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The Palermo street food culture is one of the strongest in Europe. So much so, that Forbes magazine once ranked it among the top 10 in the world.
At the local markets, the heartbeat of the local street food culture, popular foods like panelle, crocche and others await.
While exploring authentic food specialties in Sicily, we spent several weeks in Palermo.
Exploring the street food scene in Palermo was high on our list. During our stay we explored street food in Palermo’s historic markets, visited famous vendors recommended by locals.
And, we took Palermo street food tours to learn even more about the local culinary culture.
Street food in Palermo goes back many centuries influenced by the many cultures that have occupied Sicily.
While this list is not exhaustive, it is representative of the iconic street foods in Palermo.
Use this list to guide your culinary adventures in Sicily’s capital city. Find out what Palermo street food to eat and the best vendor and street stalls to visit.
Tips To Enjoy The Best Street Food in Palermo
With the strong street food culture in Palermo, you’ll see many vendors and street stalls as you navigate the narrow streets. Delicious aromas from every corner will tempt your taste buds.
Here, we share a few tips to help you get the most out of your Palermo street food experience.
- Palermo street food is typically very fresh. It is often sold almost as soon as it is cooked. The last few steps might involve frying or putting meat on a bun for you to enjoy hot.
- Palermo street food is soft and easy to eat. No need to have any cutlery with you. Generally, use your hands and it will suffice.
- Each street food has a story to tell. If you speak a little Italian or you find a vendor who speaks English, don’t hesitate to ask them for some interesting facts about the food.
- Typically the street food is very cheap and made using only a few ingredients. No complicated sauces or preparations involved.
- If you’re more comfortable exploring the street food with a local, we recommend taking a Palermo street food tour.
1. Panelle And Panino Con Le Panelle – Chickpea Fritters and Sandwiches
Panelle or chickpea fritters is a famous traditional street food in Palermo made from chickpea flour.
The panelle is an appetizing Sicilian treat that has its roots in the Arab domination of Sicily between the 9th and 11th centuries.
Chickpeas are ground up until their consistency resembles flour. The fritters are then made by mixing chickpea flour, water, and spices and frying them in olive oil.
Panelle is typically eaten as a snack or lunch. This popular Palermo street food can found almost everywhere in the city particularly in busy and crowded corners.
This was one of our best Palermo street foods that we would eat as a snack before dinner. The flavors were similar to an Argentinian flatbread, called faina, also made with chickpeas.
Panino con le panelle or sometimes referred to as pane e panelle is a popular sandwich made with panelle.
This is the chickpea fritters sandwiched between two slices of bread with some fresh lemon juice squeezed on top. It makes for a filling vegetarian sandwich for lunch time.
The chickpea fritters are a great introduction to street food Palermo and available from late morning to late night.
This is one of the first Palermo street foods worth trying on your visit to Sicily’s capital.
Where To Eat The Best Panelle in Palermo
As you become an expert in eating panelle, you’ll notice the variation in thickness from one vendor to the other.
We liked panelle rather thin and the following vendors were our favorites. However, if prefer thicker slices, shop around and find your favorite stalls!
Dainotti’s Cibo di Strada is a great traditional ” Street Food Palermo ” in the province’s heart. If you’re looking for a tasty option to eat panelle, this is the spot.
Their popular street food stall is known mostly by locals who come for a quick lunchtime fix.
Their presentation is buffet style and you pay by the portion. The menu features a variety of dishes, including caponata and sausages. Though the local favorites are the portions of panelle and the arancini.
Take a seat on the outdoor tables in the El Capo market and savor your Palermo street food.
Address: Via Porta Carini, 51, 90134 Palermo
Hours: Monday to Sunday, 9:00 am – 3:30 pm, extended hours from 8:00 pm- 1:00 am Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays
Price: The portion of Panelle costs €3 (approx. $3.10).
Nni Franco U Vastiddaru attracts tourists and local alike near La Cala port.
The large outdoor area is perfect for people-watching. They have an extensive menu with various food options, though we preferred to stick to the excellent panelle.
