Eat like a local – Marrakesh

Eating out is one of Marrakesh’s big pleasures, but it pays to be both selective and organised when choosing somewhere to eat. Compared to the huge number of tourists, there are relatively few really good restaurants – about a handful in each district – so don’t expect to stumble across a good one by chance. With Marco Polo’s insider tips you will be eating like a local:

Marrakech Marco Polo Guide


Considering it is such a popular destination, Marrakesh dining takes some planning. The best restaurants must be booked in advance (ask your hotel receptionist, who can normally get a better table than you will if you just phone up yourself).


Try to eat at least once in a riad – they generally offer family-style cooking that is much better than restaurant food. Many are open to non-guests, but in all cases reservations should be made a day in advance. Many riads also offer small, casual cookery classes that are highly recommended.


Set meals – usually salads, pigeon pastilla (pie), tagine, couscous and Moroccan pastries – are the only option in many Moroccan tourist restaurants. While a few of the best can be an approximation of an authentic Moroccan feast, visitors frequently find these set meals a drawn-out, heavy and expensive experience and few would want to eat more than one on a single trip to Marrakesh.


Moroccan salads are a varied and vegetarian delight of super-fresh ingredients and jewel-like colours, usually served as a starter and often translated as “small plates”. As a rule though, non meat-eaters don’t have an easy time of it in the city, and even couscous au sept legumes (with seven vegetables) is often cooked with meat stock. It’s best to check with the chef rather than the waiter. As a back-up option, omelettes and pizzas can be found in many cafés and restaurants.

Photo credit: “IMG_0769” (CC BY 2.0) by Ninara via Flickr


Rather like London’s Leicester Square, or Times Square in New York, the main square of Jemaa El Fna is something of a tourist honeypot and tourists are fleeced every day. But eating out – particularly at the evening food stalls  where prices are very reasonable – is a quintessential Marrakesh experience. At the restaurants and cafés situated around the edge of the square, however, it is all too easy to end up with a really bad meal at a high price. Stick to the food stalls in the square or follow the recommendations in this guide, some of which, as described, should be visited for their views as much as the food.


As there are very few places in the Medina to enjoy an alcoholic drink, make the most of your riad (if it has a drinks licence) with a pre-dinner cocktail on the rooftop, or a nightcap afterwards. Alternatively, many of the restaurants (but none of the pavement cafés around Jemaa El Fna) have a drinks licence – so relax with a drink there rather than trying to find one of the few bars.


In Marrakesh, eating and entertainment are closely entwined. Locals stepping out to sample the delights of the food stalls on Jemaa El Fna also enjoy the spectacle of street entertainers at the same time. Similarly, in many of the traditional tourist restaurants, a show is put on for the diners’ delectation. You can expect such acts as local Gnawa musicians and belly dancers giving performances with varying degrees of eroticism. Though apparently free, you are, of course, paying for the show in the price of your meal. Tips are also welcome.


  • Eating out in Marrakesh restaurants can easily be as expensive as back home, especially if you drink wine, beer or spirits with your meal.
  • The food stalls in Jemaa El Fna provide real atmosphere. Not only is the food here some of the best you’ll find in the city, it is also, quite literally, as cheap as chips. Nevertheless, ask for the price in advance.
  • Leave a tip of 10 to 15 per cent in bars and cafés. Waiters rely on tips.


Get a real taste of local culture and cuisine on a one-day cookery course. They usually include a visit to the spice market and you get to eat your creation afterwards.

  • Jnane Tamsna: One-day courses are tailored to individual needs.
  • Enjoy a private cooking lesson in the riad kitchen, and eat what you have prepared in the beautiful garden, filled with herbs, flowers and vegetables.
  • La Maison Arabe: One-day cooking workshops are held in the gardens of a villa just outside the city. Small groups and lots of inspiration.
  • Souk Cuisine: One-day courses are provided for a reasonable price including lunch and wine. Week-long culinary courses are also available.


Just because a restaurant displays the symbols of international credit cards on its door doesn’t mean you can actually pay with them. It is a good idea to carry some cash just in case the presentation of your card is met with a slow shaking of the head. Morocco has a large cash economy and most businesses try to put as little through their books as possible. Many establishments – even upmarket ones (and this applies to hotels too) will often claim that their credit card machine is not working. If you are prepared to hold your ground and wait patiently, you may find that eventually the “problem” is solved.

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Vietnam – Delicious Dishes from the Wok

Don’t worry – Vietnam’s cuisine may be exotic but no tourist need fear that they will unwittingly be served roast dog, raw monkey brain or geckos on a skewer. The Vietnamese wouldn’t waste such delicacies on a tay, a clueless ‘long- nose’! And, compared to the explosively hot dishes found in Thai and Indian curries, the food here is very mild with fresh herbs dominating the Vietnamese menu.

Marco Polo Vietnam Guide

Enjoy the rice

The Vietnamese equivalent of ‘bon appétit’, moi ong xoi com, actually means ‘enjoy the rice’. Any number of interesting facts and countless legends tell of the importance of rice. Rice comes in all sorts of variations, e.g. as pure white rice (com), as rice soup (com pho), rice noodles (thick banh or thin bun), transparent rice paper to wrap spring rolls in (cha gio or nem in the north), rice pancakes (banh xeo), as biscuits, cakes and puddings. It was probably more than 1,000 years ago that this type of grain was used for brewing beer and making wine. And steamed sticky rice is processed into a distilled liquor called ruou de, ruou gao or can (50 percent alcohol by volume).

Hot Dishes in the Cooler North

Due to Vietnam’s geographical extremities, regional dishes evolved differently. In the cooler north, stews, deep-fried specialities, pan dishes and rice pudding are common. The best-known export from the north is the spicy noodle soup pho that is also eaten for breakfast. It has since become a national dish and has even made its way onto T-shirts with the world-famous Apple trademark and the proud announcement ‘iPho – made in Vietnam’! A hot bouillon is poured over the rice or wheat flour noodles which is served with wafer-thin slices of beef or chicken and a few soya bean shoots. Pho’s delicious aroma comes from the spices used: pepper, coriander, ground chili and lime juice as well as herbs that are always available everywhere.

