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Fresh from 'la Mer': The Best Seafood Restaurants in Nice



Sitting right on the Mediterranean, cosmopolitan Nice is known for its fresh fish seafood, as well having a host of fine restaurants that know how to infuse it with oil and herbs and cook to perfection. From ocean fish to mussels to prawns and clams and lobsters, the waters off the coast of the French Riviera yields a bounty of fish and seafood. And Nice is a city with a reputation for preparing it well: they even have a seafood salad that was invented here; and if you order a Nicoise Salad in Nice, it should come with fresh anchovies and seared tuna rather than their oft canned substitutes around the world. 

Certain restaurants are known more for their fresh saltwater catches than others, and here we focus on the 10 that do it best of all. The establishments listed here have pinned down the ingredients, mastered the process, and gained a strong following as a result. Nice has had much success cultivating great restaurants and creating a substantial market for Seafood. Locals can't get enough of the city's excellent food, and you'll often find them, along with eager tourists, at the popular brasserie in a cool venue, Flo, or the hyper hot Jan Restaurant. While the delicious Le Chantecler, inside the masterful Hotel Negresco, is famed for its Nicose cooking, including fresh seafood.  

 

 

Make sure you see what all the fuss is about!


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For those in search of innovative seafood entrees served in a unique setting, Flo's is the place for you. Housed in the atrium of a now-defunct theater, and the kitchen sits on the old stage. Flo's is known for its charming ambience, as well as for its equally creative mastery of seafood. Be it crayfish, shrimp, or lobster, shellfish is the specialty here. However, the salmon ravioli is also quite good. The restaurant is owned by the Jean-Paul Bucher group, which is a well-known French chain that focuses on creating historic brasseries. We include it here because the menu is reasonably priced and the old theater location is quite cool. Plus the food is good and seafood focused - although not the very best in town.

Recommended for Seafood because: It does good fish, but the shellfish are the real specialty here and what to order.

Becca's expert tip: The best seats are on the balcony where you can see the kitchen and the frescos.

Read more about Flo →


La Chantecler

Famed for its palatial setting and Chef Jean-Denis Rieubland's menu, Le Chantecler in the grand dame Hotel Negrosco is worthy of the two Michelin stars it has been bestowed. When asked to describe his menu Rieubland says his style is "inspired by Provence, with the respect of its products and traditions". He also enjoys transmitting his taste of "the true" and his menu sticks close to the traditional French gastronomical classics. Don't skip the wine when dining in the formal elegant dining room with pink table clothes and cushioned magenta chairs. The wine cellar here is also renowned, having 15,000 bottles in storage and some impressive woodwork that dates back to 1751.

Recommended for Seafood because: Everything at this two Michelin star restaurant comes out perfect, including the fish and seafood choices.

Becca's expert tip: Look for the restaurant inside the gorgeous grand dame Hotel Negrosco. It makes for a romantic dinner location.

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A local favorite for years now, Au Petit Gari is located in the center of Old Nice, right on Garibaldi Square, behind the Museum of Modern Art. The dining area is cozy and chef Eric dishes up excellent Provencal home cooking at fare prices. Come for the fresh baked break and traditional regional dishes such as fish soup, escargot raviolis, and smoked foie gras. When the weather cooperates ask to be seated outside on the terrace, where you can people watch to your hearts content. The space is small and known so reservations are recommended if stopping by for dinner.

Recommended for Seafood because: The fish soup is one of the excellent traditional Provencal dishes cooked here.

Becca's expert tip: Located at the center of Old Nice behind the Museum of Modern Art, reservations are recommended.

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Le Merenda
Photo courtesy of La Merenda

This petite bistro in Old Town is the work of a former Michelin-starred chef, Dominic Le Stanc, it attracts throngs of hungry locals who come for the dishes chalked up on a board each day – there is no formal menu. Although the offerings change with the day of the week, the food is simple but solid Nicois fare that is cooked in an open kitchen at the back of the tiny dining room. You'll be rubbing body parts with diners at nearby tables when eating here – don't expect space to sprawl – but the food is good enough that you probably won't care. It is very hard to secure a table here, so you should make a reservation with advance notice.

Recommended for Seafood because: The menu rotates daily but the fish and seafood choices are always solid.

Becca's expert tip: It's known for its unpretentious ambiance and amazing homemade food, but don't expect much elbow room – the dining room is very small and chaotic.

