Palermo Food Guide: Tours, Street Food, and Other Foodie Things to Do
This Palermo food guide is full of ideas for foodies — food tours, street food, festivals and other tasty things to do!
The Italian port city of Palermo in Sicily is mysterious and beautiful, and a perfect example of the diversity that Italy has to offer.
It’s got all that you need for a perfect trip — beautiful architecture, flavors of the coast, and a bustling local nightlife. And while it is true that this scenic region of the country is steeped in rich history, culture, and other specialties, there is one tempting reason to add it to your travel bucket list — the food.
The wonderful food in Palermo, Italy is a whole different chapter just waiting to be explored.
Picture yourself sampling various regional delicacies against the backdrop of the beautiful Mediterranean. The food tours in Palermo are experiences of a lifetime. Then throw in some food festivals that celebrate one food in a hundred different ways, and you have yourself a food-worthy city worth traveling to.
Sicily’s Unique Italian Culture
Sicilians consider themselves Sicilian before they are Italian, a point worth considering since the region is more diverse than most places in Italy. It’s an amalgam of colorful cultural influences, and Sicilian cuisine is a great example.
If you’re familiar with northern Italy and its unique blend of German, Austrian, and Italian, just imagine a land influenced by the sun, the sea, Tunisia, Egypt, Greece, and other surrounding Mediterranean cultures. That’s how diverse Sicily is from the rest of Italy.
Now imagine the food, all sorts of unique variations on every food. There’s a lot to love about Palermo food, so let’s dive in!
What’s In This Article?
Regional Palermo Food — Regional Foods, Wines, and Typical Dishes
Street Food in Palermo
Palermo Food Markets
Palermo Cooking Classes
Palermo Food Tours
Wine Tours in Palermo
Unique Experiences In and Around Palermo
Must-Visit Michelin Star Restaurants
Food Festivals in Palermo
Regional Palermo Food
unique regional Palermo food
Busiate al Pesto Trapanese
This is a Sicilian classic that originated in Trapani. The pesto is unique, and the dish is packed with flavors of fresh tomatoes, basil, olive oil, garlic, and almonds.
The busiate made from durum wheat is hearty and has a signature bite that you will love. Simple and easy to make, it’s one dish that you’ll keep coming back to.
This humble vegetable dish originating in Sicily is spring on a plate, though it’s warm balanced flavors make it one of my favorites anytime of year. Eggplant caponata is super easy to make and versatile too —you can eat it on pasta, with crackers, or on a charcuterie board.
Caponata is traditionally made in Sicily with eggplant but you’ll sometimes see it made with tender artichokes as well. There’s also a touch of red wine vinegar, celery, pignoli nuts (pine nuts), capers and rich extra virgin olive oil added in. This regional delicacy is bursting with sweet and sour flavors and is an absolute crowd-pleaser.
regional wines of Palermo
Cerasuolo di Vittoria
You may not think of Sicily as a powerhouse wine producing region, but don’t count them out — take Cerasuolo di Vittoria for example, a red wine blend that has earned DOCG status (designated as the highest quality among Italian wines). It contains Nero d’Avola grapes with a bit of Frappato.
This aged classic is aromatic and fresh, with hints of berries and licorice. It pairs well with meat and other heavy dishes. You’ll find this delightful red wine in some of the best restaurants in Palermo, and you simply mustn’t leave without ordering a glass!
Marsala is a historic Sicilian wine that is made with a variety of grapes, both white and red, including the Nerello Mascalese and Nero d’Avola.
Not too sweet, this nutty wine is great for cooking and is available in a range of categories depending on how long it has been aged. With each more distinct and deep than the last, it's a wine that stands apart from other local favorites.
regional dishes in Palermo
Spaghetti ai Ricci di Mare (Spaghetti with Sea Urchin)
You can't miss the seafood (frutas di mare) when you're in Sicily, especially not when a world of southern Italian specialties awaits you!
Spaghetti ai Ricci di Mare is one such specialty pasta dish that is bursting with flavor. It's a seemingly simple pasta dish that is made with delicate sea urchin in a sauce of olive oil, garlic, salt, and a sprinkling of parsley. It’s mostly enjoyed in the winter and served with lemon wedges for a citrusy kick.
Timballo di Anelletti
Timballo di anelletti is an Italian casserole dish that is particularly popular in Palermo. This regional dish is crafted to perfection with anelletti (small ring-shaped pasta), eggplants, prosciutto cotto or mortadella, cheese, and a meat ragu.
Baked until golden and served warm, you'll see this dish being enjoyed on Sundays and days of celebration like Easter.
street food in Palermo
Street food in Sicily is renowned throughout Italy and several foods that originated here can now be found throughout the country. But you can still find the authentic examples here, on the streets of Palermo.
Stigghiola is a Palermo favorite if you’re a fan of gizzards and giblets. Stigghiola, or stigghiole, are made with lamb, goat, or chicken intestines skewered around onions or leeks, then grilled and served in small, bite-sized pieces. It’s a staple that you have to try. Just squeeze a little lemon on top and enjoy!
To make the most of Palermo’s street food experience, remember to try some Arancini, a deep-fried rice ball that is enjoyed on the go. Arancini consists of different fillings — al ragù or al sugo, mozzarella or caciocavallo cheese, ham or besciamella, and much more.
It is one of the greatest examples of amazing street food in Palermo, Italy. And the best part is that you will find them everywhere!
Markets in Palermo
Mercato di Capo
The Mercato di Capo runs across the Via Sant’Agostino to end at Porta Carini, and is one of the most famous local markets in Palermo.
Between glistening tuna and swordfish, fine meat, numerous stalls of cheese, olives, fresh fruits, and vegetables, you’ll find endless options of flavorful ingredients here.
