8 Places You Must Eat At In Florence, Italy

Each place I’m about to share with you holds significant meaning to me. These are the places that I have been to most during my study abroad time in Florence 3 years ago. During those months, I have made it my goal to visit as many places as I could. I’ve been to too many cafes and gelato shops to count, so those warrant their own posts of top cafes and gelato shops respectively (coming soon! will hyperlink here also when they’re live!). This is not the definitive list of the best eats, but if you have a limited time in this city, then I would make it my mission to visit all of them before your departure. I hope these pictures make you drool like I am right now.

I Fratellini

simple + delicious, with a small glass of red

I kid you not. This was literally my first sandwich/full meal after arriving for the first time in Florence for study abroad. I dream about their sandwiches: soft yet crunchy on the outside. It’s a small hole in the wall, so you may accidentally pass by it without knowing. It’s the kind of sandwich where you can relax on the sidewalk with a small glass of wine (they offer a place to put your glass when you’re eating), and indulge in every bite. Listen and watch people on the streets pass you by, wondering what kind of sandwich you’re having and if it’s any good (spoiler alert: of course). Most of their sandwiches have pork or beef, but they do have a few vegetarian sandwiches and very good at that!

All’antico Vinaio

Okay, this one you absolutely *cannot* pass up. This is the number one spot for a sandwich in Florence; the lines prove it. Plan your day based on this shop’s location. You will not be disappointed. One of the many reasons I love this place: the people. Whenever I would go get a sandwich, there’d be a younger Italian guy on the other side making sandwiches, along with two others. I loved it when he made mine and I make eye contact with him when I tell him what I want. My go-to’s would consist of arugula, mozzarella, tomato, eggplant and/or zucchini, pesto, and maybe a mushroom truffle sauce. I just wish I could get their prosciutto (disclaimer: I keep kosher). Let’s not forget about the underdog of the sandwich, the vehicles for these vegetables: the BREAD. It’s warm, soft on the side, nice crust on the outside and with flecks of salt. I’m salivating. When travel is safe again, my next flight will be direct to Florence.

Gusta Pizza

this is THE Gusta Pizza

Now onto the best *pizza* in Florence. I’m usually indecisive when it comes to naming my favorite “insert cuisine here” restaurant, but this was not that difficult. When I think about what makes Gusta Pizza the best in Florence, I (obviously) take into account the actual food. But let’s not forget about the restaurant itself, the aesthetic, the people, the “vibes”. First of all, their restaurant is considerably small where it’s big enough to fit about 4 round tables. That theme carries on to their menu too. They literally serve pizza (it’s their specialty clearly), of 5-6 different flavor profiles. At the top is classic Marinara, and the last on the list is their Gusta Pizza, pictured to the right with allll of the works (vegetarian too!). Everything about the restaurant is so unique to the place. Once you order, you get a ticket and they call your number when it’s ready. You can literally see your pizza being made, coming out of the oven, and they put it not on a plate, but on a circular piece of something like cardboard. If you like spice, I highly recommend you add their chili oil too. Their tables are also made from big barrels with glass on top. Underneath the glass however is where it gets cool: all the ticker orders are placed underneath and people write personalized little notes on their pieces of paper. You’d want to take out your phone and Instagram everything, but some things you don’t need to share. Still, take a picture of the beautiful pizza, but other than that, be fully present. Take it all in.

La Menagere

jazzed-up avocado toast

Okay, this is my absolute favorite café in all of Florence. Almost every day I would come here, sit at one of the tables by the bar, and order a latte, cappuccino, or espresso along with some food while I did work or studied. Part of the reason I came so often is because there was a really a cute waiter/bartender. The other big reason is the ambiance! The setup out front was very floral; inside too had a small flower shop in the back. Downstairs, there’s a section for live music, and more couch seatings to chill with friends. I absolutely love everything about this place. The people, the food and drinks, the aesthetic with the simple and antique-y looking furniture. Plus, you must get the aperol spritz here. They add a cute vegetable garnish on top, and it’s not too strong or sweet.

Sushi AURORA

Spicy Tuna Roll FTW

You wouldn’t think of getting sushi in Florence. But sometimes the things you least expect turn out to be the best. Finding the underrated, overlooked spots in a city is one of my favorite activities (next to wandering around and going to museums). My best friend and I would go to this sushi spot so often. Our go-to’s were this spicy tuna roll (pictured to the right), and a salmon avocado roll. We’d get an appetizer of edamame sometimes too. You may notice that the spicy tuna roll doesn’t look like the “classic” spicy tuna in the U.S. Spicy tuna just means hot sauce on top of the sushi. I’m not mad about it. It still taste good. Really, don’t knock it til you try it. I promise, you’ll love it.

La Carraia

gelato and a view!

Okay, the gelato! There’s too many gelato shops to count. I would say you can’t go wrong with any, but there’s actually a little known tip when you’re looking for the best quality gelato. The shops with mountains of gelato aren’t the best; they do that to wow the tourists and get them to buy. Ones that don’t have exaggerated mounds of gelato, more like smooth, flatter gelato are where it’s at. La Carraia is one of them. I also have another list coming with the best gelato I’ve tried across Italy. So stay tuned for that. 😏

My personal motto when it comes to choosing gelato flavors is less is more. I love going for the classic flavors, like pistachio, chocolate, mint chocolate chip, strawberry, etc. This particular shop has a special place in my heart because it’s the one I went to with my family when I first went to Florence (before study abroad). It’s also right next to the bridge! So after you get your gelato, you can sit on the bridge, savor each bite, and enjoy the views ahead of you (watch those cute Italian men pass by).

Tijuana

Nacho business

Just because I’m in Florence doesn’t mean I’m having Gusta Pizza every night. I’ve tried many different cuisines, so I couldn’t miss on trying this Mexican restaurant. And I’m glad I didn’t because their nachos are amazing. This restaurant is not in the center of Florence, so it’s more of a trek but worth it on a good, relatively warm day. They have outdoor dining in the back, which I recommend over indoor. I can’t pass up dinner outside in nature. I also got the margarita (duh), so don’t skip that. You’ll need something to drink in between your nachos and tacos. I hope you enjoy the food as much as I did. Just typing this transports me back to the restaurant eating nachos with my friend, having margaritas, and having a great time in great company.

QC FRIES

late-night fries

This may come as a shock to you as it did me, but the late night food options in Florence is very, very limited. The only things available are fast food (ehem McDonalds), and this shop that exclusively has fries with at least 20 different sauces to choose from. The fries are thick cut yet crispy. Soft on the inside, hot right when you get them, and so so good. One of the sauces I got was curry-based, and I remember that was really good. I advise you to not go for the classic ketchup here and choose one of the many other ~fun~ sauces they offer. When you don’t know what to choose, I recommend just asking the person behind the counter what they recommend, what’s the most popular, or what they like. It not only helps me make a decision faster, but it’s just a nice thing to do. And when you’re having late night fries, I’m betting the person behind the counter has some interesting stories; maybe you’ll get to hear something if you start up a conversation.

Hot tip: Save this article for when you’re planning on going to Florence. And if you have been to Florence and think I missed something, comment below what your favorite place is and I’ll make sure to go visit asap. I’m already trying to plan my next trip there! 🙂

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