You walk down a slim cobblestone-paved alley as you follow the smell of freshly baked bread and macarons. You sit down at a quaint outdoor cafe and look at the menu. Quiche, escargot and pastries fill the pages as you light a cigarette and order a glass of France's finest red wine.
Suddenly, you hear a man shouting profanities at the car in front of him during rush hour traffic. Then, you feel droplets of sweat rolling down your neck as you hear the high-pitched squawks of the light rail.
You’re in Phoenix.
While you may be eating on Camelback Road instead of the Champs-Élysées, these 12 Valley restaurants are serving up some of the best French fare since Chef Remy in Ratatouille.
Amuse Bouche17058 West Bell Road, Surprise
Amuse Bouche entertains the concept of American dishes being influenced by French ideas. Enjoy the lighter fare in life, such as the date and baby spinach salad with Manchego cheese, almonds, caramelized onions, and lemon vinaigrette. Or, coat your face with powdered sugar as you munch on the light and fluffy New Orleans-style beignets. If you’re craving a more patriotic experience, live your best vie and try Le Forestier burger with mushroom, caramelized onions, Mornay sauce, and arugula laying between two brioche buns.
Board & Batten4012 East Palm Street, Mesa
While Board & Batten only stands behind Stonebridge Manor in Mesa, it could be a white-brick French château unto itself. Outdoor seating and a cozy interior complement the French-American fare perfectly. The dinner selections encompass house-made ricotta with burnt local honey, as well as flattened chicken with sweet potato gnocchi. Arrive early for the Saturday brunch to taste the croque madame — a French breakfast sandwich fit for Marie Antoinette or Madame Tussaud.
Café Monarch6939 East First Avenue, Scottsdale
Café Monarch offers four-course dinners with a variety of enticing options for each course. You’ll be stumped trying to decide between the organic New Zealand lamb rack and the citrus-crusted Chilean sea bass. The easy choice comes last in the scrumptious shape of the bananas Foster beignets with sea salt caramel gelato and candied pecans. This Scottsdale-based café also creates an authentic European ambiance with its design. The interior of the restaurant reflects France’s finest restaurants with white tablecloths, gold-painted plates, and chandeliers hanging above. The ivy-covered exterior recreates a cozy outdoor café in the south of France, complete with an artisanal paint-chipped door and bountiful flowers. Café Monarch is truly la vie en rose.
Chez Vous8787 North Scottsdale Road, #228, Scottsdale
Chez Vous, a French creperie nestled in The Shops Gainey Village, showcases a delicious medley of crepes alongside no-fuss French favorites. The French owners offer classic croissants as well as a variety of crepe confections that even Ricky Bobby would succumb to. A highlight of Chez’s savory crepes includes the brie crepe, with sautéed chicken, apples, caramelized onion, and melted brie, all “finished with apple cider.” If you’re feeling sweeter than savory, try Emily’s Favorite — a crepe folded with salty creamy caramel and vanilla ice cream.
Essence Bakery Café3830 East Indian School Road
You may have tasted huevos rancheros, but you’ve never tried Huevos Frenchos. No, seriously, we’re not making that up for the purpose of this list. At Essence Bakery Cafe you can try a French take on a Mexican dish composed of French-style organic scrambled eggs with avocado and tomato salsa. While the Huevos Frenchos might be creative and delicious, Essence’s spotlight shines on its pastries. French chocolate caramel pies and tarts, gruyère cheese coffee cakes, and, depending on when you go, a variety of seasonal croissants in honey apple and hatch-chile cheese. If you’re in the mood for hot drink, pop into Essence and grab a mug of Parisian hot chocolate ... and a few award-winning macarons for good measure.
