Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > France >
Jul 16, 2010 05:45 AM

Where to eat genuine classic Nicoise cuisine?

We've had a truly wonderful time during our visit to southern France!!

We are now in Haut Cagnes-sur-Mer and will be exploring Nice over the next couple of days.

We are looking for some "down home" restaurants serving typical Niciose cuisine...anchoiade, seafood, pissaladiere, socca, etc. We are NOT into $$ gastronomic cuisine. Just good solid bistro fare served up with an authentic local flair and taste. We have had a difficult time locating such food anywhere in southern France.

We have a very good Nicoise restaurant in the San Francisco Bay Area ("Nizza la Bella"), but have yet to find any of our favorite dishes from there in any restaurants here.

We would be grateful for any and all suggestions.

Many thanks in advance!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Haut Cagnes-sur-Mer ?

    That is the miracle mile of good eats ! if you don't want to try the starred place in the old village, try "Entre Cour et Jardin". In general I can't imagine eating badly in Hauts de Cagnes.

    I would also suggest that you not get too stuck on your favorite San Francisco niçoise dishes. I am sure they are very good. But one sure sign of a good restaurant in France is a short carte, with very limited number of dishes, which means the resto stocks only fresh ingredients. Not every restaurant in or around Nice serves up a Niçoise dish that you could recognize such as anchoiade, pissaladiere, socca, all of which tend toward the snacky, -- not to say cliché.
    Imagine a tourist from Nice chez Panisse expecting to find hamburger on the menu... :-)

    8 Replies
    1. re: Parigi

      We've not eaten badly, for sure. Haut de Cagnes is a wonderful place to be. But we are seeing the same style of dishes we've seen in central Provence for the past two weeks. Oriented towards meat, poultry, cheese and fois gras. Such cuisine is too rich to eat every day for three weeks. Have not seen any anchoiade in Haut de Cagnes.

      Having spent a decade in SE Asia, our tastes tend towards very good street food commonly eaten by locals.

      Locals everywhere are sometimes ashamed of their cuisine because it is, in their minds, not as "sophisticated" as the more expensive food served in fancy restaurants. But you will be hard pressed to eat better Malay food than in the hawker stalls of Penang, or a better hamburger than in a small US West Coast road house, or a better pizza than in a small pizza parlor on the lower east side of Manhattan or bistro in Sorrento. This is the type of food we hope to seek out.

      We love anchovies. Since most non-Mediterranean tourists can't handle anchovies, we figure we might be getting the "real thing" in terms of local Nicoise cuisine if we find some places that are not reluctant about serving anchovies.

      1. re: Parigi

        If the hamburger was made from Marin Sun Farms organic beef served on a perfectly toasted roll from the ACME Bakery with organic ketchup made from vine ripened Sonoma County tomatoes and cheese from the Rouge et Noire creamery in Petaluma, that hamburger might be very much in place for the menu at Chez Panisse.

        A great hamburger can be some pretty high class eating. ;)

        1. re: chilihead2006

          My point was that a European tourist in America should not expect to find hamburger - however nirvana premium - in every restaurant.
          As Chefjune also explained, for the kind of street food that you seem to be looking for, better look in a café instead of a restaurant. Or in the better traiteurs. There is a good traiteur Antiboise Charcuterie Testa in 23 Cours Masséna, Antibes. You can shop there for all the things you had listed, then picnic on the lovely ramparts.

          1. re: Parigi

            Yes, I have probably introduced some confusion about the type of dining establishment we may be looking for. Most Americans/Anglos don't make a significant distinction between restaurants, bistros, brasseries and cafes...but it carries much greater significance in France. In the US, McDonald's is considered a restaurant....of sorts. LOL!! When we Americans say "restaurant", it means pretty much anyplace you can sit down and eat a meal....from the simplest roadside hamburger joint all the way up to the French Laundry.

            Thank you for the recco for Antiboise Charcuterie Testa in Antibes.

            Would you happen to have any suggestions for the city of Nice itself? We went there last night. What a great many interesting restaurants and so much activity!

          2. re: chilihead2006

            How did we get onto hamburgers? Even in the US I only eat freshly ground beef in any form. With all due respect for my French hosts, the closest equivalent here is a steak tartare aller-retour and skip the frites.

            I was thinking of going to Ralph's (Lauren) this week when a friend (who'd been) who has lived here two decades looked at me as if I were mad or had a wasting disease (both of which I may suffer from) - I think his words were "at 27 Euros"? (And the Euro is climbing back).

            1. re: John Talbott

              "The Euro is climbing back" !!! &*()^%$#@!!!!!!!!!!

              1. re: menton1

                Whoops I said something wrong.
                But, to stay on topic, for those invested heavily in French stuff but getting paid in US dollars, it's mixed bag.
                I've argued since 1968 that it all evens out; recall menton, the new/old franc was 10-1 in 84-85.
                I look at my "additions" and see $$$'s.
                Life is good; food is plentiful, Yamashita supplies and Daniel rules.
                Now all we have to deal with is the loss of Hand-of-Gawd2 - Henry's defection - and for the life of me I can't figure out where he eats.

