Confession: My list of restaurants has gotten so long that our biggest question on any trip is where to eat in Florence. (My Rome list is the same way. Paris is growing quickly. Venice, not so much, lol.) We are constantly torn between returning to places we love and trying new places to eat in Florence. Both lists get longer after every trip. It’s a good problem to have. When I studied abroad in Florence, I preferred to save my money for travel. I probably dined in an actual restaurant less than 10 times. Occasionally I would pick up pizza al taglio (by the slice), if I wanted something that I couldn’t make at home. However, most days, my diet consisted of penne, olive oil, olives, and a little bit of salt.
On our honeymoon in Florence, I introduced Tom to a few of my favorite restaurants. With each subsequent trip, we’ve branched out a bit further and found more restaurants and dishes we love. Believe it or not, it is possible to have bad Italian food. Interestingly, the better we’ve gotten at restaurants, the less expensive our meals have become. The less expensive our meals are, the more robust the flavors are. Cheaper food is really good food in Italy. So good, in fact, that we hardly ever go out in the United States. Why eat processed food when we can save our calories (and our money) for real food?
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Where to Eat in Florence On a Budget
Being on a budget doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice quality. You won’t just have to eat street food either (though I find some of those options delicious). If you’re looking for some local Tuscan fare that won’t break the bank, check out these affordable restaurants in Florence!
I Raddi di Santo Spirito – Via D’Ardiglione 47
This tiny restaurant in Santo Spirito was recommended on one of our tours and it was also part of a food tour we took, too. It’s now my favorite restaurant in Santo Spirito, particularly since I’ve had to bump some places off. I Raddi is perfect for the traveler on a budget who wants to try a little bit of everything. There are a few tables downstairs and a few tables upstairs. If you can’t grab a table, they do have counter service and you can take your panino to go. I recommend trying a few different things, especially since its all so affordable! The paninis are 4 euro. Pappa al pomodoro is 7 euro. Prosciutto, cheese, and fried dough balls (my mom’s favorite treat!) are 11 euro and could be a meal in itself. Please try the peposo with white beans. It’s my new favorite thing (but likely best in winter). Everything is served fresh.
Be prepared to speak a little bit of Italian.
Sandwichic – Via San Gallo 3r
In July 2021, we stayed at the Arte Boutique Hotel in Florence, which introduced us to a different part of Florence. Though it was only two blocks away from where I lived in Florence, I hadn’t explored many of the places to eat around the Accademia Museum. One particular morning, I was feeling quite hangry. We debated a number of ideas before agreeing to head to Sandwichic.
Oh my. This is probably the best sandwich I’ve had in my life. Everything is cut fresh. Everything is made to order. I had a traditional schiacciata with prosciutto, freshly sliced parmesan, and truffle spread. Tom had the finocchiona with pecorino and olive oil. There’s nowhere to sit, so we carefully carried them back to our hotel room… and they were still fresh and delicious. My mouth waters just thinking about how good these sandwiches were.
There are more famous panini places, and they are good, but they don’t even compare to the ones at Sandwichic. I truly think that part of what makes these panini so much better is that everything is cut fresh when you order it – from the bread, to the meat, to the cheese.
We went back a few times in a few days. It’s that good. Like all my favorite Florence restaurants, they are only open a few hours a day. Plan accordingly.
Panini Toscani – Piazza del Duomo 34/r
I don’t even know what we are doing in the United States, but I don’t think I’ll ever eat Subway again. On our December 2019 trip to Florence, Tom and I visited a number of the top panini shops in Florence. I’ve never met sandwiches I’ve liked in the United States, but I can’t wait to go back to Florence for panini. On the side of the Duomo, there is a neon sign advertising Panini Toscani. Go inside. Let the men and women behind the counter know that you’re a new customer. They will patiently explain the different cheeses and meats, allow you to try, and help you build the most delicious sandwich. I recommend the olive bread. Oh, I’ve never had olive bread that good. I also really enjoyed the sun dried tomatoes with my prosciutto. Try everything and enjoy!
Get a glass of wine, grab a table (inside or out), and enjoy the best (6 euro) sandwich of your life.
Da’ Vinattieri – Via Santa Margherita 4/r
If a 6 euro panini is too rich for your blood (or you want a separate window to your lamperdotto), head to Da’ Vinattieri for a 4 euro panini. You’ll know it by the line or the smell of truffle cream wafting through the air. Personally, I highly recommend their olive pate, their balsamic vinegar, or the spicy salami, but I can be convinced to try anything here. (So can Tom. I’m so proud of us!) It’s a straight shot from the Piazza della Repubblica and you’ll have to eat standing up.
Florence’s central market is the perfect place to pick up affordable ingredients for a fabulous picnic. That said, your picnic will probably end up being in your hotel room because there aren’t a lot of places to have a picnic in Florence, legally or otherwise.
