Tue-Thu, 5:30pm-10pm; Fri-Sun, 4pm-12pm; Mon, closed
L at First Ave.; F, V at Lower East Side-Second Ave.
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
None of the 26 chairs match in this satisfying sliver of a restaurant near Tompkins Square Park. But that seems to suit the young, happy regulars just fine, because the owner has made quite a show of putting a hallway to good use as a restaurant. The French are famously eclectic, and this exceptional little place is no exception to the rule. Framed mirrors, tiny yellow lights, the hinged, empty panels of a wooden diptych occupy the wine-dark walls. Expect little to no elbow room, but in exchange you get an exceedingly good meal at an exceedingly good price. Service is friendly and professional. Tables are small, but the southern French food has a big personality. The chef elevates bistro food to the hilt by adding smart, zingy touches: raspberry sauce to offset a hearty duck breast, and a sweet corn cake and champagne vinaigrette makes an unpretentious striped bass bucolic. Wine is priced to sell.Extra
26 Seats makes a casual attempt to schedule two seatings for dinner on the weekends, 7:30pm and 9:30pm, but you can make reservations or walk in anytime.Recommended Dishes
Onion tart, $10; warm garlic sausages, $11; pan-seared salmon with carrot purée, $22