Traditional Cyprus Gastronomy

Traditional Cyprus Gastronomy

Where and What to eat in Cyprus

Some while ago, my son and his girlfriend were visiting. We’d been to Kourion and Kolossi for the day. On our way back we were chatting and I omitted to branch off for Larnaca on the motorway. Suddenly I saw a road sign “Nicosia”. I took the first exit and headed cross country. Windy roads, little hamlets. We were feeling peckish. Suddenly we came across a well-lit restaurant full of locals eating at tables outside. “This looks good,” I said. We stopped and sat at a table.

“Could we have a menu please,” I asked the waiter.
“We don’t have a menu. We only do Mezes.”
“Then we’ll have a Meze for three.” I said.

It was a very good Meze – the meat nicely cooked and tender, chips hot and crisp, the various little dishes nicely prepared. That was Cyprus Gastronomy. The fact that the place was full of locals was a sign that it would be so.

A friend of mine once expressed the view that Gastronomy was associated with silver service and posh restaurants. This is not so. Wikepedia describes it as “the study of the relationship between food and culture, art of preparing and serving rich or delicate and appetizing food, a style of cooking of particular region, and the science of good eating.” That is exactly my understanding of the word.

Delicious Traditional Cyprus Gastronomy can sometimes be discovered most unexpectedly in restaurants off the beaten track. I remember how one day when I had been exploring the Paphos Wine routes, I passed a little restaurant on the Sea Road before Aphrodite Hills. It was about 5pm, not exactly a meal time, but I hadn’t eaten at all that day and was feeling quite hungry. I stopped to look at the menu.

“Can I help you?” asked the owner.
I explained how I had not stopped to eat so far that day.
“It is a bit early for us, but our Tavas will be coming out in half an hour. If you’d like to sit down and wait, we’ll bring you an ouzo and some olives to keep you going.”
“Ok. I’ll try your Tavas,” I said.

Would you believe it? That was the most fantastic Tavas I have eaten to this day – a true example of Traditional Cyprus Gastronomy.Tavas, a dish of various vegetables plus meat slow cooked in a clay pot is one of those Cypriot Gastronomic specialities that you really should try during your stay in Cyprus. A Cyprus Meze is another. And when you have a Kebab or “Souvlaki” do try a “mixed” that will have “Seftalies” as well as pork or chicken pieces. If you like lamb, a Kleftiko has got to be on your menu at least once during your stay. Moussaka is an iconic traditional dish not to be missed. Stuffed tomatoes/peppers should not be missed either nor should “Lathera,”.

“Lathera” literally translate as “Oilies” because of the importance of Olive oil in their preparation. They are called “Giahni” in Cypriot dialect. They are usually prepared  with Green Beans, but other vegetables can be used. Ocra is quite a popular alternative. The dish can be served as a purely vegetarian dish or it can include diced meat such as lamb. 

You can read more about the lovely gastronomic specialities of Cyprus in my earlier article. .

So much for “what to eat?”. Let us consider “where to eat?”. Your best guide is to see that the establishment is full of locals, but here are a few recommendations for where to enjoy Cyprus Gastronomy across the island:

  Beautifully presented fine food at the Castro in Pissouri.

The following is just a small sample of the many places where you can enjoy great gastronomy in the different areas of Cyprus:

Protaras – Kalamies, particularly for grilled octopus and for fish -and for its great seaviews across the bay to Agios Nicolaos.
Protaras – El Gusto. I’ve not been yet but people keep telling me that it is brilliant,
Ayia Napa – Isaak restaurant. Go for their freshly caught sea fish.
Sotira – Mousikos and Ploumin. Both serve superb mezes. At Mousikos you must try their home-made warm Halloumi.
Oroklini – Voreas. Very tasty variations to the norm. Good wines from Both Greece and Cyprus on their wine list.
Larnaca – Zakos restaurant. Must try their fish mezes and their "glyko tou koutaliou" desserts (as shown in our header pic).
Pissouri – Castro restaurant. Refined presentation of tastily prepared dishes.
Limassol – The third fish taverna on the beach below the ancient site of Kourion.
Paphos area – Two lovely traditional restaurants: Efrem in Kouklia village and Plataniskia Taverna in the village of that name. And for classy establishments, you will find several within Aphrodite Hills.
Nicosia – Rimi restaurant in the “Laiki Gitonia” of the Old Town Centre. Traditional Greek food with various vegetarian options.
Lefkara – Adamos Taverna. Visiting Belgian friends to whom I was showing the pretty village, said “We’d like to eat typical traditional food in a typical traditional village restaurant”. I took them to Adamos.

Kalamies in Protaras, offers as well as great seafood, fabulous views across the bay to the chapel of Agios Nicolaos.

Explore and enjoy! Kali Orexi!


Traditional Cyprus Gastronomy

Read more about the gastronomic specialities of Cyprus