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The best street food in Palermo

Palermo has the biggest choice of street food in Italy. You can eat your fill of delicious dishes for a modest sum here – especially if you’re brave.

Pani ca’meusa at Focacceria San Francesco. Photo: Chiara Magi.From small, wheeled kiosks, holes in the wall, or more fashion-conscious premises, they serve pane e pannelle, fritters made from chickpea flour in a freshly baked bun with sesame seeds on top. Or why not try an arancina? Arancine are fried rice balls stuffed with a mozzarella or meat filling, with Arabic origins. In Palermo they’re called arancina, with an “a” at the end, (or “e” in the plural), unlike the rival from Catania that ends in an “o.” If you want to be accepted in Palermo, try not to mix the two up. In Bar Touring in Kalsa, one of the oldest parts of Palermo, they make delicious arancinethat weigh 400g each. 
“We call it arancina bomba,” says the man behind the counter as he passes over a burning hot fried rice ball with cheese filling.    

A stone’s throw away, beyond the lively alleys, is another bar with cult status, called Franco ‘U Vastiddaru, which specializes in fried food. The line here stretches out into the street – always a good sign. The croquette potatoes are simple but delicious and you should also try the fluffy mini pizzas with tomato, caciocavallocheese, anchovies and onion that are called sfinciuniin Sicilian. 

But you mustn’t be too sensitive. I noticed this when I asked what was simmering in the smoking pan inside the fabled Focacceria San Francesco that opened in 1834.
“That’s pani ca’meusa, spleen, lung cartilage and chopped trachea that we insert in a panino,” says the content-looking man holding the ladle as he serves the next customer at this popular eatery. 

For the really brave, what looks like a grilled kebab awaits. The answer to what kind of meat it is, is somewhat unexpected. 
“It’s called stigghiole– guts from lamb, that are wound around small onions and then eaten with salt and lemon,” he says.

When it comes to street food in Palermo, it can be better to taste first and ask later. 

Photo: Chiara Magi

Modern Street food

Andrea Graziano is the restaurant king of Palermo and Catania. Fud is a play on American street food as written and pronounced in Sicilian. Only Sicilian products. Fun, delicious and value for money. They have a place in the center of Palermo that’s open all year around, plus Fud Bocs, down by the port, that’s open in the summer. Try Fraid Fisc and Fisc en Cips.

Fud and Fud Bocs

Piazza Olivella, 4, Palermo

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Fud Bocs is only opened in the summer

Photo: Chiara Magi

Traditionally since 1834

Beautifully-styled historic premises that serve perhaps the best panino ca´meusa in Palermo – a panino filled with spleen, lung cartilage and chopped trachea. “You should ask for a schietta the first time, which means with a bit more lemon. After that, ask for a maritato, that’s to say, with added ricotta,” says Bartolo Cappello behind the counter.

Antica Focacceria San Francesco

Piazza San Francesco, Palermo

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Photo: Chiara Magi

Fried masterpieces

You can pick up the scent of fried oil a block away and as you get nearer, see groups of people standing there eating fried potato croquettes and pane e panelle. Eat your fill of these fantastically delicious fried masterpieces for just a couple of Euros.

Franco u´Vastiddaru

Via Vittorio Emanuele, 100, Palermo

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Photo: Chiara Magi

Arancina bomba

From the outside, Bar Touring looks like any other café. But people flock here to eat the fried rice balls, arancine, with different fillings. Bar Touring serves the biggest in Palermo, weighing in at 400g each, and appropriately dubbed arancina bomba by the locals.

Bar Touring

Via Lincoln, 15, Palermo

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Photo: Chiara Magi

Stigghiole – For the brave

If you’re really brave, you should try stigghiole – grilled sheep guts, served with salt, lemon and onion. A real delicacy, according to many. They can be quite difficult to track down, but a mobile vendor can usually be found along Via Messina Marina, close to Palermo port.

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