Keen to sample the best restaurants Florence has to offer, while avoiding typical tourist traps which fall far below Florentine standards? Yep, we get it.
Well don’t worry, because despite the fact the city center has a number of ‘touristy’ spots, finding an authentic restaurant near major attractions in Florence isn’t difficult – by any stretch of the imagination!
We chatted with local Walks guide Elena who shared her insights on the eateries, trattorias and restaurants which are bustling with local patrons, and serving up the taste of Tuscany every visitor to the region is searching for!
And if you really want to make the most of your trip, why not indulge in Tuscan specialities on a local-led food tour through Florence or make pasta and gelato with a local chef!
Begin with a coffee…
While Italians aren’t exactly known for rushing their morning coffee, this spot is absolutely perfect for a traveler keen to grab breakfast on the go!
Opened in 1943, Cucciolo is nestled in the medieval heart of the city. Located just a few steps away from the Duomo, Cucciolo is known for its bomboloni – an Italian speciality made of fried dough and filled with custard or jam.
‘Their bomboloni really are unmissable,’ Elena tells us. ‘I suggest trying one with custard and having it with a cappuccino: A wonderful start for a day in Florence.’
Pro tip: Don’t panic if you don’t see bomboloni displayed on the counter because they will make them on the spot for you!
Read more: 7 Things You Didn’t Know About the Incredible Florence Duomo
If the idea of enjoying a leisurely breakfast in an atmosphere that calls to mind the Italy of days gone by appeals to you, be sure to visit Gilli, the oldest cafè in Florence.
“Through the centuries, this cafè has been the meeting place for artists and intellectuals,” Elena tell us.
Located in the Piazza della Repubblica, Gilli was opened in 1773 and its aesthetic is a perfect example of Liberty style.
Take your time choosing between the cafe’s vast selection of pastries before relaxing in a dining room that just begs you to linger and indulge in yet another cup of coffee!
PSSST! Choosing a restaurant can be tricky at times, but choosing a tour never is! Walks of Italy knows Italy – and its cities – inside out, and we love sharing that knowledge on local-led tours!walksofitaly.com
Lunch like a local or go full tourist?
The idea of eating like a local appeals to most travelers. After all, locals know where to eat and what to eat – so why wouldn’t we want to follow their lead?
“If you really want to have lunch like a local, go to trattoria Casalinga in Oltrarno, close to Santo Spirito Church,’ Elena tells us.
With an unmistakeable focus on flavour and a welcoming atmosphere winning over visitors time and time again, Casalinga is a must if you really want to experience the best of home-style Florentine cuisine.
Pro tip: Try their ribollita, francesina and crostini toscani, and thank us later!
Fear that meal-time might eat into your tour plans? We totally understand; time is definitely of the essence when you have an entire city to explore!
So, why not combine a tasty lunch with a little sightseeing by eating at Boccadama which is set against the backdrop of the Church of Santa Croce?
Popular with tourists, the service is fast, efficient and, according to Elena, boasts a very appealing selection of wines!
With bruschetta, pizza, home-made lasagna, ravioli and salads on the menu, Boccadama is the perfect spot for visitors to Florence who want to indulge their tastebuds while soaking up the sights of the city!
Save or splurge: Dinner in Florence
If you’re adhering to a budget during your trip to Florence, but don’t want to compromise on taste and standard, Cento Poveri is the place for you.
Located close to the Piazza Santa Maria Novella, this restaurant is known for home cooked food and fresh dishes, and like Casalinga, is a firm favourite with locals.
“Locals love this place because they are sure the portions are generous and the ingredients are fresh,’ Elena tells us.
Pro tip: If ordering Fiorentina steak, avoid requesting it ‘well done’!
Osteria del Pavone
“Osteria del Pavone is a perfect balance between innovation and tradition in an intimate corner of Oltrarno,” Elena tells us.
Just a few steps from Ponte Vecchio, this elegant but understated restaurant is the perfect place for you if you’re keen to sample traditional Tuscan cuisine with an imaginative twist.
Complete with a cocktail bar and extensive wine list, Osteria del Pavone is ideal if you plan to linger over a few drinks while indulging in a memorable evening meal.
