French food has had it rough in recent years. Once upon a time, it was considered the world’s finest, with maybe only Chinese as its nearest competitor. Having a French chef was a sign that a restaurant (or a wealthy individual) knew what fine food was and how to get it.
How times have changed…. Many of the best chefs cooking in U.S. restaurants today have had French training, either in formal cooking schools like the Cordon Bleu or through stints at restaurants in France, but the food they’re cooking might well incorporate flavors from Japan, India, Vietnam, Peru, or Spain, or be just plain old- or new-style American. And the restaurants everybody seems to want to go to, especially in the big coastal capitals, are more likely to be Italian, Mexican, or Korean, than French.
There’s still something about la cuisine française, however. Whether it’s bistro fare like pâté or onion soup or intricate contemporary masterpieces of the kind that might be served at such Michelin three-star places as the French Laundry in Napa Valley or Le Bernardin in Manhattan – or anything in-between – French cooking at its best offers a complexity and subtlety that still pleases our palates, however much we might also enjoy spaghetti alla carbonara, tacos de birria, or bibimbap. (These are the best Michelin three-star restaurants in the world.)
To compile a list of the best French restaurant in every state, 24/7 Tempo consulted reviews and ratings on sites including Gayot, Michelin, Tasting Table, Time Out, Culture Trip, Business Insider, and Yelp, as well as numerous local and regional sources.
In making our final choices, we considered not only various markers of quality (star ratings, effusive critical praise, etc.) but also, insofar as it could be determined, the fidelity each establishment pays to authentic French culinary traditions, whether classical or contemporary.
Sometimes the competition was stiff – as in California, Illinois, New York, Texas, or Nevada, all of which have a wealth of French restaurants to choose from. In other cases (Wyoming, West Virginia, the Dakotas), it was more difficult to find a well-regarded restaurant that served French food exclusively or even primarily, but we eventually came up with credible representatives of the genre for those states too. (If French food just isn’t your thing, however, consider this list of the best Italian restaurant in every state.)
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