Marseille isn't an easy city to figure out, restaurant-wise. There aren't a ton of recommendations or stories from the food writers and bloggers that I follow, so I did a lot of Googling. I ended up with a big, unwieldy, and not well-sourced list.
What I ended up loving were places I passed on my morning runs, adorable storefronts, Michelin reviews I found, or simply the incredible smells that drove me to the door step.
Ya Gotta Try the Bouillabaisse: Le Miramar
Marseille is the birthplace of bouillabaisse and you have to try it while you're here. But, there's an etiquette to this. You need to call the restaurant (or email, stop by) at least 24 hours in advance if you're going to order bouillabaisse. The restaurant literally shops for the seafood daily based on the orders they know are coming. It is also usually prepared for two or more. I emailed my hosts and asked them whether or not it was considered a faux pas to order it solo and they told me not to be silly. They also took the scariness out of this for me by reaching out to their favorite neighborhood spot, Le Miramar and making me a reservation.
Ok, back to bouillabaisse: Le Miramar treats you well. Even as a solo diner, I was flattered with the attentive service, wine recommendations, and gentle reminders about how to eat this dish. In the United States, when I've had it, it all comes in one dish, almost as a seafood stew/soup. In Marseille, this is a multi-step process. First, they present you with the seafood. Ooh and ahh and get excited. The broth comes next and you eat it like soup, paired with garlicy crostini. Then the seafood comes separately
My Favorite Croissants in Marseille: Patisserie Sylvain Depuichaffray
I'll own up to the fact that I found this one on Yelp. It got me to a new neighborhood, just off the Port. This whole street is really cute and loaded with boutique stores. It's also on the way to the Cathedral if you walk up from the Port.
There are a ton of baked goods, cakes and sandwiches, as well as these flaky, pillowy croissants.
|Croissants in the window of Patisserie Sylvain Depuichaffray|
My Quest to Get Into: Bistrot L'Horloge
I was smitten with Bistrot L'Horloge from the first time I walked past. It was spilling out into the street and filled with people that looked fun. I had seen on Trip Advisor that it was ranked high for food, but it was also just cool. I fumbled with my French and asked for a table. In return, I was told by the glance inside the busy space, that they were full.
I went online to find out if I could make a reservation. No website. I circled it on my daily runs around town, trying to crack the code.
In my last week there, I put on a cute outfit and (prepped with my Google Translate script), stopped in for lunch when it was less busy. I landed this great table with a view. I ordered a glass of rosé and my favorite salad. It was such a good moment. I loved the food, the vibe and the fact that I finally made it there. If I lived here, I think this would be a spot I would regularly visit.
Italian in Marseille: Le Table de Casimir
I wrote about this one in the moment. It was so welcoming. Like a bear hug. Which I needed after feeling a bit isolated after a solo week in Marseille. The food was also fantastic.
|Le Table de Casimir|
Exploring Le Panier: Bar des 13 Coins
If you go down an internet rabbit hole looking for traveler advice on Le Panier, you'll find a lot of warnings. I was both fascinated and freaked out. I kept dipping a block or two in and then popping out. One of my final days, I came up a few steps from the Cathedral de Major side and found Bar des 13 Coins. It was so cute, but I needed to wander a bit and get comfortable. I loved that day. So much street art. Great cafes. Neighborhood vibe.
I came back to Bar des 13 Coins after getting lost on side streets for an hour. I ordered a glass of wine and started thinking about what on the chalkboard menu I wanted for lunch. At this point in my stay, I was trying to speak in French. But, the knew I was American (duh) and were ok with English.
I ordered this crostini thinking it would be a small snack and it was huge. Fresh ingredients, beautiful day on a patio in the South of France... that was a good day to be alive.
|Bar des 13 Coins|
My Favorite Coffee Shop: Maison Geney
Listen, Starbucks got me through the first week. But once I found Maison Geney, I was done. It's adorable and family-owned with a neighborhood vibe and fantastic coffee and food.
|Cake and Latte at Maison Geney|
I'm So Glad I Tried: Le Sardine
I had this built in anti-sardine thing going. But this spot kept luring me in. Le Sardine was on the ground level of my building. It always had a steady flow of customers. They were everyone from stylish neighborhood friends to old men. I wasn't sure how I felt about a menu based around sardines, but it's a staple of the Marseille diet.
Well, I loved it. Maybe I wussed out by getting them fried, but they were delicious. And, came with this fantastic tomato compote and thin sliced fried potatoes. Pair it with a bottle of wine and a patio table.
My Favorite Neighborhood Bar: La Caravelle
La Caravelle is old school and cool. Great cocktails, balcony seating, music and this view of Vieux Port:
La Caravelle is located at 34 Quai du Port in Marseille.
Casual Cool Bistro for Dinner: Malthazar
Malthazar was another one I tried to visit multiple times. It was only open for dinner and didn't seem interested in a drop by guest. Beg a friend who speaks French to make you a reservation or book your table online via Michelin Guide. I don't think I have a good photo, but I had a fantastic steak tartare and chocolate dessert with a lovely bottle of wine and good service. But, you definitely need a reservation.
Malthazar is located at 19 Rue Fortua in Marseilles.
I also have a long list of places that I wasn't able to make it to. Next time, but here's a list:
- Drinks on the patio at the Intercontinental Hotel
- Lunch on the patio at Au Bout du Quai
- Croissants at La Boulangerie Aixoise
- Drinks at L'Unic Bar
- Fancy dinner with a view at Le Petit Passedat
- Dinner at Chez Georgina (double check to see if it's back open)