You’ll eat well in Marseille. There have always been good restaurants here, but since Marseille became the European Capital of Culture in 2013, the restaurant scene has improved hugely both in the quality of cooking and the number of restaurants, particularly with young chefs moving to the city.
While you're here, try some of the local delicacies: Pastis as an aperitif; the famous bouillabaisse fish stew; and maybe pieds et parquets, which is tripe and pigs’ trotters, more delicious than you'd think.
Le Petit Nice
Le Petit Nice is Marseille’s top restaurant, and pricey but worth every euro. Eat on the terrace overlooking the sea for a superb view.
Gérald Passédat has three Michelin stars gained through thoroughly inventive dishes that you won’t find anywhere else. This is the place for fish you probably haven’t heard of, brought in daily from traditional fishermen, and cooked immediately in sublime style. Le Bar 1917 (1917 was the date when the Passédat family arrived in Marseille) serves slightly less expensive dishes. The hotel in a villa-style has been recently renovated.
Une Table, au Sud
Overlooking the Vieux Port, Une Table, au Sud is a favorite with locals and visitors. Come here for Michelin-starred dishes. Provençale classics are given a modern twist by the young chef Ludovic Turac who trained with Guy Savoy at Le Bristol. Another place to try bouillabaisse; other dishes might be roast monkfish with a girolle jus or pigeon.
Overlooking a delightful small fishing harbor, Chez Fonfon is one of the places guarding the true and genuine bouillabaisse with its five fishes. Other dishes include bourride (another type of fish stew) and fish like mullet and seabass cooked in different ways. Try one cooked in salt, and one flambéed with Pastis.
Family-run, it opened in 1952 and is a Marseille institution. If you fall in love with his recipes, step into the gourmet shop next door selling Fonfon-made products like fabulous fish soup.
It may not look chic from the outside, but Le Miramar is the place locals in search of some of the best bouillabaisse make for. And it attracts visitors in the know; the actor Nigel Havers recently popped in for dinner. Or try the superb shellfish plateau. Meat eaters go for the likes of duck in orange or superb steaks.
AM par Alexandre Mazzia
You wouldn’t expect to find such a good restaurant in this small backstreet, but you’re in for a great surprise at AM par Alexandre Mazzia. Just awarded a Michelin star, the chef, who was originally at Le Ventre de l’Architecte, has really come into his own. The setting is simple with an open kitchen; dishes like mackerel with satay and other inventive, successful pairings provide the fireworks.
Le Rowing Club de Marseille
The restaurant, open to the public daily, is on the roof of the famous Marseille Rowing Club. Walk past a serious gym and all the trophies the club has won before emerging to one of the best views in Marseille.
The club is set on the hill and looks out onto the Fort Saint-Jean and MuCEM. The decor on the terrace is delightful, with plants growing beside the tables, cheerfully colored tables and chairs, and wood throughout. Good menus with a mix of fish and meat including tapas and a barbecue. It's great in the evening when Marseille lights up.
Le Ventre de l'Architecte
If you’re a Le Corbusier and 50s fan, Le Ventre de l'Architecte is the place for a meal after you've toured the vast complex. It’s on the third floor of Le Corbusier’s Radiant City and comes complete with 1950s iconic furniture from the likes of Jacobsen. It's a good setting for modern, inventive cooking. It’s in the hotel, which is worth looking at as a place to stay.
Chez Madie—Les Galinettes
Chez Madie—Les Galinette is the author's personal favorite restaurant in Marseille. It has an inside dining room with modern art on the walls and a comfortable outside terrace. The present owner took over the restaurant more than 20 years ago. The service is charming and the food top value. Specializing in provençale dishes, choose either fish or meat; both are equally good.
La Boite a Sardines
This jolly looking restaurant is, not surprisingly, from the name La Boite a Sardines, or The Sardine Tin, known for its seafood and shellfish, all of which is served flappingly fresh and certainly not out of a tin. It’s fun and good value. If you visit the Palais de Longchamp and its two museums, this is the place to head for.