The small plates are a great option for budget-minded travelers. Whether you’re looking for a quick bite or a leisurely meal, Nni Franco U Vastiddaru has something for you.
Address: Via Vittorio Emanuele, 102, 90133 Palermo
Hours: Open daily from 9:00 am – 1:00 am, on Tuesdays 9:00 am – 11:00 pm
Price: The portion of Panelle costs €3 (approx. $3.10).
For Panelle Sandwich
Located at the entrance of the old city of Palermo by Porto Nuova, you will not miss the large kiosk popular for its street food.
We enjoyed our best panelle sandwich at Nino u Ballerino and highly recommend this stop.
Address: Corso Calatafimi, 90134 Palermo PA, Sicily, Italy
Hours: Open daily, 5:00 am – 11:00 pm
Price: Panelle sandwich costs €2.50 (approx. $2.60).
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: One of the tastiest ways to learn about and try Palermo street food is with a local guide. The Palermo street food tour we took and recommend takes you to heart of the street food culture at the local markets. The 3-hour tour takes you through secret alleyways to famous street vendors and local eateries for the most authentic experiences. Taking a Palermo street food tour is a tasty introduction to the best local flavors.
2. Pane con le milza or Pani Ca Meusa – Spleen Sandwiches
Pani Ca Meusa is a celebrated Sicilian street food most commonly found in Palermo. The name literally translates to “bread with spleen.
In the Sicilian language it goes by pani câ mèusa or in Italian, it’s pane con la milza.
The origins of this classic Palermo street food trace back to the Jewish population in Palermo in 15th century.
It is said that they creatively used offal such as spleen and creatively combined it with ingredients like cheese.
The sandwich became extremely popular in Palermo and a part of the local culinary traditions.
Today, pani ca meusa,is a must-have treat on the eve of the feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 7.
The sandwich is tyypically made by street food vendors, many of whom are celebrated in Palermo.
Cow spleen and other pieces like lung or trachea are first boiled and fried in lard. The pieces of offal are then simmered in a sauce made with garlic, chili peppers, and white wine.
It is served on a soft bread with sesame seeds known as vastedda.
The are two ways to enjoy pani ca meusa. You can have it maritatu which means ‘married’ and it includes with ricotta and/ or caciocavallo Italian cheeses.
Or you can savor it schettu or single, with just a squeeze of fresh lemon.
It has strong flavors and we both preferred it with cheese and an additional spritz of lemon.
It does take some getting used to, but it’s an iconic Palermo street food you cannot miss.
Our Favorite Places to Eat Pani Ca Meusa in Palermo
Nino u Ballerino locally known as the dancer is most famous in Palermo for his spleen sandwiches.
His inviting restaurant with a retro decor is usually jam packed with locals due to its popularity. Even though you’ll find many menu options, the pani ca meusa is not to be missed. This was our best spleen sandwich in Palermo.
Address: Corso Calatafimi, 90134 Palermo
Hours: Open daily from 5:00 am – 11:00 pm
Price: Pani ca meusa (with lemon or cheese) costs €2.50 (approx. $2.60)
Porta Carbone, along the fishing port of La Cala in Palermo, is a beloved eatery established in 1943.
It is another famous location for some fo the best Palermo street food, including the pani câ meusa sandwich. Click below to watch our short video of our pani ca meusa experience.
Address: Via Cala, 62, 90133 Palermo
Hours: Open every day, 8:00 am –9:30 pm, except Sunday
Price: Pani ca Meusa costs €2.50 (approx. $2.60).
Watch Our Short Video About Eating Pane Ca Meusa
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3. Arancina or Arancini – Fried Rice Balls
The Arancini is one of the most popular Sicilian street foods. It has been described as a “pearl” of Sicily and we cannot disagree.
Arancini, the word in plural can be translated to “rice balls”. The male version is arancino, commonly used in the eastern region like in Catania.
In this area, the rice balls have conical shapes, inspired by the shape of Mount Etna volcano.
In Palermo, the rice balls are known as arancina, the female version of the word. On this side of the island, the arancina are round, similar to the shape of little oranges.
