As Americans, we generally don't give a shit about the historical observances of other countries. There is one major exception, though - any holiday or festival that allows us to get really drunk or eat a lot of food. See St. Patrick's Day, Carnivale, and Cinco de Mayo.
Today is Bastille Day, the day French people commemorate the day that kicked off the French Revolution. In France, there are parades and traditional hours-long feasts to celebrate Bastille Day. In Dallas, you can celebrate in a decidedly American way: by eating as much French food as you possibly can. Here are seven places you can do so.
The Grape It's not exactly a French restaurant, but The Grape is one of the city's best bistros. You'll find plenty of French influence on the menu, most notably in the appetizers. Charcuterie is always a safe bet here, but you can also close your eyes and pretend you're in Paris while you inhale a traditional moules frites, or wine-and-butter steamed mussels served with garlic-herb fries. Go full-European and dip your fries into the aioli - it's much better than that Heinz ketchup on the table.
Rise No 1 Souffle is one of those dishes that always feels like a splurge, even if it's lighter than the meat-and-potatoes that constitute the American diet. At Rise No 1, the souffles are impossibly light in texture while packing a serious flavor punch. The traditional ham and Gruyere souffle is a tried-and-true, and the spinach souffle is one of the city's very best vegetarian meals.
5. Village Baking Co. It wouldn't be a day of celebrating French culture without eating a little pastry. Or a lot. When you go to Village Baking Co. in Lower Greenville, good luck deciding between the flaky croissants, rich and dense caneles, and French fruit tarts filled with vanilla bean pastry cream. If you're really trying to be a Francophile, branch out with the kouign-amann, a dense and flaky cake made by layering bread dough with butter and sugar.
Boulevardier A lot of Dallas' French options are stuffy, but Boulevardier is as relaxed as they come. Bouillabaisse, a rich seafood stew traditional to Provence, is hard to find in Dallas, and there are few better than Boulevardier's très traditionnel take. Clams, octopus, mussels, shrimp, and other seafood are perfectly simmered in a lobster-saffron broth, which is perfect for sopping up with a little baguette. It may seem a little counter-intuitive to eat soup when it's this hot outside, but bouillabaisse is the perfect summer dinner if you want something satisfying.
Chocolate Secrets Without the French, we wouldn't have fine chocolatiers, and that's worth celebrating on its own. At Chocolate Secrets, you'll find a dizzying selection of bonbons, truffles, and other decadent chocolates. Most are made in-house, but some are imported from some of the best chocolatiers in France. Don't miss the macarons, one of the few versions in Dallas that resembles the crispy and light filled cookie in France.
St. Martin's Wine Bistro Eating at this cozy restaurant on Lower Greenville is like transporting yourself back to France in the 1980s. The room is dark and the food is a little outdated but delicious nonetheless. Head to St. Martin's for happy hour, when the restaurant's buttery escargot and much-loved Champagne brie soup are served at a discount. If you're planning to stick around for dinner, there's a perfectly serviceable beef Bourguignon on the menu.
Mercat Wind down from your big day of eating at Mercat, a French bistro in Uptown's St. Ann Court. Wine is an integral part of the French diet, and on a day like Bastille Day, it's probably best to stick with Champagne. Order a French 75, made with sparkling wine, gin, and a little St. Germain elderflower liqueur, or go straight-up with a bottle of bubbly that's a little bit nicer than the Korbel you make your mimosas with. For dessert, a passion fruit creme brulee is the perfect ending to a perfectly French Bastille Day.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.