A Traveler’s Guide to the Best Restaurants in Malta

Great food is part of the joy of traveling. Here are some of the best restaurants in Malta, plus our recommended dishes for each. As they say in Malta, L-Ikla it-tajba!

Vacationing in Malta? Prepare your taste buds for a diverse assortment of delicacies, both rustic and refined. This tiny island nation serves fresh seafood, of course, plus specialties from all the countries that ring the Mediterranean. Sicily is nearby, so the Italian influence is strong. Maltese cuisine also benefits from the proximity of northern Africa and its exotic spices.

Malta’s tables are like pages from the island’s rich history. The Phoenicians brought their cuisine to Malta in the 7th century BCE, followed by Carthaginians and Romans. The island was later occupied by the Byzantine Empire, the Moorish Empire, by Sicily, by the Ottoman Empire, by Napoleonic France, and by the British Empire before finally gaining independence. Each occupying power contributed its own spices, ingredients, traditions, and cooking methods to Maltese cuisine.

Is your mouth watering yet?

Maltese cuisine today is both delicious and diverse. No matter your budget, you will find exotic, satisfying, tantalizing meals to make your visit memorable. Here are some of the best restaurants in Malta, plus a guide to meals you won’t want to miss.

The Most Important Meal of the Day

Savvy vacationers know that it’s important to have a good breakfast before a day of sightseeing adventures. Moreover, breakfast is often a bargain. Malta offers an array of delicious options for breakfast and brunch.

On a Dime

Toffee & Co. is one of the best restaurants in Malta.
Chef’s specials at Toffee & Co. are always based on the freshest available ingredients.

Don’t miss Bienvenue. Located close to the sea, this French restaurant is a perfect spot for sightseeing and for purchasing packaged foods from Provence. If you have rented an apartment or house, this is a great option for picking up items for your pantry. Stock up on teas, biscuits, fresh herbs, and other exceptional Provenҫal items from the well-stocked shelves. In addition to breakfast, Bienvenue offers inexpensive, delicious snack-bar fare for whenever you crave a quick bite. The French-style cuisine is hugely popular with the tourist crowd.

Toffee & Co. is one of the best breakfast restaurants in Malta. From a selection of light breakfasts (add crisps if you crave a bit more substance) to pastries and cakes with coffee, Toffee & Co. offers many options for both hot and cold breakfasts. Rather than a belly-busting breakfast of eggs and meat, Toffee & Co. keeps it light with smaller dishes you can combine to make a filling, but not heavy, meal.

In addition to the menu, Toffee & Co. offers daily specials based on seasonal foods and the chef’s fertile imagination. Specials are always based on the freshest available ingredients, so it would be a crime not to try them. The restaurant accommodates diners with food allergies by altering recipes to ensure there is no risk of coming into contact with allergens.

If you can spare the time, extend your visit to Toffee & Co. into a full brunch so you can take advantage of the full bar and an extended menu of wraps and sandwiches. Toffee & Co. is a great choice for a budget breakfast or brunch, or a good spot to stop whenever you need a quick, casual pick-me-up.

Any Day

The Avenue restaurant in Malta
Hungry for a traditional English breakfast? The Avenue is the place to go.

You can order breakfast anytime at Splash, a bar and grill whose exceptional staff makes diners feel like guests dining at home with new friends. Jet lag left you hungry for breakfast at 4 in the afternoon? No problem. Splash has you covered. Take a seat at this informal café and enjoy the scenery as you tuck into your off-hours bacon and eggs. There’s even free wi-fi.

Speaking of bacon and eggs, here’s a secret about Splash: It is the place to go if you have a craving for luscious rashers of crispy, fatty bacon to accompany your meal. Travelers report that they have trouble finding really good bacon on Malta, so if you find yourself needing a fix, head for Splash.

For a traditional English breakfast, head to The Avenue. Or just pick up the phone – The Avenue delivers! English breakfast at The Avenue is a feast of two eggs, bacon, sausages, baked beans, tomatoes, and toast. This plate gets rave reviews on websites frequented by the most demanding (and hungry) globetrotting Brits. Like most of the restaurants on the list, this casual spot is also great at lunch time, dinner time…any time, really.

