Our pick of the finest restaurants in Malta for open-air dining, from waterside addresses to historic courtyard eateries
In a country that spends most of its days bathed in sunshine – feeling a twinge of jealousy yet? – it’s only natural that al fresco dining is de rigeur in Malta. After a day spent diving or sprawled on a secluded beach, who, after all, wants to retreat to a dark interior come dinnertime? Instead, combine fine dining with a gentle evening breeze at the top al fresco restaurants in Malta. From the sun-drenched terraces at Rampila Restaurant and Baia Beach Club to the charming courtyards at Ciappetti and Ta’Frenc, these eateries will keep you out ‘till the early hours.
Not willing to travel far from your sunbed? Then try casual dining at its finest at the family-friendly Summer Kitchen where a warm smile and a menu packed with local and international favourites come as standard. Serving up a range of homemade pizzas, moreish appetizers and exotic salads, all from the finest ingredients, why not enjoy a Sea Breeze while supping under the stars.
High-end Ta’ Frenc ranks among the top destination restaurants in Malta, both for its culinary ethos as well as its location. Occupying a historic farmhouse, the Gozo-based restaurant tempts diners outdoors with a balmy courtyard for dining and a fragrant herb garden for aperitif sipping. As for the cuisine, the bulk of the ingredients are locally sourced, including fresh produce from farmers in the Marsalforn Valley, meat supplied by a butcher in Xagħra, and vegetables grown on-site – even the salt is locally cultivated.
Family-run hospitality, locally sourced ingredients, and a lovely interior courtyard entwined with vine leaves and washed in sunlight: no wonder The Medina was recently named Malta’s best restaurant. Situated within Mdina, Malta’s old capital, the little enclave was once a Norman residence. In winter, its fireplaces are warming, but those after sun would do well to nab one of those coveted courtyard covers.
Situated in the heart of Valletta, Rampila Restaurant hosts a generous terrace overlooking the historic city (while newer landmarks, including Renzo Piano’s City Gate, are also in sight). The terrace itself has plenty of history of its own: as part of the city’s 16th-century fortifications, this stony stretch used to house guns and cannons. These days, the spot is entirely more peaceable, with olive trees and a fountain – and is an ideal venue to linger over fresh seafood. For those after postprandial amusement, the restaurant complex also houses a separate wine bar and even a miniature museum.
Located at the water’s edge in Valletta, the stylish Harbour Club is a popular addition to the city’s dining scene – and those stellar views of the Grand Harbour are only part of the reason why. Once you’ve scored an in-demand terrace spot, the menu does the talking: it’s hard to resist Mediterranean-fresh plates like grilled grouper with braised chicory and white and green asparagus millefoglie with Parmesan cream. Or a few Negronis.
As far as restaurants in Malta go, it doesn’t get much lovelier than Ciappetti. Run by a husband-and-wife team in the petite city of Mdina, the restaurant’s medieval interior (the building dates to the Norman era, and also features elements dating from Malta’s Arabic period) is certainly welcoming, though it’s the stony courtyard – filled with twining grape vines and fragrant orange trees – that’s best-suited to al fresco types. For a traditional meal, begin with rabbit stew and finish with a deep-fried date pastry.
Balanced just above Għar Lapsi – one of Malta’s more picturesque swimming holes – Blue Creek, thanks to its cliff-top location, offers truly staggering views of the aquamarine seas that stretch to the horizon. Needless to say, a terrace table is simply the only place to enjoy a meal here. It’s no surprise that seafood is the specialty, nor that the wine list features an impressive selection of Maltese vintages.