-Discover Cyprus’s unique flavours & tastes-
“Where can we eat traditional Cyprus food?”, is the first question all of our guests ask. Well, where food is concerned have no fear. Our area is covered with great places to eat, restaurants in every corner. But since I am asked personally, my favorite places and the best food for me, is found at small family traditional restaurants hidden all around Polis Chrysochous.
As theculturetrip.com rightly noted in one of their articles: Eating in Cyprus is serious business; you’ll rarely spot Cypriots gathered around a table without a couple of plates to snack on. With a rich history and a location that is at the crossroads of three continents, Cyprus has seen a variety of influences, all of which add to the local gastronomy. (source: https://theculturetrip.com/europe/cyprus/articles/the-10-best-foods-in-cyprus/).
There is a local saying about Cypriots and food: “When Cypriots have their meal, they eat as if there is no tomorrow”! And this is so true … Who has ever ordered Cypriot ‘meze’ (the huge variety, usually between 20 to 30 different platters, ranging from vegetables, pasta, meat as well as fish) and not been faced with the array of never ending dishes to the point that one cannot eat any more? Even though they are supposedly ‘small dishes’ the actual portions are huge. Generous quantity, actually, applies to any Cypriot meal and not just the meze.
A country’s cuisine tells you a lot about its culture and in Cyprus people dine in a different kind of way – they dine with their heart and soul.
The island is covered with great restaurants to eat, especially around the coast. Having said that, the tastiest and best traditional food in Cyprus can be found at the traditional restaurants (‘tavernas’), usually hidden in small, off the beaten track, villages in the beautiful Cyprus countryside. Why? Firstly, because it is only at the traditional villages that you find the most organic ingredients and the most authentic local home-cooked dishes, where the recipes have been passed on from generation to generation. Secondly, using home grown and own produce, and lastly, but most importantly, the cooks make every dish a personal challenge: To deliver on grandmas’s standards. Cooked with ‘meraki’ and presented with extreme pride, they expect to receive in return nothing less than totally empty dishes (well good luck with that!) otherwise they will be offended and will ask you if there was any problem with the food!
So, where can you find the best food in Paphos?
I am so happy to share with you a selection of personal favorite traditional tavernas around Polis Chrysochous, restaurants you are bound to fall in love with. Hidden away in villages that even a lot of Cypriots have never heard off, where you can mix with the locals for an all-rounder taste of true Cyprus. Just don’t expect white table cloths and fancy cutlery, or a huge menu. Obviously these are no-frills village eateries where you will engoy a traditional delicious meal, served with pride, where you can mix with the locals and get a vibe of true village life as it goes by.
The Neromylos (Watermill) Café-Restaurant (Steni Village)
This beautiful and cozy village tavern, which was named after the 700-year old mill whose ruins are on location (Neromylos = Watermill), started in 2009 as a local ‘kafenio’ by Matheos & Avgi, who returned to Steni after many years in South Africa. Situated in the heart of Steni village (you can’t miss it) opposite the Steni Village Museum, Neromylos offers a relaxing authentic environment to dig into traditional homemade cuisine and water-mouthing desserts that for sure you will want to go back again!
Matheos, a first cousin of my father, is one of many Cypriots who at a young age emigrated for a better life, moving to South Africa like many of his fellow villagers. The little village of Steni was faced, in the beginning of the 20th century, with a huge immigration outflux (bigger immigration trends to South Africa in the 1930’s and the 1960’s) which brought the village to a stage of deterioration and implosion. Avgi will be more than happy to share stories from her childhood, her move to South Africa and life there, and … her love story with Matheos!
Going back to the food part (!)
Neromylos opened and initially operated as a local kafenio, offering Cyprus coffee and soft drinks. Slowly, and due to high demand, Avgi added her exquisite desserts, then sandwiches, salads and as a result, today offers a full-blown menu of delicious homemade cooked food, all personally prepared by the lady herself. We are rarely at Ithaki House and not pay a visit to the Neromylos, at least once during our stay. Without a doubt, from the comments we receive, it is also a great hit with all our guests.
We love the Cyprus platters consisting of kebab (both pork & chicken), ‘shieftalies’, halloumi cheese and much more. Kristopher is mad about the spare ribs, which much to his heartbreak are available only during weekends. Nikolas loves the chicken ‘souvlaki’ and the homemade ‘moussaka’ is a particular favorite of mine as well as the halloumi salad. Dishes also include ‘gemista’, quiche and other veggie platters to name a few. Similarly, we can’t leave without tasting the delicious desserts. We usually order a few and share them between us. Rice putting, refreshing ‘machallepi’, yogurt & honey, apple crumble with custard, crème brûlée, and chocolate tart are amongst our favorites.
