Despite it’s laid back atmosphere, an abundance of historic buildings and the quaint narrow streets, Toulouse is actually France’s fourth-largest city and the capital of the country’s southern Occitanie region. With this accolade also comes a buzzing cultural scene and an even more exciting culinary scene, which can only be expected of a country so well known for its food.
Any trip to Toulouse would be incomplete without making the most of the ‘Pink City’s’ impressive restaurant scene. So to help you decide where to go, these are 5 of my favourite restaurants in Toulouse, as well as one slightly different way of experiencing Toulouse’s best food…
5 of the best restaurants in Toulouse France:
Best for: An authentic local dining experience.
The restaurant: A restaurant just as lovely as its name, which translates to English as ‘the Feet Under The Table’, Aux Pieds Sous La Table is a homely local spot with a focus on bringing family and friends together for a tasty home-cooked meal.
Unsurprisingly, Aux Pieds Sous La Table is popular with Toulouse locals and is located in the north of the city in an area called Arnaud Bernard, slightly hidden away from the tourist crowds. The charming little spot is filled with vintage furniture and homely decor, with friendly staff and a fun but relaxed atmosphere which is particularly great for group meals.
The food: The restaurant serves a constantly changing menu of regional ‘sud-ouest’ French dishes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. My favourite dish had to be the beef bourguignon topped with crunchy vegetable crisps, while the fluffy French toast dessert was a table-wide hit.
The price: Prices at Aux Pieds Sous La Table are extremely affordable, with the 3-course set menu setting you back just €16.50, or €11.50 for just a main course. Despite the cheap prices, all of the dishes come beautifully presented and full of exciting flavours. One of the best restaurants in Toulouse for value for money!
Tip: Don’t forget to round off your meal with some of Aux Pieds Sous La Table’s original cocktails.
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Check out my post ’10 Best Things To Do in Toulouse France’ over on Indiana Jo.
Best for: A complete night out with plenty of cocktails.
The restaurant: Ma Biche Sur Le Toit (translation: the Doe on the Roof) is a fairly new addition to Toulouse’s culinary scene but is already a huge hit amongst both locals and tourists. The restaurant sits on the 6th floor of centrally located department store Galeries Lafayette, with an extravagantly chic – yet slightly old-school – decor and a large wrap around terrace with gorgeous views across the Pink City.
The food: High-end French and European dishes, including 24 month refined Ibérico ham, salmon ceviche, beef tartar, mushroom penne, duck thigh and beef fillet.
The price: Certainly not the cheapest restaurant in Toulouse, but with Ma Biche Sur Le Toit you’re paying for the full experience – the venue, the views, the atmosphere and the entertainment. Plus the food is pretty d*mn good. Entrees are €17-20, main dishes €22-27 and desserts around €10.
When to go: The local hotspot is open from 10am until 2am every day (except Sundays), serving breakfast, brunch, lunch, tea, dinner and cocktails. However, my advice would be to visit on a Friday or Saturday evening for dinner and drinks to make the most of the unique venue.
Start with a cocktail at the bar out on the terrace to watch the sunset over the city, then head inside and grab a table for the rest of the night. At 9pm a dance troupe comes out to perform fun choreographed routines to classic and modern hits around the tables as guests continue to eat. Then finally, from around 11pm, the restaurant transforms into a late night bar, with a live DJ, flowing cocktails and a buzzing atmosphere.
Tip: Ma Biche Sur Le Toit is one of the most popular restaurants in Toulouse so it’s advisable to book in advance to guarantee a table during peak times.
Best for: Tapas-style dining with a group of friends.
The restaurant: Cosmopolitain has an undoubtedly modern and hip vibe, with minimalist Scandinavian furniture and quirky decorations which are sure to give you serious interiors envy – I was certainly taking notes for my future home.
The food: The restaurant has an extensive menu of ‘Petit Plates’ which are perfect to share amongst the table, including local jambon, calamari, steak, gnocchi with pesto, truffle risotto, foie gras, duck ramen and frites with fromage blanc (to name just a few). There is also a menu of French cheeses and tasty desserts to round off your meal.
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The price: Small sharing dishes cost between €5-10, while larger meat plates can be considerably more. A platter of 4 kinds of cheese is €11. Cocktails are €9, while bottles of wine are around €25.
