/Eating Cheap in Palermo

Eating Cheap in Palermo

Palermo is loaded with stalls, bakeries and rustic osterie where street food on-the-go or a simple sit-down meal can be had for cheap. Among my favorite things to eat while out and about in the city are panelle (deep fried chickpea patties) served on a sesame seed roll sold at stalls in the city’s markets at lunchtime. Panelle are especially good around Piazza Ballaro’, the center of a bustling produce market and a great place to people watch while you chow down. Another local specialty, pane ca meusa (spleen and grated caciocavallo on a sesame bun), is best consumed at Franco U Vastiddaru at Corso Vittorio Emanuele, 102 on the edge of Piazza Marina…if your stomach can handle it.

The markets and back alleys of Palermo are home to small, family run bakeries serving another of my favorite street foods-sfincione (pizza with sweet, spongy dough topped with onion laden tomatoes sauce and bread crumbs. Sfincioni and other small hand-held snacks like calzoni, and arancine (fried rice balls stuffed with meat sauce and peas) are best at bakeries in the Borgo Vecchio.

For delicious, fresh, and cheap grilled fish and meat, head to the stalls in the Borgo Vecchio, open day and night. For crudi (raw fish), take Foro Umberto, the long road that follows the coast southeast past the Orto Botanico where fishermen sell ricci di mare (sea urchins) and cozze (mussels) straight out of the sea.

Throughout the Capo and Vucciria markets, there are no-frills osterie serving sit-down meals of mixed appetizers, basic pasta dishes and a mains, all depending on seasonal availability of produce, fish and meat. Most of them are open only at lunchtime and only on market days (Mon-Sat) so in the evenings and on Sundays, head to Piazza Olivella where students and young professionals gather for cocktails, beers and kebabs at the tables on the square.

2016-01-07T14:38:45+00:00 November 24th, 2008|Categories: Food & Wine, Fried Foods, Sicily|3 Comments


  1. Katie November 28, 2008 at 10:40 pm - Reply

    I got a PM from a reader asking directions to Borgo Vecchio. Its not labeled on many maps but it is really easy to find. just head to the new city. find the monumental teatro politeama (across the piazza from spinnato) take corso sciria’ and you will encounter the borgo vecchio before the harbor.

  2. […] know any better. For the real deal, there are so many other great options. I have already posted on street food in Palermo in the past, but I will reiterate here: the best food in Palermo is the cheapest. Fresh, light, […]

  3. Ty July 4, 2015 at 9:55 am - Reply

    Just went to Arrusti e Mancia in Borgo Vecchio. I came to write an “avoid” post but will instead make it a question. How much should one be paying for a piece of street meat in Palermo? The owner’s son suggested a mixed grill for two for my girlfriend and I (approx 10 pieces of beef and sausage). Then:
    Me (I speak fluent Italian but we are clearly not Palermitano or Sicilian): “how much will that come to?
    Him: First you eat, then you pay…
    Me: I mean just to have an idea of the cost…
    Him: looks a bit annoyed, starts counting the meat to 14, then gets “distracted” by a coworker in the chaos and just stops there.
    Anyways, the meat was great but the bill came to 37.50€ (including 5.00 for a salad and 2.50 for a large Moretti)… so 3€ per sausage. I felt this was totally excessive for a guy grilling meat on the street and not a price any Palermitano would pay. Given we’d eaten a similar meal for approx 20€ in a restaurant in Puglia last year and thinking of the failed attempt to get a price before eating, I figured we’d gotten touristed pretty badly (normally I’d have argued but not in that area of Palermo at night). I was surprised however that even given the absence of actual reviews online (he is a guy with a grill on the street after all), there are a couple of positive writeups of the spot on italian food blogs. All this to ask… 30€ for 10 piece mixed grill from a guy on the street… reasonable or special tourist price?

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