Perched in a little storefront off the north slope of Mount Tabor, Coquine is a humble neighborhood bistro raised to elegance. The interior at chef Katy Millard's restaurant feels warm and lived in, with a darkly burled marble bar top and warm wooden floors—an ideal village brasserie on the top of the hill.
At dinner, start with some lightly fried snacks like the chickpea socca, a kind of fried crepe that's beloved in Nice, and sweet-corn-and-cheddar fritters with padron peppers. Move from there to salads and grains; the farro pasta with sweet corn, chanterelles, and creme fraiche is a standout, made ever-so-funky by the addition of Fiore Sardo sheep's cheese from Sardinia. Finish with a shared protein, especially the restaurant's signature whole chicken, served on our visit with crispy herb-rubbed skin, garnished pepitas and smoky charred broccoli over Carolina Gold rice.
And here, more than most places, make good use of the carefully curated wine list, which manages to be one of the city's best without overwhelming selection or cost. Want to drink local? Statera's EST pét-nat of sauvignon blanc ($45) goes with all things fried or leavened. Want to branch out? Try the Jura trousseau from cult producers Benedicte & Stephane Tissot ($56), an easy-drinking light red that tastes great slightly chilled. Want to get weird? Check out the trousseau gris from Wind Gap ($50) in the Russian River Valley, made orange from extended grape-skin contact.
Do not sleep on dessert—it's an event here, with a dim-sum-style tray of snacks (including olive-oil marshmallows and Millard's famed chocolate walnut cookies) and a changing menu of composed sweets with ingredients like sorrel ice cream, black-pepper financier pastry, and white-chocolate lace.
Eat: The chickpea socca ($4) is a must, a fried dosa-like crepe that's the iconic street food of Nice, then the outstanding farro pasta ($23) with corn and chanterelles, and a half-chicken set ($33, or whole for $55).
Drink: Coquine boasts a smart and rewarding wine list, with edited selections in every hue from the Willamette to the Loire. By the glass here is no afterthought; start with the racy, sessionable "Fino Electrico" ($7) sherry from Toro Albala, then drink Hild's delicious sparkling Elbling Sekt ($11) with all the good fried stuff.
Most popular dish: Corn-and-cheese fritters, pastas, those cookies (available by the dozen via Coquine's website).
Noise level: 60/100
Expected wait: Bar seats and outdoor tables are reserved for walk-ins—show up early—but if you want to make a reservation, start trying now.
Who you'll eat with: Your mom's hip friend with a table reservation, cultivated local families of four eating outside, woke NYC/LA types at the bar trying to fit in.
Year opened: 2015