With its dynamic student population and creative spirit, it should come as no surprise that Nantes’ gastronomic strength is its diversity. From charming bistros to sushi bars, and even to Michelin-starred restaurants, here’s our pick of Nantes’ best restaurants.
Restaurant, Contemporary, $$$
L’U.ni – which stands for ‘l’Univers de Nicolas’ or ‘Nicolas’ universe’ — has long been one of Nantes’ most stylish restaurants. Chef Nicolas Guiet learned his trade under Michelin-starred chef Eric Guérin and he’s a master of contemporary cuisine with a creative twist. Seasonal ingredients are grown in collaboration with gardener Olivier Durand, meaning that there’s always something new on the menu and there are plenty of surprises.
A cut above the city’s kebab joints, Anatolia serves up traditional Turkish cuisine that’s freshly prepared and delicious. The restaurant itself is simple, the service friendly and efficient (although be warned – the staff speak only a few words of English), but it’s the food that takes center stage. Typical Turkish dishes like Tavuk Şiş (chicken shish kebab), Köfte (meatballs) and Adana Kebabı (spicy Adana kebab) are served with masses of bread and salad. But for the full experience order a plate of mixed mezes to share, then follow it up with a gooey slice of baklava (sweet, nut-stuffed pastry).
One of only two Michelin-starred restaurants in Nantes, L’Atlantide 1874 is top of the list for foodies, with world-class cuisine, five-star service, and a lengthy wine list. Set in the historic Maison Guého, just a few doors down from the Musée Jules Verne and across the water from the Ile de Nantes, it’s the perfect setting for a romantic evening with its glass-fronted terrace looking out over the Loire River. The newly renovated property now has a brasserie and a chambre d’hôte (bed and breakfast) on-site.
Run by a French-Colombian couple, Nazca Cebicheria brings a Latin American flavour and the star of the show is, of course, Ceviche (raw fish marinated in lemon). The Peruvian dish is served up in a variety of inventive ways, with favorites including Tiradito (sashimi-style) or a spicy gazpacho sauce. The small restaurant has a big following, so reservations are recommended.
A restaurant that’s brimming with locals is always a good sign and despite opening its doors only in 2017, Cuit Lu Cru already has a steady stream of regulars. Located in the lively Talensac quarter, it’s close proximity to the Talensac Market means fresh, seasonal ingredients are easy to come by and the emphasis is on classic French cuisine. Most importantly, everything is ‘faits maison’ (home-made) from the delicious sauces to the decadent macarons.
Hands down one of Nantes’ best fish restaurants, La Poissonnerie Et Pas Que (The Fish Market… and more!) does exactly what its name suggests, with a menu full of fresh fish, seafood, and the odd meat dish! Of course, the seafood is the star attraction and although menus change depending on availability, you’ll be likely to find platters of oysters, seafood casseroles, sea urchin soup, and wild sea bass on a regular basis.
Everything at La Raffinerie is sourced locally, from the meat and fish to flour and fresh herbs (there’s even a list of suppliers on their website), ensuring all ingredients are fresh, high-quality, and seasonal. Opt for a starter of foie gras, followed by pan-fried veal or scallops. Then go for home-made fruit sorbet accompanied by bread baked on-site plus a wine selection focused on boutique and upcoming winemakers. You can even watch your dinner being prepared in the open kitchen.
Sushi is the food du jour for Nantais foodies. And since opening in 2017, Sushi’kito has won over locals with its fresh, well-priced, and always tasty sushi. There’s a huge range of rolls, nigiri, and sashimi to choose from, plus some more unusual choices such as sushi burritos and sushi pizza – and the presentation is always inventive (bring your camera!). If you’re on a budget, head there during the weekday happy hour when everything is discounted by around 20% and if there are no seats left, you can always order to go.
Run by local gastronomes Béatrice & Christophe Levet, Analude is the kind of place that will impress even the most discerning foodies. The menu changes weekly, with innovative dishes that go far beyond the French classics, fabulous desserts and homemade sorbets, and the presentation is always show-stopping. They also run cooking classes on request and the on-site delicatessen sells a fine selection of artisan products, including flavoured oils, vinaigres, herbs, and spices.
Located in a charming, timber-fronted building at the heart of the Old Town, Le Bouchon is an atmospheric spot, whether you take a seat on its cobblestoned terrace or head inside to the candlelit courtyard. The menu is always changing, with a mix of reinvented French dishes, Mediterranean, and international cuisine. The home-made desserts are decadent and always worth saving room for. It’s worth mentioning the staff too, who are renowned for giving a warm welcome.