While the cuisine in Malta is massively influenced by the Italian culture, we are happy to report that there’s much more to the food scene on the island than just pasta and pizza. So to help you out, we compiled this friendly Maltese food guide.
Aside from the traditional Maltese dishes we were happy to discover Indian, which we greatly miss since leaving the UK in early 2016, as well as Turkish cuisine, another favourite of ours. If you fancy Vietnamese Pho, you can even get that here too!
We are still exploring and constantly finding new places to add to our list, so this will most likely be an ongoing post which we will keep updated as and when we discover new places we like.
So, here it goes, our Maltese Food Guide to the best local grub on the island.
Traditional Maltese Dishes and Sweets
If you are on a look out for traditional Maltese cuisine, be sure to try these classics: Fenkata (rabbit stew), Ftira (airy Maltese bread), flaky pea or ricotta pastizzi (street food), Timpana (a very heavy mix of macaroni wrapped in a pastry), Lampuki pie (fish pie) and Arancini (a rice ball usually stuffed with chicken, mozzarella and ragu, then coated with breadcrumbs and deep fried).
Sweet delicacies include Imqaret (deep fried dates), Pastini (very tasty almond flour biscuits) and Kannoli (ricotta filled cornets).
If you are visiting the island on Easter break, look out for Figolli, a traditional Maltese Easter cake, it comes in all shapes and sizes.
The cake is made from almond flour, sandwiched with almond paste, covered in sweet icing and usually topped with colourful mini Easter eggs, delicious!
Malta Food Prices
Eating out in Malta can be very affordable at the local restaurants and cafes. If you are a budget traveller, pizza and pasta places are great money savers.
You can get a full English Breakfast for as little as €5 in a local cafe and coffee/tea pretty much everywhere starts from €1.50 to €2.00 per cup.
Portions in most of local restaurants are pretty big and sharing a meal can save a lot of pennies. Also many places are more than happy to pack a doggie bag if you can’t finish your meal.
Lunch at a mid range restaurant or a cafe can cost up to €15 per couple if you have a sandwich, wrap, coffee/tea or a soft drink. The prices are much lower in local areas.
Dinner at a mid range restaurant can cost from €25 per couple without drinks. We suggest trying the local wine. It’s tasty and much cheaper than imported, starting from €11 per bottle.
Dinner at a high end restaurant can be as expensive as €100 per couple or even more. For example a plate of spaghetti topped with lobster & lobster bisque at Luna restaurant in Palazzo Parisio will set you back €25.
- Pizza: €7- €14
- Pasta: €7- €14
- Gnocchi: €7.50 – €14
- Risotto: €10 – €16
- Wraps & Baguettes: €4.50 – €9
- Burgers: €9- €14
- Salad: €9 – €22
- Steak: €18 – €60
- Fish: €18 – €30
- Seafood: €15 – €30
- Sushi platters: €16 – €48
- Traditional rabbit dishes: €16 – €40
- Pastizzi: €0.30 – €0.40
- Arancini: €2
- Pasty: €1.50
- Gelato: €1.50 – €2.50 per scoop
Maltese Food Scene in Paceville
Surprisingly, despite being a notorious party district, the food options here are rather good. As true MapTrotters we dived straight into the local Maltese food scene to sniff out all the best options!
We discovered Okurama International, a sushi restaurant, on our first week on the island.
We don’t mess around when eating here and usually go for one of their delicious mixed sushi platters. The burst of flavours spiced up with the nose kicking wasabi in a freshly prepared sushi mix is very satisfying.
This international branch also serves Asian dishes other than sushi and I can recommend Thai Green Curry. It has a great flavour and is spicy enough for most curry fans. There’s another Okurama restaurant in the area that serves only sushi, but we haven’t yet been to this one.
Club Sushi is another fabulous sushi restaurant. Lovely, simple interior and filling tasty sushi is all you need for a great meal out. Their dumplings are gorgeous too! Stuffed with chicken and veg they are a delightful addition to your lunch/dinner spread.
Maltese Mama is a hidden little place that you might not even notice. It’s wedged in between the Avenue and the Hot Ice Bar.
My Risotto Trifolati was extremely creamy with plenty of porcini and grana cheese. Charlie enjoyed his rabbit stew, the Maltese speciality. We washed it all down with La Torre Cabernet Sauvignon, a medium bodied Maltese wine. It was a rather late, but delicious dinner.
We also love the nearby Ir-Rokna Restaurant. Again, it’s a tiny space, but these places are the best. We loved chatting to the local Maltese chap who was serving us creamy gnocchi and delicious pasta along with a pint of Cisk.
The Avenue is a hit and miss with the service sometimes, but we do like the food here, it’s simple and affordable. The restaurant is split into several rooms so getting a seat is never a problem. It’s been a local favourite for 30 years now.
Try their famous Pizza Gondola, a closed pizza stuffed with mozzarella, mushrooms, onions, blue cheese and topped with honey. It tastes as good as it looks – impressive. It’s also very big so you might want to share it. We warned you!
The Emperor of India serves fabulous Indian food. London prices, but the curry here is seriously good.
Hugo’s Burger is a great option for a quick snack. If not for burgers, come here to try their chips, they are so good!
Fancy something sweet? Or maybe a scoop of creamy gelato? Then head to Don Enrique Cafe on the far northern end of Paceville. Delightful staff, cakes and coffee.
Best Restaurants in St Julian’s
We were pleasantly surprised with the choice of diverse food options in this area.