The hotpot lau is not to be missed either. Rather like a Vietnamese-style fondue, ingredients such as fish, seafood, beef and glass noodles are added to a boiling stock in a clay pot and cooked at the table in front of guests. It is served with onions, garlic, tomatoes, cucumber, mushrooms, beans, soya bean and bamboo shoots, aubergines and carrots. Bun cha is a well-known grilled meat dish: balls of minced meat or slices of filet are cooked on a charcoal barbecue and served with long, thin rice noodles, raw vegetables and any amount of herbs. The sauce however is all important and the best in the country are to be found in Hanoi.

Central Region: Eat like an Emperor

200 years ago the Emperor of Hue was not going to miss out on whatever was en vogue in Europe – such as potatoes, asparagus and cauliflower. Everything was garnished in the most elaborate way for his Highness, well spiced and presented in a mouth-watering way. The pork sausages typical of Hue were not lacking either. Hue’s gastronomic hit, however, is banh khoai: crisp pancakes filled with crab, pork and soya bean shoots with a peanut and sesame dip. When eating da nang on the other hand, you could well believe you are in Japan. The Vietnamese sushi goi ca comprises a raw filet of fish marinaded in a delicious sauce and covered with breadcrumbs. In the little fishing port of Hoi An, cao lau is the hot favourite – a noodle soup with strips of pork, a whiff of mint, roast onions and crisp rice paper.

The Spicy South

More exoticism and spice can be found in the pots and pans of the south: stir quickly, sauté deftly but not for too long, add a generous number of spices and place on the grill – preferably with coriander, sweet basil, Vietnamese parsley, lemon grass, chili, pepper, star anise, ginger, saffron and tamarind paste. Curries are very much part of every housewife’s standard repertoire just as shrimp paste man tom and fish sauce nuoc mam are a must in every kitchen. Small, spicy spring rolls, served as a starter, are a speciality of the south – the deep-fried cha gio nam and the transparent ‘lucky rolls’ goi cuon and banh cuon, that are served fresh and not deep-fried – and require a certain amount of skill in the making. Fine slithers of pork, shrimps, cucumber, slices of star fruit and the usual herbs are rolled in a sheet of wafer-thin rice paper; the tight roll is then dunked in an accompanying dip.


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Eat like a local – Finland

Nature throws open her larder door: Finnish cooking brings the produce of the forests and the lakes to the table. Nordic cuisine – Finnish cuisine included – is taking the world by storm. Fish, berries and meat in hearty stews and casseroles, it is comfort food Finnish style. Check out Marco Polo’s tips for the real Finnish culinary experience!

Snowy Finland

Picture credit: Senja Yrjölä, used with permission

Traditional Cuisine

Traditional Finnish cooking is nutritional and plain, intended to make sure that a hard-working population gets through the long, cold winter. Depending on the time of year, restaurants serve the typical Nordic range of home-grown food prepared to tried and tested recipes. ‘Food fills you up’, so many a Finn says – and a lot of dishes taste like that, too.

The national cuisine has not always had the reputation of being star quality. But, if you keep to traditional dishes and regional ingredients, you will experience some praiseworthy culinary delights. On top of that, a lot of food is organic even if it does not come with a green stamp of approval – especially in the far north. Fruit and vegetables grow a long way from any industrial centres or towns and are pollution free. And, obviously, the meat of wild animals comes from those roaming free in their natural habitat.

Due to the climate, the selection of native fruit and vegetables is limited, one could even say paltry. But the Finns are proud of what Nature has in store for them and of what they make with it, and for a good reason. The Nordic cuisine has been right at the top of the food trend lists for a few years now. Traditional ingredients like beetroot, swedes and white cabbage are n being ingeniously transformed into gourmet experiences. However, hotpots, soups, casseroles, roasts and pies, such as the world-famous Karelian pies, still dominate everyday cooking.

International Cuisine

International cuisine is very popular in Finland, especially in the larger cities. The standard repertoire in the restaurant scene comprises Finnish, Scandinavian and Russian restaurants, but these are now being joined by pizzerias, Asian restaurants and the fast-food chain Hesburger – a Finnish product. Vegetarian restaurants are also popping up in many cities.

Fish Dishes

If you like fish, you’ll enjoy going out for a meal. In a country with 200,000 lakes there are lots of excellent edible fish and a lot more off the coast as well. A particular speciality can be sampled in January in the Kainuu region: eelpout soup. The animals’ roe is served as caviar on blinis with sour cream. Ice fishing for pike, perch and bream starts as early as in March. Small whitefish that are commonly found in the lake district are grilled whole – a typically Nordic speciality.

On the coast you can savour wild salmon from the major rivers. The beginning of the crayfish season on 21 July is a culinary highlight which, due to the diminishing number of crustaceans, is becoming an increasingly expensive treat.

Cloudberry Finland

Picture credit: Senja Yrjölä, used with permission


The summer is short and it is only after midsummer that the market stands start to fill up. Delicious strawberries, bilberries and raspberries – Finland is rich in such fruit – are longingly awaited. The yellow cloudberry, lakka, from the moors of Lapland, is a rare speciality. It is served as a dessert with junket and distilled to make a liqueur. If you want to know what a cloudberry looks like, keep your eyes open for a two-euro coin on which Lapland’s emblem is shown.


Autumn is the best time to enjoy game. Traditional Finnish restaurants serve elk, reindeer and wild duck; Russian restaurants also have bear on the menu. Game can also be taken home in the form of salami or ham. This can be bought in the markets in Helsinki, for example.

Korvapuusti Finland

Picture credit: Senja Yrjölä, used with permission

Sweet Things

What you will find to buy in abundance in Finland are sweet things. Chocolate (preferably from Fazer) keeps the northerners happy during the long winter months. The same goes for ice cream. No, this is not a misprint – Finns love their ice cream despite arctic temperatures. Berry cake and pulla, a dessert bread with crushed cardamom seeds, are also very popular. One dessert that you can expect to find in the most remote corner of any national park is munkki. This is a yeast-based bread sprinkled with sugar that is not dissimilar to a doughnut.


Kahvi ja munkki: you will see this sign outside every café and also many a restaurant, inviting you in for a snack. Kahvi means coffee – the Finnish national drink that is consumed in huge quantities. Finland heads the EU statistics for coffee consumption and, at almost 12 kilos per capita, is far ahead of anywhere else. By comparison, the Americans drink on average 4.2 kilos and the British a mere 2.8 kilos.


