Although France didn’t win the Euro Cup final, the country has much to celebrate this week. Thursday, July 14 is Bastile Day or la fête nationale as its independence day is formally known in France. To commemorate the occasion, why not be like the French and indulge in one of life’s greatest pleasures—food? San Francisco is filled with plenty of delicious French restaurants and one could easily spend the entire day enjoying traditional French eats. Start with a buttery flaky croissant at Le Marais bakery. For lunch, head to Absinthe and order a glass of Champagne with French onion soup and croque monsieur. As for dinner, you can’t beat the classic French bistro favorite, steak frites. The traditional combination of perfectly seared beef with salty crisp potatoes is always a crowd-pleaser. Wondering where we love to order steak frites? Here are the best five restaurants for the meat-lover’s meal. Pair with a glass of Burgundy or Bordeaux and toast to la révolution!
1 Cafe de la Presse
Chef Laurent Manrique has been serving up sensational French fare at Cafe de la Presse for the past 11 years. The restaurant, which is located on Grant at Bush Street, just off of Union Square, is a popular spot for visiting tourists and local Francophiles. It’s a quintessential bustling French bistro, complete with crowded outdoor seating, large U-shaped bar, friendly staff, and foreign magazines and newspapers. Cafe de la Presse is open all day, every day, and offers breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. Steak frites are on the lunch and dinner menu. The pan-roasted hanger steak comes with criss-crossing grill marks and a housemade Bordelaise sauce. Caramelized shallots and thin extra-crunchy fries round out Cafe de la Presse’s delicious rendition of steak frites.
352 Grant Avenue San Francisco, CA 94108
2 Chez Maman
Chez Maman is a beloved neighborhood bistro with two locations—the original in Portrero Hill and a second in Hayes Valley. Both destinations are cozy, intimate, unpretentious, and always packed. The menu, inspired by the archetypal French mother, consists of rustic countryside cuisine. Order baked camembert with roasted garlic and toast points, escargot with parsley and buttery shallots, or frisée salad with poached egg and lardons of bacon. The steak frites is a flat-iron steak with thin-cut French fries. A finger-licking good green peppercorn sauce is served alongside for dipping.
401 Gough Street San Francisco, CA 94102
Restaurateur Umberto Gibin and chef Staffan Terje are best known for their scrumptious Italian cuisine at Perbacco and Barbacco. However, their new eatery Volta focuses on northern Europe with modern Scandinavian and French food. Designer Cass Calder Smith sectioned this large restaurant into a series of welcoming areas filled with banquettes, cushy chairs, and sleek accents. Light pours in from the floor-to-ceiling windows and a geometric blue and white tile floor is a focal point. Everything is scrumptious, from the house-made charcuterie, specifically the duck terrine with cherry compote and truffle gastrique, to the köttbullar—tiny Swedish beef and pork meatballs with pan sauce, potato purée, and lingonberries. The steak frites are an elevated take on the simple dish. Perfectly rare beef is served atop a pool of red wine jus and generous dollop of herb butter. Bitter and cool watercress and thick-cut potato wedges are served alongside. Diners can choose the cut of steak: paleron (flat iron) or entrecôte (ribeye).
868 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103
Florio is a Pacific Heights trattoria that serves up Italian and French specialities. From Bix’s Doug Biederback, Florio has been feeding the upscale neighborhood since 1998. The welcoming restaurant is an old standby to many and for good reason. The service is friendly and the food is tasty. Dinner is offered daily from 5:30 p.m. and the excellent steak frites are one of the stars of the menu. Prime-cut bavette is served with arugula, a cone of French fries, and Florio’s maitre d’ butter.
1915 Fillmore Street San Francisco, CA 94115
5 Cafe Claude
Cafe Claude is a modern day Parisian cafe in the heart of SF’s financial district. Chef and restauranteur Franck LeClerc opened Cafe Claude 22 years ago. He’s created several other popular eateries since then, but Cafe Claude is the original and best spot for steak frites in a traditional setting. Jazz musicians play while the French waitstaff bustle to and fro pouring wine and clearing plates, wiped clean by hungry diners. At Cafe Claude the steak frites feature a bavette steak, bone marrow butter, port-shallot sauce, and addictive French fries.
7 Claude Lane San Francisco, CA 94108