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Cyprus is often referred to as being at the crossroads of three continents – Europe, Asia and Africa – and as such their time-served influences can be seen on the menus of countless tavernas across the island. But, don’t go thinking Cyprus is set in its ways. In fact, this forward-thinking island has embraced grand gastronomy from around the world, cutting-edge fusion cuisines and trendy plant-based dishes, which complement the more traditional Mediterranean fare of slow-cooked meat, lemon-drenched fish, olives and olive oil, vegetables, fruit picked fresh from the tree and nuts, perfectly. Of course, it is all accompanied by some fine Cypriot wines.
Meraki Market Café, Paphos
Meraki is a modern Greek word meaning “to follow your passion with flair and creativity” – and the team behind Meraki Market Café certainly do this by the bucket load. Expect an inspired matching of plant-based creations chalked up daily on blackboards, and a delightful cottage-chic interior complete with a mish-mash of brightly coloured wooden chairs plus continental-style pavement dining. The creative vegan/vegetarian menu is lengthy with gluten-free and dairy-free options. Try its signature Meraki Bad Boy Burger made from black beans, mushrooms and broccoli topped with salad, toasted pumpkin and pomegranate seeds and lemon dressing. Meraki Market Café is also opening in Limassol this summer (2021).
Captain’s Table, Zygi
If the thought of dining on fresh, innovative fish and seafood creations with the breeze in your hair and views out over the ocean fires your imagination, then head for the effortlessly stylish Captain’s Table at Zygi. Mahogany-panelled walls and tables clothed in crisp white linens set the scene for inside dining, or head out onto the cool blue-and-white themed terrace overlooking the marina. Here you can gaze at fishing boats that catch the menu’s fish bobbing in the waters. Lobster stuffed with seafood cream, mushrooms and brandy as a main, topped and tailed with a starter of grilled halloumi and glyko tou koutaliou (spoon sweets) for dessert will leave you with a treasured memory.
Contact: 00 357 24 33 37 37; captaintable.com
Best Table: Inside for an intimate dinner or outside for marina view
• The best hotels in Cyprus
La Maison Fleurie, Limassol
The menu at this effortlessly romantic restaurant, with its rich ruby coloured walls and classic-styled velvet chairs, swathes of curtaining, crisp linens, wooden floors and outside terrasse and garden is a gourmet’s delight. Focusing on authentic French cuisine that has garnered it many prestigious international awards, you can enjoy oysters drenched in Champagne and snails with garlic, scallops and lobster, wild boar, hare, veal and grouse all freshly delivered from France. Each dish is plated as if it is a work of art. Don’t miss the drama of crêpes flambées à la Maison Fleurie to complete your meal and, of course, all accompanied by exquisite French wines.
Contact: Christaki Kranou 18, Limassol; 00 357 25 32 06 80
Opening Times: 12.30pm-22.30pm
To Pantopoleio Kali Orexi, Nicosia
With its quirky interior of abstract panels, edgy lighting, blond wood furnishings and a wall of perfectly aligned wine bottles from almost floor to ceiling, plus a menu of classic Cypriot dishes given an inspired twist, To Pantopoleio Kali Orexi has become one of the trendiest places to dine in Nicosia. Psefdokeftedes are meatballs, which here have had their taste enhanced with feta cheese and oregano. Try this, followed by the local tenderloin pork marinated in aged whiskey and served with pitta. Round off the meal with the restaurant’s famous Trigona Panoramatos, which are beautifully presented phyllo cones filled to bursting with fresh cream.
Contact: 00 357 99 07 51 51; pantopoleiocy.com
A relative newcomer to the growing top-notch Cyprus gastronomy scene, Matsuhisa Limassol can be found in the luxurious Amara hotel on the seafront at Agios Tychonas. Step inside and you are transported to a world of cutting edge design with moody hues for the décor, heavy wood furnishings and subtle lighting. The centerpiece is a shiny new open kitchen where exquisite Japanese-Peruvian fusion cuisine is created. Outside, an equally elegant terrace overlooks the sea. The restaurant is the brainchild of legendary chef Nobu Matsuhisa whose signature dishes include black cod with miso (try it with a baby spinach and truffle salad), along with shrimp tempura, sashimi and sushi. Sake and cocktails complete the deal.
