Indulge in the Ultimate Sunday Lunch in Malta : 11Top Restaurant Picks

Created by Colleen Sims * 21 August 2023 * Updated 21 August 2023

If you are planning a trip to the beautiful island of Malta, and you’re there over the weekend, make sure to find time to experience a traditional Maltese Sunday Lunch.

In Malta, Sunday still holds special significance, intertwining rest, religion, and family. For many families, after Sunday Mass, they’ll enjoy a leisurely meal where multiple generations come together to share a fabulous Sunday Lunch, as well each other’s company.

Malta Pastizz; is a traditional savoury pastry from Malta.  We saw these in a shop window in Valletta fresh from the oven

Ask a Local Where to Eat Sunday Lunch

During a food tour in Valletta, our guide emphasized the significance of Sunday lunch in her own family. She explained how, at least once a month, the entire family comes together to share a traditional Sunday Lunch, always cooked by her mother!  In recent years, while the pace of life has changed on Malta and families have moved away from traditional home, Sunday lunch remains an important part of the cultural fabric.

Our Guide recommended a fabulous hidden gem of a restaurant for us.  If you’re visiting the islands then we recommend taking the opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich gastronomy of Malta by indulging in a glorious Sunday Lunch!

Historical Influences in Maltese Cuisine

Maltese cuisine has been influenced by a blend of cultures due to the island’s strategic location in the Mediterranean and its history of colonization.  This influence has helped to create the diversity and richness of the modern Maltese culinary landscape.

  • Arab Influence is evident in the use of spices, herbs, and flavors in Maltese dishes. Dishes like imqarrun il-forn (baked macaroni) and helwa tat-Tork (a sweet sesame confection) showcase this influence.
  • Malta’s proximity to Italy has led to a strong Italian influence. Pasta dishes, such as timpana (baked pasta pie are reminiscent of Italian culinary traditions.
  • Sicily, the largest nearby island, has had a significant impact. Shared ingredients, cooking techniques, and the use of tomatoes, capers, and olives are all elements borrowed from Sicilian cuisine.
  • Catalan-Aragonese period introduced elements of Spanish cuisine, such as certain spices, almonds, and a sweet-and-savoury combination in dishes and an alternative form of tapas has been adopted.
  • The ancient Phoenicians and Romans introduced agricultural practices and ingredients including olives, grapes, wheat, and various legumes.
Enormous Salt Falts on Gozo; this method of salt farming was brought to Malta and Gozo by the Pheonicians and Romans.
The Phoenicians and Romans started salt collection in Malta
  • The Knights of Malta brought their own culinary traditions to the island. They introduced dishes that reflected their European heritage but also their time spent in the Holy Land and the Middle East.
  • Malta was a British colony and British-style tea and baked goods like pastizzi (which have similarities to British pastries) have become part of Maltese culture.
  • Malta’s location close to North Africa has also influenced its cuisine. Spices, couscous, and flavour combinations that are very reminiscent of North African can be found.

These influences have come together to create the unique and diverse flavour which is pure Maltese. While the island has been influenced, it has retained its own distinct culinary identity too and this is evident in the traditional Sunday lunch feast!


  • Highly Rated Tour
  • Food and Drinks tasting
  • Excellent Guides

Typical Sunday Lunch Menus and Dishes

This traditional Sunday lunch usually involves of a number of courses, with the first course consisting of Maltese bread, cheese or olives and olive oil to start. This is often followed by an antipasto tray such as pickled vegetables, cured meats and olives and sun dried tomatoes, often served on a large sharing plate. A word or warning, this sharing platter is a meal in itself!

Sunday Lunch in Valletta.  People gather at tables in local restaurants with friends and share a traditional meal together.

The main course often features grilled meats such as rabbit, lamb, stewed pigeon or other delicious meat dishes as well as stews and fish dishes.  They are usually accompanied by a variety of vegetables such as mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, beans, potatoes, and salad. The meal is completed with a sweet dessert course such as kannoli (traditional pastries filled with ricotta), almond cake or fig jam tart.

A selection of local wines such as Ghajn Tuffieha (a white wine) or Marsovin (a red wine) are often served alongside the meal.

Some of the most famous and most popular dishes are :

Rabbit Stew (Stuffat Tal-Fenek)

Rabbit stew is a beloved and iconic Maltese dish that is commonly enjoyed during Sunday lunch. It’s prepared by slow-cooking rabbit pieces with garlic, onions, tomatoes, red wine and various herbs and spices.

a plate of typical Maltese rabbit stew, Stuffat Tal-Fenek.  Served in a beautiful Maltese blue and white dish.  This is a favourite Sunday Lunch recipe.


Kusksu is a traditional Maltese soup made with broad beans, peas, pasta, and a tomato-based broth. It’s often served as a starter during Sunday lunch.

Roasted Meats

Roast Lamb is a favourite, alongside chicken, duck, pigeon, pork and beef are also popular choices for Sunday lunch. These meats are often seasoned with local herbs and spices, then slow-roasted to perfection.