Dining With Divas

Kick your game up a notch at The Palace for a hearty, delicious brunch buffet. The Palace is a clean, well-appointed venue that serves a wide variety of breakfast treats. You’ll be glad you came.

Buffet not your style? Don’t worry – check out Talk of the Town, which is co-located with The Palace, for breakfast options ranging from the super-healthy to the more indulgent. An interesting fact about breakfast at Talk of the Town: The chef often uses just a single yolk in omelettes, frittatas, and other egg dishes. So even the heartiest dishes are at least a bit more healthful.

I don’t know about you, but all I want for breakfast is a really good cup of coffee and something delicious and baked – coffee cake, a tart or maybe a scone. Café Portmaso has breakfasters like me covered with the best coffee in town. It also offers up a delectable collection of cakes, pastries and other baked sweets for when you want to treat yourself to a little something special in the morning.

Lunch Break

When it’s time for a break in the middle of the day, here’s where you want to head for a leisurely lunch.

On a Dime

Penny Black is one of the best restaurants in Malta.
Penny Black is the spot for traditional English pairings like fish ’n’ chips and bangers ’n’ mash.

With rich appointments and an open fireplace, Penny Black Bar is a fun spot for lunch on a rainy day when all you want is to have a bite and then curl up with a book. This British pub serves famous English pairings like fish ’n’ chips and bangers ’n’ mash, but don’t forget to try alternatives like the delicious Penny Black Burger or even the omelettes. In addition to delicious food, Penny Black has an impressive bar offering a wide array of tempting cocktails.

Diners love Reno’s Café Valletta for its quick, friendly service and because there is no skimping on quality. From the freshest ingredients to the charming dining room, this café is a “must stop” for visitors to Malta’s capital city, Valletta. It’s on an out-of-the-way side street and it can be a little tricky to find, so schedule your lunch break in advance and circle the location on your map. In the unlikely event that nothing on the menu appeals to you, don’t be surprised if the chefs create a special meal just for your tastes.

Any Day

Any listing of the best restaurants in Malta must include Capistrano.
The wild mushroom risotto with quail is a must-have dish at Capistrano.

A 2014 favorite restaurant on Trip Advisor, Incognito offers delicious menu options and an outdoor dining venue that’s perfect for people watching. When you stop at Incognito, be sure to pay special attention to the “Maltese” section of the menu. It is here you will find one-of-a-kind flavors that are unique to this island nation.

While many restaurants in Malta provide a mix of basic Mediterranean flavors, heavy on Greek and Italian dishes, you can get a taste of the true cuisine of Malta at Incognito. The rabbit can’t be beat, but if you don’t care for that traditional Maltese meat, you can select from an array of chicken, beef, and fish options. The starter menu also contains some Maltese specialties – don’t miss the Pasta Maltija.

Capistrano Restaurant also offers excellent lunch options. The menu includes lighter pastas and salads or more substantial main courses that would also serve nicely as dinners. The stars of the menu include the wild mushroom risotto, which includes exquisite morsels of quail meat, and orecchiette with ragout of chicken. Or try the pork tenderloin – it’s local and the mustard-flavored potatoes are incredible.

Dining With Divas

Blue Elephant, a Thai restaurant, has earned its reputation as one of the best restaurants in Malta.
Thai food in Malta? Sure, if it’s as good as the dishes at Blue Elephant.

Bouquet Garni is where seafood fans stop to indulge themselves in a nicer-than-average lunch. The fish platter gets rave reviews – don’t miss it. Diners love the service and the wonderful food, of course, but the best part is that the chef often comes out to the dining room and shares cooking tips with diners. After you have fallen in love with one of Bouquet Garni’s wonderful meals you have a fighting chance of recreating it once you have returned home.

As at most Maltese spots, the rabbit is a favorite, but you must order it in advance. Just alert the receptionist when making your reservation. Friendly tip: Do not change your mind if you call ahead for the rabbit. The restaurant must make special preparations in order to provide the dish, and that work is for naught if you opt for fish at the last minute.

