Of the many European culinary styles that have become commonplace in America, French cuisine still flies just under the radar. We’re well acquainted with its neighbor, Italian food, which is one of the most popular styles of cooking in America. We know less about French restaurants in Kansas City. But we’re here to let you in on a secret: Kansas City has a great French dining scene.
We are a city of hidden gems, and French food in Kansas City is no different. You probably won’t stumble across it driving through the city. You’ve got to be on the lookout. And when you are looking, you’ll find great options all the way from Overland Park to North Kansas City.
French Food in Kansas City: A Brief History
The history of French cooking in America is a tree with many roots. France was one of the European nations who aggressively settled American land, especially northern areas, and these settlers brought some elements of their cultural cuisine with them.
Maybe the most surprising root of French food in America is founding father Thomas Jefferson. Before becoming our third president, Jefferson was sent to Paris as an ambassador to the French. Jefferson’s servant, a man named James Hemings, was tutored by French chefs during their time in Paris. Upon returning to American, Hemings would prepare lavish French spreads for all of Jefferson’s guests, setting the stage for French food in America as a fine-dining experience.
While Italian cuisine became a household staple and classic American comfort food, French restaurants in Kansas City and around the country are primarily thought of as high-class dining locations. The legacy began by Jefferson’s dinner parties has carried all the way to today.
On the menu at Kansas City French restaurants, you are likely to find meals packed with flavor combinations you aren’t used to experiencing. French cooking incorporates fruits and vegetables like apples, berries, leeks, mushrooms and squash more than most other types of cooking. Typical meats include poultry, beef, lamb, duck and veal. Many meals are topped with some sort of light, creamy sauce. The end result is a fruity, rich, creamy plate.
Where to Find French Restaurants in Kansas City
You can find French restaurants in Kansas City all over the metro area. Style and price will vary, but there’s quality all around.
- Chez Elle: This café serves crepes, coffee and more. It’s located in the Summit Theater building in the historic Westside.
- Le Fou Frog: If you’re looking for a night out at a French restaurant in Kansas City, Le Fou Frog should be near the top of your list. From the outside, this small, orange building in the River Market doesn’t look like much, but they serve up some of the best French food in Kansas City.
- Westport Café & Bar: Lamb skewers, chicken liver toasts, Blue Point oysters, crepes — Westport Café & Bar’s menu features French plates that will give diners a unique experience and delicious meal.
- Aixois French Bistro: Aixios has called Brookside home since 2001. It was opened by a husband and wife team and has been serving traditional French dishes to hungry locals since.
- Café Provence: Head southwest and you’ll find Café Provence in Prairie Village. You don’t have to worry about dressing up for this casual and friendly Kansas City French restaurant, but the food will still be top-notch.
- Charisse: This downtown French restaurant in Kansas City will wow you with its menu and atmosphere. The restaurant is simply beautiful. It is a perfect date night location for anyone.
- Café Des Amis: Located in Parkville, this local French bistro in Kansas City offers delicious cuisine with a warm atmosphere.
- Seven Swans Creperie: A departure from the other restaurants on this list, this KC food truck takes classic French crepes on the road. You can often find Seven Swans at the corner of 31st and Gillham in midtown Kansas City.
These French restaurants in Kansas City, Mo., have diverse menu offerings, and you’re sure to find something you love at one of them. For the full French cuisine experience, you could choose a classic dish like one of the following.
- Soupe a L’oignon: A traditional French onion soup, made with beef stock and cheese, sometimes using cognac for an added kick
- Confit De Canard: Slow-cooked duck leg with herbs, lentils and greens
- Bouillabaisse: A classic seafood stew that is full of lobster, fish and clam and flavored with a variety of spices
- Veal: Prepared uniquely by each chef, veal is a classic staple of French cuisine and featured on nearly every menu at a French restaurant in Kansas City
- Crepes: A light, pancake-like shell wrapped around either sweet or savory ingredients
- Crème Brulee: Perhaps the most famous French dessert, this dish is made of heavy cream, vanilla, sugar, and egg, and finished with a torch to crisp the top layer