In addition to the top-class produce, this market is also home to some of the most delicious street foods that Palermo has to offer. Spend a colorful day out among the stalls, sample the food, and drink in Italy’s finest - it doesn’t get better than this famous Italian market.
Mercato della Vucciria
Located in historic Vucciria and bustling with people and stories to tell, the Mercato della Vucciria offers a wholesome market experience.
You’ll find vibrant carts stacked high with fresh snacks, stalls of leafy greens, beautiful fruits, and more. It’s truly one of the best ways to get to know the local flavors and life of the city.
Visit the flea market to take things up a notch and discover old books and vintage posters. And be sure to pack some memorabilia to take home with you.
Palermo cooking classes
Pasta and Tiramisu Class in Palermo
In this half-day private cooking class, students get to learn the craft of pasta-making in an intimate setting over the course of half a day and then end it with a tasting.
Master generations-old pasta recipes and make your own tiramisu. Munch on some snacks and wash it all down with some Prosecco. Savor the results of your cooking with the small group for a memorable Italian dining experience.
Traditional Cooking and Limoncello class
Short on time and think you'd appreciate a cooking class and tour rolled into one? Choose this new half-day food experience is the ultimate experience for a fun, informative day out.
You’ll join your local guide to go shopping at the local market, and buy the traditional foods you’ll learn to cook, like Caponata and Busiate with pesto Trapanese and finish the tour off with a decadent Cassata. Make your own limoncello with lemons from the host’s garden before sitting down to enjoy a well-deserved meal with friends.
While admittedly a bit pricy, this tour guarantees an introduction to Sicily’s rich culinary practices like no other. In our book, it’s a great value and most certainly time and money well spent!
Palermo food tours
3-Hour Street Food and History Walking Tour
This 3-hour street food walking tour combines the best of sightseeing and food. You’ll have the chance to visit the old town and walk around Capo Market, Piazza Beati Paoli, the Cathedral, and Pretoria fountain.
Stop for a bite to eat and try various Sicilian specialties like panelle (fried chickpea flour), crocché (potato croquettes), and arancine (rice croquettes stuffed with meat or butter).
Embark on this tour and feel 3 hours fly by as you explore a world of rich history and customs.
Night Street Food Tour of Palermo
A one-of-a-kind experience, this 3-hour guided night food tour takes visitors on a truly local journey of Palermo.
Stroll through the backstreets and visit local haunts. Exchange stories and eat the best of food in Palermo, Italy. Snack on golden arancini and Stigghiola, and sample some melt-in-your-mouth Italian cheeses.
There’s nothing like traditional street food, and this tour is an immersive experience of the local nightlife. Don’t forget to try the panelle fritters, carduna, melanzane fritte (fried eggplant), and pesce cicireddu (fried little fish), among others.
Must Do wine tours in Palermo
2-Hour Sicilian Cheese and Wine Tasting Tour
If you're looking for a laid-back way to taste some delicious cheese and wine without having to hop from winery to winery, this 2-hour wine tasting tour is the one for you.
Sample some of the best wine and cheese inside a 16th-century private home near the famous Vucciria Arab market. In this refreshing change of scenery, you’ll get to taste original Sicilian wines including the Frappato, Nero d'Avola, Catarratto, and Grecanico.
Add to the wines fresh Primo Sale, Caciocavallo fresco, and Ricotta infornata cheese and you have a grand night to remember.
Olive Oil, Salt and Wine Tour from Palermo
Simply put, this tour is like the best of Sicily on a plate and you can’t miss it. Sample delicious local wines in Marsala, and visit the majestic salt-producing lagoon in Stagnone Nature Reserve. For lunch, feast on cheese, meat, olives, freshly baked bread, and local olive oil.
Don’t forget to take in the impressive sights that the coast of Sicily has to offer to end your tour on a happy note.
Unique Culinary experiences in Palermo
Sicily Countryside Exclusive Tour
For a luxury tour that complements your dream Italian holiday, we highly recommend this unique food tour in Palermo, Italy.
Beginning at Palermo, this guided tour takes you through the Sicilian countryside. Visit the beautiful Parco Archeologico Selinunte, an excavated ancient city considered the most impressive in the Mediterranean.
Sample olives and olive oil at an organic farm specializing in extra virgin olive oil, and take in the charm of local wineries with copious amounts of local wine.
Must-Visit restaurants in Palermo
Located in the heart of Palermo, Gagini is among the best Palermo restaurants. This one-star Michelin restaurant prides itself on a fine selection of contemporary Mediterranean cuisine. Carefully researched and planned with attention to detail, their wine collection is a great place to start when you are eating here.
With flavors that are rich and bold, Gagini Restaurant's offerings are a treat for the senses and definitely make it worth visiting.
Top food festivals in Palermo
Spring Artichoke Festival
Sicily is known for their artichokes, and the Spring Artichoke Festival is famous in Cerda and Palermo, so foodies, mark your calendars. This Italian food festival usually takes place around April 25th, with live music, a vibrant outdoor market, and an entire day dedicated to the bristle-y and succulent carciofi. It's a fun activity for the whole family!
Cannoli Festival in Piana degli Albanesi
Piana degli Albanesi near Palermo hosts a famous cannoli festival in early May that should be on every food lovers’ bucket list.
Cannoli is a fried pastry filled with a sweet and creamy sauce. a whopping 50,000 of these Italian delicacies are sold in just three days at this festival! Enjoy yours with some live music and performances from local folk groups.
We hope you see now why Palermo is one of the best destinations to visit for food and culture in Sicily. Whether it's the magnificent local markets or the food in Palermo that attracts you, one thing's for sure - it's a stop you don't want to miss when in Italy!