A guide to some of the best international restaurants in the city of Florence
Florence draws in a colossal crowd to admire and appreciate art, architecture and fashion, yes, but leaves an engrained mark in the memory of food lovers and connoisseurs.
Here is my guide to some of the best international restaurants in Florence.
Ristorante Gandhi, Indian
Via Il Prato, 38r
Open Tue-Sun 11.30am-3.30pm / 6pm-11pm | Mon 6pm-11pm
Being Indian myself, I can completely vouch for the Indian food at Ristorante Gandhi. The restaurant is adorned with typical rural-themed earthy coloured walls and paintings of Indian Gods and Goddesses amongst some funky Bollywood movie posters. There’s a large TV screen playing Bollywood songs you can groove to whilst relishing the most delicious Indian food (better than I can make) at Ristorante Gandhi.
The aromatic flavours and right blend of spices would hit the spot for anyone. Gandhi’s crew is extremely hospitable and tones down (or up) spice levels according to one’s palate.
Start your meal with complimentary papad (a fried snack – like a wafer) dipped in spicy, sweet and sour chutneys. Request them (it’s not on the menu) to make a jaljeera drink for you. It’s a soda-based drink with lemon and salty spices that are made only in India. Feel free to say I recommended it because they make it for me when I go there! You will thank me later. The drink is topped with fresh mint – if you’re a fan.
My go-to dishes are Chicken Tikka Masala: a spicy chicken dish in a reddish-orange-based gravy, Rogan Josh/Ghosh: juicy pieces of mutton/lamb cooked in a thick brown gravy, Prawn/Jhinga or Jheenga Biryani: prawns cooked in a rice with some veggies and taste galore.
If you’re a fan of bread, ask for the naan, which they make with mint, garlic, cheese or plain – your choice.
Don’t forget to try the mouth freshener at the end of your meal, and say namaste!
Via Ghibellina 156R – Via il Prato 57-59R
Open Mon-Fri 7pm-1am | Sat 7pm-12am | Sun 7pm-11.30pm
Florence’s oldest Mexican restaurant calls for you to crank up your spice levels by more than just a few notches. The sauces and side dips are fiery hot – a graphic of the skull and crossbones on the menu card will warn you in advance.
Tijuana pays tribute to Tuscan tradition by maintaining the freshness with zero use of frozen foods. The Tex-Mex menu offers classic favourites such as loaded nachos, tacos, burritos as well as fajitas. The array of dishes are all homemade without the use of any preservatives, and offer gluten-free options too. With an extensive drink list including Cerveza Dos Equis, Caipiroska and some premium liquors, the restaurant attracts an eclectic crowd of Florentines as well as expats. The franchisee at via Ghibellina is peppered with Mexican statuettes, artisan crafts and colourful wall art, while the branch at via il Prato boasts an outdoor patio with a more ‘chill’ vibe.
Miss Su, Chinese
Via de’ Vecchietti, 6/8/10 R
Open Tue-Sun 12pm-3pm | 7pm-11am
Quaint and cosy, boasting contemporary design, Miss Su is a great find to Chinese food in Florence. Miss Su is a delight on your tastebuds. I frequent this restaurant and have pretty much a set menu I go for: the luscious pork dumplings (pick between fried or steamed), sweet corn chicken soup, fried rice with ham, soya noodles with veggies and a spicy Kung Pao chicken (the spice levels aren’t high here at all). I end my meal with a (sometimes two) yummy fortune cookies served (gratis).
7 Secoli, Argentinian
Via Ghibellina, 140r
Open Mon-Sat 5.30pm-3am | Sun 12.30pm-2am
Wooden interiors with tall barstools, intimate dining booths and a warm and friendly atmosphere: 7 Secoli is a famous hangout for locals.
Watch a soccer match on their big screen and devour the taste of authentic Argentinian cuisine. The appetisers include classic empanadas (patties made with meat) and the menu offers a plethora of other meaty dishes and stake too. All the meat here is imported freshly from Argentinian. They have a specific menu dedicated to offal, which is organ meats, if you’re into that (a speciality). Don’t leave without trying their pudding with caramel sauce.
Siam Thai, Thai
Via del Palazzo dei Diavoli, 53/B
Open Mon-Wed-Thurs-Fri 7pm-10.30pm | Sat & Sun 12pm-2.30pm / 6pm-10.30pm
If you’re in the mood for Thai, Tao Thai serves up fragrant curries, lemongrass soup, Pad Thai of course, and everything under the Tuscan sun made with coconut milk and ginger: a beautiful love affair. Start your Thai high with the chicken skewers marinated in Thai spices and spring rolls with a mixture of vegetables. The other famous appetisers here are the fried shrimp burgers and fried rice flour bags with shrimps. The pork soup with soy spaghetti is immensely delicious. Moving onto the main course, Siam Thai serves a sauteed Thai omelette with minced pork, veggies in oyster sauce, green Thai curry, Panang curry and so much more. Their menu is extensive!
End your meal with the glutinous rice made from coconut milk and sweet mango!