Milan isn’t just famous for fashion and football; it’s also a well-known foodie haven. Located in Northern Italy, Milan is the is home to Lombardian classics such as cotoletta, ossobuco and risotto alla Milanese. What’s more, as an international city, Milan is a great food hub that showcases an endless list of cuisines from Japanese sushi to Spanish tapas. And, you know what’s best? You don’t have to break the bank to enjoy it all! So, here’s a fun guide to finding the best places to eat in Milan.

The Milanese Classics

Milan’s cuisine is influenced by its cooler climate. In fact, across all of Northern Italy you will find that dishes are heartier, meat-heavy and revolve around a lot of stews, risotto and polenta. By contrast, Italy’s southern regions tend to incorporate a lot of seafood, fish, salads and fried dishes. Pasta and pizza, of course, are found everywhere. 

For those of you feeling adventurous and looking to embrace authentic Milanese cuisine, make sure to add these to your checklist: 

  • Risotto alla Milanese: a cheesy and buttery risotto made with saffron
  • Costoletta alla Milanese: think of it as an Italian schnitzel, but with a veal cutlet
  • Ossobuco: a slow-cooked veal shank that falls off the bone, often served with risotto
  • Cassöeula: a hearty and iconic Milanese stew made with pork ribs and cabbage
  • Polenta: made from corn maze, polenta is used in a similar way to mash potatoes and often is served as a side dish mixed with cheese and butter
  • Panettone: an Italian Christmas cake studded with candied fruits and raisins

Tips On What Restaurants to Choose in Milan

Avoiding tourist traps is an art form and there will always be a risk of being overcharged when exploring any new city. So, here are some tips on how to dine like a local without spending a fortune: 

  • Find the Hidden Gems: Restaurants are typically more expensive near famous tourist attractions. The most authentic Italian restaurants are found down side streets or in neighborhoods further away from the city centre. 
  • Look for Locals: If you go into a restaurant and you can hear Italians there, then chances are you are in the right spots. 
  • Price Check: As a general rule of thumb, a cappuccino should cost around €1.50-€2.50, a double scoop of gelato should be no more than €4 and a Margherita pizza should be under €12. Unless you are at a rooftop terrace or dining at the Armani Bamboo Bar, then chances are you are paying a tourist premium.
  • Be Skeptical of TikTok Hype: TikTok recommendations are not always so great. A lot of viral finds are made by tourists themselves who know very little about the city. Local or Italian recommendations are far more reliable.

Where To Eat In Milan: Cheap Restaurants For Students

Traditional Picks

  • Trattoria Del Nuovo Macello Michelin guide-picked for a reason, this trattoria is affordable yet a truly authentic Milanese gem. 
  • Trattoria Madonnina One of the oldest restaurants in Milan, Trattoria Madonnina is a historic go-to.
  • Osteria alla Concordenza Serving small plates and lots of wine, Osteria alla Concordenza is a great place to go for a nibble, aperitivo or a light meal. 
  • Dam-atrà Dam-atrà, nestled in the vibrant Navigli neighbourhood, is long-time local favourite.
  • Slow Sud With three restaurants across Milan, Slow Sud brings southern Italian flavours up north.
  • Panzerotti Luini  Open since 1888, Luini’s minature fried calzones are a legendary street-food classic.

International Picks

  • Gastronomia Yamamoto If you are craving sushi, you ought to check out this spot for home Japanese cooking.
  • Side Walks Kitchen Urban with lots of atmosphere all day round, this place serves up a variety of cuisines from American to Mexican and Japanese.
  • Mercato Centrale A great social hub for meeting friends, Mercato Centrale has lots of pop-up kitchens that offer a global range of dishes.

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