I grew up in Limassol’s old town, with my family working in the area around Saripolou street. Watching the old town turn into a bustling centre focused on young people, be it for education, entertainment, coworking spaces and more, has been intriguing to say the least.
I remember the Pantopoleio, the market, in the early 90s, when stepping foot inside was not for the faint of heart. The smell of butchered meat, fresh fish and ample amounts of produce would probably seem overpowering today. But the place has certainly changed now.
Renovation, renewal, refurbishment, regeneration, rejuvenation. Finding the right word for the project that turned the Limassol Pantopoleio to the new Agora indoor market and food hall isn’t so straightforward.
Agora opened its doors on Monday although parts are still being finalised and some of the vendors are either not operational until next week or can’t offer their full range of services for a few more days.
The Agora is neither Hawker House nor Borough Market. I counted just one specialty bar during my first visit, with the second bar found in the second-floor balcony area also adding a food menu to its services from next week onwards. So it doesn’t quite seem to be courting a younger crowd fixated on alcohol consumption and loud music.
There is a traditional bakery (still a few days away from opening), a fresh fish vendor, a raw meat seller (although the cuts and other products are all packaged, weighed and priced beforehand), and a wine seller. All of these are nods to the Agora’s farmer’s market past.
Food options include a burger vendor, a pasta bar, a taco stand, a Lebanese restaurant (still yet to open), a pizza place, a rib shack, a Greek souvlaki stand, a rice and salad bar, an ice-cream seller, an American fast food spot, and a chocolaterie.
We tried Beeburger, the burger place. Its strong point is the amount of food you get for the price. My signature Beeburger was overwhelmingly filling, especially with its copious amount of cheese, sauce and bacon. The fries were great, as was the bun, but the patty itself was a little disappointing, both in terms of flavour as well as texture.
We also paid a visit to the bar on the ground floor, Punkraft, where they have a generous selection of bottled beers, and a few on tap as well. In terms of draught beers, beyond your regular lagers and pilsners, they also have Punk IPA from Brewdog available. It’s a nice enough IPA if that’s your thing but at €7 for less than a pint it’s not exactly one for long sessions.
I have yet to try the bar in the balcony area but the space looks pleasant enough, with couches and tables under a canopy, a few decorative plants strewn across the place. It will definitely attract those who wish to smoke and enjoy the view of the old town. Not sure what its menu will look like, however. One for the future perhaps.
Agora also contains a kiosk, which takes a perplexingly large amount of square footage, and other non-food-related shops, selling gifts and other trinkets. There’s also a soft play area, something that parents of young children will definitely appreciate.
Overall, Agora leans towards being a tourist attraction, and is a welcome addition to old town, if a little too sanitised and polished for my own liking. Adjacent bar owners shouldn’t be too worried about the competition, I’ll say that.
Going back to the descriptive conundrum I encountered earlier, I think the most appropriate word is reinterpretation. There are allusions to what Agora once was, but that’s where the comparison ends. This is a modern, family-friendly indoor market with an adequate amount of seating