Cyprus offers a lot of amazingly, good food. Whether it’s Moussaka or Sheftalia, Souvlaki or Stifado. We have created a list of the 16 different and delicious foods to try when you visit the island.
Moussaka is a mousst-do in Cyprus, bad joke intended! It is an eggplant-based dish with minced meat and potatoes. Moussaka is famous in the Middle East and the Balkans and even though the Greek version is the most famous one, you should definitely try the Cypriot one as well. For the vegetarians, you can find a Moussaka that is free of minced-meat as well. Although Moussaka may seem like it’s healthy, it is usually served with a thick layer of bechamel sauce on top, so just make sure to plan your swimming session before you enjoy it.
Sheftalia is a traditional sausage from Cyprus and it is beyond delicious. It tastes a little bit like pork butlets mixed with the best kinds of spices. We can recommend you try it at…They served it in pita bread with yoghurt dressing and fresh tomatoes. This was actually the first thing we had after arriving in Cyprus and we could not have imagined a better culinary start to our holiday. If you want to know about our trip and about the most important things to see when you’re in Cyprus, you can go here.
Apart from being a gustatory pleasure, halloumi is also an acoustic pleasure. With every bite that you take, you hear the typical squeaking sound that only halloumi creates. It is a cheese made from a mixture of goat’s and sheep’s milk. Since it does not easily melt, halloumi is grilled a lot and used as a meat substitute. It is the most famous cheese in Cyprus and you can find it in all supermarkets and in restaurants. Enjoy it grilled or simply with bread. Halloumi also makes for a great gift to take back since its shelf life is one year.
4. Keo Beer
Okay fair, Keo is not really food, but when you come to Cyprus, you’re also partially coming for the beach and there’s nothing better than sitting at the beach and enjoying a (non-alcoholic) cold beer with the ocean breeze flowing through your hair and the sound of the waves playing in the background. Keo is the standard beer brand in Cyprus and it is very easy to drink. You can get it in supermarkets or just grab one from one of the many kiosks on the way to the beach.
A stifado is a traditional Cypriot meat stew typically made with beef, pork or rabbit. It is served with lots of onions and macaroni style pasta on the side. It is a slow-cooked dish so the meat really infuses with all the Mediterranean spices and almost melts in your mouth. If you have an occasion to try stifado (probably served in better restaurants), make sure to not miss out on it and if you’re courageous enough, make sure to try the rabbit stifado.
6. Cypriot Kebab
After a long day of swimming and walks at the beach, you will have really earned yourself a Cypriot kebab. It is grilled pita bread filled with Sheftali meat, tzatziki, tomatoes, onions and french fries. Yes, it is as delicious as it sounds like and you definitely have to try a kebab when you come to Cyprus since this is another one of the traditional dishes. If you think that it is too heavy for you, you can also ask for the fries to be left out.
After all this heavy food, there is finally some dessert. In Cyprus dessert can consist of fresh fruit or of halva, which is a Middle-Eastern type of dessert made out of flour, semolina or finely ground nuts or seeds mixed with sugar or honey into a thick paste block. It can be eaten solely or with bread, tea or coffee. It comes in different flavours such as classic (sesame), vanilla, or chocolate. You will be able to find it in supermarkets and it is definitely one of the best things you could eat in Cyprus.
Souvlaki is a typical Greek/Cypriot dish that consists of grilled meat that is put on a skewer (“souvlaki” means skewer), sometimes with vegetables added to the skewer. The dish is made with pork but beef, lamb or chicken can be used too. It is such a traditionally Cypriot dish with deliciously soft and tender meat, you just have to have it when you come to Cyprus. You will be able to find souvlaki in lots of different restaurants, served with warm pita and vegetables on the side.
9. Greek Yoghurt
Did you know that Greek yoghurt is not really Greek? The process of straining yoghurt (thereby making it “Greek”) began in the 5th century BC somewhere in the Middle East. And if the Greeks can claim the propriety of this dish, we too think that we can totally mention this in our food list. Especially since it is so widely available all over the island. You will find Greek yoghurt in all different flavours and it tastes so much creamier than the normal Greek yogurt, that we just had to have it for every breakfast that we had in Cyprus.
10. Lays Feta
We know, Lays crisps may not be the typical culinary recommendations you have expected on here, but hey we are all about the local food and local crisps make up part of that. Especially if said crisps come in a traditional Cypriot flavor (feta is one of the local cheeses) that is not available in your home country and tastes amazingly delicious. It’s an ideal snack for a lazy afternoon at the beach when you enjoy the sun too much (or have paid the day’s fare for the sundeck chair) and don’t want to leave but still want to counter the lunchtime hunger pangs.
Olives are grown all over the island of Cyprus and are definitely of very high quality. You can find vacuum-packed olives in supermarkets and small shops to carry home either for yourself or your loved ones. We have been able to carry a couple of packs home too and had no problem getting them through security. We recommend you getting some fresh Cypriot bread, a pack of olives and maybe some red wine and head to the beach, preferably right before sunset. So simple and yet such an amazing experience to have when you’re in Cyprus.
Okay, despite being high in protein and low in fat we do realise that snails may not be for everyone. However, Cypriots do love these and enjoy it as a healthy snack just like you might your carrot and hummus dip. Locals eat them boiled with lemon and olive oil or with rice, tomato sauce and onions in a pilaf. A pilaf is basically rice cooked in broth and mixed with spices and vegetables. Despite the fact that it wasn’t our favourite meal we had in Cyprus, it was definitely still an experience to try the snails.
13. Pitta tis satzis
Sometimes the tastiest foods are the simplest and that is definitely the case with pitta tis satzis. It is a sweet snack named after the metal round utensil, the ‘satzi’, that it used to make it. Flour, olive oil, salt and water make up the dough that is rolled into thin circles or squares. The layers are cooked in a pan with very little oil but high temperature. It is then filled with honey and cinnamon, icing sugar can be added too. We can highly recommend the one you find in Zorbas, the Cypriot upmarket bakery/supermarket chain spread all across Cyprus.
14. Olive oil
By international standards, Cyprus is a small olive oil producer with an annual yield of 3000 tons of olive oil. It is of very high quality and can compete with its rivals from Greek, Spain and Italy. You will also find some olive oil farms where you can learn how olive oil is made. There, you will also find other products being made from olive oil like cosmetic products and other culinary specialties. If you come across an olive oil farm, it is definitely worth the experience to go and visit it.
Kadayif are a type of thin Turkish noodles that are similar to Vermicelli noodles. They consist of flour and water that is poured through a sieve onto a hot cooking tray. Kadayif noodles are used as a basis for a lot of Middle Eastern desserts. They are also used to make Kataifi, a Cypriot dessert with a filling of nuts, sugar and spices that are rolled in buttered dough. The Kadayif noodles on top give the buttery dessert a nice, crunchy layer. Yes, it is as good as it sounds like. Head to Zorbaz, an upmarket supermarket for some extraordinarily delicious Kataifi.
Commandaria is an amber-colored sweet dessert wine made in the Commandaria region of Cyprus in the foothills of the Troödus mountains. Supposedly, it is the oldest wine in the world and carries that title in the Guinness book of World Records. Legend says that Kind Richard of England was so taken by the wine served at his wedding in 1191 that he proclaimed it to be the “wine of the kings and the king of wines”. You can also find it at the airport, so if you miss out on trying it in Cyprus, you can always pick up a nice souvenir bottle at the end of your trip.