Beginners Guide to French Dining in San Diego

by Krunch Guide

Publishedon 04/04/2014 - 11:09 pm

San Diego has long been known as a popular destination for foodies. With plenty of culinary options for all types of food lovers, many visitors and natives alike have found there is no shortage of restaurants in this city; particularly for those looking for French restaurants in the city. For decades, the culinary traditions of France have been honored by professional critics and food lovers alike. However, for many making a trip to Paris, just to indulge in the local cuisine, isn't exactly practical. The good news is, there are actually many authentic French restaurants in Los Angeles, where diners are able to get the real taste of France's famous cuisine without having to travel across the globe.

Whether you live in San Diego or are traveling through, you will find that there are a number of these types of establishments throughout the City. However not all eating establishments are created equal. Here are some tips to consider when dining at a French restaurant in LA.

Browse the Menu First

When looking for a French restaurant in an American city such as San Diego it can be difficult to determine which restaurants will be truly 'authentic' and which will be very Americanized. Thanks to the internet, you are often able to browse menu selections at different restaurants before making a reservation. A quality menu will include items such as Normandie omelets, smoked salmon, croissants, and Lentil soup. Baguettes and chicken mint salad and Nicoise Salad are also classic French dishes as are French patés and sausages. Seeing these dishes is a strong indicator that you are browsing the menu of an authentic French establishment.

Look for Bakery Items

When it comes to French cuisine some of the most popular food items are the baguettes, breads and croissants that come from authentic French bakeries. Not all French restaurants in the United States will have a traditional bakery, but those that do, offer guests with a unique opportunity to try popular French items that aren't always on the menu for every LA based French restaurant.

Learn the Lingo

Not all French restaurants will have their servers speaking French, but there are several, truly authentic French restaurants in this town that will have French-written menus and French speaking servers. With this in mind; there are a few basic phrases or terms that patrons may run across. Knowing this lingo can help make a better dining experience and help with ordering.

- Vegetarien/Vegetarienne- vegitarian
- Vegetalien/vegetalienne- vegan
- Que prenez-vous?- What are you having?
- Rose-Rare
- A point- medium rare
- Bien cult- well done
- La serveur/serveuse- waiter/waitress

Brushing up on these terms can be helpful in ordering at one of these establishments.

Know French Customs

While French customs will not be as expected in a restaurant in SD as they would be in France, it is still important to understand French eating customs before dining. Most authentic French eateries will abide by these customs. Always begin by greeting your waiter, they may greet you by saying bonjour or "hello" and refer to you as Moseiur, Madame or Mademoiselle. Waiters don't typically hover at French establishment, so you will want to close the menu and place it at the end of the table, when ready to order. Typically you have to ask for your check as well.

Learn the Typical Components of a French Meal

A traditional French meal does not follow the same blueprint as American meals seen in other San Diego restaurants. Typically, traditional French meals will have a few different components than a traditional American meal. Knowing the standard courses can help you navigate the menu and have a more authentic dining experience. Hors d'oevers are traditional appetizers, typically after the appetizer there is a fish course. The main course is usually a carved meat and a side of cooked vegetables. Salads in French Restaurants are served after the main course, and are typically followed by a cheese plate to signal the end of the meal. Desert is not as popular in France, but most French restaurants in LA will have a a la carte dessert selection, most of them served with coffee.

Test the Waters on Bastille Day

If you have yet to try a French restaurant in the city, then Bastille Day is a great opportunity to try French cuisine and learn some of the French dining customs. San Diego is one of the few US cities that celebrates this holiday, which is a commemoration of France's progress into modernization. There are typically many events, and restaurants that hold special dining experiences on this annual holiday; that provide patrons who may not normally eat at French establishments with the opportunity to try French influenced cuisine. This French national holiday takes place on July 14th every year, and typically there are fairs, live entertainment and other events from local restaurants in San Diego.

Dining at an authentic French restaurant can be possible without having to travel all the way to France. If you know what to look for and understand some key traditions of eating at a French establishment, you can have a more rewarding dining experience at a French restaurant in San Diego.