Personally, I like the wild boar (cinghiale) sausage or the sausage with truffle (both purchased from the butcher). The wild boar sausage has a meaty flavor, while the truffle is overwhelming truffle. Both are delicious, it just depends what I’m in the mood for that day. You can buy fresh bread, but no visit to the Mercato Centrale is complete without picking up an occhi di bue (bull’s eye) cookie or two. There are two types: nutella or apricot jam. Both are delicious. There are plenty of stalls for fresh produce, wine and olive oil. Buy what looks good to you and enjoy.
Where to Eat in Florence Quickly
A quick meal in Florence is relative. Even the most rustic sandwich shops will have a line. Everything worth eating is generally a custom order (and made fresh), so it might take a little longer than McDonald’s. That said, it’s worth the wait for fresh, delicious food. These are places you can go in between all your Florence tours, museum visits, or to hold you over between meals.
FN Pasta Fresca – Mercato Centrale, First Floor
For 5 euro, you can have fresh pasta with your choice of shape and sauce at Florence’s Mercato Centrale. FN Pasta Fresca is on the first floor (the fresh pasta on the second floor doesn’t compare). While you wait, you can watch them making fresh pasta through the window. Once you order, you’ll take a number and step off to the side. You’ll have to stand to eat your pasta, but it’s worth it. Tom likes the ravioli with parmesan and lemon. I like the ravioli with tomato and olive sauce. (Skip the pesto. It doesn’t compare to Cinque Terre.) Funnily enough, they offered a Black Friday sale when we were here over Thanksgiving, and our pasta was 20% off.
Fresh pasta for less than 5 euro? Nothing in the US compares to this fast food option.
I’Girone De’ Ghiotti – Via dei Cimatori 23/r
I’Girone is another delicious panini shop, but it has a little more inside seating than Panini Toscani. (Don’t forget to check upstairs.) They also offer the most delicious looking charcuterie boards, so you aren’t limited to just panini. You can order off the menu or create your own. I thought their spicy salami and sun-dried tomatoes were excellent. If you’re looking for some souvenirs to take home, the shop functions as a gourmet grocery store, too. There is a lot of room to look, so you’ll want to know what you want before (or after) you go in.
Don’t let the line scare you. Once people order, they tend to stand around outside. Ask if they are in line before you needlessly wait. I’Girone is pretty efficient.
Mangia Pizza Firenze – Via Lambertesca 24-26/r
If you’re looking for a quick personal pizza, Mangia Pizza is the place for you. You can order from the menu on the wall or create your own pizza. This is more of a flatbread than a traditional pizza al taglio. Everything is made to order, so you don’t have to worry about whether or not it’s fresh. Beer and wine are available, as are soft drinks and bottled water. There is plenty of seating and service is friendly. Like ‘Ino Firenze (which is nearby), it is open for lunch and closes pretty early.
If you’re traveling with kids, it’s probably a great option for an early dinner.
Where to Eat Pasta in Florence
Trattoria Nella – Via delle Terme 19/r
Much like the Gallery Hotel Art (and right around the corner from it!), you wouldn’t expect this centrally located restaurant to be as good as it is. It’s absolutely delicious though. Located a block or two behind the Ponte Vecchio, Trattoria Nella offers some of our favorite pastas at reasonable prices. I love the Ravioli alle Noci (walnut ravioli). The menu has changed post-2020 and you can find more Tuscan specialties on it now. It changes more regularly, so don’t be afraid to try the specials. Everything is served piping hot, portions are generous and the flavors are delicious. We’ve never had a bad meal here, and the service is really friendly. Occasionally, there is live music.
Where to Eat Risotto in Florence
Fuoco Matto – Via Ventisette Aprile 16
Outside of the traditional city center but still within walking distance is Fuoco Matto. This restaurant has been on my places to try steak Florentine for awhile, but somehow I forgot that when we made a reservation for November 2019. Too bad. That said, there was one dish that everyone agreed was the best: the risotto. The pizzas were also good, and I enjoyed my cacio e pepe ravioli, but I think my mom enjoyed her parmesan-crusted risotto more than anyone at the table. The carpaccio was also really good. I enjoyed the desserts we tried, but beware: the babà Napoletano (rumcake) is strong! This restaurant offers more ambiance than anywhere I’ve been inside the city center, if that’s important to you.
You’ll want a reservation for dinner.
