Cyprus Taverns with their casual atmosphere and after dinner live bouzouki music are often the popular choice for larger gatherings – mainly in order to consume the seemingly endless number of meze dishes! For a bite on the go or a basic evening filler, we all enjoy the roadside stalls offering a juicy ‘gyros’ or ‘souvlakia’ and ‘sheftalia’ in a piping hot pita bread. However, if you are craving for any kind of ethnic cuisine, speciality restaurants – Lebanese, Syrian, French, Italian, Spanish, Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, Sushi, Indian – are never more than a short drive away. If your heart – and palate – is set on a specific restaurant, make sure to book a table to avoid disappointment. A note to visitors: Cypriots value their siesta time, especially in summer, and consequently, the evening starts later and easily extends past midnight. A dinner with friends rarely starts before 9 or even 10 pm. On hot summer weekends, even family dinners are often as late as that. While the entertainment scene as a whole is calmer in winter, during the summer the cities’ high streets are still bustling with life late at night, as people enjoy cafe-hopping, dining out, or simply a casual stroll downtown or along the beach.
As in most Mediterranean countries, here in Cyprus we tend to have food – in abundance – at the centre of any kind of social activity. Whether you are spending your holiday in the capital or in one of the coastal resorts, wining and dining options cater to every mood and preference. From Cyprus taverns to Irish pubs, from fast food to gourmet speciality restaurants, you will find a balanced mix of local and international cuisine Cyprus Meze. ‘Meze’ is short for ‘mezedhes’, i.e. tidbits, and is a gastronomic experience that appears in some form or other throughout the Mediterranean region. Share a meze in Cyprus and you have tasted the true flavours of the island.
Depending on the tavern, a meze could include up to 30 miniature dishes! First come the olives, together with various dips, a basket of fresh village bread and a bowl of village salad. These are followed by octopus in red wine, snails in tomato sauce, brawn, and pickled capers and cauliflower. Bunches of greens – some tossed in oil and bound with egg – and roots such as carrots and kohlrabi, precede fish bites of some kind, either sardines, tiny red mullet, or kalamari.
Next come the grilled halloumi cheese and slices of smoked Cyprus ham, followed by meatballs, grilled pork rissole and smoked Cyprus sausages. The hot specialities including meat dishes such as afelia, moussaka and stifado lead to the popular ‘souvlakia’ pork kebab, the ‘kleftiko’ which is baked in a sealed oven, as well as pieces of chicken, arriving straight from the grill. Having reached this far, you can safely say that you have experienced an authentic meze!
The only thing that might still tempt you is some fresh fruit, fruit preserves or a traditional sweet pastry. Needless to say, a a traditional sweet pastry. Needless to say, a proper ‘meze’ is a full-scale feast, best reserved for a special occasion – or a healthy appetite