When to go: Similar to Ma Biche Sur Le Toit, Cosmopolitain is open daily until 2am (3am on Saturday, closed Sunday), and turns into a cool evening drinks venue with live DJs as the evening goes on. Later into the night, it can get pretty busy and noisy inside which is great if you’re after a lively night out, but if you want somewhere quieter for dinner, don’t book a table for too late in the day.
Need help choosing what to order…
Best for: High-end dining in an iconic and extravagant setting.
The restaurant: Located on central Place du Capitole, Le Bibent is certainly one of the best restaurants Toulouse has to offer, being the proud owner of two Michelin Bib Gourmand awards (very high-quality but more affordable dining options than Michelin-star). The architecturally impressive room boasts a 19th-century interior with high ceilings, extravagant gold-coated furnishings and royal red upholstery. Everything you might imagine from a high-end French restaurant.
Interesting fact: Le Bibent is probably the most famous of the restaurants in Toulouse as it’s the location where three Serbian students first plotted the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, which triggered WW1.
The food: The restaurant was first opened in 1861, however, in 2011 it was taken over by well-established French chef Christian Constant, known for bringing the cuisine of southern France to Paris.
The menu is filled with local delicacies, including a number of seafood dishes such as oysters, salmon tartare and crab. I opted for one of Toulouse’s most prominent local dishes, which is also a specialty of the restaurant, cassoulet (slow-cooked casserole with lots of meat and white beans), which was a surprisingly large and filling portion for such a high-end restaurant.
The price: As expected from a high-end establishment like Le Bibent, prices can be fairly high, however, there are also set menus with fewer options but which are much more affordable. From the a la carte menu, entrees and desserts are around €10, while mains can vary from €24-€82 (for the lobster).
When to go: If you’re going out for a special occasion or looking to impress your date, head to Le Bibent for a luxury 3-course lunch or dinner. Alternatively, for something a bit more casual, pop along in the morning for a leisurely coffee and croissant – Le Bibent is open for breakfast from 7:30am. Or for cheap cocktails and a gourmet snack, happy hour is from 6-8pm.
Tip: For dessert, be sure not to miss Constant’s famous chocolate tart!
Best for: A good coffee and some homemade cake.
Restaurant: Le Fénétra is a small but cosy restaurant, with exposed brick walls, a stone staircase, wooden tables, and chairs draped in white fur throws.
Food: Hearty French dishes including burgers, baguettes, charcuterie, salads and fries. No frills but good portions of tasty homemade food. Most importantly, Le Fénétra is known for its typical Toulousian cake by the same name, containing almonds. apricot and candied lemon, and served with violet (a popular local flower) ice cream.
The price: Very affordable! A meal of burger, fries and a drink costs just €9, while a slice of cake will set you back around €3-4.
When to go: Le Fénétra is open from 9am-7pm daily (8pm Saturday), making it a cheap but cheerful option for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea or an early dinner. My advice would be to stop by for a coffee and slice of homemade cake during the afternoon (why not squeeze another meal into the day!).
BONUS: Marché Victor Hugo
Best for: Trying a taste of everything.
Existing in its current form since 1892 (with a previous market on the site since 1827), Marché Victor Hugo is the city’s largest covered market and the real heart of Toulouse’s food scene. There are over 100 stalls in the market selling meat, fish, charcuterie, fruit, vegetables, bread, cheese, pastries, cakes and more.
Around lunchtime, the market has become particularly popular with tourists coming to experience the foodie haven, however, earlier in the morning you’ll still spot crowds of locals doing their weekly food shop.
When to go: During the morning! The market is open every day (except Mondays) from 7am to 2pm. But the earlier you go, the more lively the market is with busy locals and the better selection of food you’ll find.
How to do it: One great way to experience Marché Victor Hugo is with French food fanatic Jessica who runs small tours of the market (through her company ‘Taste of Toulouse’). Jessica will guide you through the market, stopping at some of her favourite stalls and telling you more about each food you’ll get to try. The tour ends with a further feast of bread, meats, cheese, chocolate and wine at one of the stalls.
Travel from London to Toulouse
RyanAir flies from London Stansted to Toulouse, while EasyJet flies directly from Gatwick and British Airways flies from Heathrow. Return flights from London to Toulouse can be as little as £25 and takes just 1h 45min each way.
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