San Diego’s French restaurant roster sometimes gets ignored in favor of other types of cuisines—understandably so, considering the relative distance from France and a lack of significant European influence in this border city. But, quietly churning under the surface, there are a number of quality French restaurants both new and old that are providing solid, consistent classic and reimagined continental fare. From the finest of fine dining restaurants to cozy neighborhood bistros, here are 16 places to find French food in San Diego.Read More
Where to Eat French Food in San Diego
The bistro meets the beach at these 16 locations
Jeune et Jolie
Brand new to Carlsbad village is Campfire’s sister restaurant, Jeune et Jolie. Billing itself as a modern French restaurant, expect inspired riffs on French classics, lower-intervention wines and a truly exciting cocktail list.
A mainstay of San Diego’s dining scene, Mille Fleurs is still churning out killer French-style dishes in Rancho Santa Fe. And, for the first time in three decades, the restaurant has named a new executive chef, Sean McCart, formerly of Pueblo, Mister A’s and Juniper & Ivy. Beginning March 2019, McCart and his team introduced a dinner experience focusing on seasonal locally-sourced ingredients. This new dinner series, called Monthly Milles, will showcase preparations of products from local farmers and purveyors. McCart’s upcoming April 21 multi-course dinner is, all about the bounty of spring.
A fixture on North County’s dining scene, Pamplemousse is lauded for not only its standout French-style cuisine but for its stacked and far-reaching wine collections—long considered one of the best in all of the county.
The crown jewel of San Diego’s restaurants is, undoubtedly, Addison at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar. French technique and classic training abound at this contemporary French fine dining destination that draws crowds and accolades from all over the globe.
The WineSellar & Brasserie
Sorrento Valley’s The WineSellar & Brasserie serves lunch and dinner with French-style cooking and an accompanying deep wine list that covers France but also spans the globe. Keep an eye out for their special dinners, the Chef’s Mercy tasting menu and their frequent tastings and tours.
Bistro du Marché by Tapenade
Bistro du Marché by Tapenade is La Jolla village’s preferred French restaurant, where classic dishes like moules frites can be found on the menu.
The French Gourmet
Expect Parisian bistro fare, like steak frites, at this cozy Bird Rock restaurant but don’t sleep on the bakery portion—almond croissants are a not-miss.
Kensington is home to Bleu Bohème, which has a dinner menu that is updated weekly but sticks closely to French bistro mainstays. New dishes debut every Thursday and will include: escargot à a la moelle, snails with roasted bone marrow ,pickled shallots, radishes, Fresno chili, sauce vert and crostini,gnocchi a la Parisienne, sautéed parmesan dumplings with asparagus, roasted mushrooms and white wine cream sauce, priced at $16.95; salade de quinoa, with avocado, snap peas, radishes, radicchio and lemon vinaigrette, for $15.95; entrecôte de porc, Provençal marinated Duroc pork bone-in rib eye steak with pommes puree, maitake mushrooms, fiddlehead ferns and mustard jus, priced at confit de canard, Moulard duck leg confit served with fava beans, asparagus, baby carrots, cauliflower, fingerling potatoes and duck broth and more.
Et Voilà! French Bistro
This well-loved neighborhood bistro just rolled out a new bunch menu—expect items like French beignets, waffles, casseroles and tartines.
BO-beau kitchen + bar
With three locations around the city in Ocean Beach, Hillcrest and La Mesa, the OB location of the “Bo-Beaus” is the most cozy and redolent of a countryside French escape. Known for their brussels sprouts, escargots are a must-order as is the local catch-of-the-day.
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Au Revoir French Bistro
A staple of Hillcrest’s waxing and waning, ever-changing dining scene has been Au Revoir French Bistro. The Tuesday special is the move, featuring a prix fixe menu at $30, which is a steal for what’s served.
La Bonne Table
Another Hillcrest gem is La Bonne Table, which serves traditional French dishes that translate as some of the most straightforward and properly executed in town.
The Smoking Goat Restaurant
With one of the highest quality wine lists in the city and a consistently-updated menu, The Smoking Goat remains one of the best restaurants in North Park, French or otherwise. The steak is an impossibly decadent must-order, as is the roasted chicken, if available.
Good for big parties and special events, this Bankers Hill bistro is a neighborhood favorite. One of its highlights are the regular wine dinners hosted on-site.
Café Madeleine South Park
Named for the coffee-accompanying pastry ubiquitous in French cafes, this adorable South Park cafe sits just between Balboa Park and the main drag of the neighborhood. Breezy weekday breakfast and lunch are the best time to visit this popular spot if at all possible.
Le Parfait Paris
The destination for French pastries, coffee and other desserts is this East Village bakery, Le Parfait Paris. There is also another location in Liberty Station.