One of the things I love about Paphos is its reputation for good eateries offering excellent local cuisine. Agora Tavern in the centre of the old town is up there with the best and well worth a try.
I had been meaning to visit for quite a while and finally got round to climbing the steep outdoor staircase (stiletto wearers take extra care) on a blustery Friday evening to reach the first floor restaurant. We open the doors and step into a wonderful space that is both quirky and welcoming. A log fire roars in the corner, and although it’s only 7pm many of the tables are already full. Booking is essential as Agora is a favourite with locals and almost all of the tables are already reserved.
Many of the building’s original features remain, including areas of traditional tiled floor and exposed stone work. Wooden tables and chairs are dotted around the room which boasts a number of shuttered windows, making the space both airy and bright. Offbeat decorations add to the overall bohemian leanings of the venue
The kitchen is small and an open hatch means that customers can see the chef hard at work, which adds to the welcoming atmosphere. As more diners arrive the restaurant springs to life; I like it immediately.
A good-sized roof terrace is open during warmer months and balconies and other dining spaces are also available.
This is a meze restaurant, the concept is simple and the food a delight. There isn’t a menu, guests chose a meat or vegetarian option and a superb selection of dishes are expertly delivered to the table.
The food is outstanding and the quality exceptional. We opt for a meat meze, and although my dinner companion and I are feeling hungry, the amount of food proves too much for us.
A large fresh village salad, dips and warm bread are followed by souvlaki, traditional sausages, vegetable dishes and moreish grilled halloumi (with a light consistency, thankfully no rubber cheese here) with lountza. Dish after dish keeps coming and each executed to perfection. All of the staff are professional and engaging and service fast and efficient.
Some dishes are served on wooden boards and others on plain white china. Our dinner plates are patterned, clear glass, the type you might enjoy a home made dish on at yiayia’s. We order a local white wine to accompany the plentiful dishes, which is highly drinkable and reasonably priced.
The overall Agora experience is deceptively simple, yet each detail is like a small tile used to create a larger mosaic. Equal importance is given to the venue itself, the decor, ambiance, food, service and position.
The meal is an authentic experience of Cyprus. A beautiful venue, a dollop of Cypriot hospitality and a genuine meze that will both satisfy and delight.
My appetite sated, I am glad I finally visited Agora, it was a hugely enjoyable experience and a first visit of many.
WHERE Agora Tavern, 6, Kennedy Square, Paphos Old Town
WHEN Wednesday to Sunday from 7pm
HOW MUCH Meze €17 per head
CONTACT 99 611817