Stunning eateries & the best booze! Here's why Rabat is the foodie king of the north
There is only one thing we say: go today!

Rebecca Anastasi

Far from the maddening crowds of Sliema and St Julian’s, there lies a town which time (almost) forgot. Rabat, in the north of the main island, has retained the charms of old, holding on fiercely to its traditions and its historical soul: older locals still gather for their morning te fit-tazza in the town square, while brown wicker baskets hang from the facades, ready to pull up market essentials from the ground floor. 

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But it also boasts an array of restaurants serving up delicious fare and quality bevvies, which are the envy of many other locales. I’ve tried many of them, having loved and lived in Rabat for just over seven years. And while I’m loath to share all of our town’s secrets (and, indeed, I will not), there are some spots which deserve island-wide acclaim – here are my top five!

1. Townhouse No.3

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Run by chef patron Malcolm Bartolo, this small restaurant in a side alley just off one of the town’s main thoroughfares focuses on local ingredients, imaginatively recreated. The priority is on sourcing the freshest produce, and the menu even boasts a little symbol next to those dishes which only contain ingredients the chef sourced on the island. Try the carpaccio of local octopus and the traditional bragjoli (stuffed beef olives) for a mouth-watering evening. 

2. Ristorante Adelina

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A Sicilian trattoria on the Saqqajja steps, this is a firm favourite with anyone in the know. The fare is genuine and unpretentious, with reasonable prices - an evening out here will not break the bank but will leave you satisfied and satiated. Try the fritto misto or – my personal favourite – pasta with prawns and rucola. Perfectly al dente. 

3. Wignacourt Café & Wine Garden

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Hidden away, out of view, Wignacourt Café – just opposite the main church of St Paul in the pjazza, and consisting of a garden which opens up behind the eponymous museum – is easily missed. I only discovered it recently but, as someone who has eaten many pizzas in her time (and continues to do so), this place has the tastiest morsels of topped up cheesy dough I’ve ever had in Malta. Maybe it’s something to do with the garden’s unique sunny aspect, but it doesn’t get much better than sitting outside with a spritz in hand, under the shade of a tree. 

4. Bottegin Palazzo Xara

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This 18th century building has seen many a Rabti come and go, especially on a Sunday morning, when the place is packed to the gills with locals clamouring for their drink after mass. And, the bar is VERY well-stocked, which means you could – feasibly – be there for many an hour. Don’t forget to line your stomach, though. The place also serves up honest fare, though it’s the warm imqaret (yes, with ice cream) which gets me every time. 

5. Dolceria Santa Lucia

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Glorious sweets colour the displays in this institution in the heart of the town. The popular Café Santa Lucija – the second outlet of the Maltese franchise (the first one is located down the road, in Attard) – never disappoints if you’re looking for a sweet aftertaste or a good cuppa, with a slice of soft sponge. Try the Othello (a dark chocolate biscuit cannoli filled with chocolate cream) – not for the lactose intolerant! 

9th July 2019

Rebecca Anastasi
Written by
Rebecca Anastasi
Rebecca has dedicated her career to writing and filmmaking, and is committed to telling stories from this little rock in the Mediterranean.