Cheap Restaurants in Nice

Here are some fun little cheap restaurants in Nice that are not only delicious but very easy on the budget…

Chez PalmyreChez Palmyre may be the oldest, but it is my newest favorite. Formerly run by a mother/daughter team since 1926, it changed hands 8 years ago when the 93-year-old mother died and the 77-year-old daughter decided to finally retire.  chez-palmyreNow it’s Philippe that runs the show, keeping the country store ambiance and friendly prices, while chef Vincent, who’s been coming here since he was a child, elevates grandma’s cuisine to something wonderful.  Three courses, lunch or dinner, 17€.  The menu changes daily, there’s no website.  The restaurant is tiny, so call well in advance 04 93 85 72 32.  5 rue Droite

Just down the street from Chez Palmyre, on rue de Collet, you’ll find two recommended restaurants with great deals for 2. 100% Sushi has a 3-course menu-for-two for 29€ including miso or salad, a 24-piece sushi platter to share, and brochettes of chicken or salmon.  Just across, the wine bar La Hall (same owners) have a 2-course gourmet menu-for-two for 29€.

Le Banthai serves excellent homemade Thai cuisine with super-moderate prices.  It’s so delicious and very affordable, with all main courses at only 12€.  Their street-side cafe location on one of Old Nice’s most colorful rues makes for a very sympa dining experience. One caveat: French are not used to spicy food, so as Thai food goes it might be milder than you expect, but just ask for the condiments and spice it up yourself. 29 rue Droite, 09 73 57 19 06.

A little farther down rue Droite, across from the church, is Restaurant du Gesu (Gesu is Jesus in Nissart).  This is a loud and fun Nice classic with very simple local fare at bargain prices.  Cash only, no website, no reservations.   If you can’t get in here, try Acchiardo just down the street a little farther, another crowded noisy family-owned eatery cut from the same, very local, cloth (…but Acchiardo takes reservations: 04 93 85 51 16). Both open for lunch and dinner.

Socca is the fast-food of Nice, and whereas you’ll find it served up all over the Old Town, all locals agree that for the best socca, it’s Chez Pipo in the Port, hands down.   Come graze on socca, pissaladiére, tapenades… you will leave full and satisfied for around 10€ a head.  They’re super popular and they don’t take reservations so get there early, especially for dinner. 13 rue Bavastro.

lou pilha leva 2When in Nice, you must have moules frites… a steaming bowl of mussels in a delectable sauce and served with French fries, eaten using a shell as tongs to pull each successive mussel from its shell. Not everyone agrees with me, but my favorite moules frites is from Lou Pilha Leva at Place Centrale, where they serve their moules in a fabulous saffron cream sauce for just 8.50€. No pretense here: you line up, order at the counter, then elbow in to the outdoor picnic benches and enjoy your moules under the sun with a glass of rosé.

 

PIZZA

An amazing little find in Old Nice is Al Taglio on 42 rue Droite, a few streets in from Cours Saleya.  Specializing in Italian-style pizza-by-the-slice (so super affordable), their pizza choices range from classic to fabulously (and deliciously) creative, so mix it up and try something new!  The ingredients are high-quality and fresh, and their pride in their product is palpable.

pizza boxThe most popular pizza to-go is Pizza Pili on the corner of rue de Gesu and rue Benoit Bunico.  From their classic pizzas to their most creative, it’s the best take-out pizza deal in Nice for just 7€.   They have a couple of street-side tables, but for the best ambiance take it to the beach for a sunset pizza with a bottle of rosé.

The best pizza in Nice is a hotly disputed subject.  Many would say it’s Pizza Cresci, which has been serving its legendary pies at 34 rue Massena for over 60 years; pizzas so massive that they can only give you half, and even then it covers half your table.

…But others would say (me included) that the best pizza in Nice is from Les Amoureux, a little family-run hole-in-the-wall tucked behind the Port that will transport you straight to Napoli.   Their signature heart-shaped pizzas are… Bellissimo!  Find them at 46 rue Stalingrad, one street in on the east side of the Port, but reserve well in advance (04 93 07 59 73) as the place is always packed…and they only bother to answer the phone from 6-6:30pm!   If you can’t get in here, Pizza Cresci seats over a hundred, so even if it’s packed, there is enough turnover that you can usually get in one way or another. 4 93 87 70 29.

 

LUNCH-ONLY

Café Marché is tucked away on a side street just steps from its namesake, the open air market Cours Saleya.  With a country motif and fresh herbs adorning the tables, you know your in for something fresh, delicious and comforting.  The menu changes daily but always features a homemade soup, a burger du jour, and a tartare du jour… yum!   They also do a Sunday Brunch…

Chez Theresa Socca  This little lunch-time socca stand in the middle of the Cours Saleya market is practically an institution.  For just 6.50€ the no-nonsense Theresa will serve you up a slice of socca, a slice of pissaladiére, and a glass of rosé, and you will be set for the afternoon.  Closes when the market closes at 1pm, and the line can be long, so get there early.   Click here to see the socca being delivered.  Locals will admonish me that the best socca is Chez Pipo, but Theresa’s improvised cafe in the middle of the marche makes it an experience and a show.

Walk up near the top of rue Rossetti and you will see Banh Mei, a tiny Vietnam-street-food inspired cafe with a limited but carefully chosen menu of salads, soups and sandwiches, all between 6-10€.  Each comes with your choice of slices of rare-cooked sesame beef, Peking pork, sliced caramel chicken, or sesame prawns.  … and then try their signature ‘bubble tea’ if you dare!  Their outdoor tables offer a perfect view of the Cathedral and Place Rossetti. 6 rue Rossetti, open 11:30-4pm.

Best bagel?  After spending a few years in the US, two local girls came back to bring the delights of New York to Nice and opened Emilie’s Cookies.  They make awesome bagels, and for just 5.50€ you can treat yourself to a ‘Salmon and Garfunkle’: a salmon-avocado-cream cheese bagel dream in a ‘Central Perk’ coffee-house atmosphere. There’s one at the Port, rue Albertini, and Vieux Nice at Palais de Justice.  …Oh, and don’t forget dessert!

Boulangerie Multari is renown for their pastries, but they also have a large choice of inexpensive delicious salads, cold pastas and sandwiches to take-away or eat there, and they have around thirty tables set up inside and outside just for that purpose.  Find them on the edge of the Old Town, on Boulevard Jean Jaures near Place Garibaldi.

La Banane, just off Cours Saleya, features the local specialty pan bagnat (Nissart for ‘bathed bread’: bathed in olive oil!).  It’s a Niçoise-style tuna sandwich, popular since the peasant days.  Eat in or take-away. 6 rue de la Poissonnerie

Rene Socca NiceIf you are on a tight budget and are tempted to go fast food: for the same price you can try fast food Niçois-style at Rene Socca, whose popularity is attested to by the ever-present line.  It’s not gourmet, it’s fast food, but for between 3-4€ you can try and share all sorts of local specialties including zucchini flower fritters (beignet de fleur), local-style meat-stuffed vegetables (petit farcis), a hearty beef stew (daube) over polenta… and then enjoy them on the family-style communal tables.   2 Rue Miralheti near Place Garibaldi.

 

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Photo credits: Place du Gesu by Nataraja, and Boulanger by Thomas Berg both licensed under Creative Commons.

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