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Stavros Taverna & Restaurant


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THE BEST GREEK MEZE IN TOWN | PAPHOS

Published by Oat Sitalasai — 4 years ago

If you’re ever in Paphos, Cyprus, it is really a no brainer that you need to have at least one Cypriot meal. This shouldn’t be a problem since they’re literally everywhere, whether it be on Tombs of the Kings Road to the town center and its section of The Old Town, to the beach side of Kato Paphos. I love Cypriot food and if there’s a place to have, it would be the one and only Stavros Restaurant and Taverna.

THE BEST GREEK MEZE IN TOWN PAPHOS

I guess the only problem here is finding the place. If you’re in Paphos or any part of Cyprus, my advice to you is to rent a car. I could confidently say that 99% of the tourist coming into Cyprus either has a car or rents a car. It’s crucial to have your own source of transportation since that provided to the public is horrendous. Fair play, the country is developing and has been developing since joining the European Union about ten years ago, but don’t expect an organised system like that in France or England. There are buses, but you need to get your head around the routes and all that, so ultimately, get yourself a rented car from one of the thirty car dealers in the city, no joke. And renting a car here is super easy. The hard part is probably to drive on what is "the wrong side of the road, " unless you're coming from Australia, or the united Kingdom! If there's one car dealer that I could recommend here in Paphos, it would be the much trusted Michael Rent a Car located on Tombs of the King Road. Basically look for Irish Pub and Restaurant O'Neils, and the car renting spot is just next to it. Otherwise, look out for restaurant Fat Mama's or Elysium hotel and it's just across the road on the other side!

But like always, I will give your other solutions to this problem. You can catch a bus to the tavern, which would be bus number 617, but you just have to take the words on the official website for it, since I've never taken the bus up here. The best way is to probably ask the bus driver before you get on, to avoid complications later on.

Now that you have a mode of transport, it’s super easy to navigate your way around town. Another advice that you should take on board is either having a map handy or a GPS machine. As local residents, we use short cuts all the time. The town is very small and sometimes getting from point a to point b is easier explained with short cuts, but for tourists, it’s best to have some sort of a map to fall back on to.

I am really gonna take you guys off the beaten track and really bring you through the roads not taken by tourists. Since my family now live in Cyprus, the owner of the restaurant is actually a family friend, but don’t get me wrong, the reason I’m sharing this place with you is because it’s genuinely the best local meal you can get in Paphos, without a doubt. Stavros Restaurnat and Taverna is located in the square of a small village, somewhat behind the town center. This area is called Moutallos. This area is quite elevated from the harbour and the side on Tombs of the Kings, so on a nice day, you can get a decent view of the city and the sea.

THE BEST GREEK MEZE IN TOWN PAPHOS

Like every decent local taverna here in Paphos, you could either get a simple kebab with grilled pork and or sheftalia, or get a an a la carte menu with items you would like, or get the whole Cypriot experience with what we call the meze. There were a few interesting terms in the sentence, so let's first look at them before we move on. If you were to get a kebab in Paphos, or in Cyprus for that matter, you shouldn't be expecting a gyros style sandwich. In Cyprus, the huge chunk of meat that is always turning on the vertical roast is referred to as a gyros, so if this is what you want, get a gyros. Just keep in mind that not every kebab shop will have gyros, but every gyros place should have kebab.

So, what is this Cypriot kebab? Well, the outer layer is bread, but not just any bread. They use Cypriot Pita Bread here, which is quite different from that of Greece, with differences in taste, texture and shape. They would throw the pita bread onto the grill just to get it warm, and sometimes, a bit crispy on the outside. The meat factor that is used is 99% of time pork meat, very simply seasoned and brushed with olive oil, then onto the grill it goes. The pork is cut into bite size pieces, then connected by a skewer, so when it comes out from the grill, it's ready to be added to the bread. This is called souvlakia, which goes back to the name of the grilled pork. If you're in a restaurant and come across the term souvla, that also refers to a meat that is grilled, very similar to souvlakia but usually a larger chunk of meat, almost like a steak but smaller.

I also mentioned sheftalia, which is absolute delicious. In simple terms, it's what we refer to as Cypriot sausages, which is made from shoulder of lamb and pork (ground), chopped white onions and parsley, then seasoned with a touch of lemon juice and of course salt and pepper, then encased in pig or lamb stomach, which is like a membrane casing. When it comes out from the grill, it smells amazing and tastes even better.

So with your grill-toasted Cypriot pita bread, your souvlakia of pork, your sheftalia sausages, you will also get some cucumber, tomatoes, onions and more parsley, and a wedge of lemon if you desire. This has got the be one of the best sandwiches known to the human race.