The arancini rice ball is typically filled with ragu sauce of veal and then deep fried in oil. You can also find it stuffed with beef, peas, cheese, ham, and other fillings.
They are eaten as a snack or appetizer and can also be enjoyed as a main course.
The arancini have a long history in Sicily, dating as far back as the 7th or 10 centuries. Every 13th of December, they are eaten as part of Santa Lucia celebrations.
This is an ancient tradition, where Sicilians do not eat bread and pasta and eat rice instead.
In Palermo, this tradition is deeply rooted and it celebrates Saint Lucy who saved the people from starvation.
These rice balls are the jewel of Sicilian street food and cannot be missed in Palermo and across the island.
Where To Eat The Best Arancina in Palermo
Dainotti’s offers a wide variety of arancina, with traditional and innovative fillings. The rice is light and crispy, and the fillings are always fresh and flavorful.
Dainotti will have an arancina that will tantalize your taste buds. I particularly love the rice crispy texture and the generous filling of ragu.
Address: Via Porta Carini, 51, 90134 Palermo PA, Sicily, Italy
Hours: Monday – Wednesday 9:00 am – 3:30 pm, Thursday – Saturday 9:00 am – 3:30 pm and 8:00 pm – 1:00 am, Sunday 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Price: The price of Arancina is around €3 (approx. $3.10).
The arancina at Rosticceria Kadì was Rosemary’s favorite. It’s lightly crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside.
In their small shop in El Capo, they also offer various doughy small pizza, sandwiches, and sweet pastries for locals and tourists alike!
Some fillings are also vegetarian, so this is a great place to go if you’re looking for a healthier option.
Address: Via Porta Carini, 10, 90134 Palermo PA, Sicily, Italy
Hours: Open Monday – Thursday 7:30 am – 3:00 pm, Friday – Saturday 7:30 am – 11:00 pm. Closed on Sunday.
Price: Arancini with meat, or veggies cost €2 (approx. $2.10), while arancini with swordfish and eggplant costs €2.50 (approx. $2.60).
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: If you’re traveling around the island of Sicily, consider taking food tours to taste the best of the island. Check out our article 7 of the Best Food Tours in Sicily You Want To Try
4. Crocche or Crocchè – Potato Fritters
Crocche are potato fritters and they are a popular Palermo street food. They are beloved and a part of the street food Palermo stars.
Taking the form of an elongated oval shape, these potato croquettes are seasoned with parsley and cooked in hot oil.
Crocchés are best served hot and cruncy and they can be quite addictive. True Sicilian people don’t use anything else but just a squeeze of lemon on them.
They are crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside, with an herby flavor that is irresistible.
The smaller version of crocche are called cazilli which are eaten together with panelle, the chickpea fritters.
Rosemary fell in love with crocche on a street food tour in Palermo, and she often had them together with panelle.
Potatoes in Sicily are quite flavorful making the potato croquettes an amazing food to taste.
You’ll find several stalls serving these fried potato croquettes. Listed below and in our humble opinion, is one of the best stalls for crocche street food in Palermo.
Where To Eat The Best Crocche in Palermo
Nni Franco U Vastiddaru has great options for food when it comes to fritters. After the panelle, the crocche are a top choice. You can also taste both in their mixed portion of panelle with crocche.
Address: Via Vittorio Emanuele, 102, 90133 Palermo PA, Sicily, Italy
Hours: Open daily from 9:00 am – 1:00 am, on Tuesdays 9:00 am – 11:00 pm
Price: One portion of crocche is €3 (approx. $3.10)
Pro Tip: Order a mix of both crocche and pannele
5. Sfincione – Sicilian Pizza
As a fan of dough and bready foods, the sfincione quickly became one of my top favorite Sicilian street food.
The Sfincione is a fluffy Sicilian pizza traditionally made with thick dough that is left to rise for several hours or even overnight.
The thicker crust, similar to focaccia, is typically topped with tomato sauce, onions, anchovies, oregano and caciocavallo cheese.
