Whoever said that civilization started on the table and variety was the spice of life surely had Cyprus in mind. In ancient times it was said that Cyprus invented the art of good living, and the island’s name became synonymous for luxury to both the gods and humans.

Tavernas, restaurants and hotels offer French, Italian and “international” menus. But they take pride in preparing Cypriot food and specialties, especially in the tavernas and the popular restaurants. These are some of the Cypriot dishes, which delight both tourists and residents alike.



food_tableWhen you order Meze (or mezedes or mezedakia) in a Cyprus hotel or restaurant, you are served a rich collection of appetizers and savories in up to 20 saucerlike dishes. For example various cheeses, like halloumi, kaskavalli or feta, tomatoes, olives, celery, sliced artichokes or smoked ham, houmous (ground chick peas, with olive oil and garlic), octopus (or squid), shrimps, fresh fish, such as barbouni (the delicious red mullet), succulent snippets of chicken or turkey; cucumbers, green peppers, tomatoes, seftalia (homemade sausage), koupepia (stuffed vine leaves).

The local bread made of homegrown wheat and the village salad with fresh coriander, green olives, olive oil, lemon and feta cheese make the mouth water. So can taramosalata, a delicious dish made from fish roe, olive oil and lemon.



food_1This consists of moussaka, made from minced lamb or beef and herbs covered with layers of sliced potatoes, eggplant and zucchini, or tavas, a veal, onion and herb dish served in little earthenware bowls straight from the oven and sprinkled with “artisia ” spices.

Souflakia or Kebab, is either bits of lamb or pork skewered and roasted by slow charcoal fire and eaten with chopped onion, salt and pepper in a ‘pitta’, a flat, unleavened bread.food_withtableclothThis dish is often a meal in itself, especially if served in a big ‘envelope’ of bread together with delicious local yiaourti (yogurt). Such a feast is followed by a cornucopia of excellent juicy fresh fruit — oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, melons, lemons, apples, pears, cherries, apricots, figs, pomegranates, bananas, purple plumbs, grapes, dates, almonds, walnuts etc.

Some friendly advice! The rule is “eat a little of each” otherwise you’ll find halfway through your meal that you just can’t go on to taste what follows!

food_womanIf all this seems a bit too much for you to eat — and such a meal can cost less than three pounds — you can order a three course meal, which can also be Cypriot food and style. Some of the best dishes are Cyprus raviolis (a pasta dish) or avgolemoni (lemon and egg soup), patcha (a kind of lamb stew served with lemon). Lemons in Cyprus go with every meal and every meat. Kleftiko (lamb roasted in traditional oven) or suckling pig with roast potatoes are delicious. Cyprus grows some of the finest potatoes of the world. Other famous dishes include grilled or fried fresh fish, such as synagrida, fagree, red mullet, vlachos, trout.

food_alfrescodiningFor people who like a more simple meal, Cyprus has the national dish of sailors’ beans, called “fasolada”, or there is the sturdy afelia, which is pork soaked in wine, sautéed with oil, coriander and wine. There’s also zalatina (highly seasoned brawn), Cyprus smoked sausages, flavored with pepper and lentisk, or laurel.

Game abounds in Cyprus, including partridge, hare, woodcock snipe and pheasant. And there are specialties like koupes, pourekia, kattimeria — thin semolina paste delicacies filled with meat, almonds or eggs and cheese, etc.



food_nutsSouzoukko, a favorite at Cyprus festivals and fairs, is made by dipping strings of nuts in heated grape juice until the confection solidifies. Glyko are preserves of almond, date, apricot, cherry, quince or grapes, always served with a glass of cold water.... Loucoumi, or Turkish delight.... Kadeifi and baklava or galatopureko, all rich oriental honey cakes.... Cyprus honey is excellent.... Soumada, made of almonds and a favorite hot drink. And this brings us to a legion of Cyprus fruit juices mentioned above.




It is mentioned in the Bible (the story of Solomon) that Cyprus wines are the best in the world. Commandaria, the rich sweet dessert wine of the Crusaders, is in fact, the oldest wine known in the world. It’s fame is wide and takes pride of place.

Cyprus produces a wide range of wines red, white, sweet, dry as well as sherries, vermouth, and ports. The traditional ouzo is a strong distillation of grape juice taken watered, when it looks like milk.

Zivania is another strong distillation. The pink cinnamon flavored variety is a specialty of the Kykko Monastery in the heart of the Paphos Forest. Cyprus brandy is excellent, and a very refreshing island brewed lager is available everywhere. The famous brandy sour has established itself as the Cyprus drink par excellence. Coffee of course is an integral part of Cyprus life, sweet, medium or sketos (without sugar), as you like it. It is also called Byzantine or Cyprus coffee.



You are welcome to Cyprus, the perfect island where food is ambrosia and wine is nectar.

Some of other popular local dishes found in most restaurants and Tavernas are the following:


Wheat porridge, a substitute for rice


Sweet potato, having a gastronomic affinity with the turnip


Cheese made from goat’s milk


Sweet, consisting of fruit preserved in syrup


Salty white cheese, made from lambs’ milk


Local ham, pickled in wine


Mild cheese


Cheese like Gruyere


Spiced meat balls


Fried meat rissoles enclosed in pastry


Similar to doughnuts with honey


Smoked pork tenderloin


Flat unleavened bread


Sesame ‘dip’ popular in eastern Mediterranean


Salad dressing or dip based on yogurt