Lots of alcohol is also consumed but is still very expensive, especially in restaurants. An ‘A’ licence denote that all alcohol drinks can be served; a ‘B’ licence covers wine and beer; a ‘C’ licence just low-alcohol beer. High-proof beverages and wines are only available in branches of the Alko concern.


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Drinking in Amsterdam – steeped in tradition

When you visit Amsterdam you should visit a Dutch pub, or a kroeg as the locals call it. Sample some of the locally brewed beer or give jenever a shot. Marco Polo takes a look at the Amsterdam drinking traditions.

Amsterdam by Tim Kelly

Picture credit: Tim Kelly, used with permission

Safety first

In medieval times, the Count of Holland decided to boost the fledgling city’s coffers. In 1323, he designated Amsterdam one of only two ports in his province allowed to import beer from Hamburg, the most important ale-producing town in northern Europe. At that time, beer was far safer to drink than water.

The Heineken Story

Heineken­ started­ brewing­ lager­ in­ Amsterdam ­in ­1864, ­and ­is ­now ­one ­of­ the ­largest ­brewery companies ­in­ the­ world,­ selling ­beer­ in ­170 ­countries.­ The­ firm ­attributes ­much­ of­ its ­success to the ­cultivation ­of ­the­ Heineken­ A-Yeast ­in ­1886: ­every ­month­ the ­yeast ­cell ­is ­still ­flown out ­from its ­main­ brewery ­near ­Amsterdam ­to ­its ­100 ­breweries ­abroad. ­Though ­its ­Amsterdam­ brewery stopped production in 1988 and is now a tourist attraction, Heineken’s­ presence­ in­ the city ­is still­ unavoidable.­ The ­famous ­De­ L’Europe­ hotel ­is ­home­ to ­Freddy’s ­Bar, ­named ­after Freddy Heineken.­ The­ Heineken­ empire­ also­ includes­ a­ number of other brands such as Amstel­ and Murphy’s ­Irish ­Stout.

For Good Measure

Beer­ is ­usually ­served ­in ­a ­25cl­ flower pot-shaped ­glass,­ and­ will­ be­ presented­ with ­a ­two- finger thick­ head.­ The­ bartender­ usually­ makes­ a­ point ­of ­skimming ­off ­the ­extra­ froth ­with­ a plastic spatula.­ In­ brown cafés, you usually need to order at the bar, and can either pay on the spot, or, if you’re staying­ for ­a ­few,­ ask ­for ­a ­tab.

Dutch Spirit

Gin – ­known­ locally­ as ­jenever, ­the ­Dutch ­word ­for ­juniper –­ originated in the Netherlands in the 17th century before being exported to­ England.­ It­ is­ still­ produced­ in­ distilleries around the country that date­ back ­from ­this ­time ­and ­can­ be sampled in a number of traditional tasting houses. ­At ­the­ House ­of ­Bols ­(Paulus­ Potterstraat­ 14, ­tel:­020­5­70­85­75, ­­,­ Sun-Thu­ noon–6:30,­ Fri­ noon–10,­ Sat­ noon–8)­ visitors­ can learn about the history and traditions of both the company and the­ spirit.


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Eat Like a Local – Munich

Bavarian cooking isn’t just Leberkäs (meat loaf) and Weißwurst (white sausage), Schweinsbraten (roast pork) and Knödel (dumplings), as delicious as these may be. It is much more varied, sophisticated – and even more individual – than most people think.

Munich Marco Polo Guide

Local specialties

Aufgschmalzene Brotsuppe – originally considered a poor man’s meal, now to be found on up-market regional menus. Pieces of bread soaked in stock are fried and served with the soup.

Ausgezogene – a deep-fried sweet ‘pastry’ varying in circumference from 4½ to 8 inches. Traditionally made at harvest thanksgiving and for major church holidays. Nowadays, the ‘Kirchweih nudel’ is made by every baker.

Böfflamott – like many things in Bavaria, this comes from the French (originally boeuf à la mode). Ox meat is braised with two calves’ hooves for four hours.

Knödel – few Bavarian dishes do without the good old dumpling. Whether Brezen, Semmel, Kartoffel, Leber or Zwetschgenknödel (pretzel, bread(roll), potato,
liver or prune dumplings), the homemade ones are the best, served for example with chanterelles in a cream sauce.

Leberkäs – meatloaf in a bread roll is one of the survival tactics of those in a hurry. It doesn’t contain either liver or cheese (as the name would suggest) but a secret concoction of beef, pork and lots more, too.

Obatzda – ‘batz’ means a clod or lump of earth. Obatzda however is mature Camembert mixed into a thick paste with butter, onions, spices and a drop of beer.

Saures Lüngerl – a lung ragout cooked in a sour stock and served with a cream sauce and bread dumplings.

Schlachtschüssel – boiled meat, black pudding and liver sausage, pork belly and sauerkraut: once a firm favourite that was only served the day the animals were slaughtered. Nowadays it has rather sunk into oblivion.

Schweinsbraten – roast pork seasoned with salt, pepper and ground caraway seeds and with
diamond-shaped crackling. Roasted with quartered onions and basted with a dark wheat beer. Usually served with dumplings. Beware of restaurants offering ‘Schweinebraten’ – the true Bavarian dish is spelled ‘Schweinsbraten’.


Restaurants serving traditional Bavarian cuisine:


Traditional but sophisticated Bavarian cooking. From both rooms on the first floor and from the terrace there is an excellent view to be had of the Opera House and Max-Joseph-Platz. Daily | Residenzstr. 12 | tel. 089 2 90 70 60 | | tram 19 Nationaltheater, U/S-Bahn Marienplatz | Moderate


Munich’s trendy eatery is popular with both old and young, the ‘in’ crowd and families. On Sundays you get a free lesson in Bavarian culture as the traditional morning pint is always accompanied by music. If you’re not very hungry, try the lard and onion spread on bread or meatloaf with home-made potato salad. The theatre of the same name and studio cinema are both part of the set-up. Daily | Fraunhoferstr. 9 | tel. 089 26 64 60 | | U1/2 Fraunhoferstraße | Budget


For lovers of true Bavarian cooking. This is where those working in the wholesale market normally eat – and that’s why it’s open already at 7am and closes at 5pm (Sat at 2pm). This is where you’ll find the very best Weißwurst there is. And the roast pork isn’t too bad either. Closed Sun | Kochelseestraße 13 | tel. 089 76 45 31 | www.gaststä | U3/6
Impler straße, bus 131 Gotzinger Platz | Budget


A good old Bavarian hostelry with blunt, grumpy but surprisingly efficient waitresses who serve the most divine bread dumplings on earth. Despite all things traditional, they also keep up with the times here and have a Bräuhaus app for iPhones. Daily | Tal 7 | tel. 089 2 90 13 80 | | U/S-Bahn Marienplatz | Budget


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Eat Like a Local – London

British food has long ceased to be good for a cheap laugh; today, London boasts over 50 Michelin-starred eateries and fulfils all culinary desires: from Afghan to Zen food; kosher-Chinese, garlic cuisine and gluten-free options – there are many new cuisines to explore. And the sushi and tapas fever continues too.

London Marco Polo Guide

Local specialities to try on your visit to London:

For those who are unfamiliar with English food, here are some items found in London’s
pubs, cafés and restaurants that visitors from other parts of the English-speaking
world may find puzzling.

Ale – heavier dark beer, ideally drunk at cellar temperature, with many regional variations; one local favourite is London Pride.

Bangers & mash – sausages and mashed potato. Often to be found in pubs, like bubble & squeak (mashed potato with green cabbage, originally a leftovers dish) and shepherd’s pie made from mutton or beef mincemeat, covered with a mashed potato crust.

Cider – naturally cloudy alcoholic apple drink; stronger than French cidre.

Crisps – national potato snack, not to be confused with chips (fries)!

Crumpets – round soft yeasty muffin with holes; fabulous with butter and the dark-brown, love-it-or-hate-it Marmite yeast extract.

Curry – korma and masala curries are mild, Madras curries rather hot, vindaloo is extra hot. Common starters are thin poppadums (wafer-thin chickpea-flour crispbread) with pickles (onions, mint sauce, chutney); there’s also naan bread or chipati flatbread.

Custard – vanilla sauce, often served as an alternative to liquid whipped cream, e.g. with apple pie, ice cream or fruit crumbles.

Fish & chips – the famous national dish: breaded fish & fries with salt and malt vinegar.

Pie – mincemeat in pastry, Victorian fast food, originally with an eel filling. Eel is a Cockney speciality and can be sampled (jellied or stewed) in the few remaining eel, pie & mash shops of the East End.

Roast – a Sunday roast – roast beef or roast chicken with roast potatoes and sauce – is served in hotel carveries and many (gastro) pubs.

Scones – sweet and crumbly; with butter, jam and cream (or even clotted cream) they are a firm part of traditional afternoon tea.


Restaurants serving traditional English cuisine:

Afternoon Tea

This stylish five-star hotel has already received the Tea Council award for the best afternoon tea in London. In the Palm Court expect alongside finger sandwiches and scones original and unusual variations, e. g. candied orange peel in a glass filled with colourful sugar. Afternoon tea daily 2–6pm | 1 C Portland Place, Regent Street | tel. 79 65 01 95 | | tube: Oxford Circus

Tea at the Ritz, between marble pillars and chandeliers, is a society ritual worth sharing. £53 gets you the city’s finest tea, sandwiches, scones, patisseries. You may also like to order a song from the pianist with a little card! For gentlemen, a jacket and tie are obligatory: no jeans or trainers! Booking essential. Daily 11.30am, 1.30, 3.30, 5.30, 7.30pm | 150 Piccadilly | tel. 73 00 23 45 | | tube: Green Park (Jubilee, Piccadilly, Victoria)


English cuisine:

Old-fashioned and atmospheric all-daybreakfast café in Soho. Closed Sun | 101 Wardour St. | tel. 77 34 37 50 | tube: Piccadilly Circus (Bakerloo, Piccadilly) | Budget

Between Thursdays and Sundays, the bar, lounge/restaurant on the river Lea offers fabulous views of the Olympic Park, served with London smoked salmon. Booking essential! Thu/Fri 7–11pm, Sat 10am–2pm, 7–11pm, Sun 12 noon–4pm | Stour Rd., Fish Island | tel. 85 25 23 65 | | tube: Pudding Mill Lane (DLR) | Moderate–Expensive

Location, location, location! Airy wooden panelled stylish restaurant overlooking the pond in St James’s Park. The menu is original, even if portions are on the small side for the price. Daily, closed Sun evenings | tel. 74 51 99 99 | http://www.innthe | tube: Charing Cross (Bakerloo, Northern) | Moderate

Classic-old-fashioned family run East End caff. The listed decor is stunning: gold and chrome-opal glass outside, wood panelling and wonderful Art Deco style inside. Mon– Sat 7am–5pm | 332 Bethnal Green Rd. | tube: Bethnal Green (Central) | Budget

You’ll be hard pressed to find a more English lunch: at the garden centre! Chef Skye Gyngell presents a small menu with seasonal ingredients. On a budget? Go for the Teahouse. Church Lane (Petersham Road), Richmond, Surrey | tel. 86 05 36 27 | | train from Waterloo to Richmond or tube: Richmond (District), then 30 min. Thames walk or bus no. 65 or 371 | Expensive, Teahouse | Moderate

Sound fish & chips in an increasingly trendy street in Spitalfields. The fish comes in fresh from Billingsgate Market and according to the owners is caught sustainably. Mon–Thu 11am–11pm, Fri/Sat to 11.30pm, Sun to 10.30pm | 6–8 Hanbury St. | tel. 72 47 08 92 | | tube: Liverpool St., Old St.(Northern) | Budget

Best of British in Borough Market’s Floral Hall, with a view of St Paul’s. Slightly expensive for what it is, but where else can you order an English Pinot Noir? Great breakfast, early opening for the market folk. Closed Sun eve | Stoney St. | tel. (0)84 50 34 73 00 | | tube: London Bridge | Moderate

London’s oldest chippie has been frying since 1871. Variable service. Takeaway cheaper and quicker. Daily | 47 Endell St. | tube: Covent Garden (Piccadilly) | Budget

London’s oldest restaurant (since 1798), famous for its steaks and game dishes, oysters and pies, has something of an old country house: massive wooden panelling, heavy curtains, velvet coverings, on the walls paintings, prints and hunting trophies. Beautiful skylight. Mon–Sat 12 noon–11.45pm, Sun to 10.45pm | 35 Maiden Lane | tel. 78 36 53 14 | | tube: Covent Garden (Piccadilly) | Moderate


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Eat Like a Local – Vienna

Paris has its bistros, Madrid its bodegas, Prague its beer halls and London its pubs. But Vienna has three typical gastronomic institutions: the coffeehouse, Beisl and Heuriger.



