As tiny as it is, Malta has definitely managed to become a foodie Nirvana in the last decade. As hubs like Valletta and Sliema continued to grow while new favourites like Ħamrun and Marsaskala emerged, the islands’ eateries have had to radically step up their game… and boy is there a lot to choose from.
To help make your 2020 foodie bucket list a bit more streamlined and organised, we’ve listed down the top bars, eateries and restaurants all around the Maltese Islands that you absolutely must check out this decade.
This list marks the second edition of Lovin Recommends, where we grace the doors of worthy joints across the islands with a big fat red LM sticker. So the next time you see one of those babies out in the wild, it’ll mean we’ve given the establishment our approval and a deserving two thumbs up.
Without further ado, by area and in no particular order, here are the 135 Maltese bars, eateries and restaurants you need to tick off your list this year. Hold on to your tastebuds; we’re going on a tasty trip!
Taproom is a contemporary concept eatery with a highly creative brasserie style menu.
2. Da Pippo
A quaint gem popular for seafood and business lunches. There’s no menu and plenty of art on the walls.
This family-run, award-winning institution is one of the oldest restaurants in Valletta. It has a daily-changing menu filled with Maltese and Mediterranean delights!
4. Trabuxu Bistro
You’ll want to give your compliments to the chef after tasting the seasonal menu of fresh fish, meat and pasta at this bistro.
Visually beautiful dishes from Malta and the Mediterranean with a French twist is what’s on offer at Noni, a recently redesigned bakery-turned-jazz-club-turned restaurant.
6. Zero Sei Trattoria
Hearty homestyle Italian food that’s authentic AF. These guys specialise in mouth-watering Italian pasta, and the carbonara is a must.
7. The Harbour Club
THC serves a Mediterranean menu with a French twist in an elegantly decorated setting.
8. Sciaccia Grill
A popular steakhouse with top notch grilled meats, Sciacca will cook the perfect piece of meat in front of your very eyes.
Faultless South Indian food which will leave you wanting more.
Picturesque views of the Grand Harbour with a majestic Mediterranean menu is what you’ll get at Panorama.
Il-Ħorża is really cosy and the chef makes incredible use of the ingredients. Your new home away from home!
12. Capo Crudo
Sitting under the capital city’s bastions and almost touching the sea, this eatery has sunset views, great food and spectacular cocktails.
13. The Submarine
A sandwich bar that lets you create your own favourites? Yes please!
14. The Alchemy
Crazy Willy Wonka-style cocktails at this gem in Strait Street. The golden days are back just in time for the roaring 20s.
15. Suq Tal-Belt
Grab a bite, shop for supplies and relax in this newly-renovated three-floor foodie market.
16. 59 Republic
A casual fine dining eatery that’s excellent value for money and romantic.
The food here is healthy yet hearty AF!
18. The Pulled Meat Company
This place is a meat lover’s dream. It specialises in homemade, creative, slow-cooked soul food.
19. Aaron’s Kitchen
Malta’s TV celebrity chef owns this family run restaurant.
If you love burgers, you’ve got to try these.
21. Cheeky Monkey Gastropub
If you are in a cheeky fun mood, this is your next location.
Get your daily dose of fresh local produce at this eatery, open in the evenings.
23. Gracy’s Brasserie
Stunning ambience and delicious food, all in one place.
Simple and yet extravagant, all 3 Grain restaurants are not to be missed.
25. King’s Own Band Club
This family-run place has nabbed a number of awards and we now know why.
26. Salvino’s by La Pecora Nera
Genuine food & great atmosphere best describe this experience.
27. Palazzo Preca
This cute little quaint place serves up fresh fish & seafood on a daily basis.
28. Nenu the Artisan Baker
This is the most traditional Maltese food one can find all under one roof in the capital.
29. De Mondion, Mdina
A unique fine dining experience that you’ll never forget.
30. Rebekah’s, Mellieħa
A cosy (and romantic) restaurant set in a restored house of character with seasonal Mediterranean cuisine.
31. Commando, Mellieħa
Elegant dishes to be enjoyed in a charming 300-year-old stone building is what you can expect from Commando.
