There's nothing more pleasurable than eating local dishes prepared by knowledgeable chefs, and Nice has plenty of both. As you will find out if you're lucky enough to spend time in the Queen of the Riviera, Nice really is a food lover's town.
Start at the Cours Saleya market and the little streets of the Vieille Ville (Old Town) for socca (a thin pancake made from chickpea flour and olive oil, baked and crisped in the oven and seasoned with black pepper, a little like a crepe), the best pizzas, pissaladière (pizza-like onion tart), petits farcis (delicious stuffed Provençale vegetables), salade Niçoise, pan bagnat (fresh baps or bread filled with salade Niçoise), tourte aux blettes (tart of Swiss chard, raisins and pine nuts) and beignets de fleurs de courgettes (deep fried fritters with vegetables like courgettes flowers).
Buy these specialties at stalls in the food markets, or try the local restaurants.
Chez Pipo is where the locals go for typical Nice dishes like socca. It’s a small, well-established restaurant run by a young team who have expanded the repertoire and introduced other Niçois specialties (unthought of in the old days) like pissaladière and tourte aux blettes. It is not the place if you are in a hurry.
Address: 13 rue Bavastro
Tel.: 00 33 (0)4 93 55 88 82
Open: Wed.-Sun. 11.30am-2pm & 5.30 to 10pm.
Better known to tourists and in all the guides (rightly) is Chez Theresa and her small, busy, fun restaurant where a socca snack hits the spot during the day. For those on the run, the redoubtable Theresa also sells socca from her stall on the Cours Saleya market.
Address: 28 rue Droite
Tel.: 00 33 (0)4 93 85 00 04
Open: Tues.-Sun. breakfast and lunch daily.
Chez René Socca
At René Socca, you queue up (and it might be a long queue) to buy your socca or beignets, then grab an outdoor table and order drinks. It’s relaxed, friendly and communal.
Address: 2 rue Miralheti
Tel.: 00 33 (0)4 93 92 15 73
Open: Tues.-Sun. 9 am-9 pm
Pizza is everywhere in Nice and you’ll find your own particular favorite. To start you off and give you a good yardstick to judge others by, try the rich, wood-fired Italian pizzas at La Pizza, a big, bustling pizza restaurant that's been delighting pizza fans since 1956. Try a pavement table for great people-watching.
Address: 34 rue Massena
Tel.: 00 33 (0)4 93 87 76 18
Open: Daily 11 am-1 am
Nice is still very Italian (it moved back and forth between France and the Italian states for centuries), so when it hots up, it’s time to make for an ice cream parlor. And Nice has one of the best – Fenocchio. The family-run place claims to have 94 flavors, 59 ice creams, and 35 sorbets so you could spend all your time trying them. There are two branches; both close from November to March.
Address: 2 pl Rossetti
Tel.: 00 33 (0)4 93 80 72 52
Open: Daily 9 a.m.-midnight.
Address: 6 rue de la Poissonerie
Tel.: 00 33 (0)4 93 62 88 80
Don't shorten this to the Rotisserie; it's named because of its location, near Place Rossetti in the Old Town. But you might be confused; all its meat main dishes are indeed roasted. It's a cozy place, usually full, with a dining room and downstairs vaulted cellar. Go for the likes of duck terrine with pickles to start; then roast meat with a choice of mashed potatoes or frites; ratatouille or salad. Finish in traditional style with tarte tatin. It's good plain cooking in a friendly restaurant.
Address: 8 Rue Mascoïnat
Tel.: 00 33 (0) 4 93 76 18 80 27
Open: Mon.-Sat. Lunch & dinner.
Understandably popular, this is a cut above many of the smaller places. In the heart of the old town, this is the place to go to for meat. Specialties include veal and pot-roasted chicken, served in a cramped, friendly place. Menus are from 18 euros which won't break the bank. But you will have to book in advance; sometimes a few weeks.
Address: 5 Rue Droite
Tel.: 00 33 (0) 4 93 85 72 32
Open: Mon.-Fri. Lunch & dinner.