The Maltese love their food and drink. You can find restaurants, snack bars, pastizzerias, bakeries, and bars serving appetisers and a growing number of good quality food trucks in literally every corner of the Islands. Pizza and pasta are staples thanks to Italian influence but good quality fish, meat and salads are easy to find if you know where to look. In general, a queue of locals usually means you can expect abundant portions of good food at affordable prices.
Drink prices in Malta are very reasonable with the local lager beer Cisk being by far the most popular summer beverage. In tune with the Mediterranean culture, bars and clubs open late into the night with 4 am closing times being the norm in places such as St. Julian’s and Paceville.
The following is a short guide to where to eat and drink in Malta including some of the best spots for a good night out.
Malta’s capital Valletta was the happening place on the island for much of the island’s history with many popular cinemas, theatres and bars attracting both locals and British navy sailors stationed here.
After a few years of neglect Valletta is currently experiencing a revival and now offers a great selection of quality eateries and entertainment spots that attract a growing crowd.
Strait Street is perhaps the centre of this revival with several of the post-war bars being restored in keeping with the days when British sailors and bar girls filled Strait Street. Tico and Loop Bar are two popular bars that also do food and regular gigs while Streat, found further up the road is a whisky bar serving great food at medium range prices.
For a taste of Malta and if you love tapas, charming little Legligin (which is an endearing name for drinkers in Maltese) in St Lucy Street does a fixed price (€23.95) bar dinner that includes a seemingly endless supply of Mediterranean dishes. L-Ingliż in St John Street is a tiny bar with a big character (mostly thanks to Albert the owner) that offers reasonably priced drinks, great local food and real Valletta character. You can also find free Wi-Fi and use their printer at a small charge.
Summer time music gigs usually pop up in a few of the Valletta streets but Django, at the bottom of Republic Street, is probably one of the Island’s best locations for live music. From jazz to indie rock and swing, the selection is varied and the atmosphere buzzing. Entrance to gigs usually costs €2 to €5. If the dancing gets your appetite going, Ġugar just across the road does a selection of (very reasonably priced) vegetarian ftiras, wraps, salads and smoothies that will keep your engine running on healthy fuel. On Fridays from 20:30 hrs Bridge Bar just up from Victoria Gate, holds top-notch jazz sessions under the stars in summer. Sit on the outside steps and enjoy the beautiful music for free.
If roaming Valletta during the day, Reno in Zachary Street makes a great selection of very reasonably priced food making it very popular with Valletta workers while Piadina in St Lucy Street, just off Merchant’s Street makes the most divine sandwiches and salads you can possibly imagine.
Gżira, Sliema, St. Julian’s and Paceville
These adjoining towns create what is definitely Malta’s most popular entertainment centre. Day or night, the area is always teeming with locals and foreigners having coffees and ice creams, sitting down for a sunny lunch or drinking and dancing until the early hours in Paceville.
Perhaps the quietest of the three, Gżira has a good few eateries that make it worth checking out. Grassy Hopper in St George’s Street (Open till 16:30 hrs on weekdays and evenings on Friday and Saturday), is a small vegetarian café with a big heart. Expect a simple menu of snacks and meals (try the spicy chickpea burger), fresh juices, smoothies, healthy desserts, low prices, heaping portions and a feel-good atmosphere.
Owned by a New Zealand couple, Mint in Stella Maris Street, Sliema (open 08:00hrs to 16:00 hrs) probably gets the award for some of the best tasting café food on the island. Expect a mouth-watering selection of breakfasts, pies, snacks, cakes, desserts and smoothies that will keep you coming back for more.
If your sweet tooth is not yet satisfied, Dolci Peccati in 268, Tower Road Sliema lives up to its name (Sweet sins) and makes Italian ice-creams and cakes that really are impossible to resist. Piccolo Padre just across the road and a couple of metres downhill is a longstanding pizzeria where you can eat overlooking the water.
In St. Julian’s, try Bianco’s in St George’s Street for great pizza, pasta and salads and Gochi further up the same road, for freshly prepared, well-priced sushi that you can take away or eat in at their Japanese style restaurant. Juuls is a reggae bar with a great vibe, famous for their strawberry mojitos and now also serving smoothies and yummy healthy vegetarian food.
Pastizzerias are perhaps the most cost effective eateries on the Maltese Islands. Springing up in literally every corner and usually sporting names such as Sphinx or Maxims (or some form of that including Mc Sims and Mc Sean) these take away shops sell the famous Maltese pastizzi together with qassatat – pastry cakes filled with spinach or ricotta, pizza slices, sausage rolls and more. Although not the healthiest option, you can eat good, hot food here for a euro or two.
Ftiras are another cost effective option usually found in most snack bars around Malta. Fresh Maltese bread with olive oil, tomato paste, tuna, salad and olives, and ftiras usually cost a couple of euro and make a filling meal.
Check out our complete chapter “Where to eat & drink” in our Malta Travel Guide to find more suggestions. Download it now for FREE!