32. One80, Mellieħa
This award-winning restaurant has stunning views from every corner of the restaurant, an epic wine list and of course some mighty fine fare.
33. Essence of India, Mellieħa
If you are looking for stunning views and authentic Indian flavours, head on to this joint.
34. Amami, Mellieħa
Bringing together many of the best tastes of Asian cuisine with some breathtaking views.
35. Byblos Lebanese, Mellieħa
Colourful chandeliers and a bright and cosy atmosphere are combined with Lebanese flavours.
36. Duo, Qawra
Two siblings teamed up to bring you beautifully-presented dishes in a friendly atmosphere.
37. Garam Masala, Qawra
Enjoy authentic Indian food in this family-run restaurant with stunning views of Salina bay.
38. Fontanella, Mdina
A staple for sweets, Fontanella’s revamped restaurant has definitely added to their already fab reputation.
39. Bottegin Palazzo Xara, Rabat
Enjoy a traditional band club setting with genuine local food.
40. Giuseppi’s, Salini (Naxxar)
Here you’ll find an exceptionally creative menu which changes daily depending on the produce available.
41. Beefbar, St Paul’s Bay
A day-to-night beach bar restaurant reborn but with a twist.
42. Fins & Gills, St Paul’s Bay
This spot is renowned for its simple and delicious fish and chips.
43. Tarragon, St Paul’s Bay
Tarragon has collected so many awards over the years including the best overall restaurant in Malta and the most romantic (deservingly so). They don’t just provide great food, but an experience.
44. Choco Kebab Cafe, Buġibba
If you need your chocolate fix or need a varied vegan food menu, Choco is now serving both.
45. Nine Lives, Buġibba
Live the life of a cat. Eat, relax, eat some more and then party the night away.
46. Diar il-Bniet, Dingli
Famed for their seasonal menu which offers traditional Maltese delicacies in a beautiful rustic environment, Diar il-Bniet will be your home away from home.
47. Elba, Baħar iċ-Ċaghaq
Renowned for their pizza and fresh fish, this eatery is a popular joint also for those meat lovers.
48. Il-Ħnejja, Senglea (Isla)
A small gem excelling in seafood and pasta dishes.
49. Hammetts Maċina, Vittoriosa (Birgu)
Hammett’s offer sublime dishes that look like art on a plate at very reasonable prices.
50. Bongo Nyah, Marsaskala
Bongo’s menu includes a fusion of street food from four continents and burgers.
51. Tartarun, Marsaxlokk
Faultless fresh fish and seafood dishes is what Tartarun does best.
52. Terrone, Marsaxlokk
Known for its succulent fish and superb ambience in the heart of Malta’s south.
53. Rickshaw, Attard
A fancy award-winning Chinese restaurant set in a luxury hotel.
54. Santa Lucia, Attard
A family-run cafe since 1975, known for its delicious pastries, sweets, sandwiches and snacks and confectionery.
55. The Old Smuggler’s, Balzan
Quiet and friendly, this one is a local fave.
56. NomNom, Birkirkara
Sitting in a Birkirkara garden this eatery prepares real fast food that keeps people coming back.
57. Stanjata, Birkirkara
A cute little joint offering some fresh sandwiches and other quick lunch options with a gourmet spin.
58. Marelli Cafe, Birkirkara
This cosy cafe serves breakfast, lunch and delicious homemade treats.
59. Ali Baba, Gżira
This joint offers tasty and authentic Middle Eastern food.
60. Balance Bowl, Gzira
Fully vegan, super healthy and definitely not boring.
61. Briju, Gzira
This local spot serves Maltese and Med food. All produce is selected, cured and preserved by Rafel the chef.
62. Buchman’s, Gzira
We have to boast about their ftira but they also serve up some other great snacks.
63. Santa Cruz, Gzira
Make no mistake, this is a little slice of California sun in Gżira, bringing us some tapas and shakes too.
64. Bandit, Ħamrun
As they rightly point out, you have got to eat this irresponsibly. Grab a snack, a full-blown (and fully-loaded) burger or a sinful shake.
65. Bahia, Balzan
A chic bistro serving up some of the most gorgeous seasonal dishes this side of the Mediterranean.
66. Chukkas, Marsa/Mosta
Steak, steak and more (exceptional) steak can be found at Chukka’s.
