Food & drink
Your fine dining bucket list: 20 restaurants you NEED to check out on the Maltese Islands
Visit when you’re feeling fancy!

Kristina Cassar Dowling

Eating out relieves home cooks of the stress of preparing a meal at home (and the trouble of cleaning up afterwards), while opening up our palates to new cuisines. Taking your taste buds on a deeper journey however requires a certain finesse that can only be achieved in top-class eateries - fine dining establishments whose chefs are driven by wowing their customers with innovative textures, flavour profiles, ingredient choices and colours. Ambience and service also come into play. So when you're feeling fancy, these 20 restaurants are set to deliver nothing less than a superb dining experience.

1. HSixty6, Paceville

Relatively new to the scene, yet set on the most stable of pillars, HSixty6 is the brainchild of the late Hugo Chetcuti, a restaurateur whose name can’t be avoided in the thriving Paceville region. Think elegant plating, gastronomic wonders together with the most mouth-watering dishes and you’ll find yourself with a gorgeously plated dish crafted with only the finest of ingredients.

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2. Risette, Valletta

Home to a number of best-sellers, Valletta’s Risette is set at delivering quality food with exquisite service in a stunning environment. Take local, natural ingredients, a dash of creative thinking and a sprinkle of modern culture for a full-bodied meal that will drag you back in for more in the least reluctant way possible.

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3. Tarragon, St Paul’s Bay

Marvin Gauci is an award-winning chef with quite a few achievements under his belt. His exposure in the local restaurant scene is most known in the St Paul’s Bay Tarragon, where molecular gastronomy is paired with elite ingredients, a spectacular view of St Paul’s Islands and a phenomenal wine list. A menu that’s not to be missed.

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4. Barracuda, Balluta

If fresh fish, silver service and a happily satisfied belly is what you’re after; look no further than Barracuda in Balluta. The 40-year-old establishment is perched on the edge of the St Julian’s-come-Sliema promenade, elevated over the sea and providing a wonderful view. That's not to mention the excellent cuisine, where flavours meet classic dishes broken by the out-of-the-box thinking our beautiful Med provides.

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5. San Andrea, Palazzo Castelletti, Rabat

A beautiful courtyard, a full wine list, elegant service and the smooth sounds of jazz open the doors to the Rabat-based Palazzo Castelletti, where the San Andrea restaurant finds its home. With select ingredients like luscious foie gras and prime cuts of meat, this fine dining resto is packed with choices for fancier diners to faun over.

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6. Rickshaw, Attard

If you’re thinking Asian but want to upscale your food options, there’s no doubt Attard’s Rickshaw, set within the Corinthia Palace, will suit your palate. The staples will always catch your eye, but live a little and try the more peculiar choices on the menu. From warming bowls of soup to the freshest of salads, moreish appetisers and tantalising clay pots filled with premium quality ingredients prepared in an Asian fusion style.

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7. Bahia, Lija

You’ll never understand the wonders of dining out if Bahia is not ticked off your bucket list. From menu presentation to an incredible waiting team whose service etiquette and knowledge of the menu is profound, this watery really stands out. Then there’s the food - indescribable by the highest of standards and carefully presented down to a T. Wine for days and sensational homemade liqueurs are two of the many surprises you can expect from this Lija restaurant.

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8. The de Mondion, Mdina

The view from Mdina’s altitude is unfathomable. The experience at The de Mondion is insurmountable. If that doesn't impress you, then maybe the vast menu will. Scallops, veal sweetbreads, truffle, local prawn and smoked eel might catch your eye… and that’s only the starters. The mains and desserts are just as jaw dropping, and the wines are perfectly paired to suit your meal choice.

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9. The Lord Nelson, Mosta

Odd combinations and wild mains are to be expected in this locally renowned restaurant where the picture-perfect plating and modern techniques together create a mind blowing experience for the perfect dinner. The Lord Nelson in Mosta is open for dinner and welcomes its guests to experience a textural, visual and palatable renaissance.

