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The Best Places to Eat in Florence, Including Several Hidden Gems

 

What are the best places to eat in Florence? Use this guide of what to eat in Florence, including the top restaurants in Florence, the best tiramisu in Florence,  and the best ice cream in Florence. Plus, get tips on how to be a vegetarian, Florence style.

 

I've been to Florence twice, in 2011 and 2015. The second time I went was right after I passed my RD exam and became a dietitian! This northern Italy locale is by far one of my favorite European cities. That's probably because I love all things Italian cuisine, from fresh mushrooms to pasta to sparkling water. 

 

I'm often asked for my top recommendations on how to travel through this amazing city (and don't miss my tips for essential travel items to pack and traveling to Europe for the first time!). Here are my top tips on Florence for foodies. I'm including the best places to eat in Florence, from the perspective of a vegetarian registered dietitian nutritionist. Don't worry! I'm not going to tell you to only eat salads during your stay in Florence. I'm telling you about the best food in Florence in all categories, including gelato and tiramisu. But I do also include my favorite Italian salad in this post!

  

Traveling to Florence, Italy? Going to Italy for the food? Foreign food may be a mystery but here is how to eat like a vegetarian in Florence with top restaurant picks and snack hacks. #travelguide #florenceitaly #travelflorence #vegetarian

 

Where to eat in Florence? I'll jump right into my absolute favorite meal and a restaurant that's one of the best places to eat in Florence. I love it so much I've eaten there every time I've visited Florence.

  

Traveling to Florence, Italy? Going to Italy for the food? Foreign food may be a mystery but here is how to eat like a vegetarian in Florence with top restaurant picks and snack hacks. #travelguide #florenceitaly #travelflorence #vegetarian
The atmosphere at Osteria de Benci is very lively!

  

So here it is: Spaghetti dell'Ubriacone, or drunken spaghetti, from Osteria de Benci. The spaghetti is soaked in red wine and garlic, and thus it turns a deep purple-red color. And it is oh-so delicious.

 

I haven't tried making the dish myself yet, but the waiter told me the secret ingredients are bouillon (if trying this at home, I would use  vegetable bouillon), garlic, olive oil, hot pepper, a red wine like Chianti, and a finishing touch of parsley.

  

Traveling to Florence, Italy? Going to Italy for the food? Foreign food may be a mystery but here is how to eat like a vegetarian in Florence with top restaurant picks and snack hacks. #travelguide #florenceitaly #travelflorence #vegetarian
Drunken spaghetti

 

Another thing I love to eat in Florence is pizza. You can order it by the slice, and you can buy the tiniest slices so you can try many different flavor combos. It's one of the best cheap eats in Florence that's also delicious. You'll see little pizza shops sprinkled throughout the city. If you're a vegetarian in Italy, you'll likely be eating a good amount of pizza!

  

Traveling to Florence, Italy? Going to Italy for the food? Foreign food may be a mystery but here is how to eat like a vegetarian in Florence with top restaurant picks and snack hacks. #travelguide #florenceitaly #travelflorence #vegetarian
I often stopped by little pizzerias for a quick bite.
Traveling to Florence, Italy? Going to Italy for the food? Foreign food may be a mystery but here is how to eat like a vegetarian in Florence with top restaurant picks and snack hacks. #travelguide #florenceitaly #travelflorence #vegetarian

 

And of course, we must discuss gelato! All throughout Florence, you'll see storefronts with heaping piles of often very brightly colored gelato. Skip those shops and head straight to one of my favorites! I promise the gelato will be tastier and fresher.

 

Start with Vivoli, said to offer the world's best gelato. I love this gelato shop so much that I visited it twice during my first trip to Florence. You pay for the size serving that you'd like, then you take your receipt to the counter to choose your flavors. FYI that Vivoli closed on Monday, so plan accordingly.

 

If you live in or are visiting Orlando, you can visit what Vivoli calls "the younger sister" of the original Florence shop, at the Walt Disney Resort in Disney Spring. Lucky you!

  

Traveling to Florence, Italy? Going to Italy for the food? Foreign food may be a mystery but here is how to eat like a vegetarian in Florence with top restaurant picks and snack hacks. #travelguide #florenceitaly #travelflorence #vegetarian
You won't see heaping piles of gelato at Vivoli, but the dessert is phenomenal.
Traveling to Florence, Italy? Going to Italy for the food? Foreign food may be a mystery but here is how to eat like a vegetarian in Florence with top restaurant picks and snack hacks. #travelguide #florenceitaly #travelflorence #vegetarian
Delicious gelato at Vivoli

 

The other gelato shop you must visit while in Florence is La Carraia. I didn't know about this locale until my second time in Florence. Once I did, I made sure to visit a couple of times.