67. The Lord Nelson, Mosta
Lord Nelson has collected so many awards over the years, and we can see why. You’re definitely guaranteed a fine dining culinary journey from beginning to end.
68. EAT, Mosta
Specialising in smoked and barbecued food for the real food lover!
69. Shakinah, Ta’ Xbiex
Indian cuisine in a contemporary yet elegant setting is what to expect at Shakinah.
70. Duke’s Snack Bar, Msida
Striving to provide great snacks for over 50 years. This place is well known amongst students.
71. Peas & Love, Msida
Get your vegan and vegetarian food delivered at home. Yep these guys are a delivery service company.
72. Brass & Knuckle, Naxxar
Most definitely one of the best steakhouses in Malta.
73. Palazzo Parisio, Naxxar
Everything (from the decor, views and the dishes) is Instagrammable AF at the regal Palazzo Parisio.
74. The Daily Grub, Naxxar
These guys get it, everyone today is busy. They serve up some wholesome food quickly.
75. La Vela, Pietà
A sleek Italian eatery with dishes that are pleasing to the eye and the palate!
76. Fumia, Pietà
A Sicilian restaurant that prides itself on serving mouth-watering fish dishes.
77. Danny’s, Qormi
Danny’s is the perfect brunch and lunch spot serving creative dishes.
78. Ta’ Xbiex Water Polo Club, Ta’ Xbiex
Popular for its unobstructed views and Sicilian and Italian inspired menu.
79. Dinner in the Sky, Floriana
Unique to Malta and suspended 40 metres in the sky, this is an experience like no other.
80. Madliena Lodge, Madliena
Situated in a quiet area in Madliena this restaurant and lounge offers innovative food in a friendly environment.
81. Drift Meze, Ta’ L-Ibrag
A favourite amongst the locals in the area, it serves up some Greek dishes liked by all.
82. Tikka’s, San Ġwann
We can’t get enough of Tikka’s faultless no fuss street food style Thai food.
83. Emma’s Kitchen, San Ġwann
Emma’s Kitchen serves spectacular dishes that are #BrunchGoals. The lunch daily specials are fantastic too.
Serving up excellent gelato with creative flavours, this Buġibba favourite is now also open in bustling Sliema.
85. The Chophouse
Premium meats, great service and a stunning view of Valletta can be found at this steakhouse.
86. Hammett’s Gastro Bar
The place to be for stunning sharing plates plus innovative cocktails.
87. Charles Grech Bistro
A sophisticated all-day bistro with a delectable menu to match.
TemptAsian treats its customers to modern Asian fusion dishes with exotic flavours.
89. Al Solito Posto
An Italian pizzeria dishing up some Italian faves in the heart of Sliema.
90. Da Antonio
Another Italian eatery in Sliema, boasting some fresh Italian dishes.
91. Fernandõ Gastrotheque
A haven for wines, good food and tapas. This new joint serves up some unique food in busy Sliema.
92. Fratelli La Bufala
A super spot for that pizza craving in the heart of Tigne Point.
93. Little Argentina
Well known for their meats, this award winning eatery serves up some great steaks.
94. Tiffany’s Bistro
A family style diner, dishing up some classics for everyone’s liking.
95. Crust Bakery
Popular joint of Chef Sean Gravina, serving up some unique dishes.
Bringing the fresh flavours of Greece to the St Julian’s shores.
97. Okurama International
Known for its super buffet sushi deals. This eatery gives Asian fusion a new meaning.
Nestled in the Intercontinental hotel, this place dishes up some mouthwatering food and cocktails to die for.
A favourite in St George’s Bay, this spot hits all notes.
Another concept designed by the renowned Marvin Gauci. Focused on a Med and South American flavour profile.
101. Emperor of India
Emperor of India serves top notch Indian cuisine right in the hub of Paceville.
102. Il Pirata Bistro
An excellent place if you like perfectly-cooked meat!
103. Tokyo Fried House
TFH serves very authentic (and fried) Japanese comfort foods.
104. Fat Louie’s
Larger than life, this BBQ smokehouse offers up epic meats, frequently-changing specials and viral-worthy Insta uploads.
