Meze, moussaka and melintzanosalata: eating out in Paphos.

When visiting a new country I like to try the local cuisine. From bright green pea soup in Amsterdam to lots and lots of meat in Colombia, I’ll try anything once. And my latest trip – a week in Cyprus – was no exception. After all, a holiday on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus wouldn’t be complete without trying some of the traditional Cypriot dishes and delicacies.

Staying at the Kissos Hotel in Paphos on a bed and breakfast board, I ventured out in the evenings for dinner at different restaurants and “tavernas” in the area. As a solo traveller, I ate alone for the first few nights – but then my friend Emma flew out to Cyprus to meet me, which made meal times a little more fun and social. So, here’s a run down of where to eat in Paphos, and what we chose off the menus.


San Marino.

On my first night, I felt a bit peckish after a short stroll along the beach, so headed back to the main strip of bars and restaurants, where I found the San Marino Taverna. Welcomed in by the super friendly manager (who seemed surprised I was travelling alone), I was shown to a table by the window and given the extensive menu.

I wasn’t overly hungry but liked the sound of the meze. As the meze was a set menu for two people, I just ordered a couple of starters instead: a plate of dips with toasted pitta bread, and some feta cheese. I love dips, so wasn’t disappointed with the selection, which included a favourite of mine, tzatziki. And the creamy feta was served drizzled with olive all and sprinkled with oregano.

The food at San Marino was delicious, and filling. But I was still persuaded by the waiter into having a dessert: a slice of traditional Cypriot baklava, served warm with vanilla ice cream. I don’t usually have a sweet tooth, but I would have demolished another slice.


I really, really liked my meal at San Marino, so it seemed only fitting to go there on Emma and my last night together, so we could enjoy the two person meze platter.

Meze, which literally means “small dishes”, is a Mediterranean style of eating with lots of different courses, though each course is small, as a sort of taster dish. We went for a plate of grilled halloumi and the fish meze platter, which included:

  • Pitta and dips (tzatziki, hummus, taramasalata and tahini)
  • Greek salad
  • Potato salad
  • Marinated black olives
  • Calamari
  • Whitebait
  • Grilled octopus
  • Grilled sea bream
  • Prawns
  • Swordfish
  • Sardines
  • Rice
  • Steamed vegetables
  • Fries

The waiters laughed as our eyes got wider with every plate they brought out, and we quickly ran out of room on the table. There was way too much food for us, but Emma and I gave it a good go. Of course we had to leave room for dessert though – I’d bigged up the baklava to Emma during the day, and she wasn’t disappointed.

I would definitely recommend San Marino to anyone staying in Paphos – the staff, the menu and the ambiance of the restaurant were all brilliant.


Karlina Restaurant.

On my second night I wandered down the road towards the Tombs of the Kings, where I found the Karlina Restaurant. It was very busy for a Thursday night, but the waiter managed to find a table in the the corner for me. Having not eaten all day, after perusing the menu, I opted for the special deal of three courses for 16€.

First up was a Greek salad served with a crostini and some toasted black olives. Drizzled with balsamic dressing and olive oil, it was seriously good. But not as good as the main course: a huge pot of moussaka. If you’ve never tried it, moussaka is a traditional Cypriot/Greek layered dish of aubergine, minced lamb and tomatoes. It was served with another salad and a jacket potato. Then, as if all that food wasn’t enough, out came a massive creme caramel pudding (which I completely forgot to take a photo of before I devoured it).

The food in the Karlina Restaurant was really tasty, and like San Marino, the staff in were friendly. Had I been here for a second week I wouldn’t have hesitated to eat here again.


Laterna Taverna.

My third day was spent exploring the Tombs of the Kings and then relaxing at the beautiful Coral Bay. After getting the bus back from the beach, I hopped off in the middle of Paphos and found myself suddenly hungry. So, tempted by the menu outside, I grabbed a table at Laterna Taverna.

I ordered a tuna salad, koupepia and some tzatziki and pitta bread (all pictured at the top of this post). Koupepia, sometimes known as “dolmades”, are the famous Cypriot stuffed vine leaves. They can be made with meat served warm, or as a vegetarian dish served cold. Mine were warm and covered in a rich tomato sauce – they were amazing. I easily could have polished off another plate.

Captain’s Bistro.

On my fourth day I visited the Paphos Archeological Park. After four hours in the blazing sunshine, I was grateful when I found a cool, breezy restaurant with a fantastic view of Paphos harbour.


The menu at Captain’s Bistro had a lot of fish and seafood. But not wanting anything too heavy, I chose a seafood salad (plus the obligatory pitta and dips). The salad was alright, but they drowned it in Marie Rose sauce. Had I known I would have asked for the sauce on the side, but never mind. The prawns and mussels on the salad were very fresh, which made up for the sauciness.

The restaurant was a lot more expensive than the other places I’d eaten in, but I guess that’s because you’re paying for the view. Would I eat here again? Probably not, but there were plenty of cocktails on the menu, so it might be a good place to start a night out with friends.


Zeus Dias.

When Emma joined me in Paphos, we decided to try the Trip Advisor award-winning restaurant Dias Zeus for dinner. Just look how beautiful the establishment is:


We didn’t need to look at the menu for long – we went straight in for the traditional meat meze platter, much to the bemusement of the waiting staff, who were so friendly and jovial. One waiter in particular kept us giggling all night; with his limited English, he insisted that every little dish he brought out to us was “good with lemon”. We went through a lot of lemons during this meal.

The dishes included in the meze were:

  • Pitta and dips (tzatziki, hummus, taramasalata and tahini)
  • Greek salad
  • Melintzanosalata (known as “eggplant salad”)
  • Tyrokafteri (a spicy feta cheese dip)
  • Chicken souvlaki (seasoned chicken kebabs)
  • Pork souvlaki (seasoned pork kebabs)
  • Lamb cutlets
  • A selection of spicy Cypriot sausages
  • Keftedes (traditional Greek meatballs in tomato sauce)
  • Halloumi
  • Fries


Again, our eyes were much bigger than our tummies, and we didn’t manage it all. The food was delicious (though the wine wasn’t really to our taste), and I’d really recommend going to this restaurant when staying in Paphos.


Have you been to Paphos and eaten in any of these restaurants or tavernas? What did you think of the Cypriot food? Let me know if you have any other restaurant suggestions in the comments below.

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