When it comes to summer holidays, three things remind us of Cypriot summer: watermelon, mahalepi, and of course, kleftiko, or, according to many, our local dish!
This famous dish of lamb and potatoes, seasoned with bay leaves and oregano, has an interesting back-story as well as being hearty and delicious. The prolonged cooking time in a well-sealed traditional clay oven, turns the usually sinewy meat into a tender dish that you could not achieve with conventional cooking.
The name means ‘stolen’ in Greek and, according to the Cyprus Food Museum, is thought to date back centuries when a sheep or goat that had been stolen from its flock would be cooked for several hours in a hole in the ground – sealed with mud – so that no tell-tale smoke would give the thieves away.
Choose any one of these great taverns to enjoy kleftiko!
Kyriakos restaurant is serving outstanding traditional kleftiko for more than three decades, since its opening. Here, you will enjoy tender meat, accompanied by delicious potatoes and fresh salad. Reasonable price, amazing food and very friendly staff. Call beforehand for a table, or even to reserve kleftiko portions as they run out quite early.
Vernardaki street 6, Pallouriotissa, Nicosia, 22432750
Monday- Saturday: 19:00-24:00
At Prosfigas you will have mouth-watering kleftiko with roasted potatoes straight from the clay oven. The restaurant is very famous for its very good meat, either goat or lamb.
Ammochostos Avenue 12, Aglantzia, 22334891
Also open on Sunday (noon only)
Odofragma traditional tavern serves amazing, slow cooked kleftiko in the hull, accompanied by fresh fried potatoes seasoned with oregano, village salad and cold appetizers of your choice.
Odofragma, Andrea Karyou Avenue, Agios Dometios, 99657270
Monday- Saturday: 19:00-1:00
When in Dhali, do not forget to visit Parko Efkaliptoi tavern to enjoy delicious kleftiko, oven-roasted potatoes, bulgur pilaf and freshly chopped village salad! The high-quality, tender meat is slowly cooked to perfection in wood-fired oven in clay pots, giving you great tasting experience.
Acharnon 3 Street, Dhali, Nicosia, 99476274 – 22523404
Monday- Sunday: 18:30-23:30
Agios Amvrosios- Lefos Tavern
At this local rustic tavern with fantastic food and hospitality, Mrs. Epistimi Lefou is serving her famous kleftiko for more than two decades. The tender meat is slowly cooked by mastery in wood-fired oven, accompanied by mouth-watering potatoes or bulgur pilaf with vegetables. Also try fresh village salad with kappari to elevate your food experience, and then, finish your meal properly by having bourekia filled with anari!
Kofinou, Larnaca, 24323124
Tuesday- Sunday: 8:00-00:00
At this traditional tavern in Sotira village you will enjoy tasty, high quality meze dishes, all cooked to perfection, in the tavern’s large outdoor courtyard. The Cypriot stone, the traditional arcs, the large courtyard and the exceptional food surely make Mousikos a place-to-be.
Kyriakou Matsi 6, Sotira, Famagusta region, 23828833
Monday- Sunday: 18:00-23.00
Oi Pente Efkaliptoi
Oi Pente Efkaliptoi, one of Limassol’s most famous traditional taverns, serves delicious kleftiko (using only high-quality Cypriot meat), cooked to perfection. High quality of food, rich traditional meze dishes, reasonable prices and friendly staff!
Nikou Pattichi 5L, Limassol, 25336954
Tuesday- Saturday: 19:30-24:00
At Paliomylos tavern you have the opportunity to enjoy all-you-can-eat delicious kleftiko every Tuesday and Friday, at €12 per person, accompanied by bulgur pilaf, stifado, potatoes, salad, yogurt, olives and kappari.
Agios Epifanios, Nicosia, 99524293
Monday- Saturday: 19:30-00:00
At Porfyrios, a family run restaurant in Peristerona village, you will find authentic kleftiko, accompanied by scrumptious skin-on potatoes, cooked in aluminioum foil. Each portion of kleftiko is accompanied by bread and salad. The tavern is highly recommended to dine in!
Makariou 2, Peristerona, Nicosia, 99625690
Tuesday- Thursday: 19:00-24:00
A tavern well-known for its amazing, tasty dishes, in Kato Deftera, Nicosia. At Spilaio you can enjoy traditional kleftiko lamb, cooked in wood-fired oven. A perfect place for quality food and great atmosphere!
Anastasi Leventi 2A, Kato Deftera, Nicosia, 22622024
Monday- Sunday: 11:00-16:00 & 17:00-23:00
Militzis is one of Larnaca’s most famous traditional taverns, offering rich meze dishes for 40 years. Here, the generous portions of delicious Kleftiko are served with potatoes also cooked in the clay oven, bread, olives, onion and kappari.
Piale Pasha 42, Larnaca, 24655867
Monday- Sunday: 12:00-00:00
Shiftouris tavern in Larnaca has a long tradition of 100 years in serving kleftiko! The meat is a bit spicy, since it is cooked in traditional oven heated with olive wood! Each portion of kleftiko is served with accompaniments such as salad, yoghurt and onion. Leontiou Maxaira 33, Larnaca, 24669422
Tuesday- Friday: 12.00 – 23.00
Sunday: 11.45 – 17.00