Entire libraries are full of the literature that has been written about – and in – Viennese coffeehouses. In the Biedermeier period and even more around 1900, cafés were
the focal point of Viennese intellectual life. Today, there are more than 500 such oases scattered throughout the city where you can sit for hours with a cup of melange and the obligatory glass of good Viennese mountain spring water without being bothered. They all have a wide selection
of newspapers and many provide chessboards, bridge cards and even billiard tables to help you while away the time.

The Beisl

The second culinary stronghold of the Viennese way of life – the Beisl – has become trendy once again thanks to an amazing rejuvenation of the Viennese cuisine that is actually a mixture of
Bohemian, Hungarian, Italian, Jewish and other Central European cooking traditions.

For years, the city of schnitzel and Tafelspitz (boiled beef), Beuschel (veal lungs), Knödel (dumplings) and Palatschinken (pancakes) had a poor reputation with gourmets on account of the fat and calories. In the meantime, a new generation of ambitious cooks have adapted their menus to appeal to modern eating habits.

The Heuriger

The third Viennese institution, the Heuriger, still enjoys tremendous popularity. Most of these inns have picturesque vaulted cellars, beautiful courtyards and gardens where guests are served young wine and hearty food – and often to live Viennese music.

Most Heuriger are located in the old wine-growing areas on the edge of the Vienna Woods in the north-west of the city but those in the more peaceful districts such as Strebersdorf and Stammersdorf to the north across the Danube, or Mauer near the southern boundary of Vienna have just as much atmosphere. The genuine Heuriger – which is also known as a ‘Buschenschank’ – can be recognised by a fresh green fir branch over its door and a sign reading ‘Ausg’steckt’ next to it.


Local specialties to try on your trip to Vienna:

Apfelstrudel – the dream dessert made of grated or finely cut apples, nuts, and raisins, seasoned with cinnamon and sugar, wrapped in filo pastry

Beuschel – finely cut offal (mainly heart and lung) in a spicy sauce

Buchteln – Sweet yeast rolls filled with jam and often served with vanilla sauce

Frankfurter – the sausages known as ‘Wieners’ everywhere else

Frittaten – finely sliced pancakes served in clear beef soup

Kaiserschmarrn – desert made of shredded omelette, usually served with stewed plums

Nockerln – the Austrian relative of Italian gnocchi; Griess or Butternockerln (small semolina or butter dumplings) are served in soup; Salzburger Nockerln – a soufflé of egg white – is a legendary dessert

Palatschinken – sweet pancakes filled with apricot jam, curd cheese, nuts or even ice cream

Powidltascherln – Bohemian dessert: choux pastry filled with plum puree

Sachertorte – the classic cake made of egg yolks, sugar, a little flour and beaten egg whites, filled with apricot jam and covered with chocolate icing

Stelze – grilled knuckle of pork – side dishes: sauerkraut and bread dumplings – or veal, with more delicate accompaniments

Tafelspitz – one of the best cuts of boiled beef; usually served with shredded fried potatoes and chive sauce or stewed apples with horseradish

Wiener Schnitzel – the classic: escalope of veal covered with breadcrumbs and fried until golden brown; the perfect accompaniment: potato salad


Restaurants serving traditional cuisine:



Charming place to take a break between the Naschmarkt and Freihaus Quarter. Breakfast is served until 6pm; good cooking and moderate prices, large selection of magazines and games. Sun–Wed 10am–1am, Thu–Sat 10am–2am | Rechte Wienzeile 15 | U4 Kettenbrückengasse

Luxurious café in Venetian neo-Gothic style. This is where men-of-letters and journalists sharpened their pens around 1900. Mon–Sat 7.30am–10pm, Sun 10am–10pm | Herrengasse 14 | bus 1A, U3 Herrengasse

Vienna’s oldest café is a gem, with Persian carpets, red velvet and Biedermeier glass cabinets. Mon–Sat 8am–midnight, Sun 10am–10pm, closed Sat evening in Aug | Himmelpfortgasse 6 | U1, U3 Stephansplatz

This traditional tea house is famous for its many different types of breakfast. There is also a salesroom where you can buy exquisite teas and accessories. The inner courtyard with comfortable wicker chairs is a dream. Mon–Fri 8am–8pm, Sat 8am–6.30pm, Sun 9am–6pm | Stephansplatz 4 | U1, U3 Stephansplatz



Elegant host and high-quality Viennese cuisine, fine wines, stylish living room in the cellar. Daily | Schellinggasse 5 | tel. 5 13 56 44 | | tram 2, D Schwarzenbergplatz

The new mooring place for the shuttleboats to Bratislava lies like a luxurious yacht of glass at anchor on the right bank of the Danube Canal. In addition to a café and bar, it also houses a restaurant that became the in-place for the bourgeois, bohemian and business people in next to
no time. Light, regional gourmet cuisine, fine wines, a spacious terrace with a fabulous view of the canal; lavish breakfast served in the café until 4pm(!) Daily | Schwedenplatz | tel. 2 52 55 11 | | U1, U4 Schwedenplatz

Ewald Plachutta and his team serve more than a dozen different kinds of boiled beef in their chic city eatery. Daily | Wollzeile 38 | tel. 5 12 15 77 | | U3 Stubentor

The roots of this stylish classic restaurant can be traced back to the 17th century. Chef de cuisine Sevgi Hartl’s cooking is creative while still respecting tradition and Maître Gensbichler guides his guests through the wine and cheese kingdom with the charm of times long past. The ‘Camel’ also has a stand-up bar and exquisite wine and delicatessen shop. Closed Sun | Bognergasse 5 | tel. 5 33 81 25 | | U3 Herrengasse



The essence of the Orient for all the senses: the glamorous combination of brasserie, café and deli with an oyster bar, tea salon and club. It even has a Moroccan steam bath! Mon–Thu Café 11am–2am, Fri/Sat 11am–4am, restaurant Mon–Sat 6pm–midnight, club with DJ Thu–Sat 10pm–4am | Rahlgasse 5 | tel. 5 85 66 45 | | U2 Museumsquartier