Its name is derived from Latin and Greek for “sponge” which describes its soft consistency with slightly crunchy edges.
Even though sfincione today, is a widely popular Palermo street food, it has its roots as a “poor” dish of traditional Palermo cuisine.
In the old days, it was baked at home with simple everyday ingredients like flour, onion, anchovies, oregano and cheesse.
Today, the sfincione and its ingredients are included in the list of Traditional agri-food products (called PAT), an expression of Italian cultural heritage.
The sfincione is widely enjoyed as a street food in Palermo, and it’s easy to see why. It’s inexpensive, quite delicious, especially the one with onions and anchovies and can make for a quick and filling snack.
Where To Eat The Best Sfincione in Palermo
Panificio Graziano is a popular bakery, located in Politeama neighborhood, that specializes in takeout sfincione.
They serve tasty Sicilianpizza that is doughy with a savory topping of tomatoes, onions, caciocavallo cheese, and anchovies.
The sfincione and other Sicilian pizza was everything I hoped for and more.
In addition to the mouthwatering sfincione, you’ll find other savory and sweet treats.
Address: Via del Granatiere, 11/13, 90143 Palermo
Hours: Open Monday – Saturday 7:00 am – 3:30 pm and 4:30 pm – 9:45 pm
Price: The price depends on the weight, it can vary from €10 to €13 per kilogram (approx. $10.40 to 13.60). If sold per piece, the price is €1.30 to €1.50 (approx. $1.40 to $1.60)
Anyone looking for an excellent option for sfincione should check out Panificio Maniscalco Filippo. This bakery is located in the medieval Sicily market square and narrow streets of the province slightly outside of the beaten path.
The establishment also offers a variety of Sicilian baked desserts, loaves of bread, and everyday items. They have a wide selection of drinks, and their hours are very convenient for tourists. Best of all, the prices are very reasonable.
Address: Via Beati Paoli, 18, 90123 Palermo
Hours: Open Monday – Saturday 7:00 am – 9:00 pm
Price: Portion of Sfinicione is €1.10 (approx. $1.20)
At Vucchiria market, bakery Panificio Pietro Bonaccorso is the best place for sfincione. Made three times a day, you can always count on having it hot, soft, and savory.
In addition to the sfincione, you’ll also find a range of tasty sweets and savory specialties. Whatever you choose, you’ll not be disappointed at Panificio Pietro Bonaccorso.
Address: Via Maccherronai, 29, 90133 Palermo PA
Hours: Open Monday – Saturday 7:00 am – 8:30 pm
Price: Portion of Sfinicione is €1.20 (approx. $1.30)
6. Stigghiola – Grilled Gut Meat
Adventurous eaters should not miss stigghiola, one of Palermo’s most typical street foods.
The stigghiola, also known as stigghiuola is a Sicilian specialty and typical Palermo street food.
It consists of lamb, kid goat, or veal intestines wrapped around green spring onion and grilled over an open flame.
These juicy morsels are seasoned with a few springs of parsley, often onion a few other herbs.
Cooking stigghiola is art. In Palermo, the vendors known as stigghiularu cook them with precision so they are not rubbery or hard.
This is a stand up street food, usually eaten on the go with lots of fresh lemon squeezed on top.
I’m not afraid of offal and enjoy it when it’s well prepared. One evening, curious and intrigued by the flames and smoke from vendor stalls, I placed an order to try.
The taste was smoky and slightly tangy. While the texture was on the chewy end, I appreciated the flavors with the green onion and the fresh squeezed lemon.
This classic Palermo street food can be considered an acquired taste. It is an officially recognized Sicilian specialty that should not be missed in Sicily.
Where To Eat The Best Stigghiola in Palermo
Stigghioli is a popular street food served at festivals and fairs all over Sicily. In Palermo, you’ll find them at the historic La Vucciria maket, in the late afternoon into early evening.
Find the Jolly brothers that grill the meat in front of you. The stalls are crowded with locals and visitors and this is a great place to try this unique street food in Palermo.
