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  • Writer's pictureAround the World in Vegan Eats


Updated: Mar 31, 2023

Palermo, the capital city of the Italian island of Sicily has got so much going for it in the twenty-first century. No longer synonymous with the Mafia, Palermo is nowadays a cosmopolitan hideout full of art, culture, wonderful markets and incredible food.

From Italian staples like pasta, pizza and gelato, to some of the island's famous dishes, Palermo has something to suit all tastes and budgets. The market is the place to go for fresh juices, arancini, snacks and ingredients, whilst the city's streets are lined with restaurants to fit all budgets. Many cafes (including the one at the train station) have a small selection of plant-based cakes and croissants too, usually clearly marked as vegan.

Look out, too, for fresh Sicilian ingredients. Many of us know about the Sicilian lemon, but did you know about their famous pistachios too? Pistachios can be found in so many dishes; one of our favourites was the pistachio spread which is frequently made vegan. It tastes like a fancier Nutella - we were so hooked we had to buy some to bring home. Sicilians like their pesto too. Unlike the pesto that we have in the UK, this is usually vegan since it doesn't always contain cheese - in fact, it can be made with a variety of ingredients, including cabbage, mushrooms, and (of course) pistachios!

Eating Vegan in Palermo

“To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is not to have seen Italy at all, for Sicily is the clue to everything.” – Goethe

Another great thing about Sicily for those following a plant-based diet is that some of the traditional cuisine is naturally vegan. For a fresh flavour, caponata is a dish made of aubergines, tomatoes, peppers, olive oil and other ingredients of the chef's preference. For something a little heavier, try the Panelle e Crocchè, a quite hearty option of potato croquettes and a potato pancake served in a bread roll (this is always vegetarian and they use vegetable oil, but vegans should check there is no butter in the roll). Historically almond milk was used instead of cow's milk because it kept fresher for longer. It can still be found served in many of Palermo's cafes: just ask for a latte - and don't be fooled, the coffee drink is known as a café latte here.

Here are our top recommendations for vegan food in Palermo:

1st: KePalle - Arancine d’Autore

Via Maqueda, 270, 90133 Palermo PA, Italy

You really can't go to Palermo without trying some of their famous arancini: hearty risotto fried within breadcrumbs, with a tasty filling in the centre. Many of these are vegetarian, but the great news is that KePalle offer three vegan arancini choices too. They are really filling and offer great value for money: KePalle is handily situated in the centre of Palermo too.

2nd: Haiku Cucina Naturale

Via Ricasoli, 30, 90139 Palermo PA, Italy

Situated a short walk away from the shopping streets of Palermo is Haiku Cucina Naturale, a plant-based restaurant that focuses on fresh ingredients and healthy versions of traditional Italian cuisine. Haiku is a little pricier than some of the other places on this list, but the food is of a high quality and very nutritious: many of the dishes are suitable for those following a raw vegan diet.

We sampled three dishes on Haiku's main menu: the brown rice with courgette cream, basil, tempeh and pistachio, the pappardelle with asparagus, spinach cream and almond, and the legume meatballs with tomato sauce. All of these dishes were hearty and flavoursome in their own way, with a real attention to detail on flavours and textures. Haiku also have a fully vegan dessert menu, from which we sampled the tiramisu, the pistachio ice cream, and the pistachio torte. We found generally that the desserts weren't quite sweet enough for us so if you have a really sweet tooth we recommend getting your starter and main at Haiku before grabbing some gelato elsewhere on the way home.

3rd: Al Cassaro Gelateria

Via Vittorio Emanuele, 214, 90133 Palermo PA, Italy

Another staple for us when visiting Italy is gelato, of course. Al Cassaro Gelateria take their gelato seriously - and they've created a seriously good vegan selection of gelatos too.

Served in a special vegan and gluten free cone, between eight and twelve vegan flavours of gelato are available every day. They are stored in a different section of the shop with dedicated equipment.

We were really impressed by the flavour and creaminess of the vegan gelato, it was exactly what we needed on a hot Sicilian summer's day!

4th: Focacceria Antichi Sapori Palermo

90134 Palermo, PA, Italy

We happened across this small Focacceria while we were on the way to The Palazzo dei Normanni (Royal Palace or Norman Palace of Palermo). We needed a quick lunch and were delighted to find this friendly and reasonably priced place just a couple of streets away.

The Focacceria had a few items suitable for vegetarians and vegans, including one of the tastiest grilled pepper focaccia sandwiches I've ever had. Your fresh sandwiches can be served warm or cold - I'd highly recommend having the grilled veg sandwiches warm, as the moisture from the veg seeps into the bread for a really soft and flavoursome experience.

5th: Antica Trattoria Pizzeria Enzo

Via Francesco Maurolico, 15, 90127 Palermo PA, Italy

Okay, I'll be completely honest with you here. There aren't that many options for vegans to eat here - though there are plenty for those on a vegetarian diet. Ordinarily, this is not somewhere that we'd put on a 'where to eat vegan' post.

However, we ate here on a family meal, and the incredible quality of the small number of vegan options absolutely blew us away, so we felt like it warranted a mention at the bottom of the list.

If you want lots of vegan options to choose between, then this place might not be for you. However, if you want to try the best spaghetti pomodoro I have found in all of Italy, alongside a desert of beautifully prepared, fresh and sweet pineapple, why not give Antica Trattoria Pizzaria Enzo a try.

Which is your favourite vegan restaurant in Palermo? Are there any new places or old favourites that we've missed? Leave us a comment to let us know (and others who might be visiting too!)


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The centre of Vienna with tall, historic buildings all around
Palermo's skyline is something special

Where should I stay?

If you're looking for a friendly and arty hostel - whether you fancy a dorm or a private room - A Casa Di Amici Boutique Hostel is really popular in Palermo, and attracts consistently high reviews.

For an authentic, traditionally Sicilian hotel experience, D'Angelo might be exactly what you're looking for! This small hotel even has an antique lift to get you up to the second floor of this beautiful period building.

Tours & Experiences

We were really interested to learn all about Palermo, including its past links to the mafia. This Palermo No Mafia Tour tells you more about the anti-mafia movement in Sicily, as well as showing some of the key sites of the city. If you want to explore Sicily more widely, why not check out the top-rated Viator tours below?

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