Breaking baguettes at a café on the Seine may be out of reach, but you can experience joie de vivre on the cheap at these local Francocentric restaurants.
36889 N. Tom Darlington Dr., Carefree
As the casual outpost of Kevin Binkley’s eponymous fine dining restaurant, Café Bink boasts panoramic views of Carefree’s boulders breathtaking enough to rival the scenery at a Parisian
sidewalk cafe. Nab half-off all wine, beer and well drinks during happy hour. You’ll have to “settle” for all-American burgers ($7.20), hot dogs ($5.40), fries ($4.80) and sloppy Joes ($5.40) if you want to take advantage of the restaurant’s 40 percent off meal deals, but considering the beef is ground with bacon and the crispy frites come with truffle ketchup, it isn’t exactly a hardship. 3-5 p.m. daily.
Bleu at Vincent’s
3930 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix
Entering the swank lounge at Vincent’s is like walking into one of Picasso’s blue-period paintings – that, or a Parisian bordello themed after a certain David Lynch film. Nearly everything here bears shades of royal blue and robin’s egg, from plush, tufted banquettes to walls adorned with ornate mirrors. Cozy up on a blue velvet couch and enjoy half-off wines and bubblies by the glass ($2.50-$9) and decadent Kir Royale cocktails infused with almond or wild blackberry ($5). Favorite European-style small plates include a salad assortment ($4.50), cheese gougères ($3.50) and an upscale take on sliders ($8 for three). Also delectable are the wood-fired pizzas ($8), offered after 5 p.m., and mini pots de crème ($3) served in egg cups. 3-6:30 p.m. daily inside the lounge and bar only.
1326 N. Central Ave., Phoenix
The cuisine at former state senator Ken Cheuvront’s wine bar is decidedly global, but his French education at the Institut Études Européennes shows in the restaurant’s treatment of fromage, which literally takes center stage in a glass display case. Drop just a few Euros ($5) for mushroom empanadas, bruschetta or goat cheese phyllo pockets that melt in your mouth like chocolate truffles. You’ll have to pay full price for French vino, but select domestic and South American wines cost $4 per glass. Also look for $5 mojitos, martinis and prickly pear margaritas, and $1 off bottled brews. 4-6 p.m. daily; reverse happy hour 9-10 p.m. Su-Th and 10 p.m.-midnight F-Sa.