Address: Piazza Caracciolo, 90133 Palermo
Hours: Typically open during the afternoon after 1:00 pm except on Mondays
Price: Portion of Stigghiola is €3.50 (approx. $4)
7. Polpo Bolito – Boiled Octopus and Seafood
Boiled octopus also known in Sicily as purpu vugghiutu or polpo bolito in Italian is a much loved street food.
Around the coastal areas and in Palermo, specifically, this is one of the most popular dishes.
At the seafood stalls at various markets, you’ll see buckets of fresh octopus sitting in sea water.
The vendor will cook the octopus by boiling it, cut up into pieces and then serve it with freshly squeezed lemon juice. They also serve octopus lightly fried with calamari rings.
Vucciria market, where we stayed, was particularly popular amongst locals for seafood and boiled octopus.
The fish vendors were always busy and the octopus was fresh with the lemon providing plenty of flavors.
Seafood and boiled octopus is a common antipasto or appetizer before your meal. While you’ll find it restaurant menus, there’s nothing like having it made fresh just for you.
As you tour Palermo markets and explore the city, don’t hesitate to stop for an octopus snack. Simply look for the fish vendor with the longest line and then take your place in the queue.
You’ll be delightfully surprised by this simple yet flavorful street food. It’s the perfect light bite to relish before dinner.
Where To Eat The Best Seafood in Palermo
In La Vucciria, Andrea stall is one of the few remaining seafood stalls selling fresh fish and seafood. They also prepare boiled octopus in front of your eyes.
Take a seat in their seating area or grab your plate and walk around the neighborhood.
Address: Piazza Caracciolo, 90133 Palermo
Hours: Open Tuesday – Saturday 6:00 am – 12:00 pm
Price: The price depends on the weight and size of the fish. One kilogram of food of your choice is about €25 (approx. $26). A portion of octopus costs about €10 (approx. $10.40).
8. Granita câ Brioscia – Granita with Brioche Sandwich
Breakfast takes new meaning in Sicily. One of the most famous and tradtiional breakfast dishes is a granita and brioche sandwich. Locals often have it served with a cup of coffee or tea.
Sicilian granita is a made with sugar, water and natural fruit or nut flavoring. It’s semi frozen like a sorbet, or a slushy, but nothing similar in taste.
As a fan of ice cream and frozen desserts, Rosemary couldn’t be more excited to discover this delicious Sicilian street food.
Granita is typically served with a brioche with a little cap known as tuppu. While it’s a characteristic summer breakfast, we enjoyed it during the cooler winter months.
Tradition traces the origin of the granita as far back to the Romans and Greeks and later to the Arabs.
Snow from the Mount Etna and other mountainous regions was collected to make cooling drinks for the ruling class.
When the Arabs ruled Sicily, they introduced “sherbet” a drink flavored with fruit and flowers.
In the 16th century, sea salt was added to the snow and mixed together in a special vat giving it its unique consistency.
Traditional flavors from the island of almonds, pistachios and lemon were used and they remain popular natural flavors today.
The brioche that is served alongside the granita provides a delicious contrast in texture. It’s often made with leavened egg-based dough and then eaten with the granita.
You can tear off a piece of the brioche and dip it into the granita or eat them both in parallel.
Granita with brioche is a famous and refreshing snack. Our favorite granita flavors were chocolate and almond mixed together or pistachio by itself.
However, regardless of the flavors you choose, you’ll not be disappointed. This is one Sicilian street food, you’ll want to sleep early so that you can wake up early and savor it.
Where To Eat The Best Granita in Palermo
For over 60 years, Pasticceria Costa, a family owned business, has been serving the best sweets and almonds desserts in Palermo.
The quaint store on Via Maqueda with rustic Italian decor, is a highly recommended stop in Palermo. While you’ll find a range of desserts, the granita and gelato is a must try.
A stop at Pasticceria Costa will not disappoint anyone looking for a great place to have pastries and sweets in Palermo.