Geordie's Restaurant2501 East Telawa Trail
Geordie's Restaurant, the historic Wrigley Mansion's gourmet eatery, offers kitchen space to the James Beard Award-winning Chef Christopher Gross. He and his experienced culinary team plate many European dishes, which includes French cooking in the form of caviar, duck confit, foie gras, and the well-loved chocolate. Geordie's offers lunch, dinner, small plates, happy hour specials, and one of the most beloved brunches in the city. The extensive wine list offers more than 800 bottles, many from France, and are all selected by award-winning wine director Paola Embry. Wrigley Mansion also offers verandas, patios with twinkling city views, five private dining rooms, and the elegant Jamie's Wine Bar.
Le Sans Souci7030 East Bella Vista Drive, Cave Creek
If you’re looking for a romantic getaway a la Valentine’s Day, anniversary, or date night, look no further than Cave Creek. Tucked between two mountains, Le Sans Souci serves traditional French cuisine alongside an affectionate Valentine’s Day menu. You can start with a “heart” of artichoke vinaigrette, move onto the sautéed chicken in a champagne cream sauce, and finish with cherries jubilee — for two, of course. Other notable classics include escargot a la bourguignonne, or snails covered with a delicious garlic butter herb sauce, and coq au vin, delicious chicken cooked in Burgundy wine.
Vincent on Camelback3930 East Camelback Road
Since 1986, Vincent on Camelback has been using traditional French cooking techniques as a platform to showcase Southwestern ingredients. Corn, cilantro, and masa form the roots of the dishes representing a delicious hybrid of French and Southwestern fare. This transatlantic marriage can be tasted in dishes like the smoked salmon quesadilla with horseradish sauce or the Anaheim chile stuffed with wild mushrooms, lobster, and goat cheese. Vincent on Camelback will have you internally quoting Hannah Montana because you’ll get “the best of both worlds.”
Vogue Bistro15411 West Waddell Road, Surprise
Located just a few minutes from the White Tank Mountains, Vogue Bistro offers American grub with a sharp and elegant French twist. Vogue’s menu serves as a testament to the French American vibe. The award-winning meatloaf sits beside a confit duck leg with a seared duck breast. Other highlights include the Vogue Escargot and the Arizona burger topped with hickory-smoked chutney, crispy onions, asiago cheese, and horseradish aioli. Wash down this French fare with a drink from Vogue’s extensive and creative cocktail menu. À votre santé!
Voilà French Bistro10135 East Vía Linda, Scottsdale
“This is not la nouvelle cuisine but la cuisine traditionnelle moderne,” wrote Chef Jean-Christophe on Voilà French Bistro’s website. Voilà’s food embodies Jean-Christophe’s mission by demonstrating a modern twist on traditional French cuisine. Start your dinner with six savory open mussels next to parsley butter and garlic. Then, graduate to L’Agneau — a rack of savory lamb with pesto sauce. Last, finish off your French feast with a cute, puffy stack of chocolate macarons with chocolate ganache. By the end of your meal, hopefully you can lean back in your chair, pat your belly, and say voilà!
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Zinc Bistro15034 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
Chef Matt Carter's Zinc Bistro may not serve strictly classic French fare — we're pretty sure, at least, that the French don't specialize in scallops with chorizo risotto — but when it comes to finding a bona fide French dining experience in metro Phoenix, this Scottsdale brasserie simply can't be beat. From the pressed metal ceiling tiles to the white tablecloths, everything about Zinc harkens back to a cozy Parisian sidewalk cafe, except here you dig into a Plateaux de Fruits de Mer with oysters, lobster, mussels, and more, followed by a cup top-tier French onion soup. For mains, Carter offers tender short ribs, steak, and, of course, excellent frites.
Zinqué4712 North Goldwater Boulevard, #110, Scottsdale
Experience authentic Parisian culture and cuisine in this French eatery complete with a 30-foot tall, 22-year-old oak tree in the outdoor patio. Inside, Zinqué literally brings France to your table in the form of imported bread from the Poilâne Bakery in Paris. If you don’t fill up on the Parisian bread, then be sure to taste the freshly baked prosciutto-gruyère croissants, steak-frites, or a whole grilled Branzino fish. The bistro also offers delicious ratatouille that could quite possibly transport you back to fond memories of your childhood in the countryside of France — if you were so lucky.