Malta is a small European country situated right in the middle of the Mediterranean and not too far from Sicily. Because of it’s location the weather is pretty much always lovely and so it was the perfect place to run our first half marathon. Growing up in the UK, I always envisioned Malta as a very touristy destination. It certainly is but if you can travel there outside of the busy tourist season (we were there at the end of February) the weather is still nice and you can explore it without the bussle of so many tourists. Malta is a pretty country with an interesting history and the old capital Mdina is definitely worth a visit. We chose to stay in Sliema, a lovely city on the northeast coast of the country and where our half marathon finished.
I was very impressed by the gluten free options that many restaurants and cafes in Malta, and specifically the town of Sliema, had to offer. I was very happily surprised to find that many of the eateries in Sliema not only had gluten free options clearly stated on their menus but a whole variety of gluten free things to choose from!!!
As I was in Malta to run my first half-marathon I was worried about being glutenated and not being able to run at my best but on wandering around Sliema on our first afternoon in town, menus and signs saying ‘Gluten Free Options Available’ and ‘We serve gluten free food’Â filled me with excitement. I started to feel much happier about eating out in the days before the race. We decided to cook dinner on the evening before the race at home just to be 100% safe but most other meals we ate in local restaurants/cafes.
Maltease supermarkets and even a few small convenience stores stocked gluten free foods, similar to those found in the UK. A couple of Medium sized supermarkets we visited in Sliema had gluten free sections with cereals, breads, pastas, cakes, biscuits and various other treats. Yoghurt has been one of my saviours since becoming gluten free and at home I like to eat Muller Light with rice cakes for dipping (surprisingly yummy!). Since I can’t be certain which yoghurts in other countries are safe I tend to go for natural stuff but the ones I found in Malta looked as though they had added ingredients that I wasn’t sure of and I couldn’t understand what I was reading enough to risk it. Luckily I found they stocked my Muller Light! 1.09 Euros for one tub…crazy but at least I knew they were safe!
There are lots of small convenience and fruit stores as well as a large number of fruit and vegetable vans all over Malta so finding fresh fruit is very simple!
Gluten Free eatery Highlights (all of which can be found on Tower Road, Sliema):
Mint – This small cafe has a fantastic selection of both savoury and sweet gluten free dishes. We went here for lunch on our first day in Sliema and returned after the half-marathon to fill out hungry tummies. Every day the cafe has 4 or 5 savoury dishes on offer and they are
delicious. I tried their tuna and potato pie with creamy bechamel sauce and their potato and chorizo gratin. Both dishes came with a salad and dressing which, as I was getting ready to ask, the waitress confirmed was gluten free. Dessert wise, they again had 5 or 6 different gluten free options, which all looked amazing..there was choco-coconut brownies,
cookies and flourless cake. I tried their dried fruit, chocolate and coconut brownie which was ridiculously good! Savouries ranged from 4-7 euros and desserts were 1.50-3 euros. Good value for money and a great selection for coeliacs!
Kara’s Cafe – A busy cafe with both indoor and outdoor seating, which sells various snacks, sandwiches, drinks, desserts, smoothies, yogurt and alcohol. There weren’t a whole lot of gluten free options on the menu but a variety of their sandwiches (toast with jam, ham and cheese, egg mayo, chicken and tomato, salmon, prawn mayo and the club house) can be made gluten free at an extra cost of 1.15 euros. Their fruit smoothies are pretty good too. They do 5 different mixes at 4 euros each. 100% fruit so 100% gluten free!
The Kitchen – A restaurant serving some interesting, unique dishes, quite a few of which are gluten free (these are marked by stars on the menu). I had carmelised risotto with cheese and brazil nut powder. Pretty tasty but a little expensive. If you’re willing to spend a wee bit more for a nice meal then you will find some good gluten free choices here.
Frescos – I didn’t eat at Fresco’s as they had stopped serving when we were hungry but their menu has a few gluten free options which sounded good.Â Their menu also states that they can prepare their pasta dishes gluten free – this gluten free pasta, which they say is prepared seperately, is 1 euro extra and takes 20 minutes.
The long weekend we spent in Malta was a gluten free success! Any Coeliacs travelling to Malta, and specifically Sliema, need not worry about a lack of safe places to eat. Although we did all of our eating in the pretty town of Sliema, we visited some other towns that also had gluten free options on their menus. Sliema however was the most Coeliac friendly.
Our first half-marathon was fantastic and we finished in 2 hours 9 minutes. It was a beautiful run across Malta 🙂