Eating out in North Cyprus
North Cyprus offers visitors an abundance of places to eat; from the simplest of tavernas to international style restaurants, the choice is stunning. But all share the traditional Cypriot values of fresh ingredients, friendly staff and good value.
No holiday to Northern Cyprus would be complete without at least one meal in Kyrenia Harbour, and the place comes alive in the evenings when the locals and visitors promenade - but don't neglect some of the smaller restaurants to be found in the villages or the back streets of Kyrenia and along the coast. An evening meal in Bellapais Village, under the floodlit majesty of Bellapais Abbey.
North Cyprus sits on the cross-roads of three continents and with its rich history, Cypriot cuisine has been influenced by many cultures. Although owing most of its heritage to Mediterranean and Middle Eastern origins, European settlers have had a major impact too - though you will struggle to find a burger bar here! Many dishes vary from region to region making Northern Cyprus a fascinating place to eat. Each dish has a specific taste and is well presented reflecting the Cypriot character. 'Molohiya', Arab in origin, is a well developed dish appealing to Cypriot taste, preparation and presentation. Other favourites include 'yalanci dolma' (vine leaves stuffed with rice, onions, and tomatoes); 'shish Kebap' (marinated lamb, skewered and grilled over charcoal), 'sigara borek' (feta cheese rolled in filo pastry and deep-fried).and 'mousakka' (layers of mince, potatoes, and aubergines baked in the oven with cheese topping). Cypriot meals normally commence with 'meze'. This speciality consists of a large number of cold and hot hors d'oeuvres, including many salads, meats, vegetable, and fish dishes. It can be eaten as a starter, but equally as a meal in itself with the supply of dishes seeming never to stop arriving!
Local deserts are mostly eastern in origin and are usually extremely sweet, examples include 'lokum' (Turkish Delight), 'halva' (slices of ground sesame seeds and sugar) and 'baklava' (mille-feuille pastry, nuts, honey and syrup), but there is an abundance of fresh fruit too and many more European dishes. No meal should end without the thick and strong Turkish coffee. An everyday part of life in Northern Cyprus, it was introduced to the West by the Ottoman Turks in the fifteenth century. It is very popular all over the world today and considered a delicacy in fashionable circles. The secret of making Turkish coffee is that the coffee beans are ground into a very fine powder then boiled in a small amount of water, with or without sugar, producing a thick 'cream' on top. Turkish coffee is served in small coffee cups in three ways; 'sah-de', which is unsweetened, 'ortah', which is moderately sweet, and 'shekerli', which is very sweet. You will always be asked, before the coffee is brewed, which of the three you would like.
For drinks before the meal, a cooling cocktail is perfect and the local 'Brandy Sour' worth a taste. Imported wines, beers and spirits are widely available, but the locally brewewd 'Efes' beer is of good quality and excellent value. Of the local wines, the most popular are 'Chankaya' (white) and Kavaklidere (red). As well as the numerous local establishments, Northern Cyprus boasts a marvelous selection of restaurants offering dishes from around the world. French and Italian cuisine is widely available and there are a number of excellent Chinese and Cantonese specialists too.
The cuisine of North Cyprus is as diverse as the cultures that have helped to create it. With influences from Arabia, the Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, and Greece, it is bound to be diversified and extremely tasty. From savoury to sweet there is a rich choice of foods to tempt even the fussiest palate.