Cozy French bistro restaurants near BART

The Bay Area is home to some great French bistros. You know, the type of place that serves standbys like cassoulet and coq au vin and also offers up specials that highlight seasonal ingredients. Many of these places are run by expat chef/owners whose repertoire of recipes are akin to a running list of what’s fresh at the market. Come fall, chefs turn to ingredients that are more available in the pantry than on the vine. We’re talking root vegetables, chestnuts, leeks and onions and winter squash, and though we may not be able to visit France this autumn, we are fortunate to have classic French restaurants within reach, thanks to BART.

This newly opened all-day bistro celebrates the Montpellier region of Southern France. The daytime menu is composed of items like fresh pastries and eggs in the morning and pistou and savory apple and goat cheese tart for lunch. At 3pm, the café celebrates happy hour until 5pm, when the space transforms into a wine bar with small plates that celebrate chef/owner Alana O’Neal’s take on Mediterranean-influenced French fare. read more...

Les Arceaux

Downtown Berkeley

With blue- and white-checkered tablecloths and bistro chairs, this Parisian-theme bistro would be at home on the Champs Elysees, but lucky for us, it’s only a quick walk from the Lafayette BART station. Enjoy classic cozy French fare like French onion soup or confit duck leg with potatoes. The wine list includes classic French varietals, offered by the glass and in 375 ml carafes. It’s a lively atmosphere, appropriate for the whole family and a popular spot for locals.


Rêve Bistro


Tucked away on a narrow street in North Beach is Café Jacqueline, the ultimate romantic spot for savory and sweet soufflés. White tablecloths and flowers set the tempo for a long evening of divine dishes prepared by hand by Madame Jacqueline herself. Unless you happen to have a grand-mère who is skilled at whipping egg whites and turning them into masterpieces, book a table and relish the authentic experience.


Café Jacqueline

Montgomery St. (SF)

Residents of Glen Park rely on this charming French restaurant to welcome them, make them feel at home, and offer up a delicious meal in the retro dining room. It’s just fancy enough for a special occasion meal (and the table side service is a bonus), but still casual enough to pop in on a weeknight when you crave bouillabaisse, steak tartare or beef bourguignon. 


Le P’tit Laurent

Glen Park (SF)

With its large covered patio and alley location, Café Claude exudes vintage Paris. The all-day menu means you can pop in for some sustenance while shopping in Union Square or before taking in a nearby performance. There’s also live jazz on the weekends if you want to make an evening soaking in the food and atmosphere. Look for classic French dishes like mussels, steak and fries and trout amandine.


Café Claude

Montgomery St. (SF)

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