Where to Eat Bistecca alla Fiorentina in Florence
Trattoria Sostanza – Via dell Porcellena 25/r
A short walk from the Santa Maria Novella train station is Trattoria Sostanza. (It’s also a very short walk from our favorite hotel in Florence, the St Regis.) I’ve been coming to Sostanza for 13 years and it’s the one place my mom wanted to return to in 2019! While most people rave about their butter chicken, I love their traditional bistecca all Fiorentina. A porterhouse steak that is only seasoned with olive oil and sea salt and cooked to medium rare perfection, this is my favorite steak in Florence. (They also have fabulous prosciutto and some of my favorite Tuscan bread.) After missing out on our Florentine steak on a few trips, we spent Thanksgiving 2019 at Sostanza. It was lively and the food was absolutely succulent.
You want to get reservations in advance. Stop by when you arrive in Florence, have your concierge call in advance, or expect to be disappointed. We’ve been able to wait for a table before they open for lunch, but we’ve been turned away far more often than we’ve been accommodated.
Fun fact: It’s also the restaurant listed in 1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die.
Buca dell’Orafo – Via dei Girolami 28/r
It’s hard to know whether to put this under pasta or Bistecca Fiorentina. Truthfully, everything at Buca dell’Orafo is delicious. Located in an alley way between the Piazza della Signoria and the Arno River, this subterranean restaurant is one of my favorite finds for 2019. Imagine my surprise when I found it in my 2004 Europe by Rail guide. I particularly love the penne alle carretteria, in addition to the steak. I find that the restaurant has a little more ambiance than Sostanza, so it might be a good choice for an anniversary or birthday dinner. Given the small number of tables, you will want a reservation.
We don’t hear as much English in here as we hear at Sostanza, so I get the feeling that it’s still local, despite its touristy location.
Where to Eat in Florence with a View
Golden View – Via de’ Bardi 58/r
With both a wine bar and restaurant, you can choose whether to have dinner or drinks with a view. I’ve been coming here for 16 years and celebrated my 22nd birthday (and honeymoon!) at Golden View. (My friends found it and surprised me with an incredible dinner here – they know me so well.) I recommend making a reservation for un tavola vicino alla finestra, per favore (a table by the window, please), especially if your dinner reservation will coincide with sunset or evening. The lights reflecting off the Ponte Vecchio are incredibly romantic and beautiful.
Live jazz is merely a bonus at that point.
Se*Sto on Arno (at the Westin Florence) – Piazza Ognissanti 3
The trendy and modern rooftop bar at the Westin Florence has been on my Florence to do list for more than a few years. Honestly, I’m surprised that it took us six years to visit since we’ve stayed at the St. Regis at least once a year since 2015. We finally made it to Se*Sto Florence in June 2021 and the view was absolutely worth it. We went back for my birthday weekend in December 2022, and it was a lovely way to watch the sunset, even in the winter.
On our first visit, we opted for the gourmet apertivo. This included six small plates of seafood per person. It was quite fancy; I’m sure the menu changes with the season. The cocktails were delicious. I loved both the Sesto Punch and L’essentiel from the summer menu. They also offer a refreshing classic spritz, though next time I’m going to try the cherry spritz! (You’ll find plenty of beer and wine to choose from on the bar menu.)
When we ordered our second round of drinks, they were served with munchies, as well as a few warm Tuscan appetizers. See that one that looks like chocolate mousse with walnut? It’s not. It’s warm liver. Just FYI – I was quite surprised, lol.
The other thing I love about Se*Sto? The staff. It’s no secret that I think the St. Regis Florence staff is the best in the business, but the Westin and Se*Sto staff was just as welcoming. It made me really happy to hear that they were able to rotate their staff through the Westin before the St. Regis reopened in late June 2021, too. That’s some great teamwork and management between those two properties.
You’ll want to make a reservation and specify if you want a terrace table and the type of view you are hoping for as the dining room has tables that do and do not face the Duomo and Ponte Vecchio.
Where to Eat Pizza in Florence
Fermento 1889 – Borgo San Frediano 40/r
Located in the Oltrarno and recommended by a tour guide, Fermento 1889 offers delicious Neapolitan-style pizzas and calzones at cheap prices. Offering both red and white pizzas, there is surely something for everyone. If you like to eat early, you won’t find a crowd. But, if you like to eat early, you might want a reservation. Unlike nearby Gusta Pizza, there’s plenty of room to sit and enjoy your meal.
If you want to take your pizza to go, Gusta Pizza is a great option and stays open late.
I Bastioni di San Niccolo Trattoria & Pizzeria – Via Bastioni 9/r
If you can get a table, I Bastioni is a great treat after making the trek up to the Piazza Michelangelo. We were fortunate enough to get the last table here one evening and enjoyed the fresh pizza very much. Like many restaurants in this area, it tends to get more busy as the night goes on. It’s a lively and fun area to be in, especially on warm evenings.
I recommend getting a reservation in advance, as many people were turned away throughout the evening. Service is efficient and professional, if not overly friendly.
