One of my favourite things to do in Palermo is to enjoy an evening aperitivo with friends.
Aperitivo takes three cornerstones of Italian culture – food, wine and good company – and rolls them all into one, a tradition that originated in Northern Italy, but is thriving in the southern regions.
One of those regions is Sicily, and its vibrant capital of Palermo is home to a growing number of chic aperitivo joints, where you pay a fixed price for a drink and go on to spend the evening grazing on traditional Sicilian foods and talking to your heart’s content.
On the one hand, I’m delighted to see Palermo embracing Northern Italy’s enthusiasm for aperitivo; on the other hand, however, it does make choosing a place to eat a little overwhelming.
After all – not all aperitivo is created equal!
I’ve been visiting Palermo for years, often spending several months at a time in this weird and wonderful city, and over time, I’ve found myself gravitating towards certain places, returning time and time again for date nights, birthdays, and catch-ups with friends.
In this article, I’m sharing my favourite places to get aperitivo in Palermo.
I don’t know if they’re the best aperitivo spots in town, but what I do know is that they all offer excellent food, value for money, and stellar cocktails.
If you’re craving aperitivo in Palermo and are in need of some insider knowledge, you’re in the right place.
If you’re not hungry now, you will be by the time you’ve finished this article.
Sidenote: I don’t have as many pictures as I’d like because I discovered most of these aperitivo bars before I was a ‘serious’ blogger, and taking pictures of my food was something I barely ever did. Apologies in advance!
My Favourite Spots for Aperitivo in Palermo
Vespa Café is a chic cocktail bar that serves up legendary Palermo aperitivo platters.
Tucked down a narrow cobbled street not far from Teatro Massimo, Vespa Café is fiercely popular with the young and beautiful Sicilian crowd, and you have to book in advance if you want any chance of getting a table.
Once inside, the venue is chic and stylish, with a dark colour palette, exposed stone walls, and an industrial feel. It could easily be an art gallery if it weren’t one of Palermo’s best aperitivo bars.
For 15 EUR, you can choose a cocktail from the menu, and your drink will come with a huge assortment of goodies to try.
The menu changes every day, and it can include slider burgers, sfincione, local cheese with honey, chicken skewers, mini arancine, and much more. Importantly, you always get pasta!
Something I really love about Vespa Café is that the chefs take traditional Sicilian recipes and get creative with them, giving them a really experimental and contemporary twist.
Vespa Café is one of the best places to get aperitivo in Palermo, and great for a casual dinner with friends.
You can find Vespa Café here.
Good to know: Vespa Café’s aperitivo plates can be made vegetarian on request. I’m not sure whether vegans are catered to.
Il Siciliano sits directly opposite Vespa Café and does a very similar aperitivo platter and cocktail deal.
The quality of the food is up there with Vespa, and the price here is also 15 EUR for a cocktail and aperitivo plate.
The menu also changes daily, always includes pasta, and centres around experimental takes on traditional Sicilian foods, always using local ingredients.
The interior of Il Siciliano couldn’t be more different to that of Vespa, with rustic wooden furniture, low lighting, and a bohemian, shabby chic style. I personally prefer the décor in Il Siciliano, especially if you’re enjoying a date night in Palermo!
You can find Il Siciliano here.
Just as with Vespa Café, booking ahead is recommended.
If you’re looking for something a bit more casual, Zammù, in the heart of the historical Kalsa neighbourhood, is a great little bar and an ideal place to start the night.
‘Zammù’ is the name of an alcoholic drink from Palermo made from water and anise seeds.
Its origins stretch all the way back to 1813, when the Tutone brothers would serve the unique mixture to passers-by from a small kiosk on Piazza Rivoluzione, which is where Zammù is located now.
The owners of Zammù decided to bestow this name upon their business as a way of preserving their culture and continuing the tradition of quenching the thirst of the people in Palermo!
The food here is by no means as high end as Vespa and Il Siciliano, but it doesn’t try to be. Zammù is where you come for a casual drink and enjoy the accompanying aperitivo plate as a bonus.
For only 7 EUR, you’ll receive a plate which includes one small sandwich, Russian salad, rice salad, Bavarian salad, focaccia, omelette, falafel, and a hard-boiled egg, as well as any drink you like from the menu.
You can find Zammu here.
Palermo Store Café
Palermo Store Café (also called Palermo Football Store) is located on the pedestrianised Via Maqueda, and is one of those places where you can enjoy a coffee and a cake, work on your laptop (I recommend Palermo Store on my blog post about laptop-friendly cafes in Palermo), or meet in the evening for one of the city’s best aperitivo platters.
Inside, you’ll find a slick, modern interior, with a minimalist black and white colour scheme and a shop section where you can buy typical Sicilian food products including oil, wine, chocolates, and more.
There’s also a deli counter where you can choose from arancine (deep-fried rice balls and one of Palermo’s most iconic street foods), cannoli, and lots of other Sicilian snacks.
The star of the show though, are their aperitivo boxes, of which there are four to choose from.
Palermitano includes the iconic Pani câ meusa (spleen sandwich) and U’ Pane chi Panelle e Crocchè (chickpea fritters and potato croquettes on a sandwich), and other tasty bites native to Sicily’s capital city.
The Siciliano box includes panzerotti and sfincione (Sicilian pizza bread), while Monte Pellegrino is piled high with deli meats and local cheese, and the Mondello box centres around fried and fresh seafood.
Both the Palermitano and Siciliano boxes cost 15 EUR and include a drink, and the Monte Pellegrino and Mondello boxes are 20 EUR with a drink.
Whichever you end up going for, it’s going to be good – trust me, I’m talking from experience!
You can find Palermo Store Café here. It’s open every day from 8am – 12am.
Ai Bottai is a chic and modern bar and restaurant that is known for having great aperitivo platters.
It has a large terrace area which makes it great for socialising in larger groups, and of course, the cocktails are great.
Their aperitivo plates are a more high-carb version of those at Vespa and Il Siciliano, with slider burgers, wraps, pasta, and sfincione all making appearances – if you’re gluten-free, you may want to skip this place!
You can find Ai Bottai here.
Ai Bagnoli is one of the new kids on the block, at least when compared to the other places I’ve included on this list.
Ai Bagnoli is situated right in the middle of La Vucciria market, and it is a great place to begin your evening, soaking up the atmosphere of the piazza and people-watching (you’ll find a lot of interesting characters around here!).
If you prefer to sit inside, the interior is fresh and modern, with exposed brick, botanicals, and patterned tiles, as well as a very well-stocked cocktail bar.
Aperitivo here is mid-range – fancier than Zammu, but not quite Vespa standard – and you’re likely to get Sicilian caponata, sfincione, juicy olives, and potato wedges, as well as plenty of other Sicilian delights.
You can find Ai Bagnoli here.
Aperitivo in Palermo | Final Thoughts
I hope I’ve helped you narrow down your list of where to get an aperitivo in Palermo.
It isn’t the most extensive list you’ll ever see, but you can rest assured that every establishment on this list is somewhere that I’ve visited myself (multiple times), and can wholeheartedly recommend.
If I discover more great aperitivo bars in Palermo, I’ll be back to add them to this list, but for now, please feel free to ask me any questions you may have in the comments section below, and I’ll be sure to get back to you!
Until next time,
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