When we went to Cyprus last October, one of the things that struck us was the number of tavernas that were so heavily geared towards the mass market. It was a shame, really, but souvlaki and chips was often about the closest you could get to Cypriot cuisine in anywhere that was at all touristy. The commonly perceived wisdom in these scenarios is to eat only where you see locals dining, but even that proved difficult in many instances.
Finding an authentic taverna is a struggle for first time visitors because often you will need to head out to quieter villages up in the mountains to find what you are looking for. There you will discover how Cypriots truly relax and enjoy their food, taking time over their meals and sampling lots of different dishes. You probably won’t be given an extensive choice and there will be no frills, but the food off the beaten track will be so much better and the experience so much more enjoyable.
Here are three suggestions for your next visit to Cyprus:
Voreas Tavern, Oroklini (near Larnaca)
Voreas has become quite a favourite with locals and those in the know. The food is excellent, particularly the meze (a selection of different dishes), and the house wine pretty good, too. Expect a great atmosphere, possibly with a local playing the guitar in the corner. Book ahead in season to be sure of getting a table – it’s become that popular.
Kouppas Stone Tavern, Neo Chorio (Akamas peninsula)
Watch the world go by at this authentic taverna located just opposite the Co-op in Neo Chorio. Specialities include classic Cypriot dishes such as afelia, beef stifado and sheftalia. Alternatively, just order to the meze and you’ll not be disappointed.
Araouzos Taverna, Kathikas (near Paphos)
This traditional taverna just a short drive from Paphos does a fantastic stifado (casserole) with wild boar and other game, and suckling pig with Cypriot potatoes on Fridays and Saturdays. Recommended by TimeOut amongst others so possibly worth booking in season.
Of course, you’ll need to hire a car to get to these places off the beaten track, and hopefully this might also give you the opportunity to discover some of your own gems. Hiring a car for your stay on the island will also offer up other opportunities in so far as where to stay is concerned. You won’t be tied to the main tourist centres such as Paphos, Limassol, Larnaca and Agia Napa. Instead, you’ll actually be able to stay in more authentic Cypriot communities as well. Look up James Villas who have beautiful properties in relatively quiet, traditional villages such as Argaka, Latchi, Pissouri Bay and Pomos where you can experience a more ‘real’ Cyprus.
They’re also currently including car hire and travel insurance with their 2014 bookings so there will be no excuse to not get out and discover some authentic tavernas for yourself. If you come across any that you’d recommend, please add them to the comments that follow this article so that we can all benefit!