Milan is both a chic and pricey city. The upscale dining options in fancy, sleek and dim-lit restaurants are more of a rule than an exception.
And while we all love to be pampered, if you’re adventurous enough you’ll soon find out that the best food is served in less glamorous places. These places may not look too inspiring from the outside. But once you try them, you’ll get addicted and we KNOW you’ll be back.
Milan cheap eats that will make you come back for more
In an international city like Milan, it can be hard to find a genuine non-touristy restaurant serving good food (ie. the food locals would eat!), especially in the city center.
Even though downtown is swarming with fast food chains and soulless picture-on-the-menu restaurants, you can still find the real thing if you know what to look for.
Cheap sit-down restaurants
Via S. Giovanni sul Muro, 16 (Sforzesco Castle)
Burla Giò is strategically located in the heart of Milan, close to Duomo and other city landmarks. This trattoria has an excellent central position, making it simple to discover, yet it is frequented mostly by locals.
You can try delicious cotoletta (cutlets), ossobuco, and risotto here, since they focus on traditional Milanese dishes.
The kind service and fair prices really set this place apart.
Trattoria Da Pino
Via Cerva, 14 (Duomo)
The authentic Italian lunch you’ve been craving is just here, at this Trattoria, which is open exclusively at lunch time. And this is what makes Da Pino extremely popular with local workers on their lunch break.
All the staples of traditional Italian cooking can be found in this restaurant. Dishes like risotto, spaghetti, polenta, and many more are included on the daily handwritten menu, which changes with the seasons.
Pomet Food – Consolato Calabrese
Via Valpetrosa, Via Torino, 1 (Duomo)
We already mentioned this restaurant in the article about the best neapolitan pizza in Milan: in fact, Pomet’s owner quickly gained popularity in Milan with his perfect version of pizza which you can find in the three restaurants.
However, the eclectic looking Pomet offers more than just pizza. The protagonist here are panini, made with Calabrian ingredients, spiced to perfection, and served with Tropea onion and/or dipping sauces.
It’s comfort food at its finest; a nod to the past that also happens to be delicious. In particular, the homemade sausages produced with meat from carefully chosen Calabrian suppliers.
Also read: Best Gelato in Milan: Artisanal Italian Gelaterie You Must Try
Trattoria Bolognese da Mauro
Via Elia Lombardini, 14 (Navigli)
Trattoria Bolognese da Mauro’s menu has a strong focus on Bolognese cuisine, and the simplicity of the dishes allows fresh, high-quality ingredients to stand out. Noodles with meat sauce are a must, but each dish is a delight in its own right.
Portions are generous and prices fair, so you can indulge in multiple dishes without spending too much.
Be sure to reserve a table in advance, as the restaurant can be very crowded. Celebrate a special occasion here and you are sure to have a good time.
Trattoria Sabbioneda Da Romolo
Via Alessandro Tadino, 32 (Porta Venezia)
Trattoria Sabbioneda da Romolo is a small but welcoming restaurant with an intriguing atmosphere.
This traditional Milanese trattoria offers a typical decor and menu, with a focus on traditional dishes. The food is excellent, with standout dishes including the plin and the caponata. The prices are also very reasonable, especially considering the restaurant’s proximity to Corso Buenos Aires.
The restaurant operates on a reservation and shift basis, and it closes early at 22:50, so be sure to book in advance.
Via Brembo, 11 (Fondazione Prada)
A traditional Milanese dining experience at affordable prices can be found at Osteria Tajoli, a long-standing establishment that has recently been revitalized by new owners – we already mentioned in in the list of the top traditional Milanese restaurants in Milan.
The osteria offers many of Milan’s beloved traditional dishes such as roast beef, meatballs in tomato sauce, roasted potatoes, and a wide selection of wines.
Tramezzino literally means “sandwich,” but it became much more than that when Venetians gave it a twist to make it a bit more special.
The Venetian sandwich, which is called “el tramesin” in the local dialect, is different from a regular sandwich in many ways. It is made with soft milk bread that doesn’t have a crust, is cut into triangles, and is so well-filled that it looks like a smiley face.
Order one or two and enjoy them as an aperitivo – a glass of wine, beer, or, obviously a Spritz!
And, if you’re looking for more aperitivo ideas, check out these places for delicious charcuterie boards and wine.
Back to tramezzini: these are our favorite places.
Best tramezzini in Milan
Tramé: Various locations – Brera, Garibaldi, Central Station
Piadina is a typical flatbread from Emilia Romagna, a region in the north of Italy. It’s a simple and tasty food, perfect as a quick meal or snack. It’s easy to eat while you’re exploring the city and usually one will cost less than 10€.
Piadina dough is made with just a few ingredients: wheat flour, and water. The dough is then flattened with a rolling pin and cooked on a hot plate.
If you’re vegan, it may not be the best option for you, since the dough contains lard. However, it’s often substituted with oil (because it’s lighter), so you should always check the ingredients first.
The exciting part about this food are the fillings: the most classic version is made with prosciutto crudo, squacquerone (a soft cheese) and arugula.
But the fun thing about this dish is that it’s extremely versatile and can be prepared with almost anything: not just cold cuts, but also cheese, grilled vegetables, and even sweet spreads.
Best places for Piadina in Milan
La Piadineria: Various locations
Pascoli Piadineria Artigianale – Porta Venezia
Piadineria La Caveja Duomo – Porta Romana
Tin Bòta – Duomo
Food trucks and street food kiosks
Food trucks and street food kiosks: the unsung heroes of Milan’s late-night revelers and partygoers. We already mentioned the fantastic options available around Duomo when you’re looking for some great quality street food in Milan – but these are much more than street food.
They are particularly acclaimed among young people in Milan for two reasons: they’re there when you need them the most, and they’re dirt cheap.
The food typically offered by the night food truck/kiosks is panini stuffed with the most indulgent ingredients you could imagine. The extremely popular “panino con la salamella” has to be the most sought-after: it’s a sandwich made with salamella, a fresh pork sausage typical of Mantova, accompanied by grilled onions, bell peppers and slathered with mayo and other condiments.
Now, don’t let us scare you: the locals have taken to calling these eateries “luridi,” which is Italian for “filthy.” The word is more about the guilt that comes along with eating their greasy and gratifying food than any health-related concern (we tried them, they’re safe!).
The food trucks usually show up at local festivals or public events, and some of them are regulars around some of the busiest metro stations.
But if you want to be sure to find one when the hunger pangs hit, we listed some of our favorite kiosks below.
Best food trucks and street food kiosks
Al Politico – Sforzesco Castle – Piazza Castello, 5
Chiosco Manin – Brera – Via Daniele Manin, 6
Chiosco di via Marina – Palestro – Via Marina
Chiosco Maradona – Navigli – Via Odoardo Tabacchi, 33
Kebab is so popular in Milan you can find a kebab shop pretty much on every street. Their popularity is due to the fact that they’re usually open very late at night, they’re located near bars or clubs, and they’re very, very cheap and tasty.
The most popular kebab in Milan is the “döner kebab”, a Turkish dish made of meat (beef, lamb, or chicken) that is spit-roasted, then thinly sliced and served in a pita or Turkish bread, with salad and various sauces.
You can find them anywhere, and despite the fact that pretty much all of them look quite humble and rundown from the outside, we can assure you that they all offer a delicious and filling meal.
And yes, they’re all safe to eat. Just don’t go to the first kebab shop you see: do your research, or try our favorites below:
Best Kebab in Milan
Kebab Porta Romana
Kebab Porta Venezia
Featured photo by Marialaura Gionfriddo on Unsplash