Just in case you haven’t brushed up on your local geography lately – Manwel Dimech Street is the one that links the Ferries all the way up to Savoy. It’s named after the illustrious social reformer of the early 20th Century.
It was once the heart of Sliema’s shopping district, filled with fashion boutiques that stocked all the hippest threads of the time. Groovy young things would head to Square Deal for their bell bottoms and printed disco shirts, save up to buy funky platform boots, and later their punky Doc Marten’s, from Marco’s shoe shop – which still remains.
Over the years, with the opening of shopping malls and the shift of trade to other Sliema streets, many of the Manwel Dimech Street businesses shut down. But after years of falling into disarray there seems to be a change in the air, with new independent businesses popping up all over. It looks like run-down old Manwel Dimech Street is no less than up-and-coming!
Here’s a list of places that prove Manwel Dimech Street is not just “the road that leads to the police station”.
1. Fly The Fly Vintage
This beautifully laid out boutique sells vintage and vintage-inspired clothes for men and women. The shop’s immaculately dressed Swedish owner takes her fashion seriously, but is a firm believer that fashion should be fun. She meticulously chooses each piece herself, and there are some absolute showstoppers to be found on the rails.
Customer service is a priority at Fly The Fly – it’s not uncommon to be offered a glass of champagne on occasions, and styling advice is a given.
2. Caffé Berry
Just a couple of metres to the right of the main street, down the bottom, you’ll find a little coffee shop that packs a big punch. Their selection of speciality coffees and teas is seriously impressive, (think “Pistachio Cappucino” and, er, “Hazlenut Berrychino”).
You can also take your pick from their selection of beautiful pastries and berry yoghurt breakfast jars to make your mornings extra special. They have a very well-stocked pantry of food products and wines for sale, which also make it a great place to buy gifts for your foodie friends and family.
Just next door to Caffé Berry you’ll find a little eatery called Straws. It’s legendary to people that know about it, and somewhat of a best-kept secret, (soz, we’re outing you). The snack-bar used to be located on Manwel Dimech Street itself. It may have moved, but the couple behind the magic of Straws remain the same.
Grab yourself one of their crusty made-to-order ftiras, an arancina, slice of quiche or a portion of one of their unreal pasta salads. If you can’t choose don’t worry – you’ll be back.
4. Sunset Records
Music lovers of yester-year will fondly remember their days picking up the latest hot tunes from Exotique on Manwel Dimech Street. Sunset Records is the antidote to Exotique’s demise.
It’s just a stone’s throw away from the main street and up Triq San Piju. It’s a relatively new store that hasn’t gone unnoticed by today’s music lovers. Stock includes new pressings from modern bands’ latest offerings and obscure records from the past.
5. Polish Food Store
Halfway up Manwel Dimech Street and signposted with red and white mini flags is this well-stocked store, jam-packed with all sorts of hard to find Polish goodies. And no, you don’t have to be Polish and homesick to appreciate their products.
They stock rare Polish beers, tummy friendly kefir, an array of pickled vegetables and the widest selection of mustards you’re ever going to find. It’s also seriously cheap. You can pick up different flavoured pâtés for 99c and horseradish with wasabi for under €2. Opening hours are until late, so you can get your Baltic fix if you get the late night munchies (or drinkies).
6. Souvenirs That Don’t Suck
A design-led boutique selling a variety of Malta inspired products that aren’t half bad. The innovators behind this alternative souvenir shop spotted and acted on that glaringly obvious gap in the market for Malta memorabilia that doesn’t involve Made In China ashtrays, naughty postcards, and novelty risqué salt and pepper shakers that we’re so accustomed to.
Instead, you’ll find canvas bags, mugs and t-shirt emblazoned with Malta-isms like “Straight Outta Sliema” instead of Garfield proclaiming his “Mum went to Malta and all he got was this lousy t-shirt.”
BONUS: The Retro Signage
Manwel Dimech Street is worth a visit for design aficionados and typography lovers. There are so many Instagram opportunities to be had on this historically pop-culture heavy street.
Some of the businesses may have inevitably closed over the years, but with any luck, their shutters won’t be down for long. Let’s make Manwel Dimech Street great again!