You can find lists of the top-end restaurants anywhere, but it is the little gems in this middle category that are so elusive, with moderate prices but excellent value. The following restaurants in Vieux Nice offer a level of quality far exceeding their price range. Click on their link to get to their websites and see the map below for how to find them.
Le Bistro du Fromager is an ‘only-in-France’ experience, with its eclectic cheese-inspired cuisine served in a wine cellar, and blink-and-you’ll-miss-it entry… it’s one of my personal favorites. I avoided this restaurant for years, thinking it was just cheese, but au contraire: it is cheese inspired, meaning that each dish (fois gras, pasta, salmon…) is prepared in a creative way with a fabulous French cheese. My favorites include the camembert surprise, the tartiflette, and the Pasta Gregoire (tell him you want to watch the preparation – it’s flamed in a giant hollowed out wheel of Parmesan in the middle of the restaurant). The changeable chalkboard menu is only in French, but Gregoire is pretty good at translating. Open only for dinner, reservations a must: 04 93 13 07 83 – tell him Best of Nice Blog sent you.
Bistrot d’Antoine on rue de la Prefecture is known for its 5-star food at 2-star prices. The menu features country-French dishes that you don’t see every day, like sardines, veal with tuna sauce (a classic Italian dish) or my favorite, beef tongue with horseradish sauce… feel free to be adventurous here because it is all so delicious that you can’t go wrong. Even a simple salad caprese is a revelation here, last time I ordered it was made with 10 different varieties of tomatoes. Chalkboard menu only in French, no website, reservations a must: 04 93 85 29 57.
Comptoir du Marché is the latest foody sensation in Vieux Nice: It’s the little brother of wildly popular Bistrot d’Antoine, but with fresh inspiration, a changeable menu according to the market, and set prices: 7€ for starters, 13€ for mains, and 6€ for desserts. Rue du Marche, 04 93 13 45 01.
Cote Marais is another little gem with an almost cult following, that you would never find unless you were looking for it. With top-tier cuisine that rivals its Michelin-starred cousins, the 31€ formula for a 3-course dinner of anything on the menu is an incredible value. Serving dinner only, closed on Wednesdays, cash only, no website, reservations a must. 4 rue du Pontin, 04 93 80 95 39.
L’Oliviera Nadim is at the Cours Saleya Market at the crack of dawn, chatting and choosing the day’s produce from the growers themselves. His passion is olive oil, and you feel it the minute you cross the threshold into this open-air haven from the bustling Old Town. It starts with a sampling of oils to taste with bread, then the menu where every item is paired with a complementary olive oil. While a bit pricier than some of my others picks, the cuisine, the education, and the passion make the experience well worth it. Prepare for a long relaxing meal, with the ambiance of being a guest in his home.
Chez Juliette on rue Rossetti, eclectically stylized décor with a creative-leaning menu, using a lot of savory/sweet combinations; I especially like their various duck preparations with sauces made from honey or cherries. It’s a little pricier than the others, but has a hip/kitchy interior ambience with great paintings, and a nice terrace with mosaic tables. They’re closed Tuesdays, which makes them one of the few good restaurants in town open on Sundays and Mondays. No website, reservations a must: 04 93 92 68 47.
La P’tite Cocotte Tucked up a tiny side street, they are well worth the effort to find: three delicious courses for just 16€ at lunch and 25€ at dinner from their weekly changing menu that depends entirely on what’s in season and on Chef Cedric’s whim. Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays, this is another of my favorites that stays open on Sundays and Mondays. 10 rue Saint-Augustin, 04 97 08 48 61.
Cose…Cosi is another tiny little place hidden away on the side street behind the Cathedral, but well worth making the effort to find. This is one of the few Italian restaurants in town that dares to veer away from the same ole same ole, with interesting, authentic, and sometimes challenging menu choices (things that an Italian would order in a second, but tourists…?) It’s such a tiny restaurant, and they give such attention to detail that you feel really taken care of: the last time I was there the chef popped out of the kitchen to ask me how I preferred my pasta cooked! Now that’s impressive. Open for lunch Tues-Sat, and dinner Fri/Sat; no website, so pop by or call to reserve: 06 69 23 40 04.
La Safari on Cours Saleya combines a lovely market ambience with a high quality product, and although they can be a bit pricey depending on what you order, they are now offering half-portions of pastas and salads, which brings them back to my ‘moderate’ category. Especially nice for lunch on Monday during the antique market.
Other best bets on touristy Cours Saleya: La Voglia (at the bottom), the upscale La Cambuse, La Storia for pasta, Caffé dell’ Arte for hipsters, Blast for Nice’s best burgers, and Les 3 Diables pub for the best happy hour deal (5-9pm).
Another good restaurant street in the Old Town is rue de l’Abbaye, one block in from rue de la Prefecture, which is lined with solid Italian and Corsican restaurants.
La Zucca Magica, located in the Port, is a unique experience not to be missed. With no printed menu and no choices, your meal is a series of wonderful surprises according to Chef Marco’s whim. Lunch is a 4-course extravaganza for 20€ and dinner is five courses for 29€. Did I mention that La Zucca Magica (which means The Magic Pumpkin in Italian) is vegetarian? With his liberal use of cheeses, eggs, beans, pastas and polenta, you would almost not know it, and as proof, it is one of my favorite dining experiences… and I don’t really even like vegetables. The eclectic pumpkin-themed decor is only matched by the eccentricity of the chef himself, who poured lighter fluid on his head and threatened to light himself on fire last year to protest the glacial pace of the roadwork blocking his restaurant. But don’t just take my word for it: here’s Mark Bittman’s take.
- Nice’s Top-tier restaurants
- Cheap Eats in Nice
- Local Nice Specialties and where to try them
- Food Finds in the Old Town
- Where to Eat on Sunday and Monday in Nice when most restaurants are closed
Related Blog Post:
Here’s the map: click on the markers to see what’s where…
- Back up to main EAT page