Last Updated on May 15, 2023
Florentine dining embraces everything from delectable street foods to vibrant food markets to family-run trattorias. Not to mention, Florence is the gateway to Tuscany’s celebrated wine country, but you don’t have to leave the city to find some of the best wine in Italy. Knowing where to find the best quality local cuisine is important on any traveling experience, so here’s a list of 9 places to eat and drink in Florence to help you on that account.
TAKEAWAY: Florentine cuisine has always relied on fresh, locally-sourced food from the surrounding countryside. Much of Florentine food is ‘cucina rustic’ (rustic cuisine), known for its simplicity and humble roots. At the heart of Florentine cuisine are fundamental Italian ingredients like bread, olive oil, beef or game, vegetables, and wine.
Where to Eat in Florence
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If you’re at all familiar with Florentine cuisine, you’ve probably heard of the Florentine steak or Bistecca Fiorentina. If not, here’s the deal: this steak is super thick and rare. No, the chef did not undercook it! This place serves one of the best steaks in all of Florence; so if you come here, your taste buds will thank you.
Ará é Sud
This Sicily style eatery spices up the classic menu of a typical Italian restaurant that you would find in Florence. For your appetizer, try out the caponata (an eggplant dish with some vegetables, sweetened vinegar, and capers tossed in). Continue your meal with the Rigatoni Alla Norma, another Sicilian staple consisting of large noodles cooked with tomatoes, eggplant, basil, and ricotta. Save room for dessert because the cassatina is to die for. If you want some variety in your food choices on your Italian holiday, this is where you should eat in Florence.
When you think of Italian food, the phrase “farm-to-table” usually doesn’t come to mind. Come to think of it, neither do the words “vegetarian” or “vegan.” Il Carducio helps develop a local-grown vibe to the Florence food scene. Try out Carduccio’s soups, cold-pressed juices, and fresh fruit. Choose this place for a palate cleanser from heavy pasta dishes.
Il Teatro del Sale
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Looking for dinner and a show? This restaurant offers a full night of entertainment in one space. With a bottomless buffet that changes nightly, Il Teatro serves quality Italian dishes such as fried anchovies, gnocchi, grilled peppers, and other delicacies. The theater hosts a variety of different acts, such as musicians and theatrical performances. Why waste time trekking to your evening activity when you can kill two birds with one stone?
Antica Trattoria da Tito
The streets of Florence give off a historical ambiance that any traveler associates with Italy. Antica Trattoria da Tito matches that vibe without question. Established in 1913, this restaurant uses family pasta recipes that have been passed down for many generations. Everyone raves about the Bistecca Fiorentina and roasted potatoes.
Where to Drink in Florence
If you’re ever researching bars and restaurants in Florence and you see “Oltarno District” in the description, chances are, you’re in the right place. This district is known as “the other side of the river,” meaning the side of Florence not home to the Duomo and other attractions, which creates a more local and authentic environment. Where to eat and drink in Florence? Look no further. Il Santino offers a complementary small antipasti platter with each wine by the glass, which means more bang for your buck. If you’re looking for a decadent charcuterie plate (and who isn’t eternally craving one of these), Il Santino can definitely help you out.
No, it’s not closed – you just have to ring the doorbell on the side to get in! Bitter Bar allows nightlife seekers to step into an entirely different ambiance than what most of Florence offers. Located in a locals-only part of town near the San Ambrosio market, this 20’s themed cocktail bar allows visitors to enjoy delicious liquors and live jazz music simultaneously. The bar is also known to use unusual ingredients, and whip up cocktails uniquely suited to your individual palate. Let the bartender surprise you.
This beautiful restaurant and wine bar gives travelers a sense of relaxation and elegance after a long day of touring and sightseeing. Located near many of Florence’s main sights, it’s easy to escape into an evening of luxury. The venue actually dates back to the 13th century, when it functioned as a palace for some of the noblest families in Florence to date. Ask to go downstairs and see the wine cellar – its Tuscan charm will remind you why you came to Italy in the first place.
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If you need a break from all of the wine in Florence, there are only a handful of breweries to go to. Try out Arche Brewery – a small beer manufacturer in Florence that has five of their own brews on tap as well as many other beers from all over the globe. Try their four beer tasting special to try out some samples. The brewery’s pub-like atmosphere may not feel like the classic Italian bar scene, but it serves as a great place to check out if you’re not totally craving a glass of wine that night.
Thousands of restaurants and bars line the streets so you can eat and drink in Florence. Dining in this dazzling Italian haven can almost seem overwhelming since so many options are right in front of you. Reading up on the dining scene in any city really does help, this way you can separate the authentic from the touristy. Buon appetito!
What to do in Florence
And finally, if you are looking for things to do in Florence in between your meals, the city offers an abundance of activities and experiences for visitors. Here are some top things to do in Florence:
Explore the Uffizi Gallery
Home to one of the most impressive art collections in the world, the Uffizi Gallery houses masterpieces by artists like Botticelli, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci. Stroll through the museum and witness the evolution of Renaissance art.
Admire the Duomo
The iconic Florence Cathedral, known as the Duomo, is a must-visit. Climb to the top of the dome for breathtaking views of the city, or explore the Cathedral’s ornate interior and the Baptistery’s renowned bronze doors.
Wander through the historic center
Florence’s historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and rightfully so. Take a leisurely stroll through the narrow streets, visit the Piazza della Signoria, and marvel at the Palazzo Vecchio.
Cross the Ponte Vecchio
This medieval bridge spanning the Arno River is famous for its shops, which have been selling jewelry and art for centuries. Enjoy the picturesque views and explore the boutiques along the bridge.
Visit the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens
Once the residence of the powerful Medici family, the Pitti Palace now houses several museums, including the Palatine Gallery. Afterward, wander through the magnificent Boboli Gardens, filled with sculptures, fountains, and manicured greenery.
Indulge in Florentine cuisine
Florence is known for its delicious food, so be sure to savor local specialties like bistecca alla fiorentina (Florentine steak), ribollita (vegetable soup), and gelato. Don’t forget to pair your meal with a glass of Chianti wine.
Discover the Accademia Gallery
Marvel at Michelangelo’s famous statue of David at the Accademia Gallery. This renowned masterpiece is a symbol of Renaissance perfection and is truly awe-inspiring to behold.
These are just a few of the countless attractions and experiences that Florence has to offer. Whether you’re an art enthusiast, a history buff, or simply looking to immerse yourself in the charm of an Italian city, Florence is sure to captivate you with its rich heritage and timeless beauty.