Menu Navigator: Best and Worst Choices at a French Bistro

We'll show you the healthiest choices (and splurge-only dishes) to help you order wisely at French Bistros.

Nicoise

Niçoise Salad

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Bistro cuisine: quintessentially French, simple, rustic, hearty, and potentially très indulgent. Consider the great bean dish cassoulet. Loaded with fatty meats, a serving can have more than 1,100 calories. We analyzed six bistro dishes from popular U.S. restaurants to help point you to healthier choices. Nutrition numbers are estimates: Results vary widely according to portion size. And if sodium is a concern, ask the kitchen not to use added salt, and watch your intake the rest of the day. Voilà!

Smart Bistro Strategies
Some bistro fare is a sure thing: Try the fish of the day―grilled―or simple roast chicken. Remember that braises or stews like beef bourguignonne and coq au vin are inseparable from their sauces. And if you can’t resist a side of frites (we don’t blame you), share your potatoes with a tablemate.

How to Manage a Tricky Bistro Order

  • Sauce on the side: Keeping the sauce or salad dressing separate lets you decide how much to use (if any).
  • Swap the frites: French fries are a common side―ask for a salad or haricots verts (French green beans) instead.
  • Choose entrées made to order: Unlike quiche or cassoulet, some dishes allow for healthy requests (no cream, please).

Splurge Only: Quiche
542 calories
Cream and cheese in the filling and mounds of butter in the crust boost the unhealthy fat in this egg tart.

Healthy Choice: Omelet
426 calories
The filling you choose makes all the difference: Go easy on the cheese, and look for fresh vegetables.

Ask Your Server: Moules Marinière
407 calories
The mussels may be doused with cream―opt for wine sauce.

Healthy Choice: Niçoise Salad
519 calories
This complete meal delivers fresh vegetables and quality protein from tuna and eggs.

Ask Your Server: Bouillabaisse
563 calories
This classic Provençal one-dish meal features seafood in a flavorful broth low in saturated fat.

Splurge Only: Steak au Béarnaise
874 calories
These may be stuffed with a half-pound of cheese and a day’s worth of saturated fat!

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