There's nothing more pleasurable that eating local dishes prepared by knowledgeable chefs and Nice has plenty of both.
Try 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), pizza, 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 specialities at stalls in the food markets, or try the local restaurants.
1. Chez Pipo
Chez Pipo is where the locals go for socca. It’s a small, well-established restaurant run by a young team who have expanded the repertoire and introduced other Niçois specialities (unthought of in the old days) like pissaladière and tourte aux blettes. It opens at 5.30pm, is shut on Mondays and is not the place if you are in a hurry.
Address: 13 rue Bavastro, Old Town
Tel.: 00 33 (0)4 93 55 88 82
Open: Tues.-Sun. 5.30pm onwards.
2. Chez Theresa
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, Old Town
Tel.: 00 33 (0)4 93 85 00 04
Open: Tues.-Sun. breakfast and lunch daily.
3. 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, Old TownOld Town
Tel.: 00 33 (0)4 93 92 15 73
Open: Tues.-Sun. 9 a.m-9 p.m.
4. La Pizza
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, Old Town
Tel.: 00 33 (0)4 93 87 76 18
Open: Daily 11 a.m.-1 a.m.
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 parlour. And Nice has one of the best – Fenocchio. The family-run place claims to have 94 flavours, 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, Old Town
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
Open: Wed.-Mon. 9 a.m.-midnight.
6. La Zucca
If you visit Nice’s open air fruit and vegetable market you’ll be intoxicated by the abundance of fresh ingredients. One of the best restaurants to taste those vegetables is at La Zucca Magica. It's pretty unusual to find a vegetarian restaurant in France, but to find one this good. Try dishes like zucchini stuffed with wild pesto, ricotta and asparagus tart, aubergine paté and the like.
Address: 4 bis quai Papacino
Tel.: 00 33 (0)4 93 56 25 27
Open: Tues.-Sat. Lunch & dinner.