Lyon is famous for being the world’s capital of gastronomy. Indeed, you’ll find many options to eat in Lyon. And it can be overwhelming. Here are some tips for choosing where to eat in Lyon according to the experience you’re looking for and, of course, your budget.
Different types of restaurants in Lyon
My partner lived in Lyon for more than ten years. So when we had the opportunity to stop there for lunch on our way to the French Alps, I was very excited to learn more about his favourite city in France. But I had never imagined it would be so hard to agree on a restaurant and the experience we were looking for!
When looking for where to eat in Lyon, you first have to choose what type of restaurants you want (bouchons, brasseries, fine dining). Although budget plays its part in selecting the best restaurant in Lyon, it is not the only criterion to differentiate the different experiences you’ll get in Lyon restaurants.
Where to eat in Lyon: les bouchons
Many say you cannot visit Lyon without eating at a bouchon.
The bouchons are traditional restaurants in Lyon that focus on local dishes. They’re mostly located in Le Vieux Lyon, the historic town centre. The official bouchons have a sticker with a puppet somewhere near the entrance.
It’s suitable for those travelling on a budget and looking for a local food experience. However, you should be ready to eat things you’ve probably never tried before, including offals and giblets. If you’re not too adventurous, their popular flank steak with shallots is a safer bet.
The atmosphere at bouchons restaurants in Lyon is very casual.
The best place to find a bouchon is in Le Vieux Lyon (the old Lyon). You usually don’t need to book in advance (unless you’re visiting in the high season and have a very tight schedule). So it’s great just to wander around as you discover the city, look at the menus and pick one you like.
It’s hard to select the best bouchon in Lyon. Every time I ask a Lyonnais which one they recommend, I get a new suggestion. But if you don’t want to leave it to luck as you explore the old Lyon, the names that come out often are:
- Le Musée
- Comptoir Abel
- Le Bouchon des Cordeliers
- Daniel et Denise
- La Meunière
Where to eat in Lyon: fine-dining restaurant with Michelin stars
Is there a better place than the capital of gastronomy to go to a Michelin-star restaurant?
Forget about the simple food and relaxed atmosphere at the bouchons. The fine-dining restaurants have a very different standing. You may not get into one if you forget your nice shoes.
It is not necessarily too posh, depending on which one you choose. But it is always pricey, but still affordable for most budgets if you go there for lunch (allow at least 50€ per person plus 20€ for drinks).
Fine-dining restaurants often offer a degustation menu so that you can try many different dishes. The portions are not big, but it’s delicious and original. It’s a fantastic experience to try new flavours and dishes you would never think of ordering à la carte. If you’re not driving after lunch, I highly recommend the matching wine, which adds a lot to the tasting experience.
Some fine-dining restaurants offer lovely views of Lyon that can add something even more special to your experience dining in Lyon.
Recommended fine-dining restaurants in Lyon
Seeing the list of restaurants in Lyon with a Michelin star is overwhelming. And I wish I could tell you which fine-dining restaurant is the best in Lyon. But I’ve only tried one of them: PraiRiaL. So although we had a fantastic experience, I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone looking for a restaurant in Lyon.
The following notes about PraiRiaL and how we chose our fine-dining experience in Lyon can help you choose.
Why we chose PraiRiaL
We liked PraiRiaL for two reasons.
We liked how they presented their strong commitment to using local products with a focus on vegetables. They were even recognised for their “sustainable gastronomy” by Michelin.
We were also impressed by the career of the young chef, Gaëtan Gentil. He managed to get a Michelin star for this new restaurant in only eight months.
And PraiRiaL didn’t disappoint. We tried exciting and tasty dishes, sometimes paired with even more surprising wines. It indeed was a unique experience.
The atmosphere wasn’t posh at all, which we really enjoyed. All waiters were highly professional and knowledgeable, but the clientele was not overdressed or showing off.
So why wouldn’t I recommend it to everyone? I know the focus on vegetables won’t please all customers. It wasn’t a vegetarian meal at all: we had fish and meat, which was delicious. But the many vegetarian dishes wouldn’t have seduced some people I know as much as they seduced us. I also know some people are looking for a chic atmosphere that matches the pricey menu.
Where to eat in Lyon: the famous brasseries
Have you ever heard of Paul Bocuse? He’s one of the most famous French chefs. He was even named “Chef of the Century” and “Pope of Gastronomy”. Bocuse d’Or is one of the world’s most prestigious chef awards.
He was born and also died at l’Auberge du Pont de Collonges, his most famous restaurant, often referred to as Bocuse. The fine-dining restaurant in Lyon is one the most expensive ones you’ll find in Lyon.
But Bocuse also opened a few Brasseries to “spread his love for gourmet and traditional cuisine as widely as possible”. They are more affordable, and each offers a unique experience and atmosphere:
- Brasserie Le Nord – for authentic Lyon dishes
- Brasserie Le Sud – with a Mediterranean influence
- Brasserie L’Ouest – modern island-inspired cuisine
- Brasserie de l’Est – an invitation to travel
- Brasserie des Lumières – traditional flavours at the Stadium
If you’re interested in gastronomy, you may be interested in visiting the indoor market in Lyon, Les Halles. It’s the best place to see all the local products. With more than 50 stalls offering fine products, you’ll be immersed in a unique atmosphere to understand better how Lyon got its reputation as the world’s capital of gastronomy. There are a few restaurants in Les Halles where you can enjoy these products.
If you want a sweet snack
You’ll find many bakeries in Lyon to buy a sweet treat. If you want to do like the locals, order bugnes lyonnaises, a bit like a hard doughnut with a very different shape. The deep-fried dough coated with sugar is a popular local treat that can be eaten anytime during the day: with your coffee, as a dessert, for afternoon tea… The specialty dates back to the Ancient Roman civilisation when they would eat bugnes during the Carnival festive season.
Where’s your favourite restaurant in Lyon? Share your experience in the comments below!
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