These small, round goat’s cheeselets are an integral part of Maltese cuisine. They can be enjoyed fresh or dried and are often served as an appetizer.

Traditional Maltese Cheese and a Maltese Sharing Platter.


Timpana is a baked pasta dish that resembles a pie. It’s made with macaroni, minced meat, eggs, and cheese, all encased in a pastry crust. While it’s not exclusively reserved for Sundays, it can be a special addition to the meal.

Fish and Seafood

Given Malta’s Mediterranean location, fish and seafood play a significant role in Sunday lunch menus. Dishes like baked or grilled fish, seafood pasta, and octopus stew might make appearances.

Hobz Biz-Zejt

This rustic dish consists of crusty Maltese bread soaked in olive oil, rubbed with ripe tomatoes, and topped with a mixture of tuna, capers, olives, and onions.

Hobz Biz-Zejt and maltese dish of local bread with tomato, olives, olive oil and capers and beans


 Bragioli are beef olives stuffed with a mixture of minced meat, breadcrumbs, parsley, and sometimes garlic. They are cooked in a rich tomato sauce.


Imqaret are sweet pastries made from a date filling that is wrapped in thin pastry dough and deep-fried. They are a popular dessert or sweet treat.


Figolla is a traditional Easter treat that consists of almond-filled pastry shaped into various forms and decorated with icing.

Our Sunday Lunch on Malta

During our food tour in Valletta, our guide recommend one of her favourite restaurants. She told us that it wasn’t really a tourist destination but it was very popular with locals and that was enough for Gerry to book a table. She also recommend he try the Rabbit Stew.

We found their website and contacted in advance to book a table; apparently it’s always busy. And we also wanted to explain in advance that I have dietary needs (no gluten and no dairy).

The restaurant is called United Behind the Church in Mgarr. You should be aware that there are two United’s and we can’t vouch for the other. But what we can say is that ours was fabulous and very traditional and full of locals. We hired a car to get around Malta so reaching the restaurant wasn’t a problem for us; there are local buses that run to Mgarr.

We enjoyed a fabulous Sunday Lunch at United Behing the Church at Mgarr.  The restaurant was full of locals and decorated for Christmas

Gerry’s Review of Our Sunday Lunch in Mgarr

Around the coast and in Valletta there are a good choice of restaurants if you search them out but many of these restaurants cater for tourists. So being told to go inland and off the beaten track for more traditional fare is just what I love.

As a small island with few cattle it’s not surprising that rabbit is the national dish, typically fried or stewed. We were told that the small town of Mgarr was a famous centre for the dish and Sunday lunch was a must. So we headed to United Restaurant Behind the Church.

I emailed and pre-warned them that Colleen was gluten and dairy free and received a prompt confirmation. We drove and parked near the church and made our way into a very Maltese style restaurant full of local clientele. I suspect we were the only tourists as a lot of Maltese was being spoken. It had a great atmosphere!

Romano greeted us very cheerfully, he discussed Colleen’s choices in detail and helped her choose a meal. It felt very professional and he even chose a local wine for us, which was perfect with the meal.

For starters we chose a shared Maltese Platter, with olives and capers and cold cuts and pates and tomatoes and artichokes and bread and crackers; we were full before the main even arrived!

For the main course, I chose the rabbit stew from the menu and I wasn’t disappointed. It was rich and earthy with a hint of cinnamon; it reminded me a lot of North African cuisine. Colleen opted for a very appetising duck breast and it was cooked exactly how she likes it. We were both too full for desserts but they looked as appetising as the other courses, we opted instead for coffee.

A couple of hours after arriving, we left very full from our lunch and happy with our choice. Service was still in full flow in this very busy restaurant; I suspect Sunday Lunch would continue for a few more hours.

If you are looking to experience a traditional Maltese Sunday lunch then I would thoroughly recommend United in Mgarr!

We had a fabulous Sunday Lunch at United in Mgarr.  Make sure you choose the restaurant with the blue logo with a red cross.

Great Restaurants serving a Traditional Sunday Lunch in Malta

If you’re in search of a great place to enjoy a traditional Maltese Sunday lunch, look no further than the following restaurants. Gerry’s done a ton of research as it’s surprising how many restaurants on Malta are not open for Sunday lunch.

If you’re based in Valletta you’ll need to look at options for getting to these restaurants; take a look at our Getting Around Malta guide for transport options.

United Restaurant (Mgarr)

Offering traditional Mediterranean and Maltese cuisine and is hugely popular with locals; and highly rated on TripAdvisor too.

They handled special dietary requests very well and when we’re back in Malta we’d definitely return to United.

United Restaurant in Mgarr, where we had our Maltese Sunday Lunch

Diar il-Bniet

Diar il-Bniet restaurant has won local awards and offers cooking classes, hampers and other extras to make your visit special.

They specialise in local fresh produce and traditional rural cuisine.

