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Limmat
Photograph: Limmat

The 10 best restaurants in Marseille

Get stuck into Marseille’s finest restaurants, serving everything from hearty Provençal classics to New York-style brunch

Houssine Bouchama
Written by
Houssine Bouchama
Translated by
Megan Carnegie
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Sure, bouillabaisse is great – but there’s far more to Marseille’s dining scene. This being France, you’d expect at least a few life-changingly good restaurants. But Marseille’s long and varied historical and cultural heritage makes its food scene particularly expansive and exciting, whether you’re into fine dining, fresh-as-anything fish or piping hot street food munched en route to the beach. From New York-style brunches to oh-so-French pastries and hand-rolled pasta by candlelight, Marseille caters to all tastes. Here’s our selection of the best places to eat in one of the most delicious cities in Europe.

Marseille’s best restaurants

London chef Harry Cummins and Montreal-born sommelier Laura Vidal met while working at Frenchie in Paris in 2012, when pop-ups were just coming on the scene in the French capital. A few years later, they were in the thick of it, hosting longer pop-up residencies and takeovers at restaurants all over the city. With partner Julia Mitton, they launched Paris Popup, an organisation empowering young entrepreneurs to create and grow in the French restaurant industry. Now you can head to their kitchen and terrace in a former haberdashery on Cours Saint-Louis for a legendary Marseille meal – our favourite is the €35 three-course lunch (served Friday to Sunday), but don’t miss the five-course dinner: a tour of chef Harry’s talents at €62. Complemented by Laura’s natural wine picks, it really is something to remember.

La Mercerie, 9 Cours Saint-Louis, Marseille 1er

This sun-drenched hotel-restaurant couldn’t tick any more boxes if it tried. The retro-style cabin rooms are housed in a former diving centre looking out over the ocean at Les Goudes – and the bar and restaurant are just as jaw-dropping. Grab a water taxi from Vieux Port to soak up the vibes on a deckchair, cocktail in hand. Mixology is manned by Kevin Sabtier, formerly of Mama Shelter – try the Le Grand Bleu de Marie, a twist on a Bloody Mary with white wine and cockles. Chef Antoine Teychené’s menu is simple and seasonal: think fish of the day thrown on the coals, or harissa tajine with panisse (fried chickpea fritters, a Marseillaise must-try).

Tuba Club, 2 Boulevard Alexandre-Delabre, Marseille 8e

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Just off Cours Julien is a heavenly little canteen run by Swiss chef Lili Gadola, who has furnished the place with charming antiques and turns out a feast with the friendliest of service. The menu serves up maximum flavour at minimal prices: there are dishes like crushed carrots and anchovies with samphire, and clam risotto with fennel, celery and preserved lemons. For dessert, strawberry pavlova is the star event. You’ll want to clean your dish – partly because of how good the food is, but also to get a closer look at Gadola’s collection of vintage, often hand-painted plates.

Limmat, 41, Rue Estelle-Marseille, Marseille 1er

The Vauban district gets a flavour of Brooklyn at Carlotta With. All distressed walls, exposed plumbing and designer furniture, Charlotte Croustillat’s industrial-chic deli-café fuses French gastronomy with New Yorker chill. This is where you’ll find the best breakfast in Marseille: vanilla brioche, outstanding pain au chocolat, and sourdough pancakes with honey-poached cherries, washed down with first-rate coffee. Non-stop breakfast runs into lunch, when you can dive into baba ganoush, shakshuka, and salads. Prepare to be spoilt.

Carlotta With, 84 Boulevard Vauban, Marseille 6e

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Christian Qui
Photograph: pcruciatti / Shutterstock.com

5. Christian Qui

Christian Qui is nothing short of a seafood wizard. Formerly at the helm of an award-winning sushi restaurant, he now welcomes six diners at a time into his home, looking out over the waters of Les Goudes bay. It’s understandably tricky to reserve, but worth every ounce of effort. Book a table via email and bring your own booze to accompany Christian’s haul of locally-sourced fish. Alongside his formidable storytelling, he serves dishes like roasted moray eels, raw lobster, and sushi-style langoustines, among other memorable delights.

