Bastille Day is July 14, and it marks as good a time as any to visit the French-inspired Austin restaurants where you can find a great bite. While several restaurants will run specials on the French holiday (see below), I thought I’d name check a few places and dishes you can check out year-round.
We’ll try and attack the list in a chronological way, helping you plan out a heavy day (or week) of French eating. Head to Crepe Crazy in the morning for a Norwegian crepe filled with lox and scrambled eggs, or if you prefer a sweet crepe in the morning, you can opt for the whipped cream cheese, strawberry jam, powdered sugar and caramel sauce of the Jammin’ Jam. If it’s a weekend morning and you find yourself shopping at the Domain Northside, the duck confit with lardon-topped waffle at Toulouse Cafe & Bar will get your day off to a rich start. The open-air shopping center is also home to San Antonio import Bakery Lorraine, makers of sublime macarons, quiche Lorraine, croissant sandwiches and much more.
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If you’re south of the river, you might want to hit the pastry case at Elizabeth Street Cafe for some creative macarons like strawberry guava, a Nutella éclair and an assortment of sweet and savory croissants. Just down the street, you’ll discover the petite La Patisserie, makers of assorted French-inspired baked goods, who also have a location in North Austin. The French bakery experience continues out west in Bee Cave with Baguette et Chocolat, where you will want to order a simple sandwich of ham and brie, along with a chocolate-filled pastry.
The open-faced sandwiches at Blue Dahlia Bistro are called tartines, so maybe you’ll expand your vocabulary just by visiting. The options range from the savory (tuna salad with capers; basil and sun-dried tomatoes) to the sweet (ricotta and fig) and somewhere in between (chicken salad with dried cranberries). Whether it's quiche and a croque madame at Sunday brunch or duck confit salad at lunch, you'll always find French-inspired fare at chef Sarah McIntosh's Épicerie. Hopfields is a smart stop late in the afternoon, so you can start with the best salade Niçoise in town or the wine-soaked mussels and fries from the all-day menu, and then move to the after-5 p.m. menu that features unique escargot dumplings in a pert, lemony sauce.
You can go old school or new school to get your French fix at dinner. The family-owned Chez Nous has served as an oasis from Sixth Street madness for more than 35 years. Start with salmon rillettes before turning to entree classics like trout meunière. It was here I enjoyed a perfect steak frites and bottle of wine the day Anthony Bourdain died. The more airy and spacious Le Politique knows its way around the classics, as well. Begin with oysters and a glass of muscadet before sampling from a menu that includes hearty ratatouille, lithe gougères, rich foie gras torchon and comforting trout almondine. Make sure to order from a standout dessert list or swing back by in the morning and grab the city’s best kouign amann from the connected patisserie.
Let the late-night antics begin with absinthe service or a Vieux Carré at Peche, one of Austin’s original cocktail bars that also serves a menu that includes a luscious croque madame and cheese-capped French onion soup to assist in tempering the alcohol's blow. There is no better way to round out a night of French dining (or any kind of night, really) than with some strong cocktails, hot vibes and cool vinyl at the Justine’s. Whether you’re packed into the bar with just a glass of brandy and a massive pork chop breathy with a thyme reduction and sidled up to by a stack of au gratin potatoes or on the expansive patio sharing a charcuterie plate and bottle of rosé, you’re undoubtedly having a good time.
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Bastille Day dining events in Austin
The Alliance Française d’Austin is throwing a party in the park at the Triangle from 6 to 10 p.m. July 13, the day before Bastille Day, that will include food from Paris in a Bite and Garbo’s lobster truck, along with French-themed face painting, jugglers, a splash pad, a balloon artist and French and Cajun music. Cost for non-members is $8 in advance and $10 at the entrance. 4600 Triangle Ave.
Cooperative brewpub Black Star Co-op gets into the French swing 4 to 10 p.m. on Bastille Day with a French-inspired menu. 7020 Easy Wind Drive. 512-452-2337, blackstar.coop.
Classic Austin restaurant Chez Nous will follow its annual tradition of serving a special prix fixe menu on Bastille Day, with price and offerings still to be determined as of press time. 510 Neches St.512-473-2413, cheznousaustin.com
Le Politique serves a special brunch buffet from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Bastille Day that includes oyster and crepe stations, a bevy of French pastries and much more. Cost is $35. 110 San Antonio St. 512-580-7651, lepolitiqueaustin.com.
The Four Seasons turns its regular Sunday brunch into a French celebration from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Bastille Day and then continues the party with a champagne happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m., complete with lawn games and live music. 98 San Jacinto Blvd. 512-478-4500, fourseasons.com/austin.
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