When thinking of Maldivian restaurants, there’s typically one that pops to mind: the extravagant Ithaa Undersea restaurant. But the idyllic Maldives islands have many exquisite ground-level eateries worthy of praise – many of them using freshly caught seafood to make memorably divine dishes. Enjoy our favourites.
Ithaa Undersea restaurant
To dine below sea level, there’s nowhere like the Ithaa Undersea restaurant. Part of the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island resort, this is an exquisite venue specialising in contemporary European dishes of the finest quality. Enjoy a luxurious six-course dinner while revelling in the opportunity to watch reef sharks and manta rays sail past, without the need to don a snorkel. Dishes include delectable malossol imperial caviar and yellowtail kingfish with saffron champagne risotto. Ithaa is a pricey restaurant so for those with a tight budget, enjoy a mid-morning cocktail or a four-course lunch instead of the more extravagant dinner option.
Serving a mix of Maldivian and international dishes in a trendy, low-key setting, the Jazz Café is hugely popular with young and old tourists and locals. The cafe often hosts live music gigs with talented local musicians entertaining diners with their renditions of great jazz, rock and soul numbers, making this a great choice of restaurant for an enjoyable and relaxing dinner. Dishes on offer include yellow chicken curry, roshi, beef and onion stir fry, and roast chicken with barbecue sauce. The menu varies slightly each day, encouraging diners to return to try something new.
KITCHEN, W Maldives
Reinventing the modern bistro, KITCHEN is W Maldives’ answer to round-the-clock dining. Open for a semi-buffet breakfast, an exquisite lunch throughout the day and a highly reputed à la carte dinner menu, it’s a great place to dine at any time of the day. Serving eclectic cuisine, the restaurant’s top chefs take much-loved simple dishes and give them unique twists to make them extra special. Open cooking stations let you watch the chefs prepare the beautiful dishes – and the setting makes for the best sunset views imaginable.
A stunning alternative to the undersea restaurant, Muraka sits atop the sea at the end of a jetty. An open-floor section provides a window into the sea world below as waves lap around the rustic, wooden restaurant, creating the most relaxing and equally luxurious setting. The dishes at Muraka are each presented like works of art, as pleasing to the eyes as to the palate. The restaurant specialises in local seafood complemented by exotic flavours, so opt for the Whole Fish Delight for an extra-indulgent dining experience. With this option, the chef prepares a whole fish selected by the table, right in front of them. Another great dining option is the Maldivian experience menu, comprising four decadent courses of authentic local cuisine.
Offering delectable dishes in stunning surroundings, One & Only’s Reethi restaurant has views over the ocean and an open-concept kitchen with floor-to-ceiling glass screens. The cuisine is a fusion of Asia-Pacific and Mediterranean flavours, with themed nights to show off the most popular dishes. Every Monday, Reethi restaurant becomes Italian, as the chefs put on an elaborate spread of fine charcuterie, homemade pasta, gnocchi, risotto and grilled treats. Fridays are Indian-themed, with several live cooking stations, tandoors and curries stealing the show. Throughout the rest of the week, breakfast, lunch and dinner are served à la carte while wine connoisseurs can enjoy browsing the walk-in wine room to choose their favourite bottle.
The chefs at Sala Thai go to great effort to ensure they only use healthy ingredients in their dishes. Every week, a new batch of ingredients is flown in fresh from Asia, enabling the chefs to continue serving generous portions of delicious authentic Siamese dishes. Situated within the small Sala Boutique Hotel, this restaurant makes for the perfect escape from the bustling streets of Male, for a calm and relaxing lunch or dinner. The traditional panang curry and the shrimp marinated in a spicy fish sauce are both tasty menu options to be enjoyed in the picturesque outdoor courtyard dining area.
Seagull Café House
A charming split-level, sandy floored eatery, the Seagull Café House is the ideal spot for people-watching – while tucking into a delicious lunch or refreshing ice cream. Offering an eclectic menu of Western, Indian and Maldivian cuisine, Seagull’s has a take on the British classic of fish and chips, Tuscan shrimp with garden vegetables and potato wedges, snapper in a coconut curry sauce, and dhal and spinach curry – with a cold glass of papaya juice. No meal is complete without sampling at least one of the 30 ice cream flavours on offer, from pineapple to coconut and blackberry to bubblegum.
Operated by the oldest restaurant brand in the capital, Symphony Lagoon consistently excels in offering family-appropriate bistro-style dining. Choose to dine in the tropical-themed casual restaurant or in the pretty outdoor garden area. It’s even possible to enjoy a romantic candlelit dinner on the beach – complete with soft background music for those extra special evenings. Favourite dishes include the vegetable curry, fried noodles, grilled cuttlefish and Lebanese chicken with garlic rice. Be sure to leave room for dessert, as there are always great choices on the menu.
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