Christian Qui’s is at a secret address in Les Goudes – contact poissonturfu@gmail.com

At the top of a steep slope is Le Café de l’Abbaye, a gem of a neighbourhood spot that’ll serve your needs from noon until night. Thirty-something locals flock to its blue-grey facade at apéro hour, but newbies will feel just as welcome too. As the sun sets, nab a spot on the terrace to gaze out over Vieux Port, the Palais du Pharo and Fort Saint-Jean. When you get peckish, there’s a menu of hearty Provençal fare such as salmon lasagne and alouettes sans têtes: thinly sliced beef parcels, simmered in a rich tomato sauce and served with cheesy polenta. For the sweet-toothed, there’s tarte tatin and fondant au chocolat. 

Le Café de l’Abbaye, 3 Rue d’Endoume, Marseille 7e

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Run by a team of exciting young Marseillaise chefs, La Fabriquerie is a deli-meets-wine bar that will have you drooling every time you walk past the window. It serves freshly-made seasonal dishes with ingredients lovingly sourced from the local area: flour from Moulin Saint-Joseph in Grans, organic fruits and vegetables from Le Paysan Moderne in Aix-en-Provence, and fish from Hyères. Its daily-changing plat du jour is under €15, and recent specials include hake brandade, with fennel salad, celery, and lemon croutons, and Japanese vegetable curry with brown Camargue rice, fried garlic, and spinach. Throw in a glass of Domaine Balansa white wine and it’s a dreamy lunch or dinner for – it bears repeating – under €15. Get everything to go if you’d rather savour it al fresco on the beach.

La Fabriquerie, 71 Avenue de la Corse, Marseille 7e

This Italian-style bistro launched in 2006 and has been nailing it ever since. Now an institution led by chef Pierre-Antoine Denis, La Cantinetta is a love letter to the trattoria. Ensconce yourself in its white-tableclothed dining room (or cooler courtyard for the hot days) to enjoy antipasti, clam linguine, veal milanese and hand-rolled spaghetti with bottarga: a dried and salted mullet roe that’s a speciality of the nearby Martigues area. The desserts are killer too: think limoncello sorbet and homemade tiramisu. And if you can’t get a table at La Cantinetta (or just can’t get enough of homely Italian food), head to its little brother Otto, which is less than 20 minutes away on the tram.   

La Cantinetta, 24 Cours Julien, Marseille 6e

Otto, 150 Rue Jean-Mermoz, Marseille 8e

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Vanille Noire
Photograph: Vanille Noire

9. Vanille Noire

Sandwiched between the promenade of Vieux Port and the labyrinthine streets of Le Panier, Vanille Noire is the place for standout ice cream. Its name is its speciality: an inky black vanilla ice cream that’s both visually appealing (yes, Instagrammable too) and downright delicious. Slightly salty and smooth as it comes, it practically leaps out of the cup against the zingy yellow tables of the terrasse. But Vanille Noire is no one-trick pony – there are sorbets like basil, strawberry and blood orange, as well as an unmissable grilled almond and sesame ice cream. In fact it’s a veritable feast for the senses, so it’s best to plan a few trips so you can try them all.

Vanille Noire, 15 Rue Caisserie, Marseille 2e

Since opening its doors in 1992, La Friche la Belle de Mai has dedicated its 45,000 square metres to artistic forms of all kinds. Located in the Belle de Mai district (‘la Friche’ means ‘the Wasteland’), it’s known for its kaleidoscopic program of contemporary art exhibitions, open-air cinema screenings, concerts, theatre, street art and club nights. But when you reach cultural overload, it’s also a great place to stop for sustenance – whether it’s traditional French cooking and wood-fired pizzas at Les Grandes Tables de la Friche or coffee and cake at Café La Salle de Machines. And if you’d rather sip something stronger, head to the rooftop at sunset for a memorable apéro. Although it’s best enjoyed in summer, there’s never a dull moment at La Friche.

Friche la Belle de Mai, 41 Rue Jobin, Marseille 3e

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