5 Golden Tips to Remember Before Dining Out in Palermo

Oggi (Today) old Don Tano is going to give you five golden tips that you should bear in mind to enjoy an incredible experience in some of Palermo’s restaurants. Ehi, ciao a tutti!

Okay, let’s get started. Just read this message from Don Tano, your semi-official host, and receptionist to my beloved city of Palermo.

Let me take a few minutes of your precious time to tell you about the five most important things you should bear in mind before you head out to dine in Palermo.

Golden Tips to Remember Before Dining Out in Palermo

Now, Sicily is renowned for its extraordinary cuisine throughout all of Europe.

Palermo, in particular, will overwhelm you with street food, pastries, and pizza. But that’s just a starter and I’m going to tell you a little about the great Sicilian wines you may enjoy with your dinners or elsewhere.

But — If you just wander into the first restaurant you see, you may have a depressing experience that will make you give up on Palermo and want to head to other countries.

Lucky you, however, because of Don Tano to the rescue with some excellent suggestions that will help you get the most of dining out in Palermo.

I realize that what I tell you here will make some of our crafty restauranteurs angry, but frankly, I don’t care.

There’s no excuse for trying to take advantage of foreign guests.

Here’s everything you need to know right here to enable you to actively avoid tourist traps.

Like most tourist destinations, Palermo has plenty of tourist traps and sadly, to their regret, too many visitors fall right into them.

One way I can recommend to help you avoid hidden tourist traps is for you to grab a copy of the Video Guide created by Nico, the founder of this website.

I couldn’t recommend this video guide if it wasn’t good. actually, it’s so good I should make him pay me to promote it.

Well, I’m not greedy so let’s pass on to the tourist traps.

1. You Must Actively Avoid Tourist Traps

First, you’ll need to get some verified information about where to eat. You simply cannot wander into a restaurant in the city center.

Many of these places serve food that even stray dogs would avoid.

One sign that screams tourist trap will be waiters who stand just outside and try to get passersby to come in.

They’re just waiting for the innocent tourist to the trap. No decent restaurant in Palermo is going to use this gimmick.

Don’t forget.

If you take a quick look at Nico’s guide, you can easily find the best restaurants in Palermo. These have been selected just for you and none of these have paid for any sort of promotion.

Here’s a bonus: Like so many other visitors, the chances of finding yourself in front of the Massimo Theater in the area called Champagneria. This is because many book guides recommend the restaurants abound in the neighborhood. Well, per favore, trust old Don Tano. I’ve been there and seen them all and despite those guides, you just do not want to dine in any of these so-called restaurants.

2. Prepare a Possible Order in Advance

You probably won’t be able to decipher the menu and God forbid a waiter should help you.

So what can you do?

I advise you to take the time to figure out an order in advance so when you get to the restaurant, you won’t have to be overwhelmed by a menu in Italian that you can’t understand.

Otherwise, you’ll be looking vainly at the menu and probably end up ordering something at random, not being sure of what you’ve ordered until the waiter places it in front of you.

Our website will give you more information about preparing an order in advance.

Another bonus tip: Never, and I mean never, show your server indecision about what to order. If they get the idea that you don’t know what you’re doing, they’ll probably try to get you to order the most expensive dishes just to increase your bill.

3. Booking is Always a Good Idea

Booking is Always a Good Idea

Booking ahead is always a good idea, especially on weekends.

Weekends and holidays are always the worst times to try to get a table at the best restaurants in Palermo. If you don’t book ahead, you’ll probably be waiting for several hours (seriously) to get a table.

If you don’t speak Italian, the next best way to book a table at a restaurant is to call the restaurant directly.

Although this might be a bit difficult for you, if you speak clearly and slowly, you can get them to understand what you want.

Sadly, English is not widely spoken here in Sicily, so to most residents, it is as foreign to them and complicated as Aramaic.

Another bonus tip: Try to learn some key Italians words to improve your experience in Sicily. This can make a huge difference not only in your dining but on your Sicilian entire experience. Little phrasebooks are readily available too, and Italian isn’t really very difficult.

4. If You Eat Street Food, Do It at a Historic Market

It at a Historic MarketThe place to nosh on street food in a historic market.

Restaurants abound with their versions of street foods. Many package their items neatly and attractively to sell. And you pay for that!

Instead of trying this more expensive food, you should go to one of the historic markets where you can really experience Sicilian street food at its best.

You’re not going see attractive tables and chairs, or waiters wearing silk gloves to usher you to your table. You don’t need that and you don’t need to pay for it.

Hey, you’re dining on street food.

You may have to turn a blind eye to some of the rules of hygiene but so far, street food hasn’t killed anyone that I know of. Take it from old Don Tano, this is the way street food should be and believe me, you can hardly go wrong with it.

Another bonus tipVucciria Market is widely known and often promoted but the truth today is that Vucciria is almost dead, only a faint memory of the market it used to be. Today, the best historic markets are Ballarò and Capo. That’s where you want to go for a nice experience and great street food.

5. Keep Some Cash On-Hand

The street vendors you’ll find in the historic markets all have small kiosks and they have no credit card payment options for the most part.

The bottom line here: you want to have enough cash on you to pay many of these small open-air merchants.

Last bonus tip: You don’t have to tip street vendors. Around here, no one tips. When you’re in a quality restaurant you usually only tip about five percent of the bill.

Well, that’s all I have to share with you today.

If you want to get all the insider tips similar to the ones I’ve mentioned, I highly recommend Nico’s Video Travel Guide. He won’t steer you wrong. Like me, he loves Sicily but we both try to be truthful, whether it be about the great things or the not-so-great things.

If you have any questions or comments, just use the comment box below and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.


Don Tano Bongiorno

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About Don Tano

I’m full-blooded Sicilian born from the noise of the Vucciria market and the gentle sound of the waves of Mondello. I grew up eating “pane e panelle” and “pasta con le sarde”. But most of all, I grew up with an awareness: Palermo is a beautiful city to live intensely and to love without question!

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