Bordeaux is a popular city among the French, who widely consider it one of the best cities in France to live and work. It has also fast become one of France’s gastronomical centers, to no one’s surprise. It’s a coastal city (incredible seafood), not far from Spain (jamon and gazpacho!), and near the center of France for great game and mushroom hunting. And let’s not forget the surrounding vineyards are the birthplace of some of the loveliest wines in the country. A rich mix of cultural influences mark these foodie favorites below, and this is also thanks to the international chefs who have made Bordeaux their home. Read on for the eateries making locals swoon.
Scotsman Daniel Gallacher opened Racines, or roots in French, after planting his in Bordeaux. Perhaps he’s claiming his territory, but his respect was hard earned during the years spent working for Alain Ducasse in Saint Tropez and later in Paris, where he saw the grand Michelin-star chef daily. Gallacher chose Bordeaux over Paris for a better work-life balance. Racines is the kind of restaurant where you needn’t look at the menu; trust the chef for his daily inspirations, always seasonally inspired. It’s a quality gourmet experience for a less-than gourmet budget, and a proper wine-pairing proposition to boot. Don’t let the Scot’s birthplace fool you—trained by the best in France, Gallacher does French cuisine at its finest.
Le Cromagnon takes the Himalayan salt trend to another level by bringing an oven-hot Himalayan salt stone to the table for guests to grill meat themselves. Hailing from Moldova, Chef Oxana Ramat was inspired by the friendly atmosphere you experience around a campfire. Service is second to none, especially for such an unpretentious ambiance. Modern-yet-cozy décor complements a truly inventive menu. From oysters to shrimp tartare and sturgeon, many dishes are marked by a Japanese or Thai twist and always include some notable flavor accent like caviar or truffle. Opened at the end of 2017, the restaurant has folks flocking back for seconds already.
Another caveman-like concept has made its mark on the natives with The Meat Pack. At the pinnacle of vegetarianism in France, successful restaurateurs, Tim Rémi and Théo Saint Martin, opened a restaurant dedicated to the carnivores among us. It is a converted blacksmith workshop with the barbecue at center stage where six different breeds of beef rotate on a spit. The French are famous for their sauces, so naturally you have your choice of delectable dippings, from the classic bérnaise to bourbon-spiced sauce or shallot butter. Your choice of cut is accompanied by steakhouse fare like spinach, polenta, and fries cooked in—guess what?—beef fat. Total indulgence.
Le Petit Commerce is an institution for Bordeaux residents craving a rustic meal with a tasty selection of fresh seafood. You don’t come just for the sole, but also for delicacies of the sea like lobster, eel, baby squid, and various whole grilled fish, many of which you’ve likely never heard of before. If you love oysters, this is also the place to come. Considering the proximity of Bordeaux to the Arcachon and Oleron oyster beds, this mainstay has had the right connections for some time. It’s unpretentious and reasonably priced. Come for the food, not necessarily for the service, which can also be a bit “rustic” depending on your expectations! Do call for a reservation.
Want to do as the locals do? Go for a morning stroll in Marché des Capucins, the covered food market with everything eatable you can imagine. Here, pick up your dinner fixings, and then go for lunch at Poggetti. Run entirely by Italian staff, the team is visibly passionate about pizza and pasta, overtly boasting their respect for all products Italian. Try the burrata and the pesto, too. And check out the Italian wines on the menu here. After all, the locals are drinking their homegrown Bordeaux on the daily, so you can’t blame them for wanting to branch out now and again, n’est-ce pas?