So other than a simple yet divine kebab, you can also go for a la carte options. I will not talk about the a la carte option here, simply because we never get them. Instead, we always go for the meze, which in another sense is all the a la carte options combine. I would strongly recommend to anyone going to Cyprus for the very time to give the meze option a go. The Cypriot meze is like your encyclopedia to Cypriot cuisine in a nutshell.

Now this is the fun bit and where the pictures will help my explanation a lot. Like French cuisine, meze has its own unique order:

1. The first items to be brought to the table would be the foundation, like warm pita bread and fresh village salad. Be sure to ask the kind waiter/waitress for bottle of olive oil so you could dress your salad, and dip your bread in. Not many locals do this but as a food lover, this is another touch that I would recommend! Oh, I bolded village salad because I find it very unique to the eateries here in Paphos. What we refer to as a village salad is quite simple ingredients. In this salad, you get your usualshredded lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, slices of onions and sometimes, feta cheese. Just one last piece of note to this, the two most-loved cheeses in Paphos are your feta cheese and your halloumi - I will later share with you guys how they serve their halloumi cheese here.

2. The next round of dishes that will arrive on your table are still quite light, since we're still warming up. As hungry as you may me because I'm certain that you saved a lot of room in your tummy for this exclusive dinner, the meat will come a bit later. At this point, you will get small side dishes such as hummus, greek yogurt(sometimes tzatziki), olives, marinated beetroot cubes, sour boiled eggs, and some not too spicy peppers. It now sounds like there are so many things on the table, but trust me, these items come in good portion depending on the number of people on your table. They're not overly huge, because they make up to just a section of the overall meze. The best thing is, if you like certain items and want more, you are more than welcome to ask the restaurant for more!

3. Now that the party is going on a bit stronger and your stomach is no longer completely empty, we can move on closer to the meat. Another dish that I fondly love ishalloumi with lountza. Wow, what are these terms? As promised earlier, halloumi is another type of cheese that is very famous here in Cyprus. A combination of milk for goat and sheep, halloumi is actually grilled. But trust me, this is not like other grilled cheeses you've had before. The unique texture of the cheese allows it to hold itself and not melt like French raclette when in contact with heat. As a result, there are beautiful charred marks on the cheese, and when you bite to it, oh man. It's has this chewy and squeaky textures which are not only delicious, but also quite fun to eat. Lountza, on the other hand, is like a thick cut of bacon. It's actually in between bacon and ham, but that aside, it's grilled then served on top of the halloumi. The idea for this dish is for you to cut both the lountza and halloumi so that inone delicious bite, you get both the cheese and the meat. If you've not had halloumi cheese before, then I would recommend eating it alone first so that you really appreciate how good it is!

THE BEST GREEK MEZE IN TOWN PAPHOS

4. You won't believe it but there's more before the meat. The Cypriot diet understands that with good meat, there must also be some vegetables to balance it off. What we usually get here is zucchini cooked with egg. It's not an omelette, but from my assumption, they cooked off the zucchini first, then season it with salt and pepper, then egg is added and scrambled until cooked. Unlike an omelet or other variations, the egg is completely cooked so there isn't any runny bits. You will be surprised at how such two ingredients, salt and pepper and a touch of olive oil could make for something so yummy.

THE BEST GREEK MEZE IN TOWN PAPHOS

Other dishes of vegetables include sautéed potatoes, and their version of a drier ratatouille. I also love their sautéed potatoes which are nice and crispy, and rich from the butter and olive oil combination. I mean, when potato is fried off until crispy with butter, we all know it's gonna be delicious.

5. I won't hold you back anymore, so let's unleash the meat! There are so many dishes consisting of meat here, but I will talk about what I like first. Of course, you will get your souvlaki of pork, which is delicious. I would say the best part about these pork souvlakis is that, every skewer will have chunks of fat, and that my friends, are the best. Similar to a steak, when the fat comes in contact with open flame, it renders and melts and cooks and becomes unbelievably yummy. A plate of souvlaki will also have chopped raw white onions and more of the fresh, aromatic parsley. And if you're into the lemon juice, squeeze it on when the meat is still hot!