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L'Univers
Photo courtesy of L'Univers

Connoisseurs flock to this restaurant in the heart of town and enjoy dishes prepared by its renowned chef. Selections include lamb prepared with cream, artichokes roasted with peppers, and fresh fish and shellfish from the sea. The restaurant has been around since the 1990s and is the creation of renowned chef Christian Plumail who is known for ignoring the trend du jour and instead focusing on fresh locally sourced ingredients and consistent dedication to the dishes he's been doing flawlessly for more than two decades. Best of all the prices are reasonable despite the talents of the chef, and L'Univers is one of the only places in Nice where you can grab a full lunch for less than 25 euros. Make sure to reserve in advance or you won't get a seat.

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Le Safari
Photo courtesy of Le Safari Restaurant

In Vieux Nice (the Old Town), Le Safari serves a mix of French and Italian fare, including some excellent seafood options in a lively heart of Old Town locale right by the Opera. There is al fresco sidewalk seating for sunny days, as well as an interior dining room. When it comes to ordering, the octopus salad is fresh and delicious if you're an adventurous seafood eater. Easier on tender tastebuds are the pizza and pasta choices, which are tasty and authentic. While more in the middle are daily fresh fish choices and a range of appetizers designed for sharing. Grab a seat outside when the weather is nice as it is great for people watching.

Recommended for Seafood because: The octopus salad is just one of a number of delicious seafood focused options on the French and Italian fusion menu.

Becca's expert tip: The house wine is decent and there are some good beer choices on offer at this usually crowded brasserie as well.

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Jan Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Jan Restaurant


Named for its creator, South African chef Jan Hendrick van der Westhuizen, Jan's is easily one of Nice's hot eats du jour. Despite the fact that the proprietor hails from Africa, and from a former British colony to boot, does nothing to hinder the modern French gastro creations served here. Each dish is a work of art with ingredients and flavors inspired by the regional markets found around Nice and the South of France and changing with the season – everything tastes fresh and complimentary to the month in which you are dining. The dining room is another perk. Despite being aquamarine in color it works and offers an elegant atmospheric experience to complement the food. Look for the restaurant just a few minute's walk from the chic Port of Nice.

Recommended for Seafood because: Although it isn't known specifically for seafood, this is one of the best restaurants in Nice and does fish and shellfish dishes with flair.

Becca's expert tip: Dress to impress, leave the kids at home and make a reservation well in advance or you won't get a seat.

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L'escalinada
Photo courtesy of L'Escalinada

This restaurant has been popular with tourists and locals alike for the last five decades now – some people love it, others hate it. Yes it is touristy, and often packed, but it also serves consistently good Nicoise fare including some of the best grilled prawns with garlic and herbs in town. Other not to miss dishes are the homemade gnocchi and the Marsala veal stew. If you are in search of very traditional Nicoise cooking, you can also find dishes like sheep testicles on the menu here. Try to sit outside where the red table clothes and candles crowding the narrow street in Old Town feels cheerfully romantic.

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Lou Bistrot Nissart
Photo courtesy of Lou Nissart


Near the Port of Nice, this restaurant specializes in local Nicoise fare and is far enough removed from the main tourist areas to feel local and off-the-beaten path (although it is near the flower market, so convenient to reach from the port side of the city). The food can feel a bit rough – this isn't French gastro fare for beginners – but foodies who remember the now closed Lou Nissart will dig its successor restaurant. The ambiance is also appealing here and the house wine is worth ordering a carafe or two. Try the pasta, which is made from scratch and cooked up with fresh seafood and roasted meats.

Recommended for Seafood because: The seafood pasta selections are delicious at this restaurant that focuses on local Nicoise fare.

Becca's expert tip: The pasta is made from scratch and should not be skipped.

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Sophisticated and posh with curved lines of the Art Deco style, this distinct restaurant serves traditional Nice cuisine of fresh raviolis and seafood that is both delicious and fairly priced. The service is also friendly and efficient and whether you come for lunch or dinner you can expect it to be crowded (but not to the point that the food or service suffers). Although there isn't anything bad on the menu here, where Le Comptoir really shines dessert. Make sure to leave some space in your stomach to sample the sweet stuff as the Ile Flotante, a traditional Nicoise dessert, is especially sumptuous.

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Meet Becca Blond

Becca Blond is an award-winning Denver based freelance travel writer. She has authored more than 30 Lonely Planet guides on five continents. She also writes about Colorado and the world for...  More About Becca

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