The ideal place for a meal after visiting Schönbrunn – don’t be put off by the surroundings!
Cosy restaurant with a wonderful garden with gravel underfoot and chestnut trees above. Excellent local cooking, steaks and scampi from the barbecue, and very good wines. Closed lunchtime and Sun | Hadikgasse 40 | tel. 8 95 51 27 | | U4 Hietzing

Sophisticated and refined home-style cooking using traditional recipes with a touch of Styria in the atmosphere of a cosy pub. Excellent wines. Closed Sun | Am Heumarkt 25 | tel. 7 12 53 10 | | U4 Stadtpark

Wonderful lunchtime restaurant in the cellar of the stock exchange with a view of lush green plants. Modern, light cuisine. Closed Sat evening and Sun | Wipplingerstraße 34 | tel. 5 32 05 42 | | tram1 Börse

Beautiful former imperial hunting lodge with terrace, gigantic chestnut trees and  tangy wine. On balmy summer evenings, you will feel blissful here in the heart of the Prater woods. The kitchen will also satisfy sophisticated diners. May–Sept Mon–Fri noon–11pm, Sat, Sun, holidays to 6pm, Oct–April closed Wed, Thu–Tue noon– 6pm | Freudenau 254 (Hauptallee) | tel. 7 28 95 65 | | bus 77A Lusthaus

Refreshing, aromatic Israeli-Levantine cuisine – mezzeh, kibbeh and salads. Café and charming rooftop restaurant; sandwiches to take away. Closed Sun | Naschmarkt 510 | tel. 5 85 20 20 | | U1, U2, U4 Karlsplatz

This is not the place if you are counting calories but perfect for fans of classic Austrian specialities such as schnitzel, knuckle of pork or fried offal served in a really relaxed inn with a round iron stove, old wooden panelling and floorboards. Closed Mon/Tue | Pressgasse 26 | tel. 5 87 64 37 | U4 Kettenbrückengasse



This local chain of restaurant is extremely good value for money. The menu in the
form of a yardstick offers a great variety of gigantic, thickly-spread open blackbread
sandwiches that you pay for by the centimetre. Daily | Stiftgasse 4 | tel. 4 70
06 06 | | U3 Neubaugasse, tram 49 Stiftgasse

Meat, fish and vegetable curries, served with coconut or lemon rice. Tamil culinary
art of a high standard is served at low prices in this friendly restaurant. There is
an all-you-can-eat buffet on the first Sat in the month (approx. 13 euros) and
brunch is served 11am–3pm on Sun. Daily, closed July/Aug. | Lenaugasse 4 | tel. 4 06
92 33 | | U2 Rathaus

This classic restaurant right behind the MuseumsQuartier serves good home-style cooking in post-modern surroundings. Inexpensive set lunch, wonderful garden. Daily | Museumsplatz 1/entrance: Breite Gasse 4 | tel. 5 26 56 60 | | U2, U3 Volkstheater

Cheerful, laid-back meeting place for people from all walks of life. The vegetarian meals and set lunch are something special. Closed Sun | Bäckerstraße 18 | tel. 5 12 74 51 | | U3 Stubentor

A canteen for government employees in the style of a designer restaurant with bistro cuisine at cafeteria prices. Different set meals every day and snacks. Am Josefsplatz 1/Neue Hofburg | entrance from Burggarten next to Butterfly House (Schmetterlingshaus) or behind the Palace Chapel (Burgkapelle) door on the left | Mon–Fri 9am–4pm | set meal from 11.30am | tel.
06 76 3 09 51 61 | U2 Museumsquartier, bus 2A Michaelerplatz

A typical country inn – in the heart of town! Substantial specialities from northern Lower Austria; friendly, speedy service, cosy, rustic atmosphere and a large garden with chestnut trees – reasonably priced set lunches. Closed Sat/Sun | Schönbrunner Str. 20 | tel. 5 87 34 47 | | U4, bus 59A Kettenbrückengasse

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Eat Like a Local – Florence

The Italians love to indulge themselves at the table. They enjoy their food – often dining for hours on end.  And it’s true – you can eat your fill, even in Florence, without breaking the bank.

Florence Marco Polo Guide

Local Specialities to try on your visit to Florence:

Arista alla fiorentina – grilled fillet of pork with rosemary and garlic

Baccalà alla fiorentina – stockfish in tomato sauce with basil

Biscotti di Prato (cantucci) – almond biscuits to be dipped in vin santo, a sweet dessert wine

Bistecca alla fiorentina – a 3.5-cm (1 1/2 in) thick T-bone steak

Carciofi fritti – fried quartered artichokes

Cinghiale (coniglio) in umido – wild boar or rabbit in tomato sauce

Crostini toscani – toasted bread spread with a paste made of chicken liver, capers and fresh herbs

Fagioli all’uccelletto con salsicce – white beans in tomato sauce with sage and pork sausages

Fettunta – toasted slices of white bread: in summer with tomatoes and basil; in winter with garlic and drizzled with freshly pressed olive oil

Lesso (bollito misto) con salsa verde – boiled meat (beef, tongue, chicken) with green herb sauce

Minestrone/zuppa di verdura – thick vegetable soup

Panzanella – a summer salad served on soaked white bread and tomatoes

Pappa al pomodoro – luke-warm tomato and bread soup

Pollo al mattone – chicken, pressed flat under a brick and roasted over a wood fire

Ribollita – re-heated vegetable soup with white beans and bread

Tagliata – steak, stripped from the bone and cut into strips

Tagliatelle alla lepre (al cinghiale) – ribbon noodles with hare or wild boar ragout

Trippa alla fiorentina – calf tripe with tomato sauce


Restaurants serving traditional Italian cuisine:

Expensive (if you sit down at a table), but in a class of its own. Don’t leave town without trying a cioccolata calda con panna (hot chocolate with whipped cream); the Rivoire is as much a part of Florence as the Palazzo Vecchio opposite. Tue–Sun 8am–midnight | Piazza della Signoria 5r

It’s practically impossible to eat well and cheaply in the centre of Florence – but here’s the exception to the rule! Freshly prepared pasta dishes at lunchtime, followed by delicious fish in the evenings. Mon–Sat | Via del Moro 51r | Tel. 0 55 28 54 86

If your palate calls for a glass of good white wine and an exquisite truffle pâté sandwich, rather than sweet snacks, and if you favour a slightly genteel atmosphere, you’ll go crazy for this place! Mon–Sat 10am–8pm | Via Tornabuoni 64r |