THE BEST GREEK MEZE IN TOWN PAPHOS

Another item that I enjoy here is their sheftalia. Each place will have different sheftalia, and this place makes one of the best in town. I've already talked about this so there isn't much else to say. You will also get grilled chicken, which again is simply seasoned and is already really good just like that. Then, you will get one of the best lamb chops money can buy in Cyprus, and one of the best I've had in my life. If I could pick a place to eat lamb shops, anywhere from my 21 years on this planet, I will pick this very place. I have no idea where they get the meat from, but it's amazingly good. I can't explain how or why it's so special, so let's just say that it's good beyond words. We also got pork chopsthat's been marinated in red wine then cooked out on the grill. I don't particular enjoy these since I don't like the taste of red wine on my pork chop, and I just think that it's not a combination for me. My mom, on the other hand, loves it, so it's like a personal thing. You can also ask the restaurant what else they have, since I'm sure they have more options that by this point, we didn't really want anything else.

THE BEST GREEK MEZE IN TOWN PAPHOS

6. Just some extras that can be squeezed into your meze are aromatic pilaf cooked in butter and olive oil and snails! Yes, they eat snails here too, and trust me, they're locally sourced. I've never had them, and don't plan to in the near future either, but if you're a fan of snails, then be sure to ask them for some. It's not everyday that they will have them, since they get the freshest of ingredients. As for the pilaf, there's not much to say other than that it goes very well with the meat and the warm pita bread.

THE BEST GREEK MEZE IN TOWN PAPHOS

7. Dessert time! We usually just skip the dessert because our favourites from the past courses were sufficient. If you do have room though, they will bring you some fresh fruits like oranges, pineapple, apple, grapes, etc. Again, this depends on what's in season.

THE BEST GREEK MEZE IN TOWN PAPHOS

And that is what an average meze meal is for you. As you can see, it's easy to understand why I see this as a summary of Cypriot cuisine. It is one of the most complete meals in terms of ingredients and the satisfaction after such a feast is always 11 out of 10. You can also ask for coffee. Cypriots love their coffee and be sure to try a Cyprus Coffee some time during your trip! It's very different from your ordinary coffee. Although it looks like a shot of espresso, it's nothing but. There is actually a rich art in making one of these, which the older locals are usually very good at. In certain places, there's also a person known for having the ability to read fortunes from your cup of coffee. The trick behind this is to drink your coffee until there's just about 5% left in the cup, then grabbing a piece of tissue paper and lying it on the saucer, you flip over your cup of coffee face down in the tissue-covered saucer. Let it sit as it is for a few minutes until the reader starts reading! Other than the uniqueness in the coffee, you will also enjoy this unmatched experience!

This restaurant has got a fantastic vibe. There's a jukebox at the corner of the restaurant next to the bar where locals and neighbours and friends of friends enjoy a drink, or two, or a few more. These men usually make the most of the jukebox and always play their favourites of Greek and Cypriot music. The restaurant is also quite small in size, with no more 25 seats. I mean, you could have more if you really make the most out of the space, but for a comfortable environment, I would say 25 people. During warmer months, you can also sit outside on their terrace, with town square just a stone throw away. There are plants everywhere which really enhances that feeling of being a local dining on a beautiful island in the Mediterranean. So much for atmosphere right?

THE BEST GREEK MEZE IN TOWN PAPHOS

I would say the factor that makes this restaurant stand out from everywhere else is the owner and his family. Mainly it's a husband and wife team, and they really do pride themselves in the quality of the food and the ambience of their place. The husband who's also the man behind the grill whipping up deliciousness, would come greet every table from time to time, if the place is not too busy. He is extremely friendly and after a few visits, it's as if you're coming to visit a family member for a home-cooked meal! Another thing that I find very impressive is that the husband would go buy his products every single afternoon after he finishes his work at the office. This doesn't only go on to show his commitment and dedication, but also his understanding that the customers deserve the very best.

So if this post has got your stomach dancing up and down, then I would suggest keeping one evening open for this meal. It's very casual family restaurant so you won't have to make a booking or anything formal like that. Just show up, or if you'd like to double check anything, give them a call at 26 94 10 87. Get some local red wine or local beer and enjoy this Cypriot feast!

And just one final comment, I do realise that through research of restaurants here in Paphos, ''Stavros'' is a very common name and also happens to also be the very name of a few restaurants in the area. To avoid mixed ups and disappointments, I would highly recommend that you take ''Moutallos Square'' as your destination as well as keep their phone number handy. There is nothing worse than reading this whole experience only to end up in another restaurant serving fish and chips, steaks and mash potato, and English beers!

Stavros Taverna & Restaurant Moutallos Square - Ratings :

Accessibility - 7. 5/10

Price - 9/10

Selection - 10/10

Staff Friendliness - 9/10

Cleanliness - 9/10

Overall - 9. 5/10

Paphos Bus and Transportation Committee - Route 617 Moutallos

Source

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Cheers!

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