Eating out in Cyprus

I've just returned from a week on the beautiful island of Cyprus celebrating my silver wedding anniversary with my husband, and as always food and eating out has been a big focus of our break.

Cypriot salad and dips

In the years I have been travelling to the island of love I have seen many changes and at the moment with Paphos being the City of Culture for 2017 work is going on everywhere transforming dilapidated buildings and areas.

The work being done is not always for the better in my eyes as I love the character of the place and although pedestrianised areas and modern malls with global brands are convenient I prefer the narrow roads and battered dusty store-fronts offering only an opaque hint of what's inside but I can see that the country, striving to hold its place in the modern world, understandably wants to modernise.

You can still find some hidden gems however - we ate simply in the Klimataria in Paphos Old Town in a shady courtyard accessed through a nondescript door with no hint of the paradise behind.

Cyprus courtyard

The modernisation does mean that holidaymakers have a bigger and better choice than every before with venues for eating out ranging from massive well-known brands like Pizza Express, McDonalds and KFC down to tiny ancient tavernas where basic mediterranean meals are cooked over coals and served with fresh side dishes using ingredients from the garden.

A word about the big names. It might seem ridiculous to want to eat in chain restaurants which you can find in Slough or Southampton when you are on holiday but there are advantages.

For a start, we discovered many of them do specials exclusive to the country - My husband really enjoyed a Greek Mac from McDonalds in Paphos. It was a lamb burger with fresh salad and feta in a pitta bread. He also had a blueberry milkshake which he declared delicious. It was cheap, we were in a hurry and it fitted the bill perfectly.

Another reason to seek out familiar brands is if you are travelling with children, fussy eaters or people with additional needs. Our youngest has autism and gets stressed trying new foods or eating his usual favourites in unfamiliar places but I know that he will always eat a Happy Meal in the very familiar surroundings of McDonalds restaurant -they look pretty much the same everywhere.

There are lots of restaurants which cater for all tastes on Cyprus, especially in the tourist areas so if you want fresh fish but people in your party prefer fish-fingers you will probably find a few places offering a wide-ranging menu including both.

One such place is the Bona Mare Beach Bar Cafe just across the road from Paphos airport but well worth a visit on your way in or out of the country or doing your visit. There's even a children's play area and comprehensive food and drink menus.

seaside cafe Cyprus Bona mare

Having spent years visiting Cyprus we have our favourite tavernas and restaurants but we still like to try new places. Luckily because my mum lives there she always hears reports on where is worth trying this season.

We prefer traditional island food so when we are there without children we tend to avoid the tourist spots.

Our first meal is generally at a fairly traditional taverna called the Klimataria in Mandria village, near Paphos airport. Food is basic, generously portioned and around ten euros for a main course. There's a grapevine providing shade and a view of the village square.

Mandria square Cyprus

Cypriot food
It has changed considerably since we first ate there and expats and holidaymakers head there for bingo, karaoke, quiz nights and football but we mostly avoid it on special nights, preferring a quiet relaxing evening chatting with friends and family as the sun sets and the light bulbs flicker on over the square.

We had an awesome meze in the mountains in Skoulli on the road heading from Paphos towards Polis - Meze as it should be, featuring whatever came out of the garden and was best at the butcher that day. I'd tell you the name of the taverna.... but I actually can't remember it. Blame the wine!

We ate dips with village bread, gorgeous local sausages, rive and vegetables wrapped in vine-leaves, chargrilled pork kebabs, chops, a fresh salad with feta and a courgette and scrambled egg dish which my husband wolfed down!
Cyprus pork kebab

The taverna I loved most though actually wasn't anything special for food. There wasn't anything wrong with the meal - good solid basic Cypriot taverna choices like chops and moussaka.

The thing I loved about Stamna Taverna in Tala overlooking the Coral Bay area was its unique and quirky charm. Down a tiny side street behind the newly refurbished village square with a view over the hills the taverna is accessed through a cluttered porch overshadowed by a tower with a windmill on top.
Cyprus sign Stamna Tavera

Stamina Taverna Cyprus

Tala, Cyprus

Inside are just a few tables and a collection of bizarre and interesting items ranging from a stuffed stoat-like creature to a bulging dresser.

Food was being cooked on a long thin barbecue on a shelf with glowing coals and the smell was amazing!

Unsurprisingly the place was full on a Friday night so definitely book before going. And leave plenty of time to find it!

Self catering? Head for any of the many supermarkets where you will find fresh produce to create amazing meals. We love the Garden of Eden in Paphos which sells a huge range of amazing fruits and vegetables along with fresh fish and meat. There's an enormous salad and olive bar and you can buy basics there too. At some times during the year you can even buy fresh live snails there!

We are heading back to Cyprus in August with the children when the order of the day will probably be dips and pitta for lunch and late lazy dinners barbecued by the pool. If only I could find a butcher in the UK offering the same cut of pork which enabled us to cook caveman size chops. They really are tasty and enormous!

Cyprus pork chops

Do you have a favourite restaurant on holiday? Name it in the comments so travellers can head there too.

madmumof7 with her mum.