Bordeaux, France is primarily known for its wine. But where there’s great wine there’s usually also great food, and we can attest to that.
The food scene in Bordeaux is a gastronomic paradise, with everything from decades-old venerable institutions to inspired innovators. There are so many amazing Bordeaux restaurant experiences that it’s hard to go wrong.
We’re big fans of exploring and stumbling across that little “find” of a restaurant. But since there are so many dining choices in Bordeaux, it helps to make a few reservations.
We’ve done some of the research so you don’t have to.
We ate our way through the city, and ended up getting acquainted with neighborhoods that we would not have otherwise discovered. All of the places listed below are within walking distance from the historic city center, but some were off the beaten track and many were populated mainly by locals.
Like so many of us whose travel plans were disrupted by COVID, Bordeaux was our trip that got derailed due to the pandemic (in our case, we had to postpone it twice). So we were determined to indulge on the food. However, we did not break the bank, and only one of the amazing Bordeaux restaurant experiences listed below was a big splurge.
We did place limitations on ourselves. While we included some restaurants that were either Michelin starred or in the Michelin Guide, we skipped the two-star Michelin restaurants since we didn’t want to “dress” for dinner or spend quite that much. That’s also not where the locals eat. We additionally avoided a couple of places that make the guidebooks but are actually very touristy with long wait lines.
There were several places we ate at that did not make this list.
Here are nine amazing Bordeaux restaurant experiences, in alphabetical order. We have personally eaten at all of them. This is just a representative sample; we have additional restaurants we intend to check out when we return.
Arcada is a casual, gourmet bistro on a tiny side street in the Saint-Paul neighborhood south of the historic center and is in the Michelin Guide. We enjoyed local, seasonal fare such as octopus and tomato and cheese with peaches. This is a restaurant where the Armagnac, the distinctive brandy produced in Southwest France, is served from a huge bottle using a siphon. We were even invited to see the wine cellar and cigar cave. Ask for a peek if your server doesn’t mention it.
La Table de Montaigne
La Table de Montaigne is a more elegant, formal restaurant, located in the boutique Hotel Le Palais Gallien 15 minutes west of the city center. The restaurant, also in the Michelin Guide, is small but the food is eclectic. Diners have a choice of tasting menus, with creative items such as smoked Pyrenees lamb and soy-cured egg with coconut, curry, and brown mushrooms.
La Tupina is an institution, founded in 1968, featuring the rustic comfort food of Southwest France. La Tupina means cauldron in Basque; Basque country is not that far away. The restaurant is about a 20-minute walk south of the historic center near the Quais of the Garonne River, in the now-trendy Saint-Michel quarter. This is where you’ll find dishes such as traditional pasta, lamproie (local eel from the river), and cassoulet. Our server also gave us local canelés, a regional specialty of Bordeaux often filled with rum, and cookies for dessert.
Le Chicoula Bistrot d’art
Le Chicoula Bistrot d’art was another unexpected gem we found in the Michelin Guide. Located in the Saint-Paul quarter, this tiny (16 people) relaxed spot offers more modern French cuisine and also features different tasting menus. Each dish was a pleasant surprise (the restaurant does ask about food allergies and preferences).
Le Comptoir d’Etienne
Looking for a more traditional French bistro experience? Go to Le Comptoir d’Etienne. It’s a comfortable, more casual, cozy little place on a side street right off the historic area with a fireplace and those shared blackboards listing the daily specials. Its logo – of a little boy getting ready to dig into his meal – looks like it’s from the 1950s. We had very typical French fare such as foie gras, duck, and sweetbreads.
Le Petit Commerce
Le Petit Commerce is a well-established, traditional French and seafood restaurant off a side street in the Saint-Pierre section in the city center. It was so successful it’s now housed in two buildings across from each other. This spot was not on our original itinerary; we added it after a local tour guide recommended a visit. It did not disappoint. The menu is varied but the focus is on the seafood The sardines and oysters were wonderful. Our seafood tower had shellfish (and tools for extracting them) that I had never seen before. Fun!
L’Observatoire du Gabriel
L’Observatoire du Gabriel was our big splurge and a real treat. Another Michelin starred restaurant, it’s right off the historic Place de la Bourse on the second floor with a view of the river. The restaurant is elegant, luxurious, and intimate, with an eclectic tasting menu; our dishes included mackerel in zucchini flower and honey from the restaurant’s own hives. Try to be the first in line when it opens. That’s how we scored the private room looking right into the kitchen (the room can also be reserved for up to six people). If you can’t get a reservation in the gourmet dining room, there is also a casual bistro and a bar downstairs.
Solena is a real find right near the city center. Sparsely decorated and holding only about 20 people, this spot earned a Michelin star a couple of years ago for its creative, seasonal dishes. We chose the five course tasting menu, but after factoring in the amuse bouche and extra desserts it was more like an eight to nine course dinner. This is another restaurant where what you are served will be a surprise.
While most of the amazing Bordeaux restaurant experiences feature French cuisine, we recommend you branch out at least once and go to the Italian restaurant Tentazioni. This tiny, Michelin starred restaurant operated by a husband and wife team (one is from Sardinia, the other from Brittany) is a short walk from the city center and provides a creative Italian-inspired tasting menu. The dishes included risotto, cuttlefish, and pigeon. The amuse bouche itself had five to six different items in it. Yum!
We hope this guide of nine amazing Bordeaux restaurant experiences helps you plan your next trip there.
Just writing this blog post made me hungry!
If you have any recommendations of other great food in Bordeaux or elsewhere, please send them our way at email@example.com. Always feel free to reach out to us with any questions or feedback.
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