105. KuYa Asian Pub
A pub which specialises in soul food from East Asia, it didn’t take long for this beloved street food to open its own brick and mortar joint.
106. Hugo’s Burgers
A popular fast food joint with creative, no-fuss burgers in one of the most conveniently central locations on the island.
107. Shoreditch Bar & Kitchen
A carnivore’s playground specialising in delicious OTT food perfect for cheat day.
108. Thirsty Barber
This bar’s creative cocktails are stunning, quirky and scientific. Down their creations with local entertainers taking the stage on a regular basis.
109. Caviar & Bull
This firm favourite has won countless awards because of its five-star cuisine, champagne and oyster bar, striking sea views and molecular cocktails.
110. Dolce Vita
A formal Italian restaurant with visually gorgeous dishes and equally gorgeous views.
Enjoy imaginative pasta, meat and seafood dishes with a traditional Mediterranean flavour, while soaking up jaw-dropping views.
112. Sale e Pepe
A traditional Italian restaurant perfect for any occasion (and all the family) with views of the Portomaso Yacht Marina.
A Japanese sushi and teppanyaki eatery located in Portomaso, overlooking the glorious marina.
114. Sharma Ethnic Cuisine
The menu at Sharma showcases Indian, middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine and the colourful decor is a presentation of the exotic menu they serve.
115. Wigi’s Kitchen
A little family-run restaurant where the menu changes every day.
Zest brings Asian fusion and continental cuisine where every dish has a mix of Eastern and Western flavours.
This gem has a brasserie, gastrobar and gourmet food store… all under one roof!
118. Blue Elephant
You can’t argue with a name everyone instantly recognises. This popular international franchise offers fine dining Thai cuisine in a tropical setting.
119. Gululu Kċina Maltija
At Gululu, you can expect authentic traditional Maltese dishes with generous portions.
120. Dr Juice
Dr Juice is the perfect speedy lunch spot for health-conscious foodies and juice lovers.
121. Manouche Bakery & Bistro
We have nothing but love for Manouche’s perfect baked goods, spectacular brunch dishes and brasserie all-day menu. The decor is super chic too, straight off the streets of Paris.
122. Taro at The Villa
Taro’s refined menu is expertly-crafted and beautifully presented by its award-winning chefs. Perfect for that extra special night.
123. Barracuda Restaurant
Have a memorable gastronomical experience at one of Malta’s longest established fine dining restaurants.
124. Nori at The Villa
Asian fusion food, cocktails like you’ve never seen before and a gorgeous backdrop.
125. Brasserie Dragonara Casino
Sitting in Malta’s Dragonara Casino is one restaurant not to be missed.
126. Le Majoliche
A Sicilian family run restaurant in the heart of Paceville.
127. Ta’ Philip, Għajnsielem
Ta’ Philip offers a traditional Mediterranean menu cooked in a wood fire oven and using locally-sourced seasonal ingredients.
128. Arzella, Marsalforn
A cute family run restaurant with spectacular seaviews that specialises in fish dishes.
129. Country Terrace, Mġarr
Al-fresco dining overlooking the breathtaking view of Mġarr Harbour, this restaurant is known for its friendly service.
130. Tmun, Mġarr
This place has the wow factor. Literally all dishes are a mini work of art.
131. Mġarr ix-Xini, Sannat
A perfect lunch experience providing stunning sea views of one of the quietest and most beautiful beaches in the archipelago, all topped off with exceptional seafood dishes.
132. Mekren, Nadur
A family-run bakery praised for its impeccable ftiras and Gozitan pizzas. One half of Nadur’s holy pizza duo, Mekren becomes one of the busiest places on the islands during holidays like Carnival and Santa Marija.
133. Maxokk, Nadur
If you’re a pizza lover, then you must go to Maxokk and try one of the best pizza places in Gozo. Take photos, send them to your friends and see how quickly they get super jealous.
134. Patrick’s Tmun, Victoria
A stunning steakhouse with an award-winning wine list.
135. XiXi, Xagħra
One of the top Chinese restaurants in Gozo and almost known by all Maltese visitors.
We would love to hear what you think, and who should definitely make next year’s Lovin Malta Recommends list in the comments below.