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Bon appétit: The Best French Food in Washington, D.C.


The first time I ever ate French food, it was in a little street café in Montreal.  My parents, my best friend, and I had gotten caught up in the melee that was a flamenco guitar concert in the square of this foreign city and we were directionless.  To make matters even worse, none of us spoke French.

It was dark and we were starving, so we took a seat at a promising-looking French café.  Everything was in French and I’m sure our waitress thought we were “horribly uncultured” because 1) we were Americans and 2) probably didn’t speak any other language other than English.  Actually, this isn’t true of our group, but in this case, we were out of luck.  No speakers of le français in our party.

My friend and I tried our best to translate using the two months of French we had learned in 6th grade—and picked out dishes that carried known words; poulet (chicken), beouf (beef), vin (wine).  It was a start.

My mom found a word she knew; foie gras.  I’ve eaten strange things from all over the globe—but I had never eaten duck liver.  My mother promptly ordered the dish to share.  It was my first taste of authentic, French food.  It was heaven—and so very French.

I am proud to say that there is another extraordinary establishment devoted to the French culinary arts in Washington, D.C.  It is in my top two favorite restaurants in the city (the other is an authentic Italian joint that also stole my heart). I eat at this place so often that the owner knows my face and I when I sit down, the waiter asks how I have been since the last time I was there.  How much can change in 5-10 days?

It’s that good.

The name of this well-known secret is Bistro Cacao.