The Mediterranean island nation of Malta packs a punch when it comes to dining. The capital city of Valletta, the resort zone of Sliema and St. Julian's, and the fishing village of Marsakloxx are just some of the areas with clusters of high-quality restaurants. Regional fish and seafood dishes are popular menu items, of course, but Maltese land-based specialties like Stuffat Tal-Fenek (rabbit stew) and Timpana (baked macaroni) are also prominent.
With its reputation as a destination for European travelers and its growing number of luxury resorts, Malta offers plenty of expensive and memorable dining experiences. But for every high-end restaurant, there's a mom-and-pop snack bar, a laidback, open-air eatery, or a modestly priced restaurant serving stellar food. Whether you're looking for a casual seaside eatery or Michelin-starred dining, here's are the best restaurants in Malta.
Best All-Around Dining: Palazzo Preca
There's a lot to love about Palazzo Preca, starting with its location in a lovely 16th-century palace in the heart of Valletta's old town. It's run by the Preca sisters, who grew up in a family of restauranteurs and who are a daily presence in the kitchen. Like many fine dining restaurants in Malta, the menu is heavy on seafood, from a menu of raw preparations to pasta to lobster thermidor, but there are also land-based options. Despite the elegant setting, Palazzo Preca is casual, family-friendly, and wins with a just-right combination of ambiance, quality, and price—not inexpensive, but justly priced for the experience.
Best for Modern Mediterranean Fare: l’Agape Restaurant
There's an artistic flair at L'Agape, both in the food and on the walls—the casual restaurant in ancient Rabat is also an art gallery. Dishes from the kitchen are artfully prepared and include modern takes on Maltese favorites, Italian specialties, and hearty, well-sourced meat and poultry dishes. Leave room for one of the colorful, creative desserts. The wine list is thoughtful and international. On a pleasant evening, grab a seat on the ample outdoor patio.
Best High-End Experience: Under Grain
Set in the basement level of Valletta's five-star Ax Privilege Hotel Rosselli, Under Grain is one of only three Michelin-starred restaurants in Malta. The restaurant's elegant dining room was designed to mimic a tailor's studio, and a sartorial neatness, understatedness, and attention to detail pervade in the food and atmosphere. The small menu offers appetizers, main courses and desserts to interest most palates, and sharing of plates is encouraged. As Michelin-starred dining goes, the tasting menus with wine pairings are a bargain.
Best for a Romantic Dinner: ACQUA Terra e Mare
This date night choice is located in a new waterfront residential and entertainment area in trend St. Julian's, and offers a ringside view of megayachts bobbing in a private harbor. There's a chic and modern dining room, but the best seats are those on the open-air terrace, where a lot of seeing and being seen is taken place. Don't let that distract you from the expertly prepared fish and seafood dishes presented here with much pomp and circumstance. There are a few choices for non-seafood lovers, but the emphasis here is definitely on the bounty of the sea.
Best for Traditional Maltese Fare: Ta' Victor
For some of the most classic versions of Malta's hearty land-based fare, head to the sea. Ta' Victor, within sight of Marsaxlokk's pretty fishing harbor, takes tradition seriously and serves up heaping portions of Maltese favorites such as stuffat tal-fenek (rabbit stew), timpana (baked macaroni), bruschetta-like hobz biz-zejt, and sauteed snails. Seafood is also on the menu, but it's the traditional fare that people come for. The ambiance (and prices) are super-casual, and there are tables indoors in a simple dining room or on a relaxed sidewalk terrace.
Best Casual Dining on Gozo: Oleander
Set on Xagħra's busy main square, Oleander's menu doesn't offer too many surprises, just well-prepared, well-priced versions of Italian and continental favorites. Grab a table in the cozy, vaulted dining room or on the streetside patio with a view of the Basilica of the Nativity of Our Lady. The ice-cream and sorbet are made in-house, but be sure to ask about the daily dessert specials.
Best Seafood: Roots
Naming the best seafood restaurant in Malta is kind of like naming the best pizza place in Italy—there are so many contenders for the top spot. But Roots in Marsaxlokk deserves that honor for a couple of reasons like its sophisticated preparation of caught-that-day seafood and a postcard-perfect location right on Marsaxlokk's colorful harbor. Opt for colorful and elegant seafood starters or mains, or just go all-in with a giant platter of fresh, steamed, and fried fish and seafood—either way, you can't go wrong.
Best Casual Dining in Valletta: La Pira Maltese Kitchen
Valletta's busy Merchant Street is lined with open-air restaurants, with offerings ranging from Italian to Greek to traditional Maltese. They can't all be good but fortunately, La Pira Maltese Kitchen is one you can count on. We love its cozy interior, airy patio, changing daily menu, and easy vibe. Come here for Maltese classics like rabbit stew and Lampuki pie, or try one of their original pastas, like ravioli with hazelnuts, truffle and beef tagliatelle, or fried cavatelli with sausage and gorgonzola sauce.
Best Beach Restaurant and Bar: Blu Beach Club
Adjacent to the long stretch of public beach at Ghadira Bay, Blu Beach Club is just what you want for a beachy daytime meal. Burgers, fries, pizza, and lots of other finger food predominate on the menu, and the open-air vibe couldn't be more relaxed. It's a big menu, and we're sure they don't nail every dish. But for atmosphere, Blu Beach is hard to beat. Late afternoons and into the evening, a party atmosphere takes hold here and lasts into the wee hours.
Best Hole in the Wall: Il-Merill
Dining in Malta can get expensive and showy, and the quality doesn't always match the hype. That's why we're grateful for places like Il-Merill, a homey, family-run hole-in-the-wall eatery close to the ferry dock in Sliema. An unassuming entrance gives way to an intimate, rustic dining room, and the kitchen sends out traditional Maltese fare like rabbit, sausages and bigilla, as well as familiar (and kid-friendly) pastas. The secret is out on this little treasure, so be sure to make a reservation if you don't want to miss out.