Malta restaurants can be found everywhere that tourists congregate, along with several hidden treasures off the beaten path. For a true taste of authentic island food, spend some time seeking out small, family owned restaurants in Malta where the locals dine—that is the true measure of authentic dishes. Many natives resent having cuisine in Malta described as simply a slight variation on the cuisine of its nearest neighbors such as Italy, Greece, and North Africa. However, it is true that most of the food in Malta is typically Mediterranean with its heavy reliance of fresh fish and local produce.
Most Malta dining will treat you to the kind of healthy rustic fare that makes similar diets found on Greek islands including Crete and Ikaria among the healthiest in the world. The traditional cuisine in Malta is derived in large part from the influences of thousands of years of conquest and occupation, as well as centuries of trade and commerce. The rocky soil, similar to nearby Sicily and the Greek islands, is not good for cattle. Therefore, there is little beef. Lamb and goats are common meats, and the cheese made from their milk is an integral part of many dishes. Similarly, the soil is excellent for olive orchards, and the climate is perfect for viticulture. So there are vineyards and wineries, and olive oil is used in virtually every dish. A typical traditional meal in Malta restaurants might include local wine served with a dish of local olives, gbejniet (an assortment of sheep milk cheeses), homemade Maltese bread for dipping in olive oil, and a sausage or cheese stuffed pastry. Look also for hearty homemade soups, including minestra, a thick vegetable soup similar to the minestrone of Italy. Desserts include many forms of sweet pasta, as well as almond and nougat pastries. The meal is almost always followed by rich, strong coffee.
If you are looking for Malta restaurants with more international flavor, you will find them concentrated mostly in and around the several luxury hotels. These concentrate primarily on gourmet cuisine from Italy and Asian fusion fare that includes sushi from Japan, as well as menus from China, Thailand, and India. These luxury hotels and resorts will be found mainly in the capital city of Valletta as well as its suburbs of St Julians, Paceville, and Sliema. There are also some around Mellieha. There are a number of Middle Eastern restaurants, including those specializing in menus from Turkey and North Africa.
A large percentage of tourists are from the United Kingdom, and you will find good Malta dining in many English and Irish pubs. These are primarily concentrated around the beaches and the areas with good nightlife, which include St Julians and Paceville. You will also find the best seafood cuisine in Malta around the fishing areas such as Valletta's Grand Harbour.
It is even possible to enjoy Malta dining using ingredients you obtained yourself. There are fishing charters available from the harbors and villages, and a number of chefs in some hotels are happy to grill up your own catch and serve it to you at dinner. While not for everyone, popular local snails are easy to collect during autumn hiking trips and have made into a traditional Maltese stew. If you are taking advantage of vacation rentals with equipped kitchens or one of the villas available for rent, you can also cook your own meals. And you will find that shopping in the markets daily for fresh produce as the locals do is a wonderful cultural experience.