Travelers know that it is usually preferable to stick to locale-centric cuisine. That’s how you experience the flavor of the country you’re visiting. But you should make an exception for Blue Elephant. This gem of a Thai restaurant offers incredible meals. The food is fresh and expertly prepared. If you find that you have tired of rabbit, you will be glad to know that Blue Elephant offers an extensive vegetarian menu. This Thai restaurant has earned its place on any list of the best restaurants in Malta.

New to Thai food? No problem. Try one of the prix fixe menus. Each contains a selection of dishes that are perfectly blended and matched to provide an authentic Thai experience.

Dinner and Drinks

After a long day, it’s nice to sit down with travel companions to rehash the day over dinner and cocktails.

On a Dime

Stop by Mint for a memorable meal in Malta.
Something magic happens in Mint‘s kitchen, which may well prepare the most memorable meal of your stay in Malta.

Don’t be misled by the low prices: Mint is likely to serve up the most delicious meal you have during your entire stay in Malta. Your options will include a choice of specials based on the chef’s selection of the freshest ingredients. Something magic happens in Mint’s kitchen as flavors are melded to highlight fresh local ingredients in creative ways. At a place this good, resist the temptation to ask for substitutions to make meals more familiar. Put yourself in the chef’s hands and let the surprises excite your palate. And be sure to save room for dessert – from cakes to pies to smoothies, desserts are the star of the show.

Another option for a super-affordable dinner is Café Jubilee. This local favorite offers a good selection of classic Maltese dishes. If you’re going to try Maltese rabbit just once during your stay, do it here. The family recipe has been passed down for generations. Another excellent choice is the torta tal-qargħa u r-ross, a savory rice-and-pumpkin pie

Be sure to browse the cocktail menu, if only for the joy of giggling at the silly names they’ve attached to some of the drinks. Jubilee also boasts a better-thandecent wine selection. For dessert, try the ravioli – it’s completely decadent.

Any Day

Ta Pawla's menu includes a huge, varied selection of mouth-watering dishes.
Meat and seafood are abundant – and expertly prepared – at Ta Pawla.

Ta Pawla is a great choice for a leisurely dinner, especially if you’re traveling with a large party. The huge, varied menu includes starters, salads, game, poultry, steaks, roasts, and an abundance of seafood. There is surely a dish to satisfy any taste. The best bets are local specialties like rabbit or octopus stew. Order a couple bottles of good pinot noir for the table and make sure each diner orders something different. That way you can taste everything.

Wigi’s Kitchen promises a progressive interpretation of traditional Mediterranean dishes based on the freshest ingredients. This family-run restaurant publishes a new menu every day based on what the chef has picked up in his shopping basket. You’re sure to find the perfect wine to complement your meal on the extensive wine list.

Dining With Divas

Here's a look at the beautiful dining room at Venus, one of the best restaurants in Malta.
The Venus Restaurant‘s extraordinary Table de Hote menu will lead you on a culinary journey your taste buds will long remember.

You can’t help but be impressed at The Lord Nelson. This award-winning restaurant offers an exceptional selection of dishes to please even the most jaded palates. Consider sharing a few starters before moving on to your main course. The highlights of the menu include the fresh asparagus and the twice-baked smoked salmon soufflé to start, tagliatelli for the pasta course, and Moroccan-spiced lamb shank (or perhaps king prawns – it’s so hard to decide!) as the entree. Pastas are ordinarily served in appetizer-sized portions, but if you prefer a pasta main course, just ask. The Lord Nelson aims to please. This is a meal you will want to linger over.

For the ultimate Maltese dining experiences, consider the Table de Hote at The Venus Restaurant, which is available Monday through Saturday for dinner and Sunday for lunch. While an a la carte menu is available, the specially designed prix fixe Table de Hote menus feature extraordinary traditional and modern dishes. Servers will help you select courses that make for exquisite pairings. If you are dining with companions, ask for split plates so that all can share in the amazing cuisine offered at this incredible spot.

Whatever you eat at any of these great restaurants, you’re sure to be happy with the selection. You’ll leave with new insights into Malta as a cultural crossroads in the world’s cuisines.

About the author

Nancy K.

When I’m not busy writing my next travel article, you can find me showing America to exchange students, hiking, cycling or planning my next vacation. My favorite destination is anywhere I haven’t been yet! You can follow or, better yet, talk to me on Twitter and G+.

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