Cyprus Food and Drink
Healthy and hearty, Cypriot cuisine draws its inspiration from both Greece and Turkey. In the south, the cuisine is pure Mediterranean, with an emphasis on fish and pork dishes such as the ubiquitous souvlaki kebab. Cooks make extensive use of the wild thyme and mint that grows across the island, as well as cinnamon, cumin and coriander, showing the influence of the Middle East. Perhaps the most famous Cypriot dish of all is grilled halloumi, a hand-made Cypriot cheese.
In North Cyprus, the cuisine is effectively Turkish, with lamb replacing pork in grills, stews and soups. Many of the inhabitants of the north are settlers from Anatolia and meaty kebab dishes dominate menus. North and south come together in the mezze, a rambling meal of dips, snacks and tasty small dishes – almost invariably featuring hummus and halloumi – served on both sides of the island.
Afelia: A Greek Cypriot stew of pork marinated in red wine and ground coriander seed.
Kleftiko ofto: Lamb on the bone, slowly roasted with herbs in a sealed clay oven.
Halloumi: Cyprus cheese, kneaded by hand. Halloumi's high boiling point means it can be grilled or fried.
Dolmades: Preserved vine leaves stuffed with meat and rice.
Stifado: A casserole of beef cooked for several hours with wine, vinegar, onion and spices, including cinnamon sticks.
Souvlaki: The ubiquitous pork kebab of Greek Cyprus, somtimes served with vegetables.
Seftalia: Seasoned pork rissoles, grilled in a skin of caul fat.
Imam bayildi: Aubergines stuffed with tomato and onions, a Turkish Cypriot favourite.
Adana kebabs: Minced lamb with herbs and red pepper, grilled on metal skewers, from the Adana region of Turkey.
Tava: A tasty baked stew of lamb, cumin, onions and potatoes.
Things to know
Dinner is the most important meal of the day and locals rarely eat before 2000. Cypriots usually share their dinners, which may be the mezze, “little delicacies” like olives, bread, meats, fruit and pastries. Seek out local restaurants in the old parts of Lefkosia, Larnaca, Limassol and Girne to find authentic traditional Cypriot cuisine.
A 10% service charge is added to bills at some restaurants, otherwise tipping is discretionary.