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10 Best Bistros, Brasseries and Restaurants to Satisfy Your Desire for a Taste of France



Boston is home to a great deal of French restaurants, some that locals of French decent say serve the best French food outside of France. Each a bit different, ranging in everything from menu style to decor and falling in every type: formal to casual. Ultra high end dining experiences can be found at places like the time-tested Boston favorite Mistral, where fine dining is held to the highest standard. As well as more casual (and affordable) spots that serve home-style fare like Gaslight where you'll enjoy a laid back night with your friends and feeel like you are actually in Paris becasue the surroundings transport you to a true French Brasserie. Almost every neighborhood has a great French spot and some local eateries have turned into small Massachussetts "chains" with locations dotting the city's landscape like Petit Robert with multiple locations within Boston's city limits and one in a close suburb; each serving home-style cooking at reasonable prices and all just a bit different from the others. Restaurants on this list are chosen to provide you with a solid cross section of French options, from the high end to the casual one thing is certain, you'll be sure to love your expereince at each of the places 10best has found for you.


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The defining restaurant of elegance in Boston, L'Espalier serves a nothing short of a perfect selection of caviars, cheeses and wines, both within the confines of their formal dining room and in the Salon. Four varieties of caviar are offered (even if you choose to dine in the less "upscale" Salon area) and the extensive cheese selection is a source of pride for this French eatery. Choosing cheeses from around the globe, provides guests with endless choices to please their cheese needs. Served either ? la carte course as the Grand Fromage portion of the Degustation menu you can create the plate of your desires. And no worries about the wines offered here; over 500 bottles are on hand to compliment your cheese and caviar just right.

Recommended for French because: Beyond fancy you'll find yourself in the epicenter of fine French dining and surrounded by those who are dressed to impress.

Local Expert tip: L'Espalier has become more accessible to diners who don't have hundreds to spend on one meal (but if you do this is the place to do it). If you enjoy a fine caviar, L'Espalier has a service that will wow you.

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Aquitaine serves simple French food that is big on flavor and short on gimmicks. Their menu is filled with French staples like Sole Meuni?re, Crepes, Steak Frites, and Moules Frites and each is executed to perfection. Along with the classic flavors you'll find Aquitaine's classic setting. Emanating the feel of a Parisian Bistro before you even enter, you'll find yourself drawn inside. At first look you'll be taken by the the words that are floating on glass and then as you enter and see patrons stuffed into the small bar area laughing and enjoying a drink with old and new friends and again while at your table where the crisply dressed waitstaff will attend to your every need and you'll enjoy each bite of their bistro classics.

Recommended for French because: Serving lunch, and dinner Aquitaine is a French Bistro that serves classic entrees in a cozy modern setting that invites socialization.

Local Expert tip: Two of the staples of French Bistros shine at Aquitaine- the Moules and Steak Frites. Both are offered on the lunch (at a lower cost) and dinner menus.

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Chef Tony Maws has been showered with accolades since opening his doors. Each night, Maws & crew create an ever changing a la carte menu that includes dishes like spice-bread-crusted wild boar chops and whole-roasted Vermont squab. The wine list, too, is sure to impress thanks to an emphasis on vineyards that tend to be overlooked by the more mainstream eateries. Craigie on Main is a hard reservation to score at the last minute because along with new diners, Craigie has a loyal following of repeat customers who return time and time again not for their favorites (because Maws literally creates the menu daily based on the best ingredients he has found) but for what they may find and love that night.

Recommended for French because: Far from inexpensive, Craigie on Main is worth every penny. The daily menu contains a variety of seasonal French offerings that you won't find elsewhere.

Local Expert tip: Splurge for the tasting menu, the eight course if you can spring the $118.00! You'll be treated to a journey through creative French food you'll remember long after you've completed your meal.

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Petit Robert is as close to home-style French as you can get. Locals who have lived in France find memories of family meals in their food. Loving the Escargots, as much as the Chicken Coq au Vin with Buttered Noodles; claiming them as good as what Mom used to make. With several locations within the Boston area, Petit Robert mixes it up just a bit at each. Petit Robert Central boasts a a more trendy atmosphere with sleek black tables and a large bar, ideal for mingling pre or post meal with one of their delightful wines or specialty cocktails.

Recommended for French because: Taking the pretense out of French Food Petit Robert executes elegantly simple dishes that are as filling as they are delicious at reasonable prices.

Local Expert tip: Each location has a slightly different menu, but all serve the best Soup a'L'Onion Gratinee, which could be a light meal, but be sure to save room for the Beef Bourguignon because this stew is filled with remarkably tender braised beef and a broth you'll have to use for dipping.

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Miel Brasserie Provençale
Photo courtesy of Stephanie Loeber, Loeber Communications

As Boston's first Provence-themed brasserie, Miel has asserted itself into the city as more than just a hotel restaurant, and has created a following of locals who come for the food, ambiance and their extensive selection of rose. Meaning honey in French, Miel takes its name quite seriously. Housing a collection of hives on the roof of its fifth floor, Miel not only takes pride in its urban beehives, but also utilizes the honey in its food each September. Open for breakfast lunch and dinner, and brunch (Jazz brunch for the summer months) you'll have your pick of mouthwatering French fare cooked with little saturated fat (olive oil is favored over butter). Sitting on the HarborWalk, aside the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum, Miel has a view that enhances their food. Whether seated inside their welcoming dining room, or on their outdoor patio you'll be dazzled by Miel.

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Mistral


Mistral has been synonymous with sophisticated French food since opening its doors in 1997. Attracting those in the know, Mistral's high prices have proven themselves warranted for the excellence of their menu items. The uncomplicated French Mediterranean cuisine is enhanced by using each season's finest ingredients, giving it local flair. Reminiscent of Provence, the interior has high ceilings and arched floor to ceiling window; the pristine white linens and muted tones throughout make Mistral an restaurant where you'll want to look as good as the surroundings you are in. A meal here is more than just a means to fill yourself, it is an experience that will linger long after you have left.

Recommended for French because: Mistral is an upscale French eatery where you'll feel comfortable. The menu mixes French techniques with seasonal ingredients for fabulous results.

Local Expert tip: Be sure to sample the Beef Carpaccio as an appetizer and the whole roasted duck with wild mushroom risotto the dried Wisconsin cherry gastrique is done to perfection.

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A casually elegant interior is swanky without being stuffy. Small tiles seem to glisten from the light reflecting off their shiny surface. The lively bar scene is the perfect place to sit solo and order a light meal, or a simple snack including something from their impressive selection of raw bar essentials. Enjoy a more leisurely dinner at one of their many private or communal tables, or opt for a patio seat; with warming stations you can enjoy the night well after summer ends and much in advance of when it begins. Gaslight's food is as inviting as its atmosphere; enjoy a cheese platter with friends, then dive into one of their perfectly prepared menu items for lunch, dinner or even weekend brunch, and don't overlook the daily specials. Order a glass of wine because Gaslight's list is exclusively French.

Recommended for French because: Gaslight makes you feel like you are dining in Paris, the interior screams French Brasserie, and the well executed menu is sensibly priced.

Local Expert tip: Not only does Gaslight make one mean "Bar Steak" and a nearly perfect Steak Tartare, they also offer free parking.

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Meet Jessica Polizzotti

Born and raised in Boston, Jessica knows her city like the back of her hand.  Always looking to uncover something new, Jessica keeps up on the latest and greatest Boston offerings. 

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