Renowned for its history and cultural melée, Marseille is a multi-faceted city. Since its designation as European Capital of Culture, the foodie scene has blossomed. The city is home to excellent French and Mediterranean gastronomy, and is famed for its seafood. With a wealth of gastronomic venues to choose from, we have revisited ten of the best restaurants to help you appreciate the culture and traditions of Marseille.
A favourite with both locals and French celebrities, Chez Fonfon has gained a reputation for serving the best bouillabaisse in town. Chez Fonfon proposes two ways of eating of this Marseillaise delicacy – the starter option eaten alone as a soup, and the main course version served with croutons and the famous spicy rouille paste. Whichever way, it is cooked to perfection and opens the taste buds to other Mediterranean recipes on the menu prepared with the region’s olive oil, tomatoes and garlic. The décor at Chez Fonfon is simple and stylish, and its bright lighting contributes to its welcoming open atmosphere. With its seafront location in the fishing port of Vallon des Auffes, Chez Fonfon’s other claim to fame is the shooting of some of the scenes from Luc Besson’s well-known film Le Grand Bleu starring Jean Reno.
The aptly named L’Epuisette (fishing net) is a haven for any fish or seafood lover in search of a real taste of the Mediterranean. Located in the small fishing port of Le Vallon des Auffes, perched on the top of a protruding strip of rocks and overlooking the sea, L’Epuisette is a perfect spot for soaking up the seascape and watching the activity of the passing fishing boats. Longstanding chef Guillaume Sourrieu believes in reflecting his own personal experience in travel and gastronomy on a plate. His signature bouillabaisse, which he serves in three steps, breaking the traditional Marseille recipe down into three aromatic fish courses, is a perfect example of his approach. The menu changes with the seasons and according to Sourrieu’s inspiration, and is based on local ingredients, including fish trawled in by the fishermen of Le Vallon des Auffes. Sorrieu’s desserts are equally awash with creativity, exploring combinations of strawberry tart and ice cream made from the regional olive oil or fresh raspberry profiteroles with a peppermint fragrance accompanied by sweet pepper sorbet and pistachio flavoured crème brûlée. Simply divine!
A local favourite in the centre of Marseille, Le Café Des Epices offers a fiery take on Mediterranean cuisine. Fused with exotic spices and unique Caribbean flavours, the ever-changing selection of dishes is imaginative and mouth-watering. Apart from its basic décor and cosy seating, the interior features an open-plan kitchen, filling the restaurant with tantalising aromas and giving diners a sneak peek of the gastronomic magic at work. Looking out on to Place Bargemon, adorned with rows of picturesque olive trees in giant pots, the restaurant’s large terrace offers a serene dining place for sunny days and warm evenings. Always packed with regulars and curious visitors, Le Café Des Epices promises a fabulous dinner in a vibrant comfortable setting.
Looks like it's closedHours or services may be impacted due to Covid-19
King Arthur and his knights may not have called in at Marseille but the round table – La Table Ronde – certainly did. La Table Ronde pays tribute to the fare of Brittany, offering a rich selection of savoury and sweet pancakes, referred to respectively as ‘galettes’ and ‘crêpes’. Each item on the menu evokes the Breton culture, such as the Bigoudene galette garnished with sausage, mushrooms and walnut, or the Belle-Ile version comprising pan-fried scallops, leak fondue and lemon butter. There is a large selection of traditional cider and beer, and some serious dessert concoctions of which the witch’s cauldron made up of a small crêpe, apples soaked in cider, rum and raisin ice cream, hot chocolate sauce and chantilly all flambéed in pure rum. It’s time for a Mediterranean diet after a visit to the Table Ronde!
Chez Ida (Ida’s Place) is a fun venue where families and friends come together to eat, sing and dance in a bright and very cheerful atmosphere. The evening menu proposes a wide selection of French classics such as foie gras with fig relish or the traditional sole, lamb or duck breast, and at lunch time there is a set menu proposing a wholesome dish of the day. Weekends are a festive time at Chez Ida when everyone lets their hair down. After a good hearty dinner comes good entertainment where diners can sing their heart out to a lively karaoke and dance the night away. A visit to Chez Ida is a perfect way to capture the local spirit of Marseille and certainly an unforgettable experience.
Situated on the old harbour pier at the top of the 21st century MuCEM museum, which showcases European and Mediterranean culture and civilisation, La Table is one of three restaurants in the museum and probably the most remarkable for its magnificent panoramic view of the Mediterranean. The splendid view and essence of the museum are reflected in the copious Mediterranean buffets and creative dishes available on the menu. Look out for a modern take on octopus carpaccio, fish soup or veal escalopes. La Table’s contemporary minimalist décor likewise reflects the highly modern architecture of the MuCEM signed by Rudy Ricciotti, a perfect place to enjoy modern Marseille.
Les Fenêtres is an upscale brasserie in the premises of Marseille’s palatial five-star Intercontinental Hôtel Dieu, which opens its windows to the fragrance of the Mediterranean and Provence. The menu offers dishes comprising all the ingredients that the region can offer, from black tomato gazpacho to Mediterranean sea bass ceviche, and from veal tagliata in sage and lemon to green vegetable cassolette. Chef Lionel Levy and his team also boast some fine signature dishes including the regional sardine ‘pissaladière’. Among the heavenly desserts served at Les Fenêtres, look out for some of the very innovative blends such as candied carrots, thyme-lemon, cream cheese and lemon sorbet or an exciting red fruit and balsamic charlotte. The décor of Les Fenêtres is stylish, combining mirrors embedded in stone walls, glass panels and low hanging modern light fixtures creating an intimate atmosphere.
Restaurant, Pizzeria, Italian, Fast Food, Vegetarian, $$$
Tucked away in the labyrinth of streets behind the old port, Chez Sauveur is part of Marseille’s culinary heritage. Founded in 1943 by Sauveur Di Paolo, its top quality pizzas and friendly welcome have always been popular with the locals. Fabrice Giacalone and his team have succeeded in maintaining the authenticity of Chez Sauveur using their predecessor’s methods of preparation and the same wood-fire oven that Sauveur used to turn out the best pizzas, bread and pastries over 60 years ago. Dough is handcrafted and all pizzas are garnished with fresh tomatoes, cheese and other seasonal ingredients sourced from the nearby food market.
For ultimate chic al fresco poolside dining, look no further than Victor Café located in the four-star New Hotel of Marseille at the entrance side of the old port. Chef Jérôme Pollo believes in creativity working in tandem with fresh locally sourced produce, including herbs, salad vegetables and artichokes grown in the hotel’s own vegetable patch. His inventive cuisine combines regional and lesser-known vegetables with fresh meat and freshly caught fish to make up delicious soups and stews. Look out for the exceptionally tender Japanese Kobe beef dishes, or tuna steak lightly cooked in satay sauce with wok vegetables. In the same spirit of creativity, Victor Café is also a contemporary art gallery, providing a space for artists to work in front of a live audience and showcase their finished creations.
In an ideal location facing the beach that stretches along the bay of Marseille, Pascal’s Kitchen offers a combination of French and Thai cuisine. A seasonal restaurant, open from March to September, it is popular with the locals seeking a sophisticated dining experience with the gentle background music of the sea and the sun setting on the horizon. Food at Pascal’s Kitchen is prepared by a French-Thai duo, each focusing on dishes of the highest quality and offering a blend of tradition and exoticism. Among the French specialities, look out for veal kidneys and sweetbreads or soft-boiled eggs with fresh truffles and cèpe mushrooms, and on the spicy Thai side, Thai chicken cooked in banana leaves, a variety of nems or fish soup prepared with coconut milk.