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Best French Onion Soup In DC

May 23, 2011

For most of my life, I avoided French onion soup. If there were three things I didn’t want to eat, soup, cheese and onions would top the list.

But in the past couple of years, my soup phobia faded. Then onions became okay, in moderation. As for copious amounts of cheese, well, I like to call myself ‘lactose intolerant-ish” — despite being able to eat a vat of ice cream sans problem, cheese + Erin sometimes = bad idea — but once in a while, you just need to dive into a plate of ooey-gooey nachos or, yes, a bowl of French onion soup.

So where can you get the best French onion soup in Washington, DC?

Bistrot du Coin, on the north side of Dupont Circle, is one of those restaurants that’s perpetually packed. I’ve been for brunch, I’ve been for dinner — it’s always crowded. This means that the table service is slow. We’re talking glacially slow. I’m half-tempted to ask for the check when they bring my meal, just to avoid that awkward 20-minute post-eating window when I’m desperately trying to catch my server’s eye and she seems to have fallen off the face of the earth.

This isn’t to deter you from going to Bistrot du Coin, just a fair warning. The food is worth the wait.

And if you want to get an idea of why it’s always so busy and crowded, just check out how many tables are in this place:

Being in Bistrot du Coin feels a lot like being in France, minus the tableside dogs and smokers. A bottle of water and basket of fresh bread are brought to your table and especially during spring and summer, it’s nice to sit by the open window and people-watch while waiting (a long time) for your food.

Bistrot du Coin is known for its mussels but I was in a soup + salad mood. First up: Coeur de laitue, vinaigrette moutarde (house salad with mustard vinaigrette).

Basic but delicious. If you’re going to devour a big bowl of cheese, bread and onions for your main course, it’s a good idea to start with a salad. Just sayin’…

The star of the show was up next and didn’t disappoint.

Now this is what French onion soup should look like: a spoonful of cheese in every mouthful, plus chunks of thick bread and thin strips of onion in a flavorful broth.

If you’re lactose intolerant, take a Lactaid. If you’re vegan, I’m sorry you had to see this. But if you live in the DC area or plan to visit, go eat this soup.

Second best French onion soup in DC: Nest Cafe in Bethesda.

(And I have to confess that despite hearing how awesome the desserts are at Bistrot du Coin, we skipped fancy French pastries in favor of cups of fro yo at Tangy Sweet. Dessert will have to be saved for the next visit.)

What’s your favorite kind of soup? For someone who used to hate soup, it’s now one of my favorite foods. You can’t go wrong with an everything-in-the-kitchen vegetable soup, but I also love this simple, three-ingredient curried butternut squash soup.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. May 23, 2011 9:07 am

    I love Bistro du Coin, though I haven’t had the French onion soup. The space is just so wonderful.

  2. May 23, 2011 5:42 pm

    Thanks for the recommendation, Erin! I have never tried French Onion Soup either, but your post makes me want to try it the next time I’m at a decent restaurant serving it.

    My favorite soup is real, true New England clam chowder. The runner up is a good bowl of Minestrone with thick, crusty bread on the side.

  3. May 24, 2011 8:35 am

    Oooh! I will be moving right near Bistrot du Coin. I finally found an apartment in between Dupont and the zoo. Yay for it all working out, thanks for your advice! 🙂

    • May 24, 2011 9:55 am

      We’ll be neighbors! I’m moving to Dupont next week!

  4. August 29, 2011 7:59 pm

    May I also suggest the onion soup at Terasol. 5010 Connecticut Ave NW. A new French cafe which marries arts, of the table in a simple menu and art from local artisans in an adjacent gallery. Music on Friday and Saturday nights.


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