The island of Malta has one of the most unique cuisines in all of Europe; formed over centuries and derived from Arabic, Italian and British influences. The traditional rabbit stew (stuffat tal-fenek), Gozitan goat cheese (gbejna) or mashed bean spread (bigilla) might not appeal to everyone, but fortunately Malta’s international community and booming tourism industry has seen it become home to a wide range of dining options, from Mexican to Chinese. Best of all – even the finest of Malta’s restaurants remain within affordable price range compared to many of the Mediterranean’s cuisine capitals. Below are some of the most famous and prestigious restaurants for when you want a truly unforgettable dining experience in Malta.
Blue Elephant, Portomaso Bay, St Julians
A classic amongst vegetarians and oriental food lovers alike; the unique Blue Elephant restaurant lies beneath the Malta Hilton and is subsequently frequented by hotel guests. Besides a wealth of extensive Thai menus, Blue Elephant is perhaps best known for its incredibly atmospheric interior. Exotic plants, waterfalls and pond bridges decorate its every corner, with lush flowers stretching as far as the eye can see. The furniture is even on-theme with bamboo wood and other typically Thai qualities. Cocktails are thoroughly recommended – as is booking a table in advance (especially in November when the restaurant becomes popular amongst a few thousand poker players at the annual Battle of Malta). Blue Elephant is an obvious dining choice for the health-conscious (vegetable dishes galore!) and for those who enjoy an extravagant setting (is there anywhere more tranquil than a rainforest, afterall?)
Barracuda, Spinola Bay, Sliema
The daunting Barracuda fish doesn’t evoke particularly welcoming imagery, but rest assured Malta’s Barracuda restaurant offers utmost hospitality. Perhaps one of the most popular restaurants amongst celebrity visitors, this place had accommodated for the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sam Neill. Barracuda will have you dining inside a historic and gorgeously preserved Maltese building which towers above the glittering Spinola Bay. The Mediterranean night view adds to the romantic atmosphere – as does the classical and elegant decor. Barracuda prides itself on its well established reputation as a place of simple yet quality food. The menu can best be described as a mixture of Italian, Maltese and general Mediterranean favourites.
Temptasian, High Street, Sliema
This rooftop restaurant is situated above the prestigious Palace hotel, subsequently offering spectacular panoramic views of Sliema. Whether you’re interested in top class sushi or just looking to share some cocktails with friends, Temptasian provides an idyllic location in which to do so. If sushi’s not your thing, then try a number of sharable Asian platters (many of which are suitable for vegetarians). During daylight hours you can even combine the experience with having a pre-dinner swim in The Palace’s roof top pool. The five-star hotel is one of the most modern on the island, thus it’s no surprise its roof should be home to an exceptionally stylish dining lounge.
Zeri’s, Portomaso Bay, St Julians
When it comes to Mediterranean seafood, it doesn’t get better than the multi award-winning Zeri’s. Specializing in freshly caught fish and wine, this restaurant is appropriately situated next to the luxurious Portomaso harbour and surrounded by beautiful yachts and apartments – just a few steps from Paceville’s many cocktail bars. Though both food and service are of the finest quality, Zeri’s maintains an unpretentious and refined aura which makes it an equally great place for lunch. The name ‘Zeri’ refers to Maltese chef Mark Zerafa who has developed his style from years of culinary experiences in Holland, Mauritius and Seychelles. If you’re no expert regarding seafood or wine, you’ll be pleased to know that Zeri’s chefs are always happy to give you a number of recommendations from which they will put together a personalized platter and wine pairing.
Truffle & Truffles, Dragonara Road, Paceville
Maybe the trendiest restaurant on the list – the innovative Truffle & Truffles is a modern venue of conceptual cuisine made with luxury foods. Available from their bistro is (as the name indicates) rare and delicate black truffles. Most dishes are infused with a range of unconventional flavours that compliment and enhance the taste of their meats or fish. Following the truffle theme is the restaurant’s dessert menu which features a number of artisan chocolate truffles. Vital to Truffle & Truffles unique character, however, is the restaurant’s famed cocktail bar. Their experimental mixology sees unusual concoctions of truffle-infused vodkas, herbs, coffee and even egg white – to be enjoyed amongst chic and pastel coloured interior, or on the restaurant terrace with relaxing views of the Mediterranean.