From pastries on a seaside patio to Vietnamese bites in the city’s Old Town, here are the best breakfast and brunch spots in Nice according to local culinary expert Rosa Jackson.
Just like many meals in France, breakfast and brunch are as much a social opportunity as they are a time for sustenance. Expect brunch spots to be packed, full of families and friends catching up over fresh seafood, flakey pastries and espresso. Culinary expert Rosa Jackson, a Nice-based food writer and owner of Petits Farcis culinary school, knows the city’s markets and restaurants like the back of her hand. Ranging from picturesque seaside restaurants for fresh fish to buzzing coffee shops, these are her picks of the best breakfast and brunch spots in Nice.
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“An offshoot of a popular spot in Cannes, this recently opened café and tea room serves fresh and generous Italian-inspired food. It is a welcome addition to an area known for its designer boutiques,” says Rosa. Portions here are hearty and healthy, and food comes quickly for travellers short on time. “It’s also unusually spacious for Nice,” describes Rosa, “with two airy floors and a boutique selling handmade pottery from Puglia and other carefully selected objects for the home.” Stop in for a healthy salad bowl or a filling pasta dish, then pick up souvenirs to take home.
“A homey spot with two branches in Nice, the Popote d’Ondine always has a line-up out the door for its daily brunch,” explains Rosa. Enjoy a full meal in their dining room, or order a coffee on the outside terrace and watch the world go by. “The flexitarian menu is a big draw: you might find bagels, shakshuka, burgers or avocado toast among the changing specials.” Whether you’re stepping in for breakfast, brunch, lunch or tea, diners with dietary restrictions will love their extensive range of raw and vegetarian options.
“Hidden behind the main cathedral in the Old Town (Vieux Nice),” Rosa explains, “this former art gallery with painted tiles is the most popular spot for breakfast in the area, serving good cappuccinos, stacks of pancakes and smoothie bowls.” In the airy, Provençal-style space, the restaurant is outfitted with rustic wooden tables decorated with fresh flowers. Alternatively, diners can sit outside, as the restaurant is located on a quiet, sun-dabbled alleyway in the Old Town. “You can choose from a blackboard of bistro dishes at lunch, and the gargantuan cakes bring in a teatime crowd.”
“One of several restaurants run by the enterprising Armand Crespo, this contemporary French bistro specialises in fresh pasta from the nearby shop Maison Barale, often served alongside meat or fish,” describes Rosa. “I go here for their great-value three-course lunch menu, with remarkably sophisticated fare inspired by the day’s market produce.” Tucked away in a corner of Old Nice, the eclectic spot turns into a hotspot for comedy and live music once the dinner service is over.
If you’re looking for an easy, convenient bite, head to Banh Mei. “Around the corner from my cooking studio in the old town, this Vietnamese canteen is my go-to for a quick lunch,” describes Rosa. “There is a short list of dishes offered daily, including bánh mì for €6.50 (£5.90), but I like to try the owner Hieu’s creative plat du jour, a fusion of French and Vietnamese inspiration.” A traditional bánh mì (Vietnamese sandwich) is served on a crusty french loaf and filled with fresh vegetables. Alternatively, opt for a large portion of pho, a delicious and warming bowl of noodles with broth.
“This lively, family-run restaurant is a must for anyone visiting Nice,” Rosa exclaims. “You’ll find classic and local cuisine here, including fish soup, petits farcis (stuffed vegetables) and ravioli filled with beef and chard. The French fries are also excellent!” Come for brunch, or alternatively stop in for dinner and stay late into the night. The restaurant is located right in the heart of the Old Town, making it an ideal spot for a bite after touring the area. However, be sure to call in advance, as this spot is known to get very busy.
Decorated with Mediterranean-inspired tiles, and always filled with plenty of natural sunlight, Piexes is an excellent place to spend a day inside. However, the coastal cuisine by chef Armand Crespo is the real draw at Piexes (pronounced pêche, French for fishing). The menu includes a delicious ceviche dish, carefully cooked fish and rich gnocchi with stewed octopus. While the fish is caught locally right from the bay, flavours are inspired by Japanese and Peruvian cuisine.
This seaside restaurant is one of the city’s most unique. Perched on a large freestanding rock in the sea, the restaurant is just below the city’s municipal diving boards. The space has an interesting history as it was first built during the Belle Époque, when the restaurant was in the shape of a ship. The restaurant was renovated in 1941 and now, 80 years later, sits on the two rock pillars, where diners can order pastries and fresh seafood on the seaside patio. On the shore, wind down to sea level and sit back in the more relaxed lounge area. Prices are on the higher end, but the views alone are worth the price tag.
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