Family eating out in Florence
If you’re looking for a family-friendly venue that will cater to the whole gang – both young and old – look no further than Foody Farm.
Working with a variety of Tuscan farms, the restaurant’s mission is to make unique Tuscan flavours available to everyone, regardless of taste or budget!
And with a menu which includes a variety of meat, vegetables, pasta and cheese, Foody Farm smashes its goal by taking customers on a ‘gourmet tour of Tuscany’, without breaking the bank!
If you’re looking for a vegetarian-friendly restaurant with vegan options, it’s definitely worth checking out Brac!
Often missed by tourists as its exterior looks like a bookshop, Brac boasts a relaxed but welcoming atmosphere, and comes highly recommended.
Delicious, affordable and just the right side of quirky, it’s very likely you’ll visit more than once during your time in Florence!
Bonus tips for finding restaurants in Florence
OK, now that we’ve discussed breakfast, lunch and dinner options in Florence, let’s talk specifics!
If you’re keen to indulge in as much traditional Florentine cuisine as possible, or simply want to relax over good wine and savoury snacks, we have a bonus list just for you!
It’s time to include the following spots on your Florence food itinerary!
Bistecca fiorentina: Try Il Fiesolano
Florence has its fair share of top-notch steak restaurants. However, at Il Fiesolano, which is located in the hills just outside of Florence, in the town of Fiesole,they don’t just do the juicy, tender bistecca fiorentina – Florence’s classic T-bone steak – to perfection, they also present it with an air of dramatic flair. The waiter quickly slices the steaming bistecca fiorentina on a wooden cutting board in front of you before serving it on colorful Tuscan dishes.
Not a steak fan? No problem. The rest of Il Fiesolano’s menu is an example of excellent Florentine cuisine. But no matter what you go for, don’t forget to order a bottle of the house wine, Il Re delle Carni; a Chianti Classico that captures that Florentine moment you travelled for!
You can enjoy lunch or dinner on either of their two terraces, or inside under oversized hanging garlic cloves and peppers. Oh, and just remember to arrive hungry: The bistecca fiorentina here weighs in at a serious 1.2kg, or 2.6 lbs, for two people!
Read more: How to Order – and Enjoy – Wine in Italy!
Traditional Florentine cuisine: Il Magazzino
Il Magazzino might be located in the most charming piazza in Florence – complete with a handful of outdoor tables – but the menu is as rustic as they come! Thanks to the super-fresh ingredients, you’ll feel like you’re eating freshly-picked produce straight from the farm.
This is the place to delve into classic Florentine dishes, like ravioli di lampredotto, tripe, and other pasta dishes. If you have a vegetarian in your group, don’t worry; there are non-meat dishes, too.
Read more:Foods to Eat in Florence and Tuscany
Wine and snacks: Il Santino
Time to talk wine, guys! Il Santino is one of the coolest little gems in Florence, with a nice mix of local patrons and knowledgable staff. With its great wines, meats, cheeses, and other small plates, it’s the perfect place to settle in for a lovely, long evening in Florence.
If you sit at the bar, prepare to salivate: You’ll be facing an assortment of hanging meats and sausages, including prosciutto. (Keep your eye out for the shiny red meat slicer!). Or grab a small table, set against the red-brick walls, to enjoy your top-notch wine and cheese.
We especially love their bacalao, which is cod whipped with potatoes. No one ever orders just one!
Panini: Caffè Dogali
There are endless panini joints throughout downtown Florence, but one of the most local—and best—spots is Caffè Dogali. A popular sandwich shop in the Campo di Marte neighborhood, it’s right across from the soccer and concert stadium.
The focaccia used as bread for the panini is bigger and better than any we’ve seen before. Choose from a variety of meats and take your pick from accompaniments including cream of mushroom, cream of artichoke, porcini mushrooms, cream of ‘nduja.
Fancy a cocktail with your panini? Done! Dogali has a bar too! And thanks to its popularity, the locale has extended its hours into the evening.
Which one of these restaurants would you eat at first? Tell us in the comments!