Marseille, a port city in the south of France, hasn’t, until recently, had a great reputation for its food scene. It’s not had a great reputation as a city at all in the past. But like its general reputation as a French city to visit, Marseille’s food scene has grown and bloomed lately and it’s now a foodie destination to rival Paris.
Ok, so as a city, Marseille might not compete with popular Paris, but that just makes it all the more intriguing. Marseille’s under-the-radar character allows restaurants and chefs to develop and create something special here. If you’re visiting Marseille, get ready for some unexpected and interesting restaurants. To help you choose where to go, here’s my pick of the best restaurants in Marseille. Some I’ve visited myself and some I’ve yet to try out.
1. La Délicatesse
A rustic-looking little restaurant with a menu that changes week to week, La Délicatesse is a gem. You’ll enjoy classic French cuisine, no matter what’s on offer when you go, and the welcome is warm. If you have the chance to sit outside, the view of the sea is lovely and it’s a relaxing, atmospheric way to enjoy an authentic French meal. It’s a fairly small restaurant and it’s well known in the city, so you’ll need to book a few days in advance to get a table, but it’s well worth the effort to experience this popular dining spot.
What To Order
The fish soup is famous at this restaurant, and if it’s on the menu when you visit, definitely try it out as a starter. As it’s so well loved, it is usually on the menu, but listings can and do change. The octopus is a great main dish and the chocolate fondant is delightful for dessert. The restaurant does offer a set menu, which is really good value and can be booked for two people upwards. As the menu changes every week, it’s unknown before you go, but the dishes are always top-quality.
An authentic Pakistani restaurant, O’Pakistan is a little off the beaten path in Marseille and is something of a find. It’s a family-run restaurant and you can tell when you taste the food how much care and love has gone into making it. The atmosphere is relaxed and the staff members are all friendly and welcoming, and because it’s a little out of the way, it doesn’t get too busy. It is possible to get a table as a walk-in, but book ahead if you want to be sure. The table seating out on the street is lovely as it’s a quiet side street with no traffic. Also, the exterior of this restaurant is like a work of art, so beautiful, and tells a story of what’s to come inside.
What To Order
I love a biryani, so that’s what I ordered and it was especially good. I also love paneer, so it was a difficult choice, and the Palak Paneer did look amazing. Interestingly, they serve the paneer dishes with the cheese crumbled into the sauce as a part of the meal, rather than cut into cubes as I’ve always had it before. Enjoy with a beer or simply with jugs of ice water. The food is so tasty you don’t need anything else.
3. Santa Gusto
A cute little sandwich spot, Santa Gusto serves focaccia sandwiches and pizzas, plus some incredible homemade desserts. It’s an Italian sandwich shop in central Marseille and it’s just amazing. There are a few tables and chairs, some outside, so you can enjoy your sandwich in the sun; though to call them sandwiches is really doing them a disservice. They are so much more than that. They also serve a few salads and some tapas. It’s a casual sandwich shop, so you can turn up and order anytime, take it away, and walk with your sandwich or sit down and take your time.
What To Order
The menu is divided into “classic,” “authentic,” and “excellent,” and to be honest, it’s really hard to choose. I went for the green pesto and mozzarella sandwich, but I was torn between that and the halloumi grill. I saw a lot of people order the Santa Burger, which is a steak sandwich that looked amazing. Enjoy with a Moretti beer and leave room for a small-potted tiramisu at the end.
4. Le Grim’Ô
Le Grim’Ô is a Middle Eastern restaurant specializing in Lebanese and Armenian dishes. I’ll be honest, from the outside, it doesn’t look like much. It’s located on a quiet street with a few other businesses dotted about, but there’s not a lot going on here. The neon sign and the design makes it look like a take away, but once you’re seated inside, the atmosphere is relaxed and the food speaks for itself. The interior is much nicer than the exterior would have you believe. It’s cozy and very welcoming.
What To Order
I recommend ordering the meze, whether there’s a group of you or just two of you, as you get to try out a few different dishes. I love hummus, and I have to say, this restaurant serves really good hummus with flatbread. I also loved the vine leaves, but you should really try the meze and taste a few various small plates. There’s something there for everyone. Pair it with a speciality tea or an authentic coffee for a real taste of the Middle East.
5. Casa Nova
Located in the old port area with great views of the city and the port, Casa Nova is a popular restaurant with tourists that gets very busy. The pavement seating under an awning is like any European city center restaurant, but this isn’t an overpriced tourist trap. The food here is fresh and cooked to perfection and the atmosphere is friendly and welcoming. They serve a lot of seafood here, being by the port, and it feels authentic. The staff is young and very attentive, and nothing feels like too much trouble.
What To Order
The prawns flambeed with pastis are said to be amazing here, though I haven’t tried them myself. There’s a great wine list with some good organic reds. The shellfish with pasta looks fresh and homemade, and I’d most likely choose a pasta dish if I was dining here; it looks so good. Leave some space for the creme brulee. I hear it’s a speciality of this restaurant. They also serve a really good breakfast of fresh juice, French bread, eggs and bacon, and it’s a lovely spot to sit and enjoy the first meal of the day.
6. Le Bistro Du Panier
Le Bistro Du Panier is a classic burger joint, but don’t expect your usual takeaway burgers — the burgers here are supreme. The interior does feel like a small diner and the plastic chairs and small tables are a bit cramped, but you can also sit outside and enjoy your burger in the sun. They take pride in offering a “French burger” here, so don’t expect what you might usually get back home. Unusually for a burger joint, you can book a table ahead, but you should be fine as a walk-in too; there’s plenty of tables.
What To Order
The classic burger and the La Provencial Burger are both popular here, and for straight up authentic burgers, they both do the job well. Personally, I’d go for the Garden Burger, but whatever you decide to order, these are homemade, specialty burgers on brioche buns with a tub of chips and salad on the side. The potted tiramisu for dessert is the perfect way to end the meal, enjoying it all with a glass of crisp white wine or a chilled beer.