  

Traveling to Florence, Italy? Going to Italy for the food? Foreign food may be a mystery but here is how to eat like a vegetarian in Florence with top restaurant picks and snack hacks. #travelguide #florenceitaly #travelflorence #vegetarian

 

There are two locations. If you head to the one at Piazza Nazario Sauro, you'll get a beautiful view of the city, including the Duomo. I was lucky enough to eat my gelato during sunset!

  

Traveling to Florence, Italy? Going to Italy for the food? Foreign food may be a mystery but here is how to eat like a vegetarian in Florence with top restaurant picks and snack hacks. #travelguide #florenceitaly #travelflorence #vegetarian
A beautiful view of Florence, near La Carraia

 

Now, if you're wondering how to eat like a vegetarian in Florence, one of the best things you can do is get your fill of vegetables and beans in Florence! And wow, you can really find amazing white bean dishes in Florence. Head to La Vecchia Bettola for lunch to get your fill.

 

Traveling to Florence, Italy? Going to Italy for the food? Foreign food may be a mystery but here is how to eat like a vegetarian in Florence with top restaurant picks and snack hacks. #travelguide #florenceitaly #travelflorence #vegetarian

 

I was in Florence during mushroom season, and so the first thing I ate at this adorable little restaurant was a porcini salad. I definitely recommend it if it's on the menu during your visit! Porcini dishes are one of the tastiest things to in Florence.

 

Traveling to Florence, Italy? Going to Italy for the food? Foreign food may be a mystery but here is how to eat like a vegetarian in Florence with top restaurant picks and snack hacks. #travelguide #florenceitaly #travelflorence #vegetarian

 

And I couldn't leave Florence without ordering Tuscan white beans, a northern Italy staple. They're so simply seasoned and supply vegetarian protein. I finished my meal (and almost every other meal while in Florence!) with an espresso.

 

Traveling to Florence, Italy? Going to Italy for the food? Foreign food may be a mystery but here is how to eat like a vegetarian in Florence with top restaurant picks and snack hacks. #travelguide #florenceitaly #travelflorence #vegetarian

 

Let's move on to my No. 1 favorite activity when visiting any European city, shopping at local food markets. Mercato Centrale, the main food market in Florence, did not disappoint. Previously known as Mercato di San Lorenzo, the market was revived in 2014 with food stalls that remind me of other international markets, such as Time Out Market Lisboa.

 

Traveling to Florence, Italy? Going to Italy for the food? Foreign food may be a mystery but here is how to eat like a vegetarian in Florence with top restaurant picks and snack hacks. #travelguide #florenceitaly #travelflorence #vegetarian

 

I haven't been to the market since its revival a few years ago, but I imagine you can still pick up bottles of wine, fresh fruit, and local cheeses. The market is also a great place to pick up souvenirs to bring home, including truffle oil, truffle salt, and balsamic glaze.

 

Speaking of souvenirs, here's my short list of foodie items that are definitely worth taking home, either purchased at a Firenze market or just a regular grocery store.

  • Lavazza coffee: This coffee is made in Italy, and it's a heck of a lot cheaper to buy it there!
  • Illy coffee: Same goes for a canister of this brew, and it makes a beautiful gift.
  • Truffle pasta: You can get this on Amazon, but it's a whole lot cheaper if you stock up in Florence.
  • Lemon pasta: If you've never had it, you must try it!
  • Jarred Italian truffles: Need I say more?
  • Bagged sundried tomatoes: These are simply delicious.
  • Italian candy and cookies: You'll find beautifully boxed items at the market and grocery store. Take some home to share with your coworkers!
  • Marvis toothpaste: This Italian toothpaste is packaged so nicely and makes a wonderful gift.
  • Nivea Creme: I love trying toiletries from other countries, and this cream was a find. It's made in Germany but sold in Italy, too.

 

Traveling to Florence, Italy? Going to Italy for the food? Foreign food may be a mystery but here is how to eat like a vegetarian in Florence with top restaurant picks and snack hacks. #travelguide #florenceitaly #travelflorence #vegetarian
Some Italian food souvenirs!
Traveling to Florence, Italy? Going to Italy for the food? Foreign food may be a mystery but here is how to eat like a vegetarian in Florence with top restaurant picks and snack hacks. #travelguide #florenceitaly #travelflorence #vegetarian
These giant strawberries were delicious!
Traveling to Florence, Italy? Going to Italy for the food? Foreign food may be a mystery but here is how to eat like a vegetarian in Florence with top restaurant picks and snack hacks. #travelguide #florenceitaly #travelflorence #vegetarian
I wanted to try all these cheeses!

 

While you can eat at the Firenze market, I highly recommend buying picnic essentials and hiking your food picks up to Piazzale Michelangelo for a magnificent view of the city. This is one of the best places in Florence for a picnic.

