Denver's five best French restaurants

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Happy Bastille Day, Denver. We'll grab just about any excuse to pop open a bottle of French wine and chow down on baguettes, but the storming of the Bastille on July 14 may be the best excuse we'll find all year.

While one of our favorite spots for a French feast, Brasserie Felix, closed earlier this month, here are the best best French restaurants still standing:

5. Bistro Vendome This restaurant tucked behind Larimer Square is owned by Beth Gruitch and Jen Jasinski, who also own nearby Rioja and Euclid Hall; Dana Rodriguez recently became the chef de cuisine. The decor is traditional Parisian bistro; the menu is classic bistro with some contemporary twists. The secluded patio is an especially charming place to enjoy a glass of bubbly and frogs legs, mussels or steak frites. 4. L'Atelier Radek Cerny's tiny, high-end French restaurant has been holding down its end of Boulder's Pearl Street since long before the new kids hit the block, and it continues to command a following. In the kitchen, Cerny takes liberties with traditional French cuisine, injecting the influences of other cultures. And the results are invariably delicious. 3. Trompeau Bakery Some of our best memories of France involve stuffing our faces with the best pastries in the world, roaming between shops to sample croissants, quiche, macarons and boules. When we crave that kind of experience in Denver, we head for Trompeau Bakery, the almost fifteen-year-old eatery owned by Barbara and Pascal Trompeau that recently relocated from the University of Denver area to Englewood. The baked goods, made according to Pascal's French recipes, are divine. 2. JaJa Bistro JaJa channels the true spirit of a bistro: This unassuming, casual spot in the southwest suburbs serves simple but stellar food. JaJa got our nod for Best Brunch in the Best of Denver 2011 because of its excellent crepes and other morning options; at night, escargot, moules and frites, and foie gras join the lineup. And from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. tonight, Ja Ja will be featuring live music, paired with French food and drink specials (the regular dinner menu is also available). Vive la France! 1. Z Cuisine Patrick DuPays's intimate French restaurant has been a Highland mainstay since the tiny spot first opened in 2005, turning out a board of bistro favorites based on seasonal market finds, as well as the chef's rightly famous cassoulet. The excellent food and delightful ambience earned Z Cuisine our Best French Restaurant award in the Best of Denver 2011. And if you can't nab a table in Z, A' Côté Bar à Absinthe, located just a door away, is just as charming -- and is likely to feature a lively party tonight, since it's a wine and absinthe bar.

Have another favorite French restaurant? Tell us about it below.

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