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10. Patrick’s Lounge, Victoria, Gozo

Gozo is no stranger to fine food choices and Patrick’s Lounge in Victoria is by far one of the top. A tasting menu presents Champagne tempura prawn, slightly smoked barbary duck, truffled beetroots and a dessert surprise all paired with the finest of wines you’ll ever meet in your fine, well-rounded foodie goals.

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11. Harbour Club, Valletta

The first thing you need to know about The Harbour Club is that the view before you will be outstandingly flawless. Sit and watch Birgu’s bastions bask in the Mediterranean sunlight while sipping at a glass of your fav wine. When the sides in a dish sound even better than the main food item, you know you’re in for a treat - check out this Valletta-based eatery for the ultimate foodgasm.

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12. Commando, Mellieha

Mellieha-based Commando had no chance of missing this list. Perched upon a beautiful hilltop overlooking the picturesque Mellieha Bay, Commando offers a full menu of classic fine cuisine dishes taken up a notch by the superior kitchen staff where Chef Damian Ciappara works his magic.

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13. Ta’ Frenc, Xaghra, Gozo

Ta’ Frenc is one of Gozo’s top spots to sit back, relax and eat to your heart’s (and stomach’s) content. The chef’s clever use of flambée techniques have made them famous for their steak Diane, crêpes Suzette and sought-after pasta seafood. A romantic date for big eaters might lead you to the the Chateaubriand, carved at your table for some added flashiness.

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14. 59 Republic, Valletta

Chicken dumpling, meatball fondue, beef wellington and dark chocolate fondant are but a few of the mouthwatering dishes on the Fifty Nine Republic menu. This casual fine dining experience takes you on a gastronomic journey in the heart of the capital - this is a must try when on the rock.

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15. Giuseppi’s, Salina

Giuseppi’s in Salina is set on delivering high quality food with a menu that changes according to the season, and focuses on full flavours with ethnic spices, fresh herbs and creative flavour combinations. The view of Salina Bay gives your rich meal the perfect backdrop for an al fresco lunch on a warm Sunday afternoon.

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16. Zest, St Julian’s

Situated in the heart of Malta’s foodie capital, or at least one of the plenty on the island, Zest is your go-to for gourmet Asian dining. With beautifully decorated plates serving up some of the finest flavours in Asian Fusion where Japanese, Vietnamese and even Singaporean take on western cuisine. Try the buffet available monthly for your chance to sample all their umami focused dishes.  

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17. Ic-Civil, Valletta

Elegant plating, generous portions and a whole lotta flavour; Ic-Civil is a Valletta-based resto focused on delivering its customers good food prepared with precision, robust flavours and fresh ingredients. Choosing the right dish on your visit may be a difficult task, with TripAdvisor reviews a short cry away from perfect. Skipping breakfast before your visit may not be a bad idea.

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18. Hammett’s Macina, Isla

The first thing you need to do when you get to Hammett’s Macina in Isla is order yourself a signature cocktail; be it the Earl Grey infused Revolution or the vodka spiked Adam’s Apple. In fact, just get your boozy friends together for an evening where excellent drinks meet super ingredients prepared in only the most elegant of ways.

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19. Blue Elephant, St Julian’s

The Blue Elephant is all about fine Asian eating. With spectacular cocktails, a luxurious setting and scrumptious food, you’ll be in for a super dining experience. Not only does Blue Elephant cater for the carnivorous eaters out there, it has time and time again delivered the goods on exquisite vegetarian options to please the veggies in your circle of friends.

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20. Taro at The Villa, St Julian’s

Fancy some Wagyu? Or even a spot of wood pigeon? Maybe it’s venison you’re after? Then you have no other choice than Taro at The Villa, where these select food items will boost your connoisseurship in fine food, giving you a highly sought after sensory experience with a unique balance of flavours presented on every dish. You’ll be sitting in St Julian’s outstanding Villa, where the ambience is pretty hard to replicate, with the mesh of urban and fine living moulding into one dining area.

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So go on, find a special occasion or simply make one up - choose your favourite and dig right in!


Kristina Cassar Dowling
Written by
Kristina Cassar Dowling
A local writer in love with the Maltese islands, Kristina is a hunter for all things cultural both in Malta and outside its shores. A curious foodie, music fanatic, art lover and keen traveller with an open mind and a passion for writing.

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