In my book, the number 1 way to immerse yourself in a new culture is to try their food. During my studies abroad, I’ve especially taken note of the importance of food in Italian culture. Every street is lined with incredible places to grab a panini, sit down for pizza or buy a scoop of gelato, but sometimes, especially for Americans who are used to variety, these foods can become a little repetitive. As an avid foodie and amateur restaurant connoisseur, I sought out to find the best places to eat in Florence when you’re tired of constantly eating Italian food.
1. Sushi Aurora
Edamame, miso soup, rolls, sashimi, temaki, nigiri you name it, Sushi Aurora offers it. For a large assortment at a low price, this is the place to get your sushi fix.
#SpoonTip: Choose the all you can eat option. It’s 12 euros during lunch hours and 23 euros for dinner. Worth it.
2. El Chico
As a native southern Californian, I was spoiled with terrific Mexican restaurants growing up. Prior to my travels abroad, I never expected to come across anything of the sort in Italy. El Chico doesn’t exactly serve up my favorite California burrito, but this Tex-Mex style restaurant in Santa Croce does not disappoint. Whether you’re in the mood for a fajita taco salad at lunch, enchiladas for dinner or a build your own burrito at 2 in the morning, El Chico is the perfect stop for anyone craving authentic Tex-Mex.
3. Red Garter
Known as "Italy’s Oldest American Bar," Red Garter is a lively place to listen to karaoke on weeknights or watch NFL football on Sundays. Order a steak, burger or, my personal favorite, the chicken wings with fries. You can pick from a variety of sauces and even mix a few different ones in one basket.
#SpoonTip: Every Wednesday and Thursday is wing night, which includes the margarita special.
4. Beijing 8
My roommates and I stumbled upon Beijing 8 late on a Monday night when many other restaurants in Italy are closed. The lady who took our order suggested the chicken broth soup and dumplings, which really hit the spot. For dessert, I recommend the vanilla/chocolate mochi. The best part about Beijing 8? Although they are a fast food restaurant chain they "believe in natural ingredients and honest contents."
5. Le Vespe
Welcome to your new favorite brunch spot. In the states, breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, but since coming to Italy I’ve found myself conforming to the Italian anti-breakfast club and rushing to gulp down a cappuccino or nibble on a croissant in the morning until I found Le Vespe. This quaint coffee shop and restaurant mimic many aspects of an American breakfast joint, with menu offerings such as bagel sandwiches, eggs, and pancakes. However, some of their finest options may be on the back of the menu: the extremely detailed (and overwhelming) drink list. From smoothies and juices to coffees and cocktails, they have tons of options to start your day off right. Not a morning person? Don’t fret, brunch is served daily until 3:30 p.m.
6. Shake Cafe
I about died and went to healthy foodie heaven when I first came across this place. They offer everything from fresh juices and smoothies to sandwiches, wraps, and salads as well as bagels, pastries and a full coffee bar. Shake Cafe is the perfect place for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and everything in between. They even have tons of vegetarian options like the vegetarian wrap with a shake smoothie. This is one of the best places to eat in Florence if you’re looking for an inexpensive and healthy meal.
#SpoonTip: Ask for a punch card next time you order a juice to earn rewards!
Now go out there, eat your way through new cities and tag me in your foodie finds along the way @mindovermolly. Buon appetito!