4 New (or Refreshed) French Bistros and Bakeries Around DC

Where to dig into hefty burgers, elegant breakfast pastries, and more.


location_on 2915 M St., NW

language Website

‘Strawberry three ways’ dessert at L’Avant-Garde. Photography by Greg Powers.

This chic dining room in Georgetown is just over a year old, and already there have been seismic changes in the kitchen. Founding chef Gilles Epié exited in January, and soon after, Sébastien Giannini stepped into his place, launching a completely different menu. While it’s hard not to miss Epié’s elegant takes on foie gras and Chateaubriand, Giannini’s creative, Riviera-inspired approach has its merits.

What to get: Tuna tartare with dates, almonds, and harissa; branzino livened up with shaved bottarga and candied lemon; roast chicken; strawberries three ways, with the fruit in jelly, sorbet, and marshmallow form.


Gustave Boulangerie

location_on 2213 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria

language Website

Photograph by Lauren Vanni.

Del Ray’s breakfast game has always been strong, and this snug year-old bakery, with staffers in cute Breton shirts, makes it even better. At night, the backyard opens up and becomes a dog-friendly hangout serving beer and wine.

What to get: Kouign-amann, raisin-swirl, and cinnamon-bun pastries; canelés; sourdough sandwich with prosciutto, fig jam, Brie, and pear.


La Bonne Vache

location_on 3265 Prospect St., NW

language Website

A leisurely feast at La Bonne Vache. Photograph of La Bonne Vache courtesy of La Bonne Vache

Could this really have been a Booeymonger just last year? The counter at the front of this rustic bistro is the only sign of the snug space’s former life as a 50-year-old deli. Two restaurant-vet couples—Ari and Claire Wilder and Rob and Rachel Aikens—have taken over, creating a place that’s charming, relatively affordable, tasty—and, no surprise, often a mob scene.

What to get: Gougères; steak au poivre burger; chicken paillard; crème caramel.



location_on 1323 Fourth St., NE

language Website

Photograph by Birch Thomas.

Stephen Starr and Keith McNally’s bistro in Union Market—a replica of its New York sibling—has a buzzy dining room and huge, hit-or-miss menu. Case in point: A New York strip was not only too salty but also tough and chewy. Order the steak hache, though, and you’re rewarded with what tastes like a hybrid of a great burger and a great, mustardy steak tartare.

What to get: Escargots; moules frites; lemon spaghetti; pierogi; grilled branzino.

This article appears in the May 2024 issue of Washingtonian.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.