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You've been through the best burgers in America. And the best pizza in America, too. (And, yes, we think you’ve probably downed a few tacos at the best Mexican restaurants in America as well.) Now it’s time to get fancy with French. But French stateside is a little different than it used to be. What’s the difference between your average upscale French restaurant and its New American counterpart today? Judging by their repertoires these days, the answer is not much other than “whatever the chef says it is”—which is fair enough. First, fine dining was and is built on the foundations of haute cuisine, perfected at fine French restaurants. Second, several decades ago, haute cuisine itself underwent a shift, bringing local ingredients and global influences to bear on classical technique. Whether preaching tradition or moving the conversation forward, these 21 restaurants speak with passion and authority to the idea that French cooking is our universal heritage. They are the best French restaurants in America, and you want to be eating in them. Follow Time Out USA on Facebook; sign up for the Time Out USA newsletter