                1. re: John Talbott

                  Well, last month when it was at $1.19 someone told me to buy 2000 Euros and I said Nah! Dumb. And now it's $1.30!! )(*&^%$#@!!!!!!!!!

                  I liked back in 2002 when 92 cents got you 1 Euro. But those days are gone forever. I think the Euro will go back to about $1.50, it was almost at that last Sept.

        2. Socca, pissaladiere and pizza are basically street food. I would not likely be looking for them in a restaurant. outdoor cafe, maybe, but basically they are sold from stands in the old town area. Delicious!

          1. It is a fantasy that people in Nice still prepare and eat the traditional Niçois specialties very often. It takes a lot of work to prepare proper farcis niçois or a pissaladière. Traditional housewives used to have the time and knowledge. It would be good luck to find them at a "down home" place. So to get them well done now you must go to restaurants at least in the mid-price range. I would suggest Luc Salsedo. You can also get modern versions of traditional niçois dishes at Millésime 82.

            Have you tried the grilled fare at Josy-Jo in Haut-de-Cagnes? It is quite good and not too fancy.

            4 Replies
            1. re: beaulieu

              I always follow the advance of Beaulieu, our local hound.

              I also concur that Hauts de Cagnes have a lot of good eateries, including JosyJo. In fact les Hauts de Cagnes have a much better concentration of good restos than the Nice old town.

              In fact in the Nice old town, the restos tend toward the touristy, but the market and many of the food shops are still quite good.

              Since Beaulieu mentioned the farçis niçois, in fact I was thinking about them too when I recommended the Antiboise Charcuterie Testa in Antibes which makes delicious versions of them.
              The excellent butcher in the village of Biot, in the mini-mini-mall across the street from Les Terraillers, makes them in the best, artisanal way.

              1. re: Parigi

                We're now back home in California. One of the best meals we had was at L'Atelier in Haut de Cagnes. My wife is Malaysian and we are partial towards Asian food. L'Atelier had a few Asian fusion dishes on the menu that were really quite good with a genuine SE Asian taste. Plus an excellent homemade habanero lemongrass sambal that is to die for....we've never before had a sambal using habanero peppers...the chef really knows what he (or she) is doing.

                My thanks to everyone for the excellent recommendations. Our holiday was a smashing success. Everyone we met along the way was extremely helpful and friendly. We are already looking forward to our next trip. :)

              2. re: beaulieu

                Unfortunately, we did not try Josy Jo...which is located immediately next door to the chambres d'hote we stayed at (Les Terrasses de Soliel)

                I have to recommend Les Terrasses de Soliel to anyone seeking accommodations in Haut de Cagnes. Catherine Bouvet is the most charming, hospitable and helpful innkeeper you're ever likely to meet this side of heaven.

                1. re: chilihead2006

                  So glad you had a good trip.
                  After all, how can one go wrong in Les Hauts de Cagnes?
                  (Am so intrigued by - and plotting to make my own - habanero lemongrass sambal, …)

              3. For a family run, down-home, AUTHENTIC Nicois recipes, including traditional items like several different farcis nicois, aubergines nicois, sardines grillés, tripes a la nicoise, anchois, and other delectables, don't miss Voyageur Nissart, in the non-tourist section of town.

                Voyageur Nissart
                19, rue Alsace-Lorraine
                04 93 82 19 60

                I believe they are open every day except Mon.

                There is also Chez Palmyre, in Vieux Nice, only open for lunch, and pretty un-malleable about anything. They serve what the Patronne makes that day, and it is traditional, and it is GOOD. It had a little downspin after a NYTimes write up several years back, but they seem to be back on track now.

                Chez Palmyre
                5. rue Droite
                04- 93-85-72-32

                1 Reply
                1. re: menton1

                  I would second Menton1's recommendations, and, if you are truly into the earthy and unpretentious, add Chez Acciardo ( like Chez Palmyre, on Rue Droite), full of working locals and in-the-know tourists, and Le Grange - a real outpost of petit nicois, gnocchi daube, pistou, etc.
                  Lou Pilha Leva is a hole-in-wall, from which you order your food, and then sit down at wooden tables in the Old Town street. Lunch for less than a $10 - pan bagna, socca (with out without toppings) pissladiere, beignets, etc. And finally, the Safari on Cours Saleya - a real tourist stop, but with pretty decent versions of all the classics, including blette tart (la trouche), a wide selection of petit farci nicois, fresh grilled fish on fennel or artichokes, ravioli nicoise, wood-fired local pizzas, or braised rabbit. Plus you can sit outside and watch all world pass by and the market close up at lunchtime.

                  Acciardo: 38 Rue Droite, Tel: 93 85 51 16 (weekdays only - in middle of Vieux Nice)
                  Le Grange: 7 Rue Bonaparte Tel: 93 89 81 83 (above the port)
                  Lou Pilha Leva: 13 Rue Collet (in middle of Vieux Nice)
                  Safari: 1 Cours Saleya Tel: 93 80 18 44