Florence, better known as ‘Firenze’ by the Italian people, is famous for its Chianti wine, steak alla fiorentina and Pecorino cheese, and continues to fly high in the list of global foodie hotspots. With a ton of restaurants and cafes scattered around Florence, the choice of where to eat can be a difficult one, particularly if you’re only in the city for a day or two. But we’re here to make it easier for you, and have compiled a little guide to the best restaurants in Florence.
Here are some of the most authentic spots to grab breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with a few extra treats along the way. Enjoy!
(Italian food lover? Here is our guide to the country’s regional specialties.)
Breakfast: La Milkeria
Since main meals are typically carbohydrate-heavy, we suggest keeping breakfast light, unless you have a huge appetite. As well as offering a vast range of coffees and drinks, La Milkeria has a breakfast menu with options for meat lovers, vegetarians, and lovers of everything sweet.
Located just a few minutes walk from the famous Palazzo Vecchio, the town hall of Florence, the warm and friendly atmosphere of the staff that work here complement its delicious menu. We recommend the butter and sugar crepe, served with a light cream and a side of fresh fruit. If you’d rather opt for something savory, take your pick from a wide selection of freshly-baked bagels.
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Coffee: Le Murate Caffè Letterario
Known for their world class coffee, it’s fair to say that visitors here are spoiled for choice when looking for the perfect spot for their morning cappuccino.
Italians know what’s what when it comes to coffee, and while it may be commonplace to order a latte at 3pm for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up elsewhere, the same can’t be said for this European gem. Lattes and cappuccinos are typically served with breakfast, while a simple espresso helps with digestion after a heavy meal. If you want to do it right, we suggest taking a trip to Le Murate Caffè Letterario.
Having started out as a monastery, before being used as a prison, the building was recently renovated into an apartment complex featuring a cafe bookstore, bar and restaurant. Enjoy your coffee inside, or take advantage of the Piazza delle Murate, the outdoor seating area connected to the cafe.
As well as enjoying a mouth watering selection of Florence’s finest coffee blends, there is opportunity to take a moment to enjoy some peace away from the city center with your head in a good book. Alternatively, immerse yourself in the city’s culture and catch a live band or poetry reading on a warm summer’s evening.
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Lunch: Trattoria Mario
As with all Italian cuisine, quality and local ingredients are the cornerstone of cooking in Florence, carefully selected to craft the city’s most traditional dishes.
A favorite among locals is the Bistecca Florentine, or Florentine steak (T bone steak). Succulent, juicy and cooked to perfection, this dish finds its way onto the plates of many of the city’s lunch spots, but no one does it better than Trattoria Mario.
Serving food for over 60 years, if you’re looking for authentic Italian cuisine, this family-run restaurant is tough to beat. The menu is based on Tuscan recipes and uses only the freshest ingredients from the market. Pair any of its hearty main meals with a delicious green salad and a glass of wine and your appetite will be satisfied for the rest of the day.
Bear in mind that the restaurant is only open for lunch and reservations are not accepted due to high demand, so aim to arrive before noon to secure your spot.
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Gelato: La Carraia
No trip to Florence is complete without gelato, since it’s the birthplace of this delectable dessert. While some people use it to satisfy their sweet tooth after dinner, others indulge as a delicious treat to enjoy while exploring all this beautiful city has to offer. Top of our recommendations where gelato is concerned is La Carraia.
Taking its name from the famous Ponte alla Carraia, one of the oldest bridges in Florence, visitors can enjoy a choice of La Carraia’s milk-based ice creams, not too sweet and easy to digest, or fruit based ice creams, with a creamy base and enhanced fruity flavors. Popular flavors include ‘pistachio’, harvested by hand from Sicily, ‘nutty cream’, an exquisite balance of milk chocolate and hazelnut, and ‘wild berries’, a delicious combination of raspberries, cranberries and blackcurrants.
What makes this spot additionally appealing is its decor, reminiscent of a bygone artisan era, complete with gilded mirrors, elegant glass vases and chic striped wallpaper.
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Dinner: Golden View Open Bar
Finding a spot for dinner in this wonderful city is about more than just great food. Visitors who come to Florence also seek a prime location and entertainment, a key reason why the Golden View Open Bar is our top recommendation for dinner.
Situated on the Arno River, guests will do their best to secure a table by the window since it offers a spectacular view of le Ponte Vecchio, the city’s best loved bridge famous for its medieval stone arch. Be sure to try the Sicilian Scampi and sample the Cheese selection for Florence’s best selection. If you fancy a night off from gelato, treat yourself to a traditionally-crafted tiramisu.
Entertainment is one of the key reasons this restaurant is so popular, delighting guests with frequent live music sets. Due to its popularity, we recommend making reservations at least 72 hours in advance.
Tempted to visit Florence and indulge in some delightful Italian dishes? Check out our range of small group tours in Italy.
(Image credits all c/o Instagram, except hero image c/o iStock)