Diar il-Bniet restaurant offers traditional sunday lunches on Malta

Ta’ Kris

Ta’ Kris in Sliema is recognized for its rustic charm and emphasis on Maltese flavors.

While it embraces traditional recipes, the restaurant also infuses its menu with modern elements

website for Ta' Kris in Sliema Maltese restaurant


  • Highly Rated Tastings
  • Insight to Maltese Culture
  • Excellent Value for Money

Where the Locals go to Eat Sunday Lunch on Malta

If you’re looking to get a taste of local Maltese cuisine, then why not head to one of the popular restaurants that locals frequent? Whether it be for a casual bite or an elegant evening meal, these establishments offer up some truly delicious dishes.


Ta Marija opened in 1964, calls itself a Gastro Maltese Restaurant and is a favourite with locals.

In recent years it has grown its culinary reputation and is most definitely now a destination and offers some special occasion events

website for Ta Marija a Gastro Maltese Restaurant


Rubino in Valletta opened in 1906 as a confectioners and has been well-known to Maltese as a great place for sweet treats. But it now offers dining too based around its Sicilian heritage.

Make sure you leave room for dessert!

Rubino restaurant website


Rampila is situated in the historic bastions of Valleta, built by the Knights of St John in the sixteenth century.

Vallettans love to dine here. They even have a lunch club for regulars.

website for Rampila as restaurant in historic Valletta

Looking for a More Modern Sunday Lunch on Malta?

Modern Maltese cuisine is being shaped by traditional flavours and international influences. Maltese chefs and home cooks now seek to include a wider range of global flavours.  A new breed of chefs are blending different culinary traditions leading to new, creative and innovative dishes. 

Plant-based and vegetarian options, farm-to-table dining, and sustainable practices are becoming more and more prevalent in Maltese restaurants and kitchens. And the growth of the restaurant scene in Malta, particularly in urban areas, has led to increased creativity, with chefs experimenting with new ingredients, flavours, and presentations catering to both locals and tourists.

There are notable restaurants in Malta known for creating modern dishes :


Loa is based in St. Paul’s Bay.

The restaurant offers fusion South American and modern Latino cooking. Who would have thought on Malta ! A great taste experience.

website for Loa restaurant in St Pauls Bay


Muza is housed in the museum of the same name in Valletta.

We stumbled across this restaurant whilst dodging the rain. Choose this luxury option after your visit the museum

Restuarnat for Muza in Valletta


ION is one of Valletta’s Michelin Star Restaurant open for Sunday. 

Famous chef Simon Rogan showcases his cuisines from a great location in old Valletta. However the restaurant it is not open at Sunday lunchtime; it’s worth waiting for dinner though instead!

website for Ion one of Valletta's Michelin Star Restaurants

Do you Prefer a Buffet Sunday Lunch?

We noticed that a lot of folks were searching for a buffet style Sunday lunch on Malta when researching this post. Gerry spent some time looking for great restaurants which specifically offered a buffet Sunday lunch option and found that there is a very limited choice of buffet restaurants in Malta outside the all-inclusive resorts.

He found two very popular options but if you know of more please do let us know!


Enjoy the renowned carvery Sunday Lunch at Tabloid ; the signature restaurant at AX The Palace in Tas-Sliema on Malta.

This is a popular Sunday lunch venue and you should always make a reservation in advance.

website for carvery Sunday Lunch at Tabloid restuarant in Sliema on Malta.


Copperfield’s Restaurant in Sliema is part of the AX The Victoria Hotel.

They tell us that you can enjoy a Sunday lunch feast bursting with flavour but do check in advance that the buffet is available as currently it is only available in winter.

website for Copperfield’s Restaurant in Sliema
Green tomato, red strawberries and a field on onions and salad growing in a field on Malta in December
Fresh produce growing in the fields in December on Malta

Take a Specialist Food Tour in Malta

Wherever we travel in the world we either like to take a great food or wine tasting tour or even a cookery class. We find we learn so much about the spirit and heart of a country this way; and we get to enjoy some fabulous food!

Valletta and Malta were no exception and we really enjoyed our food tour; select one of these great tours and you won’t be disappointed!

The Last Word : Sunday Lunch in Malta

Our Sunday lunch experience at a traditional Maltese restaurant really was one of the highlights of our visit. Having already taken a food tasting culinary adventure in Valletta we learned a great deal about both Maltese food and the Sunday Lunch culture on the islands.

Now we hope that our guide has inspired you and your taste buds to experience your own Sunday Lunch indulgence on Malta. Either from one of the more traditional family-run eateries to some of the fabulous award winning restaurants or hotel buffet style carveries that we’ve listed.

Malta offers a plethora of dining options and their amazing history makes for a diverse culinary landscape that will leave you wanting more. (Writing this post from France makes me want to book a flight for our next trip!)

We hope you enjoy your Sunday Lunch lunch experience in Malta! And like us we hope you’ll find traditional Maltese flavours, warm hospitality and a rich gastronomic culture.

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