Photo: Juan Antonio F. Segal
It’s that time of the year again when people can finally start venturing out of the same old seaside haunts they frequented for the last couple of months and search for some of the island’s hidden gems. Well there’s no better place to do that than Rabat.
Much like our rundown of some of the coolest hangouts in Buġibba, we’ve put together a list of what to do in the historic city of the West:
1. Beer Belly
OK, first things first; awesome name. Even though this bar has only been open for just over three years, it’s already seen a recent refurbishment and keeps getting more and more people (especially locals).
With a wide variety of drinks and situated right in the very heart of Rabat, this one should be on everyone’s top of the list if you’re looking for a couple of drinks in an authentic village atmosphere. In fact, as this photo by Stefan Stafrace shows, it doesn’t get any more local than this!
2. Toffee & Co.
Currently one of the most hyped-about places in Rabat, Toffee & Co. is a cafe bistro and wine bar that literally serves anything from fast food to tapas. To make sure that it remains at the very top of every TripAdvisor and Maltese mouth’s list, word on the street is that Toffee & Co. serves up the best dessert that side of Malta!
We wish we could try to find the perfect way to explain Il-Baxa, but their own description is so immaculately spot-on, that we’re going to shamelessly copy and paste it here: “We’re not here to prove anything nor are we here to beat any competition. This is real homemade food with real portions and with prices to fit anyone’s pockets. We NEVER have ready made food on the premises. All our items off the menu are prepared on order.”
If that doesn’t convince you to get off your street and rush off to Rabat right now, then we don’t really know what will. Baxa is only open until 3pm (2pm on Sundays), but it’s definitely worth the trip. As one final point, we leave you with one their signature meals; Tal-Bidwi. Aaaaand – cue the cravings.
4. Le Vin
If wine bars are more your thing, then this is definitely the place to be. Famous for its friendly and super fast service, Le Vin proves yet again that, going into 2017, wine bars are still one of the top choices for a relaxed night out with friends or family.
One of the first and most popular “super clubs” outside of Paceville, Tattingers is still a force to be reckoned with. With a capacity of 1,500 people, most of the nights oraganized there tend to be extremely big ones orchestrated by some of Malta’s top promoters.
If you’ve had enough of relaxing nights with a glass of wine for one night, this is definitely the place to get your dance moves one.
6. View Lounge
American Cuisine, wine and an outside lounge area with the amazing view from the top of Rabat. We don’t really think we need to add anything to that description, but just in case – here’s a picture of what that empty plate above might look like full.
7. Ta’ Wistin
Sure, wine taverns are all the rage right now, but Ta’ Wistin has been around since 1922, so it practically built the wheels on the bandwagon.
Open Tuesday to Sunday from 9pm till late, Ta’ Wistin is located just outside of Rabat, and offers a hangout experience straight out of decades most of us weren’t even born yet.
This nightclub-turned-restaurant opened in 1971, and since then, it seems like no one dared to touch the interior decorations. For the most uniquely-retro hangout experience this side of the island, look no further.
And if you’re still not convinced, here’s a video of a Boogie Night at Nigret to further drive the point home.
This establishment’s name is not the only mouthful we’re going to be talking about. Highly regarded as one of the absolute best places to get cakes and desserts in the whole of Malta (since 1975, one might add!), Santa Lucia’s small Rabat branch seems to have surpassed its larger brother in Attard as far as it clientele goes.
That’s probably because that’s the one offering artisan confectionary, along with other handmade local souvenirs and liquors. A definite winner for a classy hangout with a cheat-day ending.
Don’t you just love it when Maltese businesses go for a super literal name? This wine bar boasts a view of pretty much half of Malta, and is situated exactly on the stairs leading up to Saqqajja. One of the most sought-after pre-drinking places for clubbing nights around the area, or the perfect choice for a one-stop kind of chilled night.
Next door, The Black Cat offers a very similar experience to pretty much the same amount of people gathered, acting as the best backup for nights when there are just too many people on the stairs for one wine bar.
11. Gianpula Village
Yep, you read that right – Gianpula isn’t a nightclub anymore, it’s an entire village!
With more than half a dozen hangouts within its walls, including anything from a rooftop lounge or a beer garden to a huge outdoor club or an underground rave space, Gianpula is set to remain on top of the list of nightlife hangouts in Rabat and its immediate surroundings.
BONUS: Crystal Palace, AKA Serkin
The one hangout to rule them all. Earlier this year, 2016 continued to prove what a bitch it was when the whole country found out that the legendary Martin “is-Serkin” Azzopardi wants to call it a day. All of Malta breathed a sigh of relief, however, when it found out that what was actually happening was a change of ownership.
While the pastizzeria that has dominated all our hearts for over 75 years will perhaps never be exactly the same (especially without Martin’s welcoming smile at 4am), there’s a very big chance that the new owner will not really change anything of Serkin’s inside or outside. Because if that happens, there’ll be the wrath of each and every Maltese citizen to face.