It’s not easy to eat cheap when you’re in the French Riviera. Playing host to movie stars (Cannes) or the world’s richest people (Monaco) means you tend to have restaurants that are either extremely sceney or pricey, or you have mediocre tourist traps catering to those who come to ogle all the wealth and fame. Finding that sweet spot of a solid establishment making reasonably priced food proved to be a challenge, and Yelp or Chowhound wasn’t very helpful in narrowing down the options. Surprisingly, Tripadvisor ended up being a reliable source for places to eat, and by following its lead we were able to have great meals without breaking the bank. The list of those restaurants is as follows:
Le Makassar // 5 Rue Alexandre Mari, 06300 Nice, France // +33 4 93 80 99 09
Le Makassar is a lovely restaurant in Old Town, Nice that lets you escape the crowds outside. Brunch is their forte, and they offer high quality continental breakfast spreads with a choice of a main. The house specialty seems to be the savory crumble, and the goat cheese and ratatouille crumble is especially strong.
Chez Pipo // 13 Rue Bavastro, 06000 Nice, France // +33 4 93 55 88 82
Socca, a local Nicoise snack food specialty, is a chickpea pancake that tastes like a nutty, potato-chip flavored crepe. There are food stands throughout the city that make socca, but the restaurant Chez Pipo makes some of the best. It’s a lot of fun watching the workers tend to the wood-fire oven and cut up the cooked dough for the eager customers looking on.
Aux Bons Enfants // 80 Rue Meynadier, 06400 Cannes, France // +33 6 18 81 37 47
There are plenty of chic hotel and seaside restaurants in Cannes, but for some excellent, homestyle French food that’s down to earth, nothing beats Aux Bons Enfants. We were even more reassured when a local couple sitting next to us said that this was one of the best restaurants in town. You can expect well-executed classics like nicoise salad and moules marinières. I was especially pleased by my petits farcis nicois, a local dish featuring vegetables stuffed with ground veal.
La Piazza // 9 Rue du Portier, 98000 Monaco // +377 93 50 47 00
Finding cheap, quality eats in Monaco was especially tough. Everyone kept recommending the pricey Alain Ducasse restaurant Le Louis XV, which is easy to say in a town where the worst car seems to be a Porsche. Luckily we stumbled upon La Piazza, which serves pleasing Italian classics at a good price point. The stuffed squash flowers were fabulous, and the pasta dishes were very generous.
In La Turbie (Near Eze):
Cafe de la Fontaine // 4 Avenue du Général de Gaulle, 06320 La Turbie, France // +33 4 93 28 52 79
Eze is a small, posh hillside city that already has limited food options, and they tend to be splurges. La Chevre d’Or, a restaurant in a luxurious Relais & Chateau property (read more about that here), and Chateau Eza are two of the most high profile, and high end, restaurants competing for your attention. If you drive a few minutes out to neighboring town La Turbie, you can have a very satisfying, bistro-style meal at Cafe de la Fontaine with classic dishes like roast duck and entrecote steak.