Barrington Country Bistro
718 W. Northwest Hwy. (Foundry Center), Barrington. 847-842-1300
Polished decor and refined cooking distinguish this gem. The onion soup gratinée oozes perfection, as does the rabbit pâté. Seared Alaskan halibut proves equally satisfying. A warm chocolate raspberry tart with orange cream provides a sweet ending.
L & D Mon–Sat. Free dinner parking, wheelchair accessible, child friendly, outdoor dining. $$$
4518 N. Lincoln. Lincoln Square. 773-271-6100
Satisfy bistro longings with mussels in Belgian ale or a caramelized onion strudel. Go meaty with a thick, juicy pork chop in white wine au jus, or vege out on classic Nice-style chickpea crêpes filled with vegetables and melting goat cheese. Linger over a fine lemon tart and a glass of Sauternes.
D nightly. Br Sun. Wheelchair accessible, child friendly, outdoor dining. $$
Bistrot Margot •
1437 N. Wells. Old Town. 312-587-3660
Lyonnaise onion soup, escargots persillade, and all the classics are yours at this Parisian boîte.
L Mon–Fri, D nightly. Br Sat, Sun. Wheelchair accessible, child friendly, outdoor dining, high noise leve.l $$$
226 W. Chicago. River North. 312-265-0911
The look (black, white, red), music (Piaf), and menu (onion soup, snails, crème brûlée) come straight from a Paris playbook, but astute cooking and a truly cozy vibe in this narrow room transcend cliché. Reasonably priced, mostly French, wines.
D Mon–Sat. Wheelchair accessible. $$$
Chez Joël Bistro
1119 W. Taylor. Little Italy. 312-226-6479
Get in on the neighborhood’s big secret: bold French flavors served at palatable prices by an au fait—yet unstuffy—staff. An arugula salad with honey mustard dressing, fork- tender lamb shank, and steak frites all deliver.
L Fri–Sun, D Tue–Sun. Br Fri–Sun. Wheelchair accessible, child friendly, outdoor dining. $$
D & J Bistro •
466 S. Rand, Lake Zurich. 847-438-8001
Between the classics and the specials, this popular spot has plenty of winners, including a tender lamb shank and fine profiteroles. Small but solid wine list.
L Tue–Fri, D Tue–Sun. Free dinner parking, wheelchair accessible, child friendly, outdoor dining, high noise level. $$
18 S. Michigan. Loop. 312-578-0763
French. Consistently good but rarely surprising, Chris Gawronski’s classic French dishes and Frenchy inventions, such as figs with lobster and pumpkin with tuna crudo, show finesse and taste to match the attractive room. Good cocktails.
L Mon–Fri, D nightly. Wheelchair accessible, child friendly, outdoor dining. $$$$
1958 N. Damen. Bucktown. 773-862-6600
Culinary fads hold little sway over this charming landmark. It’s a survivor, thanks in large part to the kitchen’s love affair with butter, cream, and garlic. To wit: crispy frog’s legs, veal sweetbreads with a Dijonnaise sauce, poached salmon under beurre blanc. Nice wines and accommodating service.
L & D Mon–Sat. $$
Le Vichyssois •
220 W. Rte. 120, Lakemoor. 815-385-8221
Bernard Crétier’s haute sauces and classic recipes have drawn fans to this throwback for years. The pastry cart holds a lavish array of fruit tarts, nut tortes, and other singular treats.
D Wed–Sun. Free dinner parking, wheelchair accessible. $$
64 Green Bay, Winnetka. 847-441-3100
The elegant retreat reminds you just how enjoyable—and rich—formal French dining can be. Think sweetbread appetizers, Dijon-style short ribs, and yellowtail snapper with cauliflower purée. The wine list is first-rate. Three prix fixe menus ($49.50, $58, $75).
D Tue–Sun. Free dinner parking, wheelchair accessible, child friendly, BYO (up to $5 corkage; Tue only) $$$$