A multifaceted metropolis, Milan has undergone a radical transformation over the past few years, evolving from its status as a dreary and grey business center to a buzzing and vibrant cultural hub to uncover between high-profile events dedicated to fashion, design, and food.
Among innovative new buildings and designer renovations, the Lombard capital stole the show in 2018, placing first in an annual classification from Sole24Ore as the Italian city with the highest quality of life. And come April, the city shrugs off the last of the winter cold as millions make their way to Milan Design Week each year, including the Salone del Mobile fair and Fuorisalone in the city center.
Between the hundreds of presentations, exhibitions, installations, and special projects scattered across the various design districts, there are countless locales offering tailored experiences for a true taste of Milanese hospitality.
So, to make things easier for an upcoming visit, we’ve compiled a short guide to the best restaurants and bars of Milan—from pop-ups in occasion of Milan Design Week to tried and true favorites open all year round.
And if you still need more recommendations, be sure to check out our guide to the best design restaurants of Milan.
The Best Cafés of Milan
Inside Fondazione Prada, Bar Luce offers a vibrantly quaint atmosphere designed by director Wes Anderson, recreating the traditional Milanese café of yesteryear. The building’s original structure features high, vaulted ceilings reproducing the glass covering of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II alongside exposed steel beams. “I tried to make it a bar I would want to spend my own non-fictional afternoons in”, explained the director.
The menu includes a wide selection and serves more than breakfast, although we suggest stopping by in the morning with a book or the late afternoon for an aperitivo.
Bar Luce - Fondazione Prada, Largo Isarco 2
After its latest openings in Rome and Turin, Grezzo Raw Chocolate arrives in Milan within the Isola neighborhood as the first raw bakery and ice cream parlor. Conceived by founder Nicola Salvi, the idea is to offer luxury food items imbued with a deep sense of social responsibility, where luxury takes on a connotation of the natural and uncontaminated. Featuring a minimalist design, the locale is set up to place focus entirely on the products without distractions.
Grezzo Raw Chocolate, Via Pastrengo 2
LùBar was first conceived in the Vendicari Nature Reserve, in Noto, Sicily, by brother and sister trio Lucilla, Lucrezia, and Ludovico Bonaccorsi. Having grown up in Milan with Sicilian roots, the three decided to bring a bit of home to the city with a café and restaurant. Set within Villa Reale, the surroundings become the perfect synthesis of entertainment at LùBar, where sophisticated spaces are both relaxed and soothing: a sensorial oasis embodying island life in the Lombard capital.
LùBar, Via Palestro 16
The Best Restaurants in Milan
Not far from the Central Station, Björk is a Swedish brasserie born from a passion for Nordic cuisine and culture by Giuliana Rosset and Nicola Quardri. The Scandinavian kitchen finds itself in a locale with vintage and contemporary design details, recently renovated after 5 years with a large partition clad in a textile featuring dreamlike designs: lianas, pepper fruits and exotic palms appear over a tropical blue night sky.
Björk Swedish Brasserie, Via Panfilo Castaldi 20
In the Naviglio neighborhood, 28Posti is a contemporary kitchen that has been renovated just in time for Milan Design Week by Chef Marco Ambrosino and designer Odo Fioravanti. From the unique pair comes a project entitled No Place is Like Home, drawing inspiration from the Wizard of Oz to create objects to eat and plates to admire. Through dishes and design, guests are guided along an evocative tale as part of the collective imagination, accompanied by drawings from artist Luca Ruali.
28Posti, Via Corsico 1
Just a stone’s throw from Bocconi University, Potafiori is a florist complete with an on-site café boasting simple and authentic plates. From breakfast to after dinner drinks, the menu follows a natural rhythm, including seasonal offerings, an unforgettable mise en place, and floral creations paired with the exclusive plates of Richard Ginori.
Potafiori, via Salasco 17
Inside the prestigious Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Ristorante Cracco is immersed in an elegant and refined atmosphere that pairs perfectly with the plates of the starred chef. Here, a bar and bistro serve drinks and snacks alongside a bakery and wine boutique. From the ground floor to the terrace, the locale is also used to host special events.
Ristorante Cracco, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
The Best International Restaurants in Milan
The philosophy at the base of Boul & Co., a restaurant recently opened in Porta Garibaldi, is to unite iconic Italian ingredients with a certain Asian exoticism. Dishes are served in colored plates, which are placed center stage on the table as fun, delicious, and unique culinary interpretations boasting strictly Italian items.
