Although Lyon is the second-largest city in France, it is certainly the gastronomic capital – and number one in our hearts! The area is known for its high-end traditional French cuisine, although it offers so much more to foodies than the pricey Lyonnaise restaurants. It is also known to be very welcoming to young chefs, so it’s no wonder Lyon has tons of hidden culinary treasures that are waiting to be discovered.
1. Le Garet
Most typical of Lyon’s restaurants, La Garet has a bawdy and jovial feel with its dark wood paneling, oil paintings, and low-hanging lights. It has a devoted clientele and a sense of humor in its décor, as well as friendly service. The menu is hearty and the portions are heaped onto the plate. La Garet suits locals and tourists who want a hefty meal before visiting the nearby museums and opera halls. Chef Emmanuel Ferra’s specialties include the locals’ favorites: Cervelle meunière, andouillettes, and tablier de sapeur.
This Middle-Eastern caterer is a Lyon food institution, set up in 1929 by Djebrail Bahadourian. It serves the best porte d’entrée to begin an afternoon discovering the diverse neighborhood. The business also offers rare teas, spices, beans, and other exotic goods from all over the world.
This tiny, trendy joint, surrounded by the beautiful trompe-l’oeils is just the place to be if you want to taste food that is freshly made with local produce. The surrounding murals are part of Lyon’s urban heritage and L’Ébauche has its own murals which are visible on the outside shutter. Chef Mélik Debadji serves the best of everything, my favorites being the rabbit ravioli with carrots, snails and herb ricotta, and the balsamic and cider sorbet.
4. Burgundy Lounge
Spend an extremely pleasant evening overlooking the Saône over some wine and well-cooked food. Upstairs are thick stone walls and cool comfy seating, while downstairs is a steel bar and tasting lounge. Chef Axel Ruga serves food that tastes exquisite, some of which include the chargrilled fillet of bream and turbot with leeks in tarragon and wine.
5. Supermarché Asie
Next to Guillotière, Lyon’s Chinatown is a refreshing change of scenery. This supermarket offers impressive selections of Asian cuisine and products (including sriracha!). There are plenty of Vietnamese and Chinese restaurants nearby for a foodie’s best after-shopping meal.
6. Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse
A famed indoor food market in Lyon, this place has nearly five dozen food stalls selling the best of the city’s tastes and offers something for everyone. Don’t forget to grab a round of runny St. Marcellin from the legendary cheesemonger, Mère Richard, and also a knobbly Jésus de Lyon from Charcuterie Sibilia. You can enjoy a sit-down lunch of local produce, especially enjoyable on Sundays when families assemble for the shellfish and white wine brunch.
7. Café Cousu
This hole-in-the-wall lures an artsy crowd and is located directly across the street from the fashion design shops of Passage Thiaffait. Café Cousu serves healthy lunches and homemade tarts and cakes, as well as the famous buzzing weekend brunches. Its menu also offers a few vegetarian options. Cheese and charcuterie platters, which are a must-try, are served in the evening.
8. Cinq Mains
This neo-bistro was an instant hit when Lyonnais Grégory Cuilleron and two of his friends opened it in 2016. Cinq Mains welcomes a new generation of chefs and offers an amazing new spin on Lyonnaise cuisine. They work wonders at this cool, loft-like space with a mezzanine, serving the best tantalizing creations based on what the chefs find freshly in the market.
This café-pastry shop overlooking the lovely Marcel Bertone packs a punch – it is the best spot in Croix Rousse. The breakfast (and brunch on the weekends) is continental and is the highlight on everyone’s list, though the pastries and pies that are served here will leave your taste buds wanting more. This wonderfully pleasant and easy-going setting gives a relaxed urban vibe, and there are plenty of seats to sit outside on a warm day.
10. Le Restaurant de Fourvière
The views of this restaurant are so incredible that it would be easy for this superbly-located place to be a tourist trap – but surprisingly, it isn’t! And that’s all the more impressive. Le Restaurant de Fourvière concentrates on well-cooked French specialties, as well as traditional food of Lyon, including the local favorites like sautéed scallops and pike perch that have been cooked in red wine sauce.