Where to Eat Gelato in Florence
Vivoli – Via Isola delle Stinche 17/r
Written up in all the guidebooks for decades and a short walk from Piazza Santa Croce, Vivoli is the classic Florentine gelato shop. You’ll pay before you step up to the counter to order, and you’ll want to know what you want before giving your ticket to the staff. I love their bacio, and if you’re lucky, the bench across the street will be open and you can sit and enjoy gelato on a nice day.
I’ve never ordered anything but gelato here, but I’d venture a guess that’s it is all good.
Gelateria dei Neri – Via dei Neri 9
Closed between Christmas and New Year’s, we missed Gelateria dei Neri on our December 2019 trip. This is Tom’s favorite gelato shop on this side of the Arno. (I love it, too.) He finds them to be the most friendly. We love the bacio e nocciola from Neri. There’s several tables inside, though I find it more entertaining to walk down Via dei Neri instead.
This is a great street for cheap eats, though I would skip the lines at the famous panini places and head to one of our other recommendations instead. (It’s good, but it’s not THAT good.)
Gelateria Santa Trinita – Piazza Frescobaldi 11-12/r
On the corner of the Ponte Santa Trinita, one bridge away from the Ponte Vecchio, in the Oltrarno is Gelateria Santa Trinita. I think it’s the best buy in gelato, and I’m obsessed with all their flavors. Whether it’s the sorbetto or the bacio, I’ve never had a gelato here that I didn’t enjoy. They also have seasonal speciality flavors that are worth trying. (The cherry amarino, specifically.) It’s open late and it’s between either hotel that we find ourselves at, so I tend to find myself there on the walk home.
They also sell speciality products, including local wines and flavored balsamic vinegars, so if you need a souvenir and you’re short on time, you can get your gelato and a souvenir.
With two locations, you’re never too far from La Carraia. We tend to find ourselves at the one off the Arno because of its proximity to the St. Regis. It’s also open late, so we can get our late night gelato fix. The flavors rotate more frequently, so you never know what you’re going to end up getting at La Carraia.
Personally, I’d love to try their watermelon, but it’s never in season when we are there!
Sbrino – Via dei Serragli 32/r
Located deeper in the Oltrarno is Sbrino. A true artisanal gelateria, don’t bother arriving before lunchtime. Flavors are heavily dependent on what’s in season and what they want to make. We had a delightful white chocolate hazelnut, a flavor we’ve never seen anywhere else in Italy. Don’t go with any preconceived notions about what gelato you want. Every single tour guide we’ve had in in the last three years raves about Sbrino. They aren’t wrong.
This is a great stop after a delicious dinner in Santo Spirito.
Take a Food Tour in Florence
If you’re having a hard time deciding where to eat, I highly recommend taking a food tour in Florence. We took this sunset apertivo tour in June 2021, and it was a wonderful way to try new foods and find some new-to-us restaurants. (It also reaffirmed some of our favorite choices on this list!) Most food tours are so filling that they will replace a meal, so make sure you go hungry and be ready with an open mind.
With this particular Oltrarno food tour, we were able to try the famous Negroni cocktail, try some regional meats and cheeses, as well as some areas wines and delicious Tuscan specialties. What I loved the most, however, is that everything was fresh, in season, and we were able to meet the owners of each establishment. Each one was very proud of their creations and happy to answer questions and tell us more about what they had chosen for us.
It’s important to note that even though I’ve probably spent over a year in Florence throughout my life, I am still taking food tours to learn more and discover new restaurants! Food tours are also a great way to explore neighborhoods that you haven’t been exposed to yet.
Florence Travel Tips for Restaurants
I don’t believe there’s one single address for good food in Florence. It changes. At one time, you were safe if you ate at any of the restaurants behind the San Lorenzo market. Then people said that you could only get good food in the Oltrarno. Now people act like you have to leave the city of Florence to get a decent meal. (I never laughed as hard as I did when someone recommended going 45 minutes outside Venice, via train, for the only good meal in Venice. What terrible advice for Venice tourists. Yes, visit places outside the traditional tourist trail, but don’t tell people they can only go an hour outside the city for a meal.)
If you know where to look, there’s good food throughout Florence. (There’s also bad food all over Florence.)
I think a restaurant with a house wine or two can be just as good as a restaurant with an exhaustive wine list. Eat with the season and drink regionally in Italy, and you’ll likely not be disappointed. Don’t only look for American-style dishes. (Those are usually the most disappointing meals.) Ask questions about the menu and try new things. Don’t douse your pasta in parmesan. Embrace the flavors. Ask your waiter for their recommendations. Don’t ask for overcooked meat – try it their way or order something else. Tom loves to see what other people order when we decide where to eat in Florence, whether it’s by looking at their plates in the restaurant or checking out photos on Google reviews.
[…] on track for beating jet lag. Make sure you have a reservation for a tasty dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in the Oltrarno. […]