Boul & Co., Piazza XXV Aprile Via Gaspare Rosales 1
Meaning mirage, the Chinese character for “Huan” represents a concrete illusion — a dream to be chased. And it’s this very idea that sums up the spirit of the Eastern bistrot in the Navigli neighborhood around Milan’s buzzing canals. Around happy hour, the Milanese restaurant opens its doors, giving passersby a glimpse onto the kitchen, where a young chef is determined to realize creative dishes as small works of art.
The cocktail bar, with its backlit fiberglass walls and gold-lined bar top, invite guests to grab a drink and explore an original selection of Dim Sum—traditional Chinese bites revisited for the late night.
Huan, Ripa di Porta Ticinese 69
The curious culinary mix between Brazil and Japan swept Milan some years ago with the arrival of Temakinho, where fresh ingredients are paired with a tropical touch. Reflected among the interiors of the various restaurants (all representing a diverse style based on the area they’re located), the latest addition comes just behind Piazza Duomo. Here, a new micro hub for dining out is developing beyond the Museo del Novecento.
Temakinho Duomo, Via Guglielmo Marconi 4
The Best Bars in Milan
Younger brother to the Caffé Campari, Camparino in Galleria was opened in 1915 by Davide Campari. Here, stunning inlays and geometries of Art Nouveau interiors were realized by cabinet maker Eugenio Quarti, painter Angelo D’Andrea, and master blacksmith Alessandro Mazzuccotelli. As a confluence of cosmopolitan influences, this locale has maintained its elevated status over the years, making it one of the city’s most famous hotspots for an aperitivo.
Camparino in Galleria, Piazza Duomo 21
In Porta Romana, Dabass is a bistro born in late July of 2017 as the brainchild of Maddalena Monti, Andrea Marroni, and Roberto Floridia. Signing off on the renovation was none other than architecture studio A2BC’s Anna Angelelli, Antonio Bergamasco, and Michela Cicuto. Art Nouveau elements are mixed with furnishings and chairs from the 40’s and 50’s, while contemporary accents like the bar were custom-made by expert ceramist Graziano Locatelli.
DaBass, via Piacenza 13
Part bar, part members club, Honesty Club is an oasis for relaxation, culture, fine food and drink in Porta Ticinese. As an inclusive hub for those passionate about art, design, photography, fashion, and food, the club was crafted by Centropolis Design, who placed an aesthetic study at the center of the locale’s layout. Throughout the process, the atelier also found a harmonious balance respecting the establishment’s interiors as well.
Honesty Club, Ripa di Porta Ticinese 79
Within the Campo Cappelli sports center, Surfer’s Den was first born back in 1999 as a meeting place for those passionate about surfing. Now a cultural hideaway immersed in the garden, the property recalls famous figures like illustrators, designers, journalists, and writers, while serving cocktails inspired by the scents and fantasy of flowers.
Surfer's Den, Piazza dei Caduti 1
Rocket BarMilano is a new design bar to visit between 10 PM and 2 AM, featuring gold and pink wallpaper, vintage furnishings, and one-of-a-kind antiques from interior designer Valentina Lubrano. Over at the impressive brass bar, drinks range from traditional classics to a studied menu by Mattia Mizzi, bartender at Al Mercato, with ten cocktails mi flavors from around the world.
Rocket BarMilano, Ripa di Porta Ticinese 95
A dark door hides the entrance to The Spirit, a cocktail bar in Porta Romana, where two spaces referencing day and night are embellished with sofas, poufs, and armchairs with sumptuous fabrics. Here, guests are invited to kick back and enjoy signature drinks and fine spirits.
The Spirit, Via Piacenza 15
The Best Locales for Milan Design Week
Caffè Populaire is a concept café presented by Lambert & Fils and DWA Design Studio. The idea was to bring people and design together for dynamic confrontations around the essentiality of food. For Milan Design Week, the duo has transformed the industrial backdrop of a building in Milan’s Alcova — a former panettone factory in Nolo — into a bar-café inviting visitors to gather around a common table, sharing both food and ideas.
Caffè Populaire, Via Popoli Uniti 11–13
For Fuorisalone 2019, Tom Dixon has prepared a project that aims to establish his design brand within the urban landscape of the commercial and cultural capital of Italy.
The Manzoni — named after the via where it’s located — is a 100 seat restaurant that will be inaugurated with a pre-opening during Milan Design Week. Following the weeklong celebration, the restaurant and showroom will open permanently as Tom Dixon’s new Milanese headquarters, which will also be the designer’s first European location outside Great Britain.
The Manzoni, Via Alessandro Manzoni 5