At this pleasant cantinetta (wine bar) in the Palazzo Antinori, you can not only sample the famous wines from this winegrowing dynasty, but also try the appetising foods produced on the Antinori estates. This has long been a favourite meeting place for Florentine movers and shakers. Mon–Fri | Piazza Antinori 3r (Via Tornabuoni) | Tel. 0 55 29 22 34 |

For years now, one of the places to be. Florentine society people squeeze into the cramped interior to enjoy superlative cuisine. Closed Sun and Tue evenings | Via del Parioncino 26r | Tel. 0 55 28 71 78 | Moderate |

Mimmo is committed to using only fresh ingredients for his excellent dishes – one more reason to come for a meal at this beautiful 17th-century theatre! Closed Sat lunchtime and Sun | Via S. Gallo 57–59r | Tel. 0 55 48 10 30 | | Moderate

Let Paolo spoil you with a few Florentine delicacies, including the typical bistecca alla fiorentina! Tue–Sun | Via dei Lavatoi 3r | Tel. 05 52 34 48 80 | Moderate

The Florentine clientele have been descending at lunchtime on this Mercato Centrale stand since 1872. Typical dishes at reasonable prices. Mon–Sat 7am–2pm | Mercato Centrale | Via dell’Ariento | Budget


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Eat Like a Local – Venice

Many people think that the ‘cucina veneziana’, with its traditional, exquisite recipes, is still one of the finest cuisines on earth, but there are others who feel that it has been spoiled by mass tourism. Of course, the admirers and the moaners are both right in a way…

Venice Marco Polo Guide

There are still many chefs who create wonderful dishes to tickle the diner’s palate using the great variety of freshly-caught seafood from the Adriatic and fresh, crisp produce from the ‘vegetable islands’ and mainland, but you will equally well find the mass-produced menu turistico at a set price – and often, not a very reasonable one at that. In any case, the Venetian cuisine still has many incomparable specialities, ranging from the dozens of different varieties of pasta to the imaginative frutti di mare and meat dishes and sweet delights from the cake shops.

Those who want to experience everything the gastronomic landscape of the city has to offer, should start off by going to a few bacari (with the stress on the first ‘a’). These simple stand-up bars are the Venetian equivalent of the Spanish tapas bar, the Parisian bistro or the local pub in Britain – an institution, where you can have a glass of wine (an ombra), nibble a couple of delicious snacks (the cicheti), and – first and foremost – have a chat.


Local specialities to try on your visit to Venice:

Carpaccio – Venice’s culinary export hit: wafer-thin slices of raw beef, with a trickle of lemon juice and flakes of Parmesan

Cicheti – Venetian-style tapas: titbits such as small meatballs, tiny fried fish, pickled vegetables, mussels, stuffed olives, slices of polenta, etc.

Fegato alla venexiana – calf’s liver cooked in a white wine and onion stock

Fiori di zucca – pumpkin flowers, usually served stuffed and fried

Fritto misto di mare – fried fish and seafood

Pasta e fagioli – a substantial stew cooked with thick macaroni, white beans and a lot of olive oil and herbs

Risi e bisi – rice with green peas

Risotto nero – creamy, black risotto prepared with squid ink (seppie)

Sarde in soar – a very traditional, very Venetian starter: cooked sardines served cold with a marinade of olive oil, vinegar, wine, raisins and pine nuts

Tramezzini – triangular crust-less sandwiches with cheese, ham, mushrooms, tuna, egg or vegetables and various spreads



Locals usually gather in these generally simply furnished, but extremely cosy wine bars to have a chat with their neighbours – usually standing up, to eat a few tasty titbits (in the case of the osteria, this is a real meal seated at a table) and knock back an ombra, a small glass of white wine that is impossible to imagine Venetian life without. The following are some of the more atmospheric places:

A fine selection of cicheti, pizzas and other delicious things, as well as good wines, just a few yards behind St Mark’s Basilica. Soak up the atmosphere at one of the tables outside if the weather is fine. Daily (sometimes closed Wed in winter) | Campo Santi Filippo e Giacomo, 4357 | tel. 04 15 22 42 92 | stop: San Zaccaria

Fans of excellent fish – come right in! There is a different menu every day which includes specialities such as spaghetti with scampi or squid, fish gnocchi or risotto, dried cod in salt, and much more. Closed Sun | Calle Ciacinto Gallina, 5401 | tel. 04 15 23 81 53 | stop: Ospedale

This is the oldest bacaro in Venice and has been here near the fish market for over 500 years. Countless pots and copper kettles hang from the ceiling and more than 100 different wines await you at the bar. All of this with many kinds of tramezzini and other snacks. Closed Sun and after 8.30pm | Calle dei Do Mori, 429 | tel. 04 15 22 54 01 | stop: Rialto



Good, home-style cooking – something that sounds as simple as that is almost a rarity in Venice these days. At noon, local workers drop in and choose from the two or three primi and secondi of the day. In the evening, the fare is a bit more upmarket – the fish is excellent. No wonder that it will be hard to find a table if you haven’t reserved. Closed Mon evening and Tue | Barbaria de le Tole, 6671 | tel. 04 15 22 06 19 | stop: Ospedale

The chef in this small restaurant, not even a three minute walk from the railway station, has devoted himself to the preparation of freshly-caught creatures from the Adriatic and from the lagoon. In summer, meals are served outside on the Campo with a view of the magnificent Palazzo Labia. Daily | Campo San Geremia, 307 | tel. 0 41 71 69 68 | stop: Ferrovia

A lovely trip with the Line 13 vaporetto will take you to the island of Vignole. From May to September, you can have a pleasant meal surrounded by greenery after taking a short stroll through the vegetable fields. Self-service, large selection, hearty cooking. Closed Mon | Isola Delle Vignole | tel. 04 15 28 97 07 | stop: Vignole



Creative cooking focussing on sophisticated fish dishes and a list of more than 600 (!) wines draw people to this smartly designed restaurant at the eastern end of the Zattere. Unforgettable: a meal on the wooden pontoon terrace directly over the water. Closed Wed | Zattere/Ponte dell’Unita, 19 | tel. 04 12 41 18 18 | | stop: Salute

For generations, Venetian gourmands and gourmets have travelled over to Burano to eat in this trattoria that is famous far and near. The splendid cuisine focuses on fish that is cooked here with great care over a charcoal fire. Closed Sun evening and Tue in summer, every evening in winter | Via Baldassarre Galuppi, 221 | tel. 0 41 73 00 30 | | stop: Burano

