A dozen ideas to fit a variety of settings.
Gatherings come hand-in-hand with the Christmas season. We have work dos, family outings and meetings with friends, and when we're organising them, the first question that comes to mind is usually: 'where to go?' Here are some great options to consider for your festive gatherings this year, whether you're up for a relaxed meal or a high-end dinner.
1. Hard Rock Cafe’
Hard Rock Cafe
Hard Rock Cafe’ makes for a lively and energetic setting where your group can enjoy classic American cuisine mixed with local favourites and handcrafted cocktails, all to the tune of rock hits from a spectrum of eras. Perhaps most renowned for their mouth-watering burgers - which have made a reliably and tasty meal for years - Hard Rock Cafe promises a fun, uplifting gathering if you're after a relaxed night out. Hard Rock Cafe can be found in Paceville and on the Valletta Waterfront.
2. Hammett's Macina
Set within the iconic Macina’s ancient walls built almost half a millennium ago by the Knight’s of Saint John, this restaurant’s menu is constructed by a multi-award winning team led by talented Chef de Cuisine Francisco Carrasco Cortes and directed by 24-time award winning Chef and restauranteur Chris Hammett, and if you're visiting on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, the exceptional special menus feature delights like seared scallops and ricotta and walnut tortelli, followed by Irish fillet of beef or beautifully prepared red snapper.
3. Il Bacino
Overlooking the humble and beautiful town of Senglea and within the just-as-stunning old city that is Vittoriosa, family-style restaurant Il Bacino is another option for a casual Christmas gathering that won't disappoint! The restaurant serves an array of platters, pizzas and other dishes within a stunning setting.
4. San Giovanni Restaurant and Lounge
Valletta is home to a special atmosphere around Christmas time, so opting for an eatery in Malta’s capital is sure to provide the right setting. San Giovanni is an eatery bang in front of St John’s Cathedral, Valletta, offering a beautiful setting for a festive gathering. The restaurant offers a variety of dishes with generously-sized portions, and is ideal for groups and parties, with the outdoor area warmed throughout the cold winter months.
5. The Beach at Paradise Bay
The Beach at Paradise Bay
Perched at the foot of the sparkling Mediterranean sea, The Beach restaurant at Paradise Bay is ideal for a more casual gathering, offering a delicious assortment of fish and meat dishes, pizza and pasta, amongst others. With breakfast options available too, why not opt for a morning gathering next to the sea to make the most of the islands' fine weather?
6. Ta’ Kris Restaurant & Maltese Bistro
Perfect for a more intimate gathering, this eatery offers the opportunity to delve deep into Maltese gastronomical culture. Ta’ Kris evokes a warm, homely feeling, set up inside a former bakery in the heart of Sliema. Wholesome, hearty meals are served at affordable prices here, and Ta’ Kris also offers specialised menus for staff parties and gatherings. Ta' Kris serves a varied menu that consists of traditional Maltese and Mediterranean food, featuring dishes like rabbit, bragjoli, octopus stew, baked local lamb, bebbux and balbuljata. The team also takes pride in serving local produce such as Maltese bread, Cisk beer, Kinnie, local wines, local water, local liquors and Maltese coffee.
7. Wine O’Clock
Escape the cold and snuggle up in the heart of the capital for some wine and tapas at the quaint Wine O’Clock, located on Old Bakery Street. Ideal for an intimate gathering, Wine O’Clock will surely provide Christmas cheer with their local and Mediterranean nibbles, hot food, cold cuts and platters, paired with a variety of local and foreign wines. Wine O'Clock also offers intimate tastings for wine and spirits including single malts, rum and grappa, all explained by one of their experienced hosts.
8. Salt Kitchen & Lounge
Named after their appreciation for Natural Pink Himalayan Salt, the gastronomical concept behind this family-run Bugibba restaurant - one of Malta's top-ranking - is in line with the nature of the salt; quality. The team spends hours sourcing fresh local ingredients, paying attention to the quality of the product, whilst keeping abreast of exciting culinary trends across Europe so as to blend in their own expression of Mediterranean cuisine, which ranges from Uruguay grain-fed beef fillet and Acquerello risotto to an array of vegetable dishes.
9. Il Teatro Trattoria Pizzeria
How about having your festive gathering revolve around pizza? Part of the De Vilhena boutique hotel, Il Teatro is an Italian trattoria and pizzeria in the heart of Valletta. The restaurant’s techniques are rooted in Roman culinary traditions, as well as the inimitable technique of Pizzaiolo Massimo, who has dough-making skills hailing all the way from the Puglia region. Il Teatro’s speciality dishes are Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe, Saltimbocca alla Romana, Pizza Burratina, and Pizza Funghi, and they've also just opened an extension dedicated to gourmet pizzas - that's definitely something to get excited about this festive season!
10. The Brew Bar and Grill
The Brew offers a Christmas gathering with a difference - in the form of its craft beers which are made in-house! Located in the middle of the bustling Sliema Strand, a meal here promises the fusion of handcrafted beer and signature dishes. Amongst these signature dishes are metre-long sausages, metre-long rib dishes and other delectable treats which pair perfectly with their range of homemade beers.
11. Le Parisien
Located in the central village of Attard and embodying the love for everything Parisian, La Parisien aims at transporting its patrons to the romantic city of Paris through the sense of taste - an experience which will guarantee a Christmas gathering with a twist. Set in a renovated Maltese house, the menu, containing both sweet and savoury options, is an infusion of classical French dishes while remaining true to Malta’s local produce, including dishes such as tartar, crepes, meringue, duck a l’orange and French cocktails.
12. L-Istazzjon Bar and Kitchen
Imagine dining in a historic train station. That factor alone is enough to make your Christmas gathering a bit more special! L-Istazzjon on the rural, outskirts of Rabat compliments beautiful views with an array of delicious food, varying from platters to burgers and meat dishes. They've also become renowned for their desserts, attractively served in a pan. And with a large surface area, L-Istazzjon is ideal for group events.
Where will you be dining this Christmas season?