What makes a good drinking house? Award winning cocktails, pints on tap, cosy, quiet, loud, intimate, over-crowded? Today, they come in all shapes and sizes. With new and modern bars popping up every millisecond in the capital, let’s consider something older, Kafeneio 11.
Kafeneio 11, a traditional coffee house tucked away behind the Hamam in the charismatic old part of the capital, brings the charm of yesteryear forward with its decor, serving style and venue rich in history and old traditions. Although Kafeneio 11 has been around for a year or two, it re-opened its doors, to two cozy rooms and private courtyard, to customers on October 1 under new ownership. Its customers range from old to young, students to business folk, creative types to more creative types including and especially actors.
Serving only traditional Greek Cypriot drinks (counting several different makes of whiskey, brandy, ouzo, zivania, wine, beer and tsipouro), the incredibly inviting spot is a mix between a traditional house and a little side street shop. With its large window wall – on the bigger of the two small side streets it resides on – draws you in with a live fireplace. With 17 tables fitting up to 50 people inside and 30 outside, wooden chairs huddle close enough together, to at times rub elbow to elbow. But that in effect is the nature of a Kafeneio, an informal space where folk can relax. The decor is delicious; everything you’d find in a homely home, nothing fancy and all very comforting. The small number of staff are incredibly accommodating, endowed with the old country’s charm and service and also prepare cold small dishes to accompany drinks. The space may be compact but it’s not at all claustrophobic and at times people will engage with neighbouring tables, meeting old friends and making new.
Kafeneio 11 hosts live Rembetiko music every Friday and Saturday and international jazz every second Thursday of the month. Occasionally they hold other musical events, as so happened on this particular Wednesday evening; a Cypriot night with traditional guitar, lute, violin, voice and a fascinating, heavenly sounding instrument called a Santur. The musicians not separated from their audience, they sit on chairs with their backs to the wall and faces less than half a metre from the customers. The santur took a solo warm up, which was pure magic; truly an atmosphere to be experienced, as the fire burnt, warming the venue and complementing the mellow Kafeneio culture.
Kafeneio 11 is open all day and night and offers a familiarly comforting, traditional Cypriot feel in a modern hectic life. No reservations are accepted, so get in early to grab a space!
Where: Corner of Soutsou and Pyreos, Nicosia
When: Tuesday – Sunday 11am- midnight
Price: Wine bottles €15, glass €5, Whiskey €5, Zivania, Ouzo, Tsipouro €2-11 (dependent on size)