Contact: 00 357 25 44 22 22; amarahotel.com
Best Table: On the terrace overlooking the lit swimming pools
Muse is a favourite of Paphos’s trendy young things in the evening and affluent fans of long lunches. Inside, its contemporary black and white décor enhanced by pink lighting gives it a vibe, while outside its enormous terrace covered in sails has big comfy chairs and tables that look right out over the coastline of Paphos. Muse is known for its exotic cocktails. Its food menu is bistro in style and offers creative salad combinations, sizzle dishes and healthy eating options. Try the heavenly chicken souvaki (kebab) drenched in yogurt and herbs, and served with Muse’s own take on chip medallions. The flair continues through to the gooey desserts. Fine wines complete the picture.
Contact: Andrea Ioannou, Mousallas, Paphos; 00 357 26 94 19 51
Opening Times: 6.30pm-10.45pm
Best Table: On the terrace
Sage, Ayia Napa
Its easy elegant style created by a décor of soft creams and caramels, and its gastronomic cuisine has put Sage well and truly on the Cyprus culinary map. Executive chef George Kadis and his team take classic local and fusion recipes and give them a modern twist using locally sourced natural ingredients. The signature dish worth going for is Marennes oysters served with lemon and chilli sauce on crushed ice, which might be followed by pasta, fish, a vegetarian dish or a meat main like Sage’s beef fillet served with apple, pineapple and a delectable cream sauce. Each is presented as exquisite plates, and accompanied by fine local wines.
Vivaldi by Mavrommatis, Limassol
Andreas Mavrommatis is a man who knows his food and if you head down to Vivaldi by Mavrommatis at the Four Seasons hotel, you’ll see why he has a Michelin star. Here, the highest standard of gastronomy fuses harmoniously with the flavours of the eastern Mediterranean in dishes like sea bass carpaccio with lemon confit or duck foie gras with commandaria (Cypriot sweet wine) as appetisers. Mains of veal from Limousin in France with feta, or lamb from the Pyrenees with halloumi and olives won’t disappoint. The restaurant’s sumptuous décor of rich neutral hues mixed with the colours of the Mediterranean add to the experience.
Contact: 00 357 25 85 80 00; fourseasons.com
Opening Times: 7pm-10.30pm
Brasserie Au Bon Plaisir, Nicosia
This cosy, pleasingly rustic and welcoming sort of place with its colourful walls adorned with art reminiscent of French life is run by a family who relocated from France and can be found a few minutes’ walk from the famous Ledra Street in Nicosia. Meat in all forms – braised, roasted or prepared as a delicious terrine – is celebrated with considerable flair, including the family’s signature dish of matured French Charolaise steak. The family likes to keep things healthy with the use of fresh, local produce to complement the ingredients from the regions of France, and pay particular attention to customers’ food intolerances. It offers an excellent French and Cypriot wine collection.
Contact: 00 357 96 75 51 11; aubonplaisir.com
Opening Times: 7pm-11pm
To Kazani, Larnaca
Behind the dazzling white façade with its sky blue painted window frames and doors, and the prettiest of paved courtyards where tables with similarly coloured checkered cloths can be found in summer, lies this gorgeous taverna. It delivers the most sumptuous of classic Cypriot dishes, all of which are presented with a contemporary twist. Here, you are served one of the best mezes around, starting with Cyprus’s own cheese halloumi with salad, and continuing with multiple small dishes that might comprise koupepia (stuffed vine leaves), kolokouthkia me ta afka (courgettes with eggs), kleftiko (slow cooked lamb), afelia (pork cooked in wine) or souvlaki (skewered chicken).
Contact: 28th October, Aradippou, Larnaca; 00 357 99 31 32 36
Opening Times: 6pm-1am