Bon appétit! Vancouver's excellent French bistros

Who isn’t always in the mood for simple, delicious, affordable food, served in a casual but elegant setting? Enter the bistro. The French may have mastered this perfect night out, but Vancouverites are happily carrying on the tradition, as is evident by the popularity of the bistros below.

Jules Restaurant

1
216 Abbott St, Vancouver, BC V6B 2K8

The leafy, cobblestoned setting of this Gastown bistro is perfectly suited to the air of Frenchness it exudes. Straight out of Montreal, the interior is all black and white tile, dark wood and chandeliers. A perfect date restaurant and also great for a crowd, start with escargots or an Alsatian tart before moving on to entrecote or moules frites. An excellent wine menu rounds out the meal. Oh, and be sure to ask for another basket of that perfect sliced baguette.

Les Faux Bourgeois Bistro

2
663 15th Ave E, Vancouver, BC V5T 2R6

A pioneer on the formerly sketchy block of Fraser and Kingsway, Les Faux Bourgeois has expanded to accommodate the legions of Vancouver diners who have been flocking here since 2008. This is no-fuss, old world French cooking: salade de gesiers, pâté de campagne duck confit, bouillabaisse. Staff are charmingly French-accented and the space itself refreshingly unfussy. Reservations are strongly recommended, or find a spot at the bar if that craving for Cassoulet on a cold January night quickly needs addressing.

Au Comptoir

3
2278 4th Ave W, Vancouver, BC V6K 1N8

Excelling at that effortless style, grace and laid-back perfection seemingly innate in the French, Au Comptoir is a welcoming, charming and highly authentic Kitsilano bistro. Open for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner, this instant favourite turns out Parisian café classics. Croque Madame, salade de betteraves, canard confit and coquilles St. Jacques to name a few, are all prepared simply and elegantly with the best of our region’s local ingredients. Grab a table in the airy dining room, or sidle up to the stunning tin bar (i.e., dine au comptoir) like the French so routinely do.

Salade de Fruits Inc

4
1545 7th Ave W, Vancouver, BC V6J 1S1

Grab a table either before or after some French cultural programming at le Centre Culturel on 7th. Housed within the community centre, this lovely little café/bistro presents the classics as well as some additional items (think vegetarian lasagne and crab cakes). Focus your choices on those classics, though. Salade de grenouille (frog’s leg salad) and carré d’agneau (veal) showcase the traditional roots of chef Antoine Bonard. Try the changing weekly table d’hôte — a three-course meal at a very reasonable $28.

Tableau Bar Bistro

5
1181 Melville St, Vancouver, BC V6E 0A3

Lively, dark and filled with an eclectic mix of diners — suits, travelers, dates, girlfriends, older couples — Tableau in Coal Harbour encourages lingering. Stop in for an after-work drink at their bar and it won’t be long before your stomach starts to growl as you smell the aromas from the kitchen waft through the dining room. Have them find you a table in back, order dishes as you crave them and stretch out the evening — this epitomizes relaxed bistro dining.

Sorella

6
3369 Cambie St, Vancouver, BC V5Z 2W6

Another tiny space with big French appeal, Pied-à-Terre in Cambie Village seats just 30 people. Black banquettes, dark floors and unadorned wooden tables let the simple dishes shine. Start with an aperitif — Lillet or Dubonnet, say — while you decide whether to go for the prix fixe menu or à la carte. Either way, your meal will arrive via excellent service, on crisp white dishes, elegantly and simply prepared. This is neighbourhood casual fine dining at its best.

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