Bonjour, nos amis! This week we bring you the best places to spend Bastille Day here in Union Square. We’re home to a critical mass of diverse French restaurants in what was once a small French neighborhood long ago in San Francisco history. Now, what remains is a school and church where children speak French most of the day and, of course, the cuisine! Yes, the delicious, buttery, rich flavors of France are here for you to profit from! Whether its traditional classics or reimagined French feasts with a California twist, we know you’ll want to celebrate La France by sitting down to a long French meal with friends and family and experiencing some joie de vivre! Here’s our list of places to party a la mode!
- Cafe de la Presse, a charming French café with a penchant for international literature, will be showcasing classic French favorites like duck confit and steak tartare, as well as their usual Saturday brunch fare.
- The Grand Cafe Brasserie & Bar, housed in the Hotel Monaco is perhaps the most impressive of our French restaurants. With beautiful tall ceilings and Art Deco architecture, it was once a grand ballroom that survived the 1906 earthquake and fire. Chef Alicia Jenish will be serving up complementary glasses of wine and cupcakes (Let them eat cake!) starting at 5:30 and offer a special menu with seafood cassoulet, beef cheek bourgignon and other French favorites.
- Cafe Claude is always a charming place to spend Bastille Day. Their California take on traditional French cuisine paired with live jazz in the evening is sure to get you in the spirit. Little sister Café Claudine is another nice spot for lunch on Bastille Day and offers French influenced dishes with fresh, local ingredients.
- The intimate, candle-lit atmosphere at Bouche is quite reminiscent of a Paris Cafe, and it doesn't hurt that the servers have French Accents. Enjoy one of Nicholas Borzee's innovative French-inspired dishes like Arugula pasta with morels or herb crusted halibut with preserved lemon to truly feel you are tucked away on a cobblestone street in Montmartre.
- Le Central is the grand père of French restaurants in SF. Since its opening in 1974, it has been the place to lunch for local celebs and prominent members of the community like former mayor Willie Brown and Wilkes Bashford. Their annual Bastille Day celebration featuring live music and a special menu of French delicacies like escargots de Bourgogne and their famous white bean cassoulet.
- La Boulange du Dome and La Boulange on Sutter Street are more casual alternatives for your annual dose of Frenchy fare. Stop by on Bastille Day (when they’ll probably be giving out a free French treat), and get a flaky croissant or fluffy macaron, while thanking France for its wonderful pastry!