I remember, when I was little, around the age of 10, a lot of my mum’s friends would go to Malta on vacation. I always thought, who wants to go to Malta if you can go to Italy. When I turned 12 I had the option of going on a language course, either to the UK or Malta. And again I though London and the rough British weather sounds much more tempting than Malta. Almost 20 years later and I finally did it. I went to Malta with a friend of mine mid of March. With Malta I even hit a little milestone, I visited my 70th country. Honestly I probably wouldn’t have travelled to Malta if it wasn’t for three reasons.
First of all, my friend, who is living in Hamburg didn’t want to fly very long so it had to be something in Europe. Secondly, I only wanted to go somewhere where there was a somewhat good guarantee of sunshine and mild temperature, so it had to be in the South of Europe. And last but not least, and that was the difficult part, I wanted to visit a new country.
I have developed this slight obsession where I need to go to a few new places each year. It’s only March and this year I’ve already been to Sri Lanka, Israel and now Malta. In between I always like to come back to cities or regions I love and that inspire me like London, NYC or Italy. But ultimately my goal is to visit all countries in the world one day and I think I am headed in the right direction. I simply love exploring new cultures, its food scenes, its atmosphere and overall vibe. There is not better feeling that stepping out of an airplane into the unknown. If people speak English, that’s great but if they don’t, like in many Asian countries or South America, that’s were the real fun begins for me.
My mum suggested last Christmas if I wouldn’t like to spend some days at the German Baltic Sea, just relaxing and clearing my mind. I looked at her an said, I relax when I’m in a crowded bus in Sri Lanka, sweating, driving through hilly tea field landscape and watching local life pass by. That’s when my head forgets about everything else and is only present in the moment. Even if it’s stressful sometimes (read most of the times) but these are the moments I draw my energy and inspiration from. Feeling awkward, uneasy and totally out of my comfort zone pushes me forward. It’s what I call happy moments. Even though Malta is not Sri Lanka and local busses are actually quite comfortable I was really looking forward to my trip.
Malta was mainly on my mind because of my online food blogger friend Meike from eat in my kitchen. She recently published a book which is a beautiful mix of all her culinary influences, and one of it is the Maltese cuisine. Meike splits her time between Malta and Berlin, so obviously she was the first one I contacted for food recommendations. You’ll find a few of her tips I wasn’t able to visit (my belly is only so big) at the end of this post.
Generally I would say that Malta’s food scene is very much influenced by its British history. Personally I found that there are too many places which have the exact same menu – burgers, sandwiches and pasta. But if you venture a little off the heavy touristy areas and try to find local spots, you find some hidden gems here and there. The health food scene is still developing but I was surprised to spot a cold pressed juice shop and a delicious vegan place.
A Quick Food Guide to Valletta & Malta
Usually I don’t list my favorite food places in any order but there were two spots in malta which I totally loved. One of it is Prego, a very classic and some would call it old school Cafe. The historical charm is still preserved, from the interior design to the super friendly older gentlemen who work here as waiters. The food is very typical Maltese and I recommend to order one of their savory pastries like the pea pastizz.
Address: 58 South St, Valletta, Malta
The Piadina Caffe is located at one of the hilly streets, so try to get a (tiny) table outside to watch people and soak in the beautiful atmosphere. The breakfast offer is simple but delicious. You can get a bowl of muesli and fruit, an freshly pressed orange juice and a coffee for under 5 €. The ladies behind the counter are extremely friendly and even ran to the shop to by soy milk for my plant-based cappuccino. Another plus, they make their focaccias to order so you don’t end up with soggy sandwich that has been sitting in the counter for hours.
Address: 24, St.Lucia Street, Il-Belt Valletta VLT1186, Malta
On hour last day we were craving something fresh and a little more light than pizza, burger or sandwiches. il kapitali looks more like a bar from the outside but serves delicious Maltese platters with various cheeses, meat, veggies and fish. Their salads are amazing too and we both loved the one with roasted pumpkin and beetroot. They also offer a fantastic range of craft bears and local as well as international wines.
