It took me several years to make peace with the Navigli. Like all the off-site I frequented them a lot in the first years when I moved to Milan and they weren't as they are now. They were the place where foreigners went, you didn't see a Milanese even by mistake, and there were the classic tourist bars that offered cheap drinks and aperitifs and a few historic restaurants. Over the years, things have changed and Navigli are once again a place to and from Milanesi. Alongside the historic clubs, bars and restaurants of all kinds have begun, hipsters, fashionistas and so on and so forth, and I, after years, I started going to them again. Now I go there often because I found the posts that I will talk about below that I really like.
Where to eat / drink well on the Navigli
Super new entry on the Milanese scene, the Combo is a multifunctional space that has a design hostel, an exhibition hall and a bar / restaurant. The structure was born from the recovery of a former occupied railing house and is really pleasant at all hours, from breakfast in the morning to an aperitif and evening (they often also organize DJ sets or events with live music). Since it opened it has already become the reference point of the area! If you are looking for other nice places to sleep in Milan you can find them here.
Combo, Ripa di Porta Ticinese 83
Il Mag Cafe it is a certainty. It is a small and intimate place, with a bohemian atmosphere, with a few tables outside and a country house air. It is a historic cocktail bar in Milan and belongs to the same group as the 1930 Speakeasy, Beard e Iter (which I will tell you about later). If you want a place where you felt at home and drink well: this is your place! Note: you should start attending the Mag also to be able to enter 1930 (the most beautiful speakeasy in Milan); you can only enter with a member or if you are in the good graces of the owners.
MAG Cafe, Ripa di Porta Ticinese 43
Il Motelombroso and another one super new-entry milanese, opened its doors only in the spring of 2019. The location is very special, it is a renovated roadman's house (pink!), a country farmhouse but with modern furnishings, and the effect is really beautiful. The cuisine is no exception, only ingredients that come from producers attentive to sustainability cooked with great skill. It is not cheap but it is worth it all! On weekends they often organize events and evenings.
Motelombroso, Alzaia Naviglio Pavese 256
From the same family as the Mag Cafè, Iter – From Italy to the World- was conceived as Gastronomic “airport” with an Italian heart. The concept is this: every 6 months all Iter staff (Chefs, bartenders and photographers) go to a country in the world to study its cuisine and culture and then reinterpret it in a dedicated menu (currently the proposed menu is that of Estonian culture for instance). In addition to changing the menu every 6 months, the restaurant is also adapted to reflect that particular culture. The place is small but very welcoming and, of no less importance, it is also drunk very well (Italian in this case).
Iter, Via Fusetti 1
Abrupt Grass it's a border post between the city and the countryside where we forget the frenetic rhythms of us ugly Milanese (and acquired in my case). There the kitchen is mostly zero km, the products you find on the plate are those from the Erba Brusca garden and the meats (and all the rest of the products used) come from selected suppliers who supply local and organic products (you can consult the list of suppliers on the site or in the same menu). The dishes offered are those of Italian cuisine revisited in a gourmet key and they are all delicious. It makes its best especially in spring and summer when you eat in the two outdoor areas in the shade of the pergola: one overlooking a stream and the other on the vegetable garden and the garden full of flowers.
Erba Brusca, Alzaia Naviglio Pavese, 286
Hotels.com gave me free money to spend to try some of these restaurants, but all opinions are mine.