The ancient island nation of Cyprus boasts a dining scene that is both a nod to its rich history and thoroughly forward-thinking – expect traditional tavernas offering authentic Greek and Cypriot meze alongside more contemporary restaurants serving anything from modern Italian to gourmet burgers. Here’s our guide to the best restaurants in the region.
Boutique Hotel Restaurant, Market, Restaurant, Contemporary
Situated within the classy Four Seasons Hotel in Limassol, Vivaldi by Mavromamatis is an award-winning restaurant (Time Out’s Best Hotel Restaurant in Cyprus for six years in a row, from 2009–2014). Utilising the simplicity of fine, market-fresh Mediterranean ingredients, renowned Cypriot chef Andreas Mavrommatis creates a modern cuisine, with mouth-watering dishes such as mushroom risotto, creamy carbonara with poached egg, and the interesting toffee apple foie gras alongside many home-made pasta dishes. Vivaldi’s exquisite interior is delightful, with an abundance of natural wood, a beautiful marble fireplace, classy chandeliers and a charming terrace area overlooking the sea. The Vivaldi Terrace restaurant is open for dinner only, and outdoor dining is available during the summer months (May to October).
Opened by husband and wife Michalis and Maria in 2010, Dias Zeus is a contemporary tavern offering authentic Cypriot and Greek food, modified with a splash of international flavors. Situated on Paphos’ Tomb of the Kings Avenue, Dias Zeus boasts a location steeped in ancient history, while its popularity with diners has seen the restaurant awarded Trip Advisor’s 2014 Certificate of Excellence. Adorned in the classic blues and whites of a traditional Greek tavern, Dias Zeus features a lovely outside terrace and cozy interior with a fireplace – the perfect setting in which to enjoy dishes like the diners’ favorite king prawn saganaki – prawns cooked in a spicy tomato sauce with feta cheese.
Located in a charming building constructed in 1900 (hence the restaurant’s name), Art Café 1900 resides in Larnaca’s historic Plakota neighborhood – one of the city’s oldest and most beautiful areas. The small, quirky cafe was established in 1993 by owners Marios Dianellos and Maria Pyrgou, who wanted to provide a space where the focus wasn’t purely gastronomic, but where people could indulge all their senses. Art Café 1900 features all kinds of interesting bric-a-brac, from traditional Cypriot instruments to bone china, on its walls, and also acts as an art gallery. The food is simple, home-cooked and Greek-Cypriot in flavor with dishes like tzatziki and stifado – a hearty, flavorsome beef stew with onions.
A restaurant on a constant quest to create the perfect burger, Artisan Burger Bar offers house-ground, handmade gourmet burgers made daily. Far above the average burger joint, the restaurant features a sleek, chic interior with beautiful hardwood floors, minimalist white walls and a stunning marble bar that wouldn’t look out of place in a bustling metropolis. Taking the much-loved classic burger and adding a thoroughly innovative, contemporary twist, Artisan Burger Bar creates tempting, juicy burgers like its new black Angus beef patty topped with the signature chili sauce, crispy pancetta and gruyere cheese. Regular guests can also join Artisan’s Burger Club – a free membership card entitling customers to discounts, offers and first tries of new burger recipes.
Offering a modern take on traditional Lebanese cuisine, Fanous is a contemporary Middle Eastern restaurant tucked away on a small street within the Sky Hotel just a short walk from the D’Avila Bastion and Eleftheria Square. Conjuring up a distinctly old Arabian ambiance, the restaurant is decked out in warm, vibrant colors with sumptuous seats draped in traditional throws and luxurious pillows. Its authentic menu features items such as kebe neye, mashed raw lamb meat with bulgur wheat, and the samkeh hara – spicy fish with pine nuts, onion coriander and lemon. Adding to the experience, guests are also treated to traditional Lebanese belly dance performances.
Located in the heart of the resort district Kato Paphos, Ficardo is a family-run restaurant offering authentic Cypriot cuisine and warm, traditional Cypriot hospitality. Situated on what used to be fertile farmlands, the restaurant is surrounded by a luscious, green garden with its very own lemon tree – grown from a cutting of a tree in the owner’s childhood home in the north of the island. The fruits from the tree are sometimes used in Ficardo’s dishes and drinks. Guests can dine inside, within the beautiful elegant interior, or outside in its picturesque courtyard while sampling international dishes like herb grilled salmon with roast potatoes and market vegetables.
Perfect for diners who like a bit of theatrics along with their meal, Japanese restaurant Hokkiado’s talented chefs offer tempting Far Eastern fare made directly in front of guests on teppanyaki grills. Prepared with flair and aplomb, Hokkaido’s teppanyaki options include the chicken stuffed with marinated duck breast and fresh plums, served with plum sauce, the teriyaki salmon, and the beef strips with spring onions, bell peppers, mushrooms and crispy garlic in a mildly spicy black bean sauce. The Ayia Napa-based restaurant also serves a wide range of sushi with a number of specialty dishes like the tune blue laguna – tuna with seaweed tempura and balsamic sauce.
While Limassol may not seem like the most likely of locations for an authentic French restaurant and cafe, La Maison Fleurie has actually been in operation since 1986 and is the only restaurant in Cyprus to be awarded the much-coveted Five Star Diamond Award, which it was honored with in 2008 and 2009 by the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences. With a chic romantic interior reminiscent of a Parisian bistro and a charming garden perfect for al fresco summer dining, La Maison Fleurie offers a classic Gallic menu featuring fish flown directly from France, while other dishes include the rabbit pâté with walnut bread.
Established by owners Petros Georgiou and Yiannos Christoforou, Pyxida Fish Tavern first opened its doors in 2004 and has since been serving patrons high quality fish, and making the most of the bounty of seafood available to the small island nation of Cyprus. Situated in a renovated 1930s house, the restaurant has a traditional but stylish interior complete with a pretty patio area that exudes a warm, buzzing atmosphere. Indeed, the tavern’s success allowed it to open a second branch in neighboring Limassol. A pescetarian’s delight, Pyxida’s menu features dishes like grilled cuttlefish with olive oil, lemon juice and parsley and octopus casserole – baby octopus stewed in a tomato and wine sauce.
For an authentic Cypriot dining experience, the To Kazani Traditional Tavern is a must-visit when dining out in Limassol. The restaurant gets its name from the Greek word for ‘cauldron’ – a nod to its 19th century building’s former incarnation as a distillery producing the traditional Cypriot alcoholic beverage zivania. Its interior exudes a homely, welcoming ambiance, though guests have the option of dining outside on To Kazani’s patio on warmer evenings. Authentic Cypriot meze, a selection of small plates designed to be enjoyed by all at the table, such as grilled tiger prawns, are accompanied by live traditional music.