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For some, the highlight of a trip to Milan is viewing Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper. But for the food-obsessed, a visit here revolves around eating supper (and breakfast and lunch, too). In a country revered for gastronomic treasures, Milan’s culinary abundance stands tall. Best known for fashion and finance, this chic, sleek, and efficient Northern Italian city will tantalize your taste buds at every turn. History and geography are on its side. Milan is located in the Po Valley, surrounded by fertile pastures and prolific rice fields, which translates to your plate with luxuriously rich cheese and butter, plus the risotto of your dreams. Centuries of foreign conquerors have left their mark with an open-minded food scene and authentic ethnic cuisine. While posh Milan isn’t exactly known for bargains, you won’t need to break the bank to eat like a king. Here are 10 tasty ways to indulge your appetite on a budget.
Aperitivo Sipping a pre-dinner drink is popular with Milan’s trendsetters.
Many bars offer a plentiful buffet included in the price of your drink for around 8 euros. You’ll spy tables laden with pizza, pasta, rice salad, roasted veggies, sausage, and cheese. Eat in a Neighborhood Trattoria Milan’s Northern agricultural traditions have little in common with Southern Italy’s red sauces and olive oil. If you don’t have an Italian Mama, eating in a neighborhood trattoria is the next best thing. These frugal, family-run establishments make everything from scratch, which translates into low prices and home-cooked flavors. Coffee In Italy, coffee is not just a beverage, it’s a way of life. Savor a morning cappuccino under the shadow of the freshly restored Gothic Duomo at Motta. Pair it with a fortifying brioche filled with jam or chocolate, perfect for dunking in your foamy beverage. You’ll have a breakfast bargain for a few euros, with the most dazzling view in town. Burgers We’re not suggesting fast food when you’re in the Slow Food capital of the world. Burgers are trendy in Milan and there’s nothing fast about the way this lean and luscious source of protein is eaten. Quality Beef, Trattoria Della Carne turns a simple burger into an elevated dining experience. This bastion of beef serves a dressed-up hamburger with pitch-perfect sides that will satisfy your carnivore cravings without making a big dent in your wallet. Pack a Picnic Peck is a Milan institution and a temple of edible treats. Gourmets will go gaga for its three floors of elegantly presented cheese, charcuterie and eye-catching prepared foods. Select regal eats for an al fresco picnic in nearby Parco Sempione. Pizza Naples is the undisputed king of pizza, but Milan makes a noble effort.
At La Balena in the Isola neighborhood, you’ll enjoy a no-nonsense individual pie accompanied by an icy draught beer (birra alla spina).
If you want a quick slice on the go, try the small chain Princi’s delicate zucchini blossom variety. Gelato Italians are passionate when it comes to this frozen treat and the Milanese are no exception. Chocoholics should try a refreshing scoop at Il Massimo Del Gelato, where ten variations of chocolate are served. This city has no shortage of gelaterie, just be sure and look for the words prodotto artigianale and you’ll know that it’s freshly made. Sandwich or Panino Don’t think we’re suggesting you eat peanut butter and jelly. Milan takes it up a notch with photo-worthy sandwiches filled with quality cheeses, meats and salads piled on crusty bread and eaten hot off the press. Give one of Panino Giusto’s outposts a try. Chinese While Italians may have the cultural claim on pasta, most food historians believe it was actually brought to Italy from Asia by Marco Polo. It seems fitting that Asian eateries are flooding this city and savvy foodies head straight to Chinatown. It’s main thoroughfare, Via Paolo Sarpi, is car-free, so you can hop on your BikeMi bike share and pedal over to your feast. You can choose from dozens of authentic Chinese options, but unassuming Jubin is a top pick thanks to its quality ingredients and low prices. Expo By Night Milan’s food scene is taking it up a notch, playing host to Expo Milano through October 31. The theme, “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”, translates into dozens of countries setting up national pavilions that focus on food production and sustainability.