by SF Insider
Whether for a pre-theater meal or a romantic dinner for two, it’s hard to beat traditional French cuisine. Thanks to the wide variety of cuisines available at San Francisco restaurants, one could easily eat a dish from a different country on most days — but French food is always memorable. From daytime bistros to intimate evening dinners, here are five must-try San Francisco French restaurants that serve this classic European cuisine.
Opened in the 1990s, Jardiniere on Grove Street in Hayes Valley is a celebrated San Francisco French restaurant. The authentic eatery is known for using first-rate, often local ingredients that may include diver-caught scallops and oysters. There’s also a fantastic range of champagnes and sparkling wines, and the menu often features a wide selection of cheeses to sample.
La Folie on Russian Hill is a great place for diners to head if they’re looking for innovative French cuisine. While classics are typically available (and may include well-seasoned frog legs, mushroom ragout and butter-poached lobster), the restaurant also showcases some inventive twists. Diners particularly enjoy the opulent decor here, with its wood paneling and heavy drapes.
Café Claude is a crowd favorite. With its downtown alleyway location and outside seating, not to mention its typical jazzy French soundtrack, it evokes all the old-world charm of a typical Parisian bistro. Many of the interior fittings and much of the furniture come from Le Barbizon Café in Paris. Locals flock to Café Claude at lunchtime for items like croques, salads or steak tartare and might come back for a dinner of coq au vin.
Le P’tit Laurent
Le P’tit Laurent creates an authentic ambience. Some standout favorites from past menus have included French onion soup, escargots de Bourgogne, bean cassoulet, Toulouse sausage and Normandy rabbit. Diners can top it all off with a deliciously traditional dessert.
For a more avant-garde take on French cuisine, gourmands head to Quince. This Michelin-starred restaurant once made headlines for serving food on iPads. Beyond the brazen experimentation, however, this is a must-visit French eatery that’s ideal for romantic dining. Quince chefs often combine traditional French cuisine with contemporary Californian flavors.