555, 415-348-1111)

Campton Place Restaurant
Peaceful, romantic Campton Place sits within a European-style luxury hotel, a fact not unnoticed in the restaurant's Continental cuisine. Swiss-born chef Daniel Humm places a premium on simple, high-quality ingredients, and his affinity for Provençal dishes is evident in glazed Barberie duck with lavender honey and herb-roasted squab with spring onion tarte tatin. Seafood is also a treat in Humm's confident hands, whether it be butter-poached Maine lobster or salt-crusted Mediterannean branzino with Meyer lemon confit. Great service ramps up the desirability, and the experience is more than worth the expense. (415-955-5555)

Exposed brick walls, mahogany detailing, velvet draperies and a champagne-glass theme set a swank scene at this classy supper club. While guests find it hard to tear themselves away from the marble-and-mahogany bar, Traci Des Jardins' food sways their resolve. The extensive, constantly changing menu features temptations like Alaskan halibut with roasted artichokes, red wine-braised beef shortribs, and dry-aged NY steak with morels and asparagus. Fantastic cheese selections and a great wine list also prove popular, and live entertainment only increases the restaurant's appeal. (415-861-5555)

La Folie
Patrons can't find enough good things to say about La Folie, the small family-run restaurant that mixes sure-handed French cuisine with a refreshing lack of pretense. In the intimate dining room, lush drapery, mirrors and exotic woods impart a note of luxury. The aesthetic is echoed beautifully in the restaurant's artful fare. Chef Roland Passot's joie de vivre shines through in his cooking and is visible in quail and foie gras lollipops, a trio of roasted rabbit with baby vegetables, and sautéed halibut cheeks with tomato confit. Three-, four- and five-course meals satisfy many appetites, as do vegetarian and à la carte options. (415-776-5577)

Maps and Directions

Fringale 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: Basque, European, French, Spanish
Neighborhood: Embarcadero
Cost: $$
Chapeau! 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: European, French
Neighborhood: Richmond District
Cost: $$
Le Colonial 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: Asian, European, French, Vietnamese
Neighborhood: Nob Hill
Cost: $$$
Café Jacqueline 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: European, French
Neighborhood: North Beach
Cost: $$$
Fifth Floor Restaurant 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: European, French
Cost: $$$
Campton Place Restaurant 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, California, European, Mediterranean
Neighborhood: Union Square
Cost: $$$
Jardinière 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, California, European, French
Neighborhood: Civic Center
Cost: $$$
La Folie 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: European, French
Neighborhood: Russian Hill
Cost: $$$$
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