While few eateries in Austin can be described as exclusively French, many serve classic French cuisine or France-inspired dishes.
Featuring an ever-evolving seasonal menu, Lenoir buys its produce and meat from central Texas purveyors whenever possible. Main dishes include crispy oyster mushrooms with blue corn polenta, whole roasted fish with crab curry, and wagyu ribeye filet with potatoes and bok choy. When available, the coho salmon ceviche -- with melon and avocado puree -- is a must-have. Located in a little old house, Lenoir is an excellent choice for a first or fiftieth date. 1807 South 1st; (512) 215-9778
A peaceful respite from nearby 6th Street, Chez Nous is a French restaurant where many of the waiters are actually French. Opened in 1982, the casual bistro is reasonably priced, but the food is consistently top-notch. For starters, try the escargot with mushrooms and the veal pate. Can’t-miss entrees include the duck confit and salmon with crab remoulade. Chocolate mousse is the dessert of choice. 510 Neches Street; (512) 473-2413
At the opposite end of the attitude scale from Chez Nous is Justine’s. To be fair, though, the attitude here is mostly hipster-derived -- not French. Despite the disadvantage of being located in far east Austin, the little restaurant has gained a seriously loyal following. The space is so intimate that many diners prefer to eat outside when the weather’s nice. In addition to escargot and salmon, you’ll find a little Austin cheekiness on the menu: The Royale with Cheese. Despite the goofy name, it’s one fine burger and fries.
Note to parents: Don’t visit Justine’s website with kids in the room; the site immediately begins playing a vintage softcore porn film. 4710 East 5th Street; (512) 385-2900