Culturally speaking, breakfast is not the most popular meal among the Maltese. Which is not to say you’ll struggle to find anything from characterful corner cafés to sophisticated restaurants opening early on in the day; indeed, there’s something to suit every taste and budget. Read on to find out the best places to grab anything from a full English to something more traditional.
Crystal Palace is a bit of an institution. A small no-frills tea and coffee bar close to Rabat’s Roman Villa, and a couple minutes’ walk from the entrance to Mdina, it holds a reputation among locals for some of the best pastizzi (a popular traditional pastry snack filled with either peas or ricotta) anywhere on the island. When it opened some 60 years ago it mostly attracted British servicemen. Today it’s a favourite spot for locals and has an eclectic mix of early morning customers: party goers at the end of their night out and all-night taxi drivers tend to flock at the same twilight hours.
Situated just around the corner from St John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta, Piadina Caffe opens early in the morning to serve a breakfast menu consisting of fresh croissants, muesli, toasts topped with Italian hams and their speciality the piadina (a type of flat bread hailing from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy). It is the perfect place to grab a quick bite around lunch time, or to take in the morning slowly, resting on chairs on the long steps outside of the café.
An icon of Maltese cafe life, Prego has been around since 1947 when it was opened by Salvatore Bezzina. Today, it is still run by his sons and family, and other than that not much has changed. The interior, still preserved from its last refurbishment sometime in the sixties, makes venturing inside a trip to an old, fading Valletta. Food options are rather limited, and include pastizzi, a choice of pies and baguettes, all of which is secondary to the unique ambiance surviving here.
Everything at Debbie’s Caffe is a treat to the eyes and, equally of course, to the palate. Located in the heart of the island’s northernmost town, Mellieha, Debbie’s offers customers a vast selection of breakfasts, including European and American pancakes, a healthy selection of gourmet sandwiches, weekly specials and homemade cupcakes and desserts. Ingredients often used in local seasonal sweet food are here creatively re-imagined and served in a beautifully decorated interior. Chances are your first visit will not be your last. Address: Gorg Borg Olivier Street, Mellieħa, Malta. +356 2765 4101
Brasserie, Market, European, $$$
BeBirgu is a café and brasserie housed in the beautifully renovated San Lawrenz Band Club Palazzo, bang in the middle of Vittoriosa’s market square. The building boasts an impressive three floor baroque façade adorned with colonnades and iron and wooden balconies, with a shady courtyard at the back. The concept is a curious combination of Belgian and Maltese cuisines prepared by Belgian and German chefs. Should you also enjoy Belgian beer, look no further.
A favorite of Valletta’s white-collar workers, Reno’s Café is a long-standing family-run joint. It stemmed from the family’s 1930s confectionery business, the history of which comes across in little glimpses of printed material framed on the walls. Reno, the animated owner, is an ever present sight, sure to help you navigate your way through a long menu of their affordable ftira (local flat bread sandwiches) filled with an equally long assortment of delectable ingredients. Address: 10, Zachary Street, Valletta, Malta. +356 2124 5333
Cafe, European, Mediterranean, $$$
Café Jubilee can be found in three locations across the Maltese islands (Gzira; Valletta in Malta’s harbor area, and in Victoria, Gozo) all of which share an unmistakable quirky decor. The walls are covered with framed posters and adverts from a bygone era, and should you care to look up, you’ll find some curiosities hanging down from the ceiling. Most of the items on the menu, ranging from soups, salads, sandwiches and pastas, have a delectable Mediterranean flavour, whilst breakfast items are more continental.
Museum Café is a small place on Valletta’s Melita street, just round the corner from some of the country’s Ministries and has been attracting large numbers of locals for decades. Few tables line the walls, and more often than not it is a bit of a challenge to grab a free seat. They serve an array of Maltese sandwiches (with the option of customizing one to your own liking), pastizzi and a full English breakfast.
Located within the Intercontinental Hotel on St. George’s Bay, Water Biscuit offers a fine dining experience around the clock. Their a la carte breakfast menu is particularly worthy of note: it includes a long list of rich and creative variations of Eggs Benedict, home-cooked waffles, a full English breakfast, vegetarian options and lighter assortments of cold food. The restaurant boasts a stylish interior, and a duly professional service. For an experience that doesn’t fall short on glamour, prices are rather reasonable. Opening hours: Mon-Sun, 08:00-23:00
What Square Cafédoesn’t enjoy in terms of location, it makes up for in the food it serves. Housed within Pavi Shopping Complex, this café prepares an array of Italian pizzotti, arancini, quiches, ciabatta sandwiches and a long list of delectable desserts. Later on in the day, you may be able to watch the chefs cooking the daily specials.