Address: Via Maqueda, 174, 90133 Palermo
Hours: Open Sunday to Thursday 8:30 am – 11:00 pm; Friday to Saturday 8:30 am – 12:00 am
Price: Granita with brioche costs €4.30 (approx. $4.50).
Located on the Plaza San Domenico surrounded by striking baroque architecture, Gran café is a great location for a refreshing treat.
The granitas here are especially noteworthy and come in various flavors. It’s a must-try – the brioche is fluffy and soft, and the granita is refreshing and flavorful.
The atmosphere at Gran Cafè San Domenico is relaxing and lively, making it the perfect place for a quick break.
Address: Piazza S. Domenico, 44, 90133 Palermo, Sicily.
Hours: Open from Sunday to Friday 7:00 am – 11:00 pm, and 7:00 am – 12:00 am on Saturday.
Price: Granitas with different flavors cost €3.50 (approx. $3.60), and the addition of brioche is €0.50 (approx. $0.60).
9. Sicilian Cannoli – Iconic Sicilian Pastries
The Sicilian cannolo or cannoli for plural is the King among Italian desserts. Famous worldwide, the only original and authentic cannolo comes from the island of Sicily.
This tube shaped fried crispy and flaky shell filled with classic sweet ricotta, garnished with candied orange peel or chopped pistachio is pure heaven.
Another one of my favorite Palermo desserts, I was always up to hunt for my best one in the city.
Cannoli is serious business in Sicily with various pastry shops claiming to have the best ones.
They are believed to have originated from the Palermo and Messina area before spreading to the rest of Italy and around the world.
The key to the best cannolo experience is having it filled at the moment. You want to avoid cannoli that have been pre-made or sitting out on display.
We loved the traditional ricotta filling though you’ll find other flavors like chocolate or pistachio.
While the tubular cannolo shape is most common, you’ll also find modern variations. A deconstructed cannolo or cannolo scomposto is a popular option.
This is a broken cannolo served in a cup or bowl. A popular and one of our favorite Sicilian desserts, the cannolo in Palermo cannot be missed.
Our Absolute Best Place to Have Cannolo in Palermo
I Segreti del Chiostro, also known as Secrets of the Cloisters, is the place locals recommended to us for their cannoli.
This cafe is inside Monastero Santa Caterina, a Sicilian convent built in the 13th century. The pastry recipes are secret and said to be based on the recipes of the nuns who once lived in the convent.
The cafe’s specialties include cannoli and a range of Sicilian cakes made with traditional recipes.
The cannolo siciliano from here is delicious and one of my best in Palermo. The outdoor garden with seating underneath orange trees makes it the perfect stop.
Food tours and culinary adventures in Palermo are not complete without a visit to the convent.
Address: Piazza Bellini, 1, 90133 Palermo (located in Monastero S.Caterina)
Hours: Open Monday – Saturday 10:00 am – 6:00 pm, on Sunday 10:00 am – 1:30 pm
Price: Cannolo with different fillings costs €2.80 (approx. $2.90)
We were surprised to find a dynamic and lively Palermo street food culture. Prior to visiting Sicily, we had always associated Italy with slow food and long stretched out dining experiences.
In Palermo, we based ourselves near the famous Vucciria Market, and loved being around the local specialties and vendors.
Street food Palermo was a pleasant discovery filled with unique tastes and textures.
If you find yourself hungry while exploring Palermo, these delightful popular street foods are sure to please.
From this list, what is your best street food in Palermo? Please let us know in the comments below.
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Claire is co-founder of Authentic Food Quest and a lover of simple and exquisite cuisine. Since 2015, with her partner, Rosemary, she has been traveling the world as a digital nomad, creating content about local food experiences.
Her advice from visiting 45 countries and more than 240 food cities has been featured in Lonely Planet, Business Insider, Honest Cooking, Food Insider, and Huffington Post. She has also co-authored three books, including one in collaboration with Costa Brava Tourism.
An ex-mechanical engineer, Claire is responsible for SEO, keeping the website running, and the fun food & travel videos on YouTube.
When Claire is not eating, she can be found running or cycling. Find out more about Authentic Food Quest