Where Do Locals Eat in Florence: Must-Try Markets, Pastries, Street Food, & More

Let’s face it: Florence is crawling with tourists. During high season the streets and sites are packed, and tourist traps masquerading as authentic restaurants are on every corner. For the unprepared but curious traveler seeking the real deal, you might be wondering where do locals eat in Florence?

Entrance to trattoria
Rub shoulders with locals and brush up on your Italian and these Florentine spots. Photo credit: Eva Bronzini

With over 2,000 restaurants in Florence, there are plenty of places that allude tourists. When you find yourself in one of these local haunts, remember that you are stepping into a dining culture that might be different than what you’re used to back home. The menu will be printed in Italian, and it’s not a guarantee that your server will be able to translate.

But stepping out of your comfort zone to dine where locals eat in Florence is worth it! Come with an open mind, a bit of patience, and a big appetite. 

Now that we’ve given you a confidence boost, keep reading for our top nine spots where locals eat in Florence. Brush up on your basic Italian language skills, because they will come in handy!

Fedora Pastry Shop

If you’re not ready for a full-on Italian immersion, then the Fedora School Pastry Shop is a good spot. English-speaking chefs in training plan and prepare all the food at this public extension of the APICIUS International School of Hospitality. The hospitality students that serve you speak English as well!

The rotating lunch and dinner menu is planned and prepared by the talented students of the culinary school. Eat alongside locals and students in the quiet courtyard just a few minutes walk from the Duomo.

Small cakes garnished with strawberries and other fruits in a bakery display case.
The only hard part of visiting Fedora Pastry Shop: deciding what to order. Photo credit: Ulysse Pointcheval

Ganzo

Two things about Italians is that they love a good deal, and they love to eat well. These two loves combine at Ganzo (Via de Macci 85R).

Another public extension of the APICIUS school, Ganzo is a fine-dining restaurant. Like Fedora, the seasonal menu is planned and prepared by culinary students, which keeps the costs down for the customer. Ganzo also has special relationships with Italian wine producers, so you can enjoy the tasting menu of three courses all with their own unique wine pairing.

Service depends on the academic calendar, so it’s best to send an email 72 hours in advance to  [email protected] to make your reservation and get more info.

Mercato Centrale

Visiting markets is a great opportunity to experience local life. When you go to the Mercato Centrale, you’ll also find that it’s the preferred lunch spot where locals go to eat in Florence.

Browse the stalls to your heart’s content, and then grab a spot at the upper-level food court. The options might not seem very Italian, but the locals like it that way! One Italian-ish option that we love is Trapizzino. It’s a Roman street food that’s like a triangle-shaped pizza pocket full of cheese and other delicious seasonal ingredients.

Interior of a large indoor food market with several restaurant stalls
Mercato Centrale is one of Florence’s must-visit markets. Photo credit: Mercato Centrale

Trippaio del Porcellino

If you want to eat like a true Florentine, then you have to try lampredotto. Lampredotto is one of those things that’s probably better to try now, and then find out what it is later.

Considered a street food, most locals will get their lampredotto from one of many carts throughout the city. Our favorite is Trippaio del Porcellino (Via di Capaccio) located behind the Il Porcellino statue. The tripe makers here have been in business for over 100 years, so they know what they’re doing. Their panino al lampredotto with salsa verde washed down with a cup of red wine is as local as it gets.

Semel Street Food

Another panini spot that’s a favorite among locals is Semel Street Food (Piazza Lorenzo Ghiberti 44/R). Tucked in next to the Sant’Ambrogio market, Semel serves up gourmet panini with friendly service. Enjoy a warm sandwich filled with local flavors like anchovies, fennel, and orange, or cheese with pear and truffle.

So you can dine with confidence, don’t hesitate to ask the owner to translate the menu! His English might not be perfect, but rest assured that whatever you order will be tasty.

grilled panini sandwich with melted cheese and greens
Every panini from Semel Street Food is perfection. Photo credit: Lisa Fotios

Antico Ristoro di Cambi

For authentic Florentine steak, look no further than Ristoro Cambi. The historical restaurant is proudly Tuscan, openly displaying their selection of cold cuts and raw steaks. They also boast a cellar with a hundred different Tuscan wines.

Ristoro Cambi is popular among in-the-know tourists, but the restaurant has maintained its identity so well over the years that it remains a local favorite.

Osteria Santo Spirito

The Santo Spirito neighborhood is worth the trip across the river to experience this truly authentic–and a little bit eclectic–area. You won’t go wrong with any restaurant you pop into, but one local favorite is Osteria Santo Spirito (Piazza di Santo Spirito 12).

Osteria Santo Spirito is loved for their big portions and great prices. Enjoy the beautiful simplicity of classic Tuscan dishes like spaghetti alla chitarra with tomatoes. You can also go for a more decadent meal of gnocchi with truffles.

spaghetti with cherry tomato sauce
Nothing says more Tuscan comfort food than a big plate of fresh spaghetti and tomato sauce. Photo credit: Jeffreyw

Trattoria Da Sostanza

Trattoria da Sostanza (Via del Porcellana 25R) may have upped their Instagram game in recent years, but don’t let that fool you into thinking they’re a tourist trap! The menu of Tuscan classics, family-style seating arrangement and cash-only operation make eating here a unique, authentically Italian experience.

While you can enjoy an excellent bistecca at Sostanza, the signature butter chicken and artichoke pie are truly special. Trattoria da Sostanza is very popular, so be sure to make a reservation. To really eat like a local, eat late at 9:00 p.m.

Trattoria La Casalinga

Casalinga means “housewife” in Italian. When you dine at Trattori a La Casalinga, you’ll get a taste of downhome Tuscan cooking so warm and comforting you’ll think the recipes must be straight from an Italian housewife’s cookbook! However, Casalinga was actually founded by two men in the 1960s and remains a family-owned establishment to this day.

Inspired by countryside cooking, Casalinga is the spot to go for hearty dishes. Think thick pappardelle with rich ragu, Tuscan beef stew peposo, and plenty of roasted meats and vegetables.