3 French Bistros Perfect For City Girls Who Prefer To Dine Alone
Oh, the gluttonous wonderland that is the French Bistro.
There’s something about the oh-so-aloof nature of a French restaurant in New York that renders it the perfect environment for introverted city bitches (like ~yours truly~) to dine, solo. For it's the only place for a girl to garner peace in public because let's get real, babe. All the other diners are far too busy shoving spoonfuls of soufflè between their lips to notice you—you sweet young thing—perched along the bar by yourself, savagely dunking your “frites” into a heaping side of béarnaise sauce as you stare blankly into space.
I don't care what your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your partner, your mistress or your mother for that matter has told you. No one, I repeat *no one*—is as sexy as a steaming hot butter-soaked snail.
ESCARGOTS AT CHEZ JOSEPHINE. PHOTO-CREDIT: UNSURE. FOUND ON MY PHONE.
Maybe it's their urban bohemian roots, maybe it's their effortlessly cool “je ne sais quoi,” maybe it's their tendency to hire pouty, dissociated (AKA chic as fuck) waiters that always sort of treat patrons *not* like paying customers but more like an annoying distant relative that has suddenly stumbled unannounced into their living rooms and DEMANDED dining service—I'm not quite sure, babe.
ME HAPPY AT BALTHAZAR. PHOTO CREDIT: MY MUM
All I'm sure about is this: for whatever reason, the gluttonous wonderland that is the French Bistro not only suits the likes of independent New Yorkers who want to binge on Bordeaux and baguettes without having to make small talk—but those of us who are equally hungry to spy on glittery, eccentric diners who manage to always be as delectable as the ~creamiest~ chocolate-drenched profiterole to ever exist.
So if you like to people-watch as you binge on bouillabaisse by yourself—here are three New York City French bistros packed with patrons as dynamic as their menus:
1. Chez Josephine
Anyone who really knows me knows that I love fiercely love the mid-town miracle that is Chez Josephine. If you want to learn about my personal connection to this one-of-a-kind New York diamond check out this article. But this—my darlings—isn't about me or my writing or my haphazard dining experiences in Manhattan. It's about restaurants. So let's get to it.
Yours truly being a hooligan at CHEZ JOSEPHINE. PHOTO CREDIT: SAM PERLSTEIN
Set foot inside of theatre row’s Chez Josephine, take in the luxurious red-velvet and royal-blue walls adorned with provocative paintings of Parisienne sex symbol and civil rights activist, Josephine Baker, and find yourself air-lifted out of post-pandemic Hell’s Kitchen and dropped smack into Paris in the 1920s on her most extravagant day.
Opened by the late French-American restauranteur Jean Claud Baker in 1986 as a tribute to his adopted mother, Josephine Baker, Chez Josephine is a rare jewel where you can indulge in a savory serving of steak tartar whilst watching an elderly fifth avenue heiress reeking of Chanel #5 and nicotine clink champagne glasses with the likes of an off duty Drag Queen, a midwestern divorcee restarting her life at 50 and a chorus boy in pleather, as a man in a bowtie serenades the room with respective Billy Joel and Lady Gaga covers alike, from a glamorous, live piano.
A long-standing institution for eccentrics of all ages, classes and creeds—the patrons of Chez Josephine are as decadent as their famous butter-and-garlic-soaked escargots. Wash down a bite of pan-seared calf’s liver with a boozy gin gimlet (“Josephine’s Gimlet”) and silence that cell phone. ‘Cause the most entertaining show in this city doesn’t go down on the Broadway stages—but at the legendary Chez Josephine!
RUBA AUDEH AND I BEING HOOLIGANS AT LUCIEN. PHOTO CREDIT: MY MUM
Where does glamour crash up against grit? Downtown New York, honey! And what shoe-boxed-sized French Bistro favored by kooky New York socialites of the Julia Fox ilk, best embodies the spirit of downtown? Lucien, of course!
JULIA FOX BLOWING OUT BIRTHDAY CANDLES WITH KANYE AT LUCIEN. PHOTO CREDIT: INSTAGRAM STORIES
Holding court at the most downtown location possible of “1st and 1st,” the modestly decorated East Village bistro with its tiny sunny-gold dining room, oh-so French menu, and exorbitant wine list represents the wild juxtaposition of lower Manhattan so perfectly, it almost feels like an SNL skit.
If SNL skits were full of beautiful people in ratty denim and clogs, drinking ice-cold martinis, that is. Twist your fork around their equal-parts-comforting, equal-parts-stylish signature dish, “Lobster Fra Diavolo over a Bed of Linguini” and watch blonde-headed influencers, billionaires, graffiti artists, rappers, it girls and fashion freaks wax poetic about the “gentrification” of “downtown” over $52 plates of lusty roasted squab with wild mushroom risotto as you take in the eclectic nuance of the real village people.
Real talk: there’s no burger quite like a French bistro burger and there’s no better place to sink your teeth into one, alone, than Chez Moi in Brooklyn Heights. Feel extra cool and extra french by adding foie gras and a gorgeously gooey fried egg to your burger, for added swag.
Speaking of swag, despite Brooklyn Height’s reputation for serving as home to contrived yummy mummies and perfectly coiffed children — the vibe of Chez Moi is less of a “bougie family” vibe and more of “the cool professor you always wanted to befriend” vibe. Observe smart, hip, child-less Brooklynites devour casual/chic brasserie classics like steak frites, escargots, and quite possibly the lushest all-natural chicken in the borough, as they swish martinis and passionately discuss they new mayor.