Delicious food, large portions/great prices topped with unparalleled hospitality, it is no wonder that today the Watermill has become the favorite restaurant for many in the region and beyond. Moreover, the fact that is open throughout the year is also a bonus. There are both indoor and outdoor sitting areas depending on the weather and there is a woodstove that makes it so cozy in cold nights!
The Watermill is open from 10 am to 10 pm every day, except Wednesdays. Booking in advance is highly recommended especially during the peak season. It is 5 kilometers (8 minutes drive) from Ithaki House.
Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence Winner 2015-2019
Telephone: 26 352059
Address: Steni, Paphos
Facebook: Neromylos Watermill Café in Steni Village
Bonus tip while in Steni:
Once you are there do pop in to see the Steni Museum of Village Life which is located right opposite the Watermill. The Museum is a tribute to all the villagers who lived in Steni during the challenging years, from its founding to the end of the Second World War (1800 -1945). The exhibits include scenes of loom weaving and ploughing, and presentations of tools and equipment, handicrafts, kitchenware, pots and jars and traditional clothing. The Mouktar of Steni, the visionary and founder of this beautiful museum, Mr. Elias Lambires will be more than happy to show you around and explain each and every exhibit. For more information about the Museum. https://www.steni.org.cy/en/museum-ren
Tremytha of Simou (Simou Village)
Tremithas of Simou is situated at the stone-build square of the beautiful village of Simou. The square featuring traditional architecture, right opposite the Chryseleousa Village Church, has two tavernas and a couple of “kafenios”, undoubtedly, make a typical Cypriot scene: where the locals gather to socialize and gossip over countless sweetened black Cypriot coffees and a game of backgammon or ‘pilotta’.
Tremythas is a family-owned tavern, offering great authentic Cyprus food. Souvlaki, sieftalia, lamp chops, pork chops, meatballs, mousakka, warm pitta bread topped with olive oil and oregano, halloumi, sausages, French fries (well actually Cyprus fries, not frozen) served with fresh salad with feta and black olives. The meals are prepared on the day (therefore some patience is essential whilst waiting to be served) using homegrown organic and fresh produce. Moreover, the building inside is traditionally decorated, with a fireplace that is always on during the winter months creating the most homely atmosphere. The owners, Stella, Iakovos, Maria and Antonis, will go out of their way to make you feel welcome!
A homemade sweet is always served after the meal. Their rice putting with cinnamon topping is yummy! Tremythas of Simou is open throughout the year and is recommended that you always make a booking in advance. Thremythas of Simoy is 16 klm (18 minutes drive) from Ithaki House
Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence Winner 2016
Telephone: 26 732225
Address: Simou Village (in the village square, opposite the village church), Paphos
Facebook: The Tremythas of Simou
Bonus Tip while in Simou:
Furthermore, this unique village is also home to the famous trees called “The Tremithas”. These trees are the source of the renowned Paphos chewing gum. At the courtyard you will see a protected 1000-year old Tremythas tree (hence the name of the Taverna), believed to be the oldest tree in Cyprus. It has a height of 14 meters and 5.26 meters in stem girth and it is protected and maintained by the Republic’s Department of Forests.
Smiyies Tavern (Neo Chorio Village)
Off the beaten track, in the windy cobbled streets of Neo Chorio and at a scenic location, you will find this rustic traditional taverna. The simplicity of the place undoubtedly gives a real feel of rural Cyprus. It’s a homely tavern, traditionally decorated, the checked tablecloths that are an instant attraction! Alexis, the owner, will make you feel right at home.
Smiyies is, without a doubt, a place for foodies, known for its superb home-made fresh food and its voluminous servings. Subsequently, it is highly recommended refraining from any other meals during the day of your visit; a totally empty stomach is a must! Especially if you are choosing the meze (and if you do, opt for the combination of meat and veggie). Fresh local salad with heavenly crunchy ingredients tastefully balanced, amazing aubergine omelet, delicious lamb chops, excellent seftalias, amazing kleftiko, home-made ravioli… it is impossible to name them all! Without a doubt, their halloumi cheese is out of this world, as it is homemade. In fact, the family raise their own goats and use the produced goat milk to make the halloumi. Last but not least, their kleftiko is divine. It is prepared in a traditional oven that you can see it at the front of the restaurant.
In addition to all that food, at the end of the meal, they serve galatobourekko or baklava straight from the oven, this is an experience by itself! And remember; make sure you are very hungry when visiting… Smiyes is 19klm (25 minutes drive) from Ithaki House.
Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence Winner 2018-2019
Telephone: 99 604007
Address: Georgiou Paraskeva Street 89, Neo Chorion 8852 Cyprus
Facebook: Smiyies Tavern Neo Chorio
Bonus Tip while at Neo Chorio:
Home to artists Ara Nigogossian and Nancy Hocking, Triskelion Pottery has earned the reputation of making beautiful high quality replicas of ancient Cypriot ware. After spending years studying and researching the hundreds of Cypriot pots in the British Museum collection, Ara and Nancy moved to Cyprus to set up Triskelion, at Neo Chorio. Not only do the works made here mirror those from long ago in the Paphos area, but they are also created by the same process and technique – including the same clay sources and firing materials. If you wish to visit you need to ask directions whilst you will be at Neo Chorio.
Photo source: http://cswanderlust.blogspot.com/2012/07/triskelion-pottery.html
Kika’s Garden (Kallepia Village)
How about brunch? A garden paradise in the Paphos district village of Kalepia, the rural venue run by the passionate mother-daughter duo, Kika and Marlen, opened its doors in August 2017 to serve up organic breakfast in the pretty surrounds of their own leafy garden. And with most of the food dished up coming straight from the garden itself, you can especially all sorts of homegrown produce in the mix.
Despite the fact that there is only one set menu; what you will get is a feast! A feast of colour, a feast of creativity, a feast of tastes. Personally I adore the variety of home-made bread straight out of the oven. Topped by an incredible selection of home-made jams with citrus and berry flavors, I am happy with just that. But that is not all. Fresh anari cheese and halloumi made in the Akamas region, as well as plenty of fresh fruit and veggies. All these are followed by their signature dish skillet eggs with bacon, tomatoes and mushrooms. Furthermore these are served on a cast iron pan it is unique in taste as well as presentation!
Everything is 100% home-made.
Furthermore, there is always a surprise dish in the mix, be that mahalepi (a cornstarch and rosewater dessert) or pourekia (pastry parcels) with anari cheese, ‘trahana’ (traditional winter soup), or delicious spinach & feta pie, or carob syrup dumplings, or palouse, or tsourekki or…or…or…! Clearly everything is 100% home-made. Wash it all down with coffee, tea or fresh juice whilst enjoying a walk on the grounds to admire the gardens and stunning views.
Kika’s Garden is open from Thursday to Sunday 09:30- 14:00, Monday Tuesday and Wednesday it is closed. It is also closed for the month of January. As it can only serve up to 30 people, it is advisable that reservations are made 24 hours in advance. Kika’s Garden is also open for traditional dinner experiences for groups of six people or more, with all sorts of traditional food on offer with specialties depending on the season. Kikas Garden is 28klm (30 minutes drive) from Ithaki House. Enjoy this short viedeo: Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=168&v=FPqEGfnsAuU&feature=emb_logo
Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence Winner 2019
Telephone: 99 459400
Address: 5 Theodoru Kolokotroni str., Kallepia, Paphos
Facebook: Kika’s Garden homemade food & produce
Bonus Tip while in Kallepia:
Whilst you are visiting Kika’s Garden is worth taking a 15 minute detour to visit the Saint Neophytos Monastery in Mesogi. Indeed, one of the best-known monasteries in Cyprus, it was founded by monk Neophytos in the 12th century. The hermit carved a cave out of the mountains called the ‘Enkleistra’, covered with some of the finest examples of Byzantine frescoes, dates back from the 12th to the 15th centuries. In addition, the monastery has a noteworthy ecclesiastical museum and its later church also contains some of the finest Post-Byzantine icons dating to the 16th century.
In a nutshell, when in Cyprus expect to gain a few kilos! Indeed, do not refrain for tasting food and let yourself enjoy the myriads of tastes of true home made cooking. A wider selection of our personal favorite traditional restaurants around Ithaki House and Polis Chrysochous area,
can be found on our website Eating Out Page page.
A wider selection of restaurants, as well as directions from Ithaki House to each one, you will find on our bespoke google map, bit.ly/IthakiGoogleMap.
Kali Oreksi! (Bon Appettte) !
About Ithaki House
Ithaki House is a beautiful 2 bedroom holiday home with private swimming pool, in Paphos, Cyprus. Ithaki offers panoramic views of the whole expanse of the Polis-Chrysochou Bay. Overlooking a patchwork of fields of crops, olive and citrus trees all the way to the famous Akamas, our home makes the most of its position with a private balcony swimming pool and terrace. Ideal for couples and small families who wish for peace and tranquility but at the same time in proximity to everything; crystal clear, blue flag beaches or aromatic pine sentenced Paphos Forest all 10 minutes away depending on which direction you wish to set off. Ithaki House is about 50 minutes drive from Paphos International Airport. Ithaki House sleeps 5, with both bedrooms featuring en-suite bathrooms, and is equipped with all the amenities you would possibly need and some you would not expect. For further information our website is www.ithakihouse.com & our digital guest book is bit.ly/IthakiGuestBook