Where to eat in Florence (without breaking the bank)

Where to eat in Florence (without breaking the bank)

Great food that won’t blow your budget.

Words by Ute Junker

Photos supplied

A longer version of this article was first published by

La Ménagère

A little from Column A, a little from Column B. That’s the magic of La Ménagère, a former department store transformed into sumptuous venue with a space to match every mood. Enjoy an al fresco breakfast or lunch indoors on ceviche or a club sandwich; catch up on emails over afternoon tea or head to the buzzing bar for an evening aperitivo before dining in one of the cosy back rooms. An in-house florist and live music sessions provide that little something extra.

Regina Bistecca

Love to sink your teeth into a great piece of steak? Then you will want to feast on Florence’s signature dish, the huge T-bone steak known as Bistecca alla Fiorentina. The place to try it is Regina Bistecca, a former antiquarian bookshop that has retained its elegant ambience. Beyond the succulent steaks themselves – take your pick from a range of breeds – it’s the details that delight here, from the bone-handled knives to the dessert trolley. Be aware that nothing will get you sinbinned faster than asking for a well-done steak; medium is the max.

Mercato Centrale

If walking past the aromatic stalls neatly stacked with wheels of parmesan at Florence’s Mercato Centrale whets your appetite, you’re in luck. Head up to the second floor where a range of artisanal producers serves up delicious bites. Some are typically local – offal lovers should try the lampredotto sandwich, stuffed with cows’ stomach, made by a family that has been perfecting its recipe for 100 years – but you can find everything from French pastries to Chinese dumplings here.


Any list of Florence’s top chefs has the name Simone Cipriani near the top thanks to the inventive approach to Tuscan classics he demonstrates at Essenziale. Opt for one of the set menus to get the full experience, which may include anything from zucchini flower stuffed with mussels and pecorino, to yakitori pigeon with cacciatore sauce. Essenziale also breaks the mould in other ways, including offering a weekend brunch.

Obicá Mozzarella Bar, Pizza e Cucina

Don’t have time or the appetite for a full meal? Take a seat in Obica Mozzarella Bar’s atmospheric covered courtyard to enjoy a more-ish range of small bites that includes a selection of mozzarella, ricotta and burrata cheeses from around the country. Obica’s pizzas are also superb (one of the main reasons it makes our ‘best restaurants in Florence’ list), with unusual toppings such as mortadella and Sicilian pistachios or porcini mushroom with pumpkin.

Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura

This one is a little more expensive but worth it. The crowd at Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura is divided into two tribes, foodies and fashionistas, and both leave content. With a prime perch in front of the Gucci Garden museum in Piazza della Signoria, this exquisite eatery is as beautifully designed as a stage set, with everything from the crockery to the staff aprons carefully customised. With Massimo Bottura overseeing the menu, the food is of course top-notch, and the friendly service is equally impressive.

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