Address: 67 Old Bakery Street, Il-Belt Valletta VLT 1427, Malta
StrEat Whisky Bar & Bistro
We initially went to StrEat Whisky Bar & Bistro for dinner but I wouldn’t recommend their food unless you’re into average burgers. They do have a veggie burger though. However I really loved their cocktail and whiskey menu. We were lucky to get a table outside in a little side street. The atmosphere was relaxing and it almost felt like we were somewhere in Italy where small groups of friends meet after work for drinks and a little chat.
Address: Strait St, Valletta, Malta
Considering that Malta is only a stone’s throw away from Italy and it’s cuisine is also influenced by its Italian neighbors, we had to have pizza one evening. Sotto Pizzeria is a cozy space located in an English basement in one of Malta’s many side streets. In summer you need to make a reservation for dinner. We came early and didn’t have any problems getting a table for two. Sotto offers various pizza doughs and they even have a gluten-free one. So you could eat a gluten-free and vegan pizza. I decided for pizza bianco with porcini mushrooms and truffle oil. And it was a great choice.
Address: 32,, South St, Il-Belt Valletta, Malta
The Grassy Hopper
Before I came to Malta I didn’t even do any research on Vegan places as I (wrongly) assumed that there wouldn’t be any. So the first day I arrived early, had some time to kill till my friend’s arrival and I was hungry. At first I though I just grab a quick pastry for one of the bakeries. But then I passed by The Grassy Hopper, a vegan restaurant with 3 locations in Malta. They basically have everything a health foodie need. However, kitchen is only open until 3.30 pm. I went for a avocado buckwheat bowl which was served with warm (very delicious) kale, pickled purple cabbage and carrot ribbons.
Address: 59,, Triq San Gwann, Il-Belt Valletta, Malta
Caffe Cordina seems to be something of an institution in Valletta. Every guide, no matter if you look for best cafes, best pies or best outdoor seating, lists Caffee Cordina. What I loved about this Cafe was it’s outdoor area. It’s a beautiful spot to watch the busy city life and get your first sunburn if you stay too long. The food is average but the sweet and savory pastries are amazing. Caffe Cordina also served pretty good decaf soy milk cappuccino.
Address: 224 Republic St, Valletta, Malta
Though Mint enjoys a very high rating on Tripadvisor, I was a little disappointed with this health food place. We arrived at around 1 or 2 pm for lunch and unfortunately there were only two r three vegetarian/vegan food options left. All the other sandwiches, salads and quiches included either fish or meat. Though, I have to add that the chickpea cauliflower patty I ordered was decent. The other food looked really good so I would still recommend it if you come early or if you eat meat. It’s a nice and a little healthier alternative to a lot of the restaurants.
Address: Triq Windsor, Tas-Sliema, Malta
Pure Health & Juice Bar
Pure Health & Juice Bar was again another unexpected find while strolling through Sliema. As mentioned in my post about my 3-Days Juice Cleanse Experience I love to taste-test cold-pressed juices in other countries. I again opted for the greenest one which had quite a lot of fruit in it. But I still really liked it. I now wish we would have had lunch here instead of going to Mint. Their salad counter looked fresh and tasty.
Address: High Street, Sliema SLM1548, Malta
The award for best soy milk cappuccino in Malta goes to Caffe’ Berry. Their pastries and cakes are delicious too and they even serve a vegan fruit tart.
Address: San Duminku, Tas-Sliema, Malta
And the award for a delicious and probably the cheapest almond milk cappuccino (1.5 €) I’ve ever had in my life goes to Ta’ Doni. It’s local Maltese delicatessen shop. I would have loved to eat from their fresh and artisan looking range of foods. But we just had just breakfast at Caffe Prego.
Address: 73, Saint Paul’s Street, Rabat, Malta
Recommendations from Meike of eat in my kitchen
Legligin – a cozy Maltese restaurant that offers a delicious tasting menu
Scoglitti – a beautiful seafood restaurant located right at the waterfront where the ferry leaves to Sliema
Da Pippos – only open until lunch (which I realized too late), Meike recommends to order the pasta rizzi