What is Maltese food? 7 must-try dishes in Malta

Malta has a distinctive food culture thanks to its mild climate, proximity to fresh seafood from the Mediterranean and a mix of cultural influences including Greek, Italian, French and British. Food is reasonably priced and, if you make some friends on the islands, you’ll quickly discover that any occasion is an excuse for a feast. To make the most of your meals, use this guide to essential Maltese foods and dishes to try and where to find them


Pastizzi (pictured above) are the ultimate Maltese street food, served in every village and town in the country—usually for less than €1. The diamond-shaped, flaky pastries are traditionally filled with ricotta cheese but are sometimes filled with peas and spinach, tuna, rabbit or, during Holy Week, spinach and anchovies.

Where to eat: Crystal Palace

Some say the best pastizzi in Malta can be found at Crystal Palace, an iconic pastizzeria that has been a mainstay in Rabaa for over a century, but rest assured you’ll find delicious options almost everywhere. Just follow your nose and find the line.

Rabbit Stew

Rabbit stew plate in birgur tal-petu

Every Maltese family has its own recipe for rabbit stew, but some of the best are served in birgur tal-petu.

Photo by Renata Apanaviciene/Shutterstock

Stafat tal-fenek, or rabbit stew, is considered Malta’s national dish, fed practically from birth on every proud Maltese person. The Phoenicians introduced rabbits to Malta, but their popularity exploded in Roman times, as the Romans believed that eating baby rabbits made women more beautiful. They fell out of fashion during the Knights of St. John era from 1530 to 1798, when rabbit hunting was banned, but became popular again after they began destroying farmers’ crops and hunting was reintroduced.

All this means that, while in Malta, you must try to attend one fan cut, an elaborate feast (especially in Magar villages) involving large numbers of rabbits. If you miss the opportunity, you should at least try the Maltese rabbit stew. Every family has their own secret recipe, but most combine red wine, tomato paste, olive oil, garlic, onion, bay leaf, and of course, rabbit.

Where to eat: Tal-Petut

Best place to sample Rabbit Stew Someone’s at Nanna’s house, but in a pinch, go gluttonousJust outside Valletta in Birgu, where the prix fixe menu features food.

lampuki pie

Lampuki Pie with Criss-Cross Crust.

Lampuki Pie is a mash-up of English, Arabic and Italian flavors.

Photo by Paige Frederick/Shutterstock

Lumpuki (Mahi Mahi) is Malta’s unofficial national fish, but you need to order it between August and December, when the schools move closer, to get it fresh. Local fishermen have been using the same method to catch lampuki since Roman times, weaving palm tree fronds into flat rafts, which they take out to sea with their traditional fishing boats. As fish cluster under rafts seeking shade from the afternoon sun, fishermen cast their nets, then sell their catch to local restaurants.

You can have lampuki in a variety of ways, but instead of the most common preparation (pan-fried in a tomato sauce with capers, olives and lemon), opt for lampuki pie. The dish has a wonderful mix of Malta’s biggest cultural influences—English (delicious pies are practically a religion in the UK), Arabic (mint, lemon zest, and raisins), and Italian (tomatoes, capers, and olives)—all wrapped up. Up into a flaky pastry crust.

Where to try: Cafe Jubilee

  • location: multiple locations

Try the popular lampuki pie Jubilee Cafe, which has two locations in Malta and a sister island in Gozo. If you like your lampuki whole, not in a pie, head to Marsaxlokk, a village best known for its Sunday fish market. If you don’t plan to cook back at your Airbnb, skip the market and instead join the locals who come here to enjoy a leisurely lunch at seafood-forward restaurants such as fine-dining on the pier. fresh and more casual A schooner– both of which are a nice whole fish.

Hobza and ftira (Maltese bread)

Baguette-shaped Hobza bread at a bakery.

Get your bread in Qormi, a town in central Malta with around 50 bakeries

If you ask Maltese expats what food they miss the most, many will say a loaf of good, old-fashioned Maltese bread, either drizzled with olive oil, rubbed with tomato or topped with olives. traditional the bread Dark-brown crust and springy dough that’s delightfully chewy.

Hobja’s cousin, D a party, a flatter and softer bread, shaped like a ring. It is often topped with sardines, tuna, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, capers or olives. For an affordable, tasty and filling lunch, order a tuna sandwich at ftira—you won’t be disappointed. inside 2020, it has been added On UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list, emphasizing the cultural importance of the islands.

Where to eat: Nenu the Artisan Baker

You can find a great version of ftira here Nenu the Artisan Baker, a wonderful eatery founded by the owner of Malta’s popular Maypole bakery chain, but you should also make a pilgrimage to Kormi, a town in central Malta known for its nearly 50 bakeries. Here locals celebrate their love for bread every October Overnight at Casal Fornaro (Quarmi Bread Festival) with traditional music, art and food stalls.

Widow’s Soup and Alliota (Fish Soup)

A bowl of rust-colored widow's soup, with ingredients like potatoes, carrots, and peas.

Widow’s soup consists of ingredients such as potatoes, carrots and peas.

Photo by Renata Apanaviciene/Shutterstock

A satisfying choice, especially during the winter months, armala soup is a Maltese staple made with potatoes, carrots, peas, garlic, cauliflower, beans and sometimes we started (goat cheese) or ricotta melted into the broth. Its name comes from the fact that the ingredients are simple and cheap, so even widows can make it.

In restaurants, you will see more often from the beginning—from which the name derives garlic, the Italian word for garlic—as a soup substitute. Since meat is forbidden during Lent (Malta is a predominantly Catholic nation), this garlicky, pescatarian soup is a popular, traditional dish to eat during this time (although you’ll see it on many menus throughout the year).

Where to eat: Rampila

History buffs won’t want to miss out on the food Rampila, is located in the old bastions (castle walls) that surround Valletta and serves an array of sophisticated, traditional Maltese dishes, including aljota. On a nice day, ask for a table on its terrace overlooking the old town. Otherwise, relax in its cavernous dining room, which is built like the castle walls, made entirely of a light, sandy-colored limestone.


Square pieces of tympana for sale.

Essentially baked macaroni in pastry, timpana is a Maltese comfort food.

Photo by Steve Estvanik/Shutterstock

Timpana is best described as macaroni with meat sauce baked in a pie. A nod to Malta’s Italian influence, it’s basically a second cousin to baked jiti, but with boiled eggs, sometimes chicken livers, and a flaky pastry crust for good measure.

Where to eat: Gululu or Ta’ Marija

Get your fix at group St. Julian or Mary’s, a lively eatery in central Malta that also has excellent rabbit stew (front (in Maltese means “belonging to”.)

It’s garbage

Flat, rectangular date pastry known as imkaret

End your meal in Malta with a date pastry known as imcaret.

Photo by Lisa Marr/Shutterstock

By now, you’ve gathered that you’re not going to lose any weight while in Malta, so don’t skimp on dessert. For a traditional treat, save room for some to read, a rectangular shaped dessert made of pastry and date filing. Date pastries are popular throughout the Middle East and the delicious Imkaret speaks to the Arab influence in Malta.

Where to find it: Emmanuel’s Bakery

Sometimes you will see people selling treats from street stalls, especially during parties (big religious celebration), but you can also get delicious imkaret here Emmanuel’s Bakery In Qormi, the Maltese village is best known for its bread.

This article was originally published in 2019. It was last updated on February 27, 2023. Jesse Beck Contributed to the reporting of this story.

Related Articles

Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker