People often say it’s depressing to eat by yourself, and that can be true in certain settings. However, traveling solo doesn’t mean every meal has to be awkward. It’s simply a matter of finding the right places. Along with ambiance, cost is another top concern. The numerous cafes and restaurants I discovered are reasonably priced. Below I included my top four foodie picks (although they are subject to change) in order of least to most expensive. All are generally located within the central area of Florence.
1. Shake Cafe & Juice Bar
This little cafe is not only affordable, it’s also healthy. From juices to snacks to salads to sandwiches — it has both a good take-away and sit down menu. Although seating is limited, the cafe has a high turnover rate, so if you stick around for a few minutes, you’ll probably find a seat. Additionally, customers gain access to free WiFi. The cafe is open from 7 am to 7:30 pm — another big plus, as a lot of places close in the afternoon for a break. You can get eggs with avocado toast, yogurt with homemade granola, and a variety of other delicious baked goods for breakfast (tons a fruit too). For a treat, I recommend the homemade chocolate chunk banana bread. The salads and smoothie bowls also look really good, but I have yet to try them.
Location: 32,, Via del Corso, 26, 50122 Firenze FI
For a relaxing, less busy place, I recommend Amblé. This cool little cafe is nestled in the side streets near the Ponte Vecchio. Honestly, it took me a few tries to find it, but once I did, I realized it’s location provides the perfect cover to escape the hectic crowds. The menu offers everything from freshly made salads and sandwiches to meat and cheese plates. In addition to the main menu, there is also a special piatto del giorno. It’s a very cool atmosphere as well — kind of like a cross between an urban garden and used furniture shop (some of the furniture is actually for sale). Outside, there are tables with wicker chairs under a giant umbrella. Unlike Shake cafe, Amblé does serve alcohol. In terms of solo eating, it’s quite acceptable to read a book or draw while nibbling food outside on the patio or inside.
Location: Piazzetta dei Del Bene, 7/A, 50123 Firenze FI
3. La Terrazza LuisaViaRoma by Floret
Possibly my favorite place, this gem is located on a terrace in the Luisa Roma clothing store (yes, a clothing store). Walk through the store entrance, up the stairs, turn right, and you will find a garden-like covered terrace. Despite it’s slightly odd location, it’s clearly a hip spot (reservations are accepted, bit not necessary).
The menu includes quite a range of unique dishes. As of yet, I have only tried one dish — the Nomad Bowl — two poached eggs served over spinach with hummus (regular and beet hummus), feta, avocado, and sprinkling of roasted nuts (14 euros). While the combination may sound weird, it is absolutely delectable! I also appreciate the whole grain bread served with every meal. If 14 euros still seems expensive, there are various other dishes on the menu starting at 8 euros. For the full menu, check out the website: www.floret-bar.com
Location: Via Roma, 19/21/r, 50123 Firenze FI
One final charm of La Terrazza is it’s resident mascot! This dog is so sweet and literally makes my day every time I get to see him. He likes to trot from table to table, stick his nose around corners, and then plop down to lay against the cool floor. So if you’re ever feeling a bit down, go to La Terrazza for some good food and a friendly, furry hello. Students or young professionals can also work while eating without feeling out of place.
4. Ristorante San Michele All’Arco
Lastly, located near the Duomo in a little side alley off of Via dell’Oriuolo, this restaurant offers homemade, locally sourced food. The last time I went there, I ordered an appetizer platter with roasted vegetables, crostini, and a white bean saute. While it was a simple meal, the flavors of the charred radicchio and the salty, garlicky beans blended together wonderfully. Simple food does not always mean cheap or bad; rather, it takes a certain skill to elevate and showcase the flavors of a few, simple ingredients.
This restaurant is small but quaint and has both indoor and outdoor seating. I would recommend sitting outside, as the location allows guests to watch the hubbub of downtown. The menu ranges from appetizers to frittatas to pasta dishes. In terms of expense, it is probably equally priced to La Terazza, but a little more classic Italian in the types of dishes it offers.
Location: Via dell’ Oriuolo, 3/red, 50122 Firenze FI
Note: Beyond the sit-down restaurants, Florence has numerous stands/cafes where passersby can grab a panini for only a few euros.