 

Traveling to Florence, Italy? Going to Italy for the food? Foreign food may be a mystery but here is how to eat like a vegetarian in Florence with top restaurant picks and snack hacks. #travelguide #florenceitaly #travelflorence #vegetarian

 

The hike to Piazzale Michelangelo is filled with a lot of steps, but the view is so magnificent that it's worth it!

 

Traveling to Florence, Italy? Going to Italy for the food? Foreign food may be a mystery but here is how to eat like a vegetarian in Florence with top restaurant picks and snack hacks. #travelguide #florenceitaly #travelflorence #vegetarian
View from Piazzale Michelangelo
Traveling to Florence, Italy? Going to Italy for the food? Foreign food may be a mystery but here is how to eat like a vegetarian in Florence with top restaurant picks and snack hacks. #travelguide #florenceitaly #travelflorence #vegetarian
Picnic essentials! The meat was for my Australian companions, Casey and Nathan.

 

In addition to purchasing food from markets, I also popped into neighborhood grocery stores and bodegas. I often found plentiful amounts of fresh fruit, like figs and persimmons, that aren't always available at home. I brought these back to my apartment rental to snack on!

 

Traveling to Florence, Italy? Going to Italy for the food? Foreign food may be a mystery but here is how to eat like a vegetarian in Florence with top restaurant picks and snack hacks. #travelguide #florenceitaly #travelflorence #vegetarian
I found the best fruit in little bodegas.
Traveling to Florence, Italy? Going to Italy for the food? Foreign food may be a mystery but here is how to eat like a vegetarian in Florence with top restaurant picks and snack hacks. #travelguide #florenceitaly #travelflorence #vegetarian
I'm a sucker for fresh figs!

 

Now I have to talk about one of my favorite topics: truffles. The key to finding truffles? Some of the best meals I ate in Florence came from asking local shopkeepers about their favorite eats. This is how I came to know about Trattoria da Ginone and what I consider to be the best truffle pasta in Florence.

 

Traveling to Florence, Italy? Going to Italy for the food? Foreign food may be a mystery but here is how to eat like a vegetarian in Florence with top restaurant picks and snack hacks. #travelguide #florenceitaly #travelflorence #vegetarian

 

I dined here with my friend Kristin, and we made all our choices based on the waiter's recommendations. Simply put, it was an amazing dinner in Florence. We ate an incredible pasta with black truffle entree, paired with a very reasonably priced Barolo (just about 5 euros a glass). If you drink Barolo back home, you know it can be very steeply priced. 

 

Traveling to Florence, Italy? Going to Italy for the food? Foreign food may be a mystery but here is how to eat like a vegetarian in Florence with top restaurant picks and snack hacks. #travelguide #florenceitaly #travelflorence #vegetarian

 

The first time I visited Florence, a colleague told me to visit Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco. I had no idea what was in store, but I'm so glad I followed this advice. This egg-and-white-truffle dish was one of the best meals I've ever had. When you're a vegetarian in Florence, eggs are a fantastic find because of the filling protein they offer. I definitely recommend pairing it with the house wine, served in adorable ceramic pitchers.

  

Traveling to Florence, Italy? Going to Italy for the food? Foreign food may be a mystery but here is how to eat like a vegetarian in Florence with top restaurant picks and snack hacks. #travelguide #florenceitaly #travelflorence #vegetarian

 

Looking for the best tiramisu in Florence? Then you can't skip this restaurant's tiramisu. The tiramisu at Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco is rumored to be the best in Florence.

 

Traveling to Florence, Italy? Going to Italy for the food? Foreign food may be a mystery but here is how to eat like a vegetarian in Florence with top restaurant picks and snack hacks. #travelguide #florenceitaly #travelflorence #vegetarian
Tiramisu is so tasty!
Traveling to Florence, Italy? Going to Italy for the food? Foreign food may be a mystery but here is how to eat like a vegetarian in Florence with top restaurant picks and snack hacks. #travelguide #florenceitaly #travelflorence #vegetarian
You'll sometimes be able to find fresh fruit to pair with your coffee.

 

And of course, one of my favorite things about Italy is you can pop into a coffee shop at anytime of day for a quick pick me up. Because public restrooms aren't much of a thing, I often bought an espresso as my "toll" to use the bathroom in a restaurant or bar. 

  

Traveling to Florence, Italy? Going to Italy for the food? Foreign food may be a mystery but here is how to eat like a vegetarian in Florence with top restaurant picks and snack hacks. #travelguide #florenceitaly #travelflorence #vegetarian

 

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I'd love to hear from you! What do you think are the best places to eat in Florence? If you have anything to add to my list, please do so in the comments below! Tag @amydgorin on Instagram and Pinterest and @amygorin on Twitter and Facebook.

 

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Amy Gorin is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, media personality, and writer in the NYC area.