First up in this Maltese food guide is our favourite place, U Bistrot, located across the Balluta Bay. The menu is relatively small, but has more than enough choices.
If you love your meat, try their gorgonzola burger, it’s Charlie’s favourite. Their salads are great too with a generous heap of fresh and crips greens and grilled chicken or a sea bass.
The prices range from €8 for a portion of gnocchi to €12 for a burger and typically go higher for a catch of the day.
To mix it all up in this Maltese food guide, try the Bulgarian Groggy Froggy restaurant. It’s great if you fancy a heartier option and the owner is very friendly.
Close by you’ll also find local favourite, Bianco’s. The only issue you’ll have here is choosing from the 3 pages of delicious pizza options!
For a local grub, check out the Two Buoys at the far end of the Spinola Bay. As well as serving traditional and Mediterranean cuisine, the restaurant also houses art studio.
We don’t recommend eating at any other restaurants in the bay though. They are all about the views and offer below average, over priced fare.
China House Restaurant – a great addition to St. Julian’s food scene. The Chinese food here is fresh, delicious and beautifully presented.
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The food scene in Sliema isn’t particularly appealing to us, but there’s one place that we can really recommend. It doesn’t have lovely sea views, in fact it’s located in a basement, but if you fancy a nice burger, definitely try Just Burger Food Co.
The restaurant is located on the Level 0 of the Plaza Shopping Centre in Sliema. Try their light and fluffy and slightly spicy sweet potato burger, it’s yum!
However, we don’t want to discourage you from all of the other restaurants along the Sliema Promenade. All of them have a lovely sea view and we’ve not yet tried every single one!
Great Food Options in Msida
For the first couple of months in Malta, we lived in Msida and had a chance to sniff a couple of good places for food. So if you are ready to venture further away from Sliema or Valletta, here’s what we recommend.
You absolutely can’t miss Busy Bee in Ta’ Xbiex. Both the cafe and Gelateria are great for a sweet treat. We actually never got a chance to sit in the cafe because it’s aways packed with the locals, but we had their wonderful treats at home on a couple occasions.
When on a lookout for some simple food in Msida, we came across cafe Fifteen47, next door to Busy Bee. It soon became our go to place for a quick lunch or a full English breakfast for €5. Ah, the local Maltese food scene is the best!
Top Picks in Gzira
Hi Mu is a lovely Italian restaurant which serves really lovely food. We chose this place for our chilled New Year’s Eve lunch and love it.
Very reasonable prices and top quality food, that’s what we like. Also, a lovely selection of wines. Did I mention that they make their own mozzarella too?
For a Turkish delight, visit Moo in Gzira, a place that makes the fluffiest falafel and great kebabs, in fact some of the best kebabs we’ve eaten outside of Turkey!
Restaurants in Valletta
We are still in the process of exploring Valletta’s food scene so expect updates on this section as we continue sniffing for good food in Malta.
Recently we popped into Jam restaurant in Valletta with our Irish friends for a late bite. Charlie utterly enjoyed his BBQ ribs here and I loved my tuna steak burger.
We were positive the order got mixed up as the girl who served us, brought out a rare to medium tuna steak. And since no one claimed it, the steak ended up in my burger, lucky me! It was incredibly good, so if you are thinking of a tuna steak here, go for it!
Nenu The Artisan Baker is another interesting place for food in Valletta. It specialises in traditional Maltese bread, Ftira, topped with all-you-can-think-of garnish. For a dessert, try their Date Fritters – deep fried figs – the ultimate Maltese dessert.
It’s a great place to enjoy with a bunch friends as the food you get here is ideal for sharing.
Caffe Cordina is a Maltese institution. The coffee is not the best here but they make great sandwiches and cakes plus the interior is rather stunning. Perfect for a spot of lunch whilst sightseeing.
Mdina Restaurants with Panoramic Views
If you are heading to the silent city, Mdina, check out the Xpresso Cafe and Bistro located in Palazzo Depiro. But before you order anything, check out their dessert counter!
While some of the dishes here can lack in flavour, I can confidently say that the saffron seafood risotto is seriously good. The combination of seafood and dill makes this dish taste especially summery.
The best part of this restaurant is the terrace with panoramic views stretching across the fields over to Mosta. See if you can spot the famous Rotunda church in the distance.
The Fontanella Tea Garden next door is the nations favourite dessert cafe serving humongous portions of divine looking cakes. However, I personally would choose the Xpresso Cafe for a cake any day.
But still, don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy the panoramic views of Malta from their terrace.
Fish and Seafood Restaurants in Marsaxlokk
When visiting Malta, schedule one day in a tiny fishing village Marsaxlokk, widely known for its fishy cuisine.
Tartarun is one of Marsaxlokk’s most highly-rated seafood restaurants making it easy to chose your top dinner spot. High end restaurant but totally worth splashing out.
La Capanna – another excellent fish and sea food restaurant on the south side of the island. Loved it!
Local Restaurants in Naxxar
Now where do I start, Naxxar is the food mecca in Malta. With restaurants continuously voted the best on the island, this is the area we are yet to explore. These are just a few restaurants that are currently on our taste radar:
Sunday Roast in Buggiba
No offence to the local crowd, but we will not be including Buggiba food scene into our Maltese food guide.
However, if you find yourself hungry while exploring the area, pop into Angelo’s. It’s a pub that serves cheap, honest food. We had a cracking Sunday roast here and the service was really friendly.
Enjoyed this post? Check out our Malta Guide to Travelling and Living on the Island