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10 great taverns to hang out with friends

Simple and cozy spaces. We found ten great places to hang out with friends, solely for food lovers.

By Natasa Georgiou

 Taverna Oi Filosofoi

One bench, eight stools and an old jukebox in a 3X4 space, hidden in an alley near Rigainis. Salatas decided to reopen his dad’s shop which was a landmark in Nicosia’s nightlife 25 year ago. The tavern’s changing menu is written on a chalkboard.

Whatever happens you have to try the souvlaki, which will leave you speechless.

Reservation necessary. Germanou Patron 91B (Stoa), Nicosia, 99631678, Monday-Thursday 18:30-23:00

Estiatorio tis Evroullas

Evroulla’s restraurant is a staple for shopkeers in Makrydromos, who descend to the picturesque alley for a quick and tasty, homey lunch. Evroulla’s recipes are traditionally Cypriot such as beans, broad beans, meatloaf, taro with pork, meatballs and roast beef, among others.

The competition from her cook is significant as his grilled food and especially the souvlakia-sieftalia pitta are excellent. The atmosphere here is unexpectedly romantic in the evenings.

Onasagorou 16, Stoa Klokkari, 22665346, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday-Sunday 12:00-23:00, Wednesday 12:00-16:00

Taverna Zorpas

Partners in work and in life: Nathos has a doctorate in grilling and Eliana is the best waitress and the tavern’s soul. With wit and humour she has been serving their loyal clientele for 22 years now. Here, you now that the food will always taste the same and have the same quality, which is something precious.

We love their soft village halloumi, their decent souvlakia, their handmade sieftalia, their juicy pork jobs with oregano, the magnificent lamb ribs and the house specialty chicken marinated in yoghurt, oregano and olive oil.

Ayiou Pavlou 142, Ayios Dometios, 22777715, Monday-Saturday 19:00-23:00

Armenaki

Crossing through the side yard of a house you will find a small space with a few tables and a kitchen. Sit comfortably, order a beer and prepare to give in to a feast of Armenian flavours.

Hummus, lahmacun, halloumi pies, koupes, pickled beetroot and beef or chicken gyros, pork souvlaki, mince kebab and chicken souvlaki all served in pittas with thin-cut tomatoes, cucumber, onion and sumac, which Armenaki introduced in Cyprus in 1974.

The tables outside are ready and are waiting for you.

San Souci 15, Strovolos, 22378383, Monday-Saturday 18:00-23:00

To Kontosouvli

Whenever I think of this place, I remember Mr. Andros, a classic Nicosia figure, with a towel on his shoulder, singing Stratos Dionysiou’s songs and playing accordion, accompanied by the customers, which as the years went by became friends.

Besides this, I also see kontosouvli, the kontosouvli you’ve heard of but did not believe that it existed. The kontosouvli that you won’t need a knife to cut, with a side of bulgur, yoghurt and roasted potatoes. If you’re more into souvlakia, sieftalia or the famous minced kebab of Manya then you will not leave disappointed.

Kallipoleos 2, Nicosia, 22754959, Monday-Saturday 19:00-23:00

Souvlakia Lampros

Alekos and Savvas stick to some basic rules when it comes to food. They insist to prepare everything in-house, they do not offer processed products and they always get their meat fresh from Cypriot farms. The result does them justice, from the tzatziki to tahini, the pork and chicken souvlaki to the wined bacon and the 700 gr pork chops.

The highlight of the shop is their sieftalies which they prepare daily with a mixture of herbs. You also have to try the beef liver, which should be considered a dessert!

Ayiou Pavlou 4, Ayios Andreas, 22771515, Monday-Saturday 12:00-15:00, 17:00-22:30

Vokolida Kebab House

A family business which started as a sandwich shop and in 1983 turned into a kebab house after a taxi driver suggested to create a place where divers and other bypassers could eat.

The name Vokolida refers to the Turkish occupied village of the owners and keeps its memory alive. All their food is prepared in-house on the grill and their famous sieftalia are made every morning by the owner.

Besides the standard taverna food, there is a peculiar reason that many customers keep coming back: grilled pigeon, an endangered meze.

Faneromenis 127, Larnaca, 24627487, Monday-Sunday 12:00-23:00

Arsinoe Fish Tavern

A different entry in our list, for fresh fish in the centre of Polis, opposite Ayios Nicolaos church. This tavern has been operating since 1985 and belongs to a family of fishers, who have their own boats.Their aim is for the customers to leave happy both in the stomach and in the pocket!

We tried grilled calamari and octopus, fried mullet and bream, perfectly cooked with thick-cut Cypriot potatoes. Depending on the season you can find fish such as perch and parrotfish. For dessert they serve homemade halva and spoon sweets.

Griva Digeni 3, Polis, 26321590, Monday-Saturday 18:00-23:00

To magazaki tou Giannou

In its six years of operation, to magazaki tou Giannou has managed to win over the demanding Nicosians. A place to hang out with friends, with a relaxed atmosphere, very friendly service and great food.

The arguments with my friends about which souvlaki is better will never end. On one side, the chicken is heavenly and on the other the lamb souvlaki is special and excellent. On Fridays we like to have a drink there, while enjoying live folk and rebetiko music.

Grigori Afxentiou 15, Engomi, 99788202, Tuesday-Saturday 18:30-22:00

Sikaminia

One of the first cookhouses in Limassol, with the most homey foods. On summers it opens only at noons and feeds flocks of people.

Staples and seasonal dishes in great quantities and competitive prices. Beans, lentils, afelia, garlicky aubergines, peans with lamb, moussaka, makaronia tou fournou, rabbit stew, meatballs, stuffed vine leaves, orzo with chicken, pork chop, smelt and picarel are only half of the foods they offer.

The pure ingredients and the care that Ms. Demetra puts into everything she cooks will not leave anyone disappointed.

Eleftherias 26, Limassol, 25365280, Monday-Saturday 12:00-16:00