by Julie Besonen, 07/03/2013
Calliope photo by Alexander Thompson • Café Boulud photo by G. Viteri
French food is holding court again in New York City, dominating the conversation in a way that hasn't been seen in years. Since Bastille Day is nigh, it's time to storm your way into the best ones. Top toques, from Andrew Carmellini to Tien Ho, are lightening up recipes and reinterpreting classics—forgoing vats of butter and extravagant checks. Prefer nostalgia? Old-school gems like La Grenouille (1962) and Le Périgord (1964) still glitter. The more nouvelle Cafe Luxembourg (1983) and Balthazar (1997) continue to draw hip, animated crowds for unfailingly excellent cuisine and stunning surroundings. Several of Daniel Boulud's restaurants are rooted in French tradition, celebrating classics like entrecôte de boeuf and pommes Anna at Café Boulud and grilled escargot en cocotte at db Bistro Moderne. Generating excitement more recently are Calliope in the East Village and Buvette in the West Village. At Dominique Ansel Bakery in SoHo, Francophilia has boiled over into mania, with lines around the block for cronuts—the half croissant, half donut that has inspired a remarkable devotion among fans. The Gallic specialties at Café Triskell in Astoria, Queens, hew more to tradition, with exquisite savory and dessert crepes. And for time-honored steak frites, tout le monde loves Midtown's low-priced Le Relais de Venise L'Entrecôte. For our other haute summer picks, see our slideshow.