Since 2006 I live and work in Florence. As part of my job I am in charge of customer care of a luxury rental agency that offers exclusive villas and apartments both in Florence and Tuscany.
I was born and raised in England but have fallen in love with this region of Italy, so much so that I now think of Florence as my home town. Over the years I have explored every nook and cranny of the city and by now know all its secrets. For this reason, I enjoy advising my clients on what to see and, in particular, where to eat in Florence in order to live like a real Florentine.
You can’t visit Florence’s famous museums, squares and historical buildings without also getting a taste of one of the most important aspects of life here, typical Florentine food! But a question comes to our minds: what to eat in Florence?
So let’s begin with the most famous dish, a must for any meat lover, a typical steak. This T-bone delicacy is around 4-5 centimetres thick and is best served rare to medium. The locals usually begin with a knife and fork but the good manners don’t last long. After a while most people pick up the bone with their hands in order to bite off the last morsels of meat.
As far as the Florentine steak is concerned, one of the best places to eat in Florence is Tuscany bistrot, a restaurant located in Borgo San Frediano, in the Oltrarno district. This spot is a favourite meeting point for groups of friends who come here to catch up over a real Florentine steak. The steak is always served rare, accompanied by a side dish of grilled vegetables and a bottle of Tuscan Chianti.
Here I recommend that you also try a plate of salami and cheeses which typically are to be eaten with honey. This rustic but very welcoming restaurant requires no special dress code! The food comes served on wooden boards and the table cloths are made out of paper but don’t let this put you off, not only will you enjoy the best Florentine steak you’ve ever eaten but you’ll also be very pleasantly surprised when it comes to paying the bill!
One of the best places to eat in Florence for lunch or a quick snack is Vinaio di Parte Guelfa. Placed in the heart of the city centre, close to Piazza Signoria, this bar is ideal for a quick snack to recharge your batteries between one museum and the next.
Luca and Leonardo, complete with chefs hats, will prepare for you delicious sandwiches filled to the brim with the best cured meats and salami of the area. In this spot you’ll be able to try some typical Florence food including “lampredotto”, boiled cows stomach, and “porchetta”, roast pork.
The space inside the place is very limited; there is just enough room for a counter where the sandwiches are prepared and a couple of tables. For this reason most people end up eating their sandwiches on the benches just outside the bar. Another speciality of the Vinaio is that the sandwiches are traditionally accompanied by a small glass of wine, and I mean small, only slightly bigger than a shot glass.
Another place worth mentioning is All’Antico Vinaio, Via De Neri 65, known as the king of the schiacciata, done with fresh ingredients and making it one of the must-see premises for anyone visiting the city. In addition, the restaurant offers a wide selection of meats and a variety of products with which you can “fill” a good sandwich! The queue outside is definitely long, but it is worth it. A sublime example is the sandwich with ham, cheese, truffles, truffle oil and arugula, a real delight!
The hospitality of the owners, the quality of ingredients, the speed of service and the quality of Tuscan wine, make this place unique and meeting place for many people, locals and tourists around the world.
Another place to eat in Florence for a snack, or to buy typical Florence food, is mercato di san Lorenzo a Firenze. This Florence food market is open every morning and is situated in the San Lorenzo area of the city, right in the heart of the city centre. It sells many typical foods including meat, fresh pasta and seasonal fruit and vegetables, all sourced from the surrounding area.
In between the stalls you’ll also find stands selling ready-made typical Florence dishes. Here I ate one of the best ribollita I’ve ever tasted, a vegetable soup made with potatoes, beans and black cabbage that is one of Florence’s most traditional dishes. This Florence food market is one of the best places to buy sauces and spreads, ideal as gifts or to take home and recreate a traditional Florentine dinner.
Two of the most famous Florence foods are a tomato based sauce made with wild boar meat, or a liver pâté perfect for spreading on toasted bread or bruschetta. Many of my clients tell me that they like to cook in the apartments in the evening. These typical products are perfect because they allow to you to prepare a delicious dinner in no time at all!
Do you know of any places to eat in Florence?
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