There are not many other places in Venice where you can eat as well as here. From risotto to zabaione, from the perfectly grilled steak to the fried fish, the chef really shows that he is an artist. The atmosphere is tasteful but not ostentatious, the prices not low but justified. Closed Wed lunchtime and Tue | Salizzada San Giovanni Crisostomo, 5719 | tel. 04 15 28 52 81 | | stop: Rialto



This modestly furnished restaurant is not easy to find but you will be rewarded with an excellent selection of first-class fish. It takes some time to get used to the fact that the specials of the day are not listed on the menu but rattled off by the lady of the house in Italian. Our tip: trust the chef and order an opulent plate of antipasti. But, be careful: quality has a price! Closed Sun/Mon | Calle del Pestrin, 3886 | tel. 04 15 22 70 24 | stop: Arsenale

This restaurant, with its brick walls and mirrors and minimalistic, elegant atmosphere, only has enough room for a maximum of 13 guests. It is therefore not surprising that you need to reserve well in advance and that Gianni Bonacorsi charges €5 for the coperto. In return, he serves his guests culinary highlights of supreme quality. Of course, there is pasta and rice served with amazing wines every day; the meat, fish and other exquisite ingredients vary with what the market supplies. Closed Thu at noon and Wed | Campo Santi Filippo e Giacomo, 4509 | tel. 04 15 20 82 80 | | stop: San Zaccaria

At the western end of the Zattere, the owners Monica and Luca pamper their guests in cosy surroundings, with excellent cooking and fine wines. It is especially delightful eating outside on a sunny day with a view of Giudecca across the wide canal. Closed Wed lunchtime and Mon | Fondamenta Zattere Ponte Lungo, 1473 | tel. 04 15 22 76 21 | | stop: San Basilio


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Eat Like a Local – Milan

Milan Marco Polo Guide

This city is always on the move and it doesn’t rest when it comes to food: no sooner is a restaurant the hot new spot when it is replaced just as quickly by another. There is no shortage to choose from and the selection ranges from pizzerias to gourmet restaurants (in the middle of May there is a gourmet weekend at the San Siro racecourse, But the problem with Milan’s restaurants – and with its accommodation – are the prices. Having a traditional meal is very expensive. Anti pasto, primo (pasta, rice or a soup), secondo (main course of meat or fish) with contorno (side dish), dolce (dessert) and/or formaggio (cheese), a good bottle of wine (not to be missed), mancia (the tip) and, of course, pane e coperto (bread and place setting) – all that easily adds up to €80 or €90 for two. 

Those who watch what they eat and/or what they spend may skip one or two dishes, no proprietor will feel offended (but you should really have a primo or a secondo). Thankfully, some restaurants now offer large salads for lunch or a piatto unico, a one-course daily menu. The inexpensive house wine (vino della casa) usually goes well with that. There is also a large variety of sandwiches (€3–4), salads (€4–5) and delicious primi (from €5) available at many bars during lunchtime. Nowadays most office workers eat this way. Those who want to save money go to a pizzeria (in the evening) or to a traditional latteria.


Local specialities to try on your visit to Milan:

Amaretti – small, round almond biscuits

Bresaola – dried beef, cut in paper thin slices

Busecca – tripe stew with beans

Cassoeula – pork stew with sausage and cabbage, served with polenta

Cotoletta milanese – crumbed veal, either a cutlet or escalope

Gnervitt (nervetti) – pressed beef cartilage with oil, vinegar and onions, a typical antipasto

Grana – Lombard variant of parmigiano cheese

Gremolata – spicy sauce with herbs, garlic and lemon zest, often served with ossobuco

Mascarpone – full-fat, very creamy cream cheese, ideal for desserts

Minestrone alla milanese – vegetable soup with rice and toasted croutons

Ossobuco – sliced veal shank braised with vegetables

Panettone – a light Christmas sweet bread with raisins and candied orange that originated in Milan

(Pesce) persico – perch, e.g. deepfried, speciality of Lake Como

Pizzoccheri – short, flat ribbon noodles made from buckwheat flour served with Savoy cabbage and potatoes, speciality of Valtellina

Risotto milanese – rice from the surrounding areas (best types: Arborio, Vialone or Carnaroli), sautéed with onions and butter and simmered with saffron and stock, served sprinkled with Parmesan – a culinary delight

Taleggio – an aromatic soft cheese from the Lombardy mountains

Tortelli di zucca – small pasta pockets filled with pumpkin, a speciality of

Zuppa pavese – meat broth with a piece of toast topped with a poached egg


Restaurants serving traditional Italian cuisine:

Elegant and traditional: homemade pastries have been sold here since 1817. A meeting place for customers of the exclusive fashion boutiques. Closed Sun | Via Monte Napoleone 8 | Metro: M 1 San Babila

Flower shop and bar – a charming combination. Light meals are also available at lunchtime. Closed Sun | Piazza Mirabello 1 | Metro: M 2 Moscova

You will probably have to queue to get one of Milan’s best ice creams. Branches include one on the Corso Buenos Aires 13 (Metro: M 1 Porta Venezia) and the Via Santa Margherita 16 (Metro: M 1, M 3 Duomo) |  | Daily

This eclectic elegant restaurant south of the Università Cattolica proves with its inexpensive lunch that Milan is a good place to eat fish. Closed Sun | Via Ausonio 23 | tel. 02 89 40 61 72 | | Metro: M 2 Sant’Agostino, Bus 94

Pappardelle with duck ragout, roast boar and juicy steaks: fans of Tuscan meal dishes will get their money’s worth in this restaurant, close to the Giardini Pubblici. Brunch available on Sundays with a babysitting option. Daily | Via Panfilo Castaldi 33 | tel. 02 29 52 66 68 | | Metro: M 1 Porta Venezia

This restaurant’s small, frequently changing menu is based on what is offered in the markets in the morning. Daily | Corso Garibaldi 127 | tel. 0 26 57 06 51 | Metro: M 2 Moscova

You should know at least a little Italian if you’re thinking of coming here because there is no menu: the hostess will tell you what is on offer. You can’t go wrong with any of the home cooked traditional Milanese and Lombardy dishes. Closed Sat for lunch and Sun | Via Mercalli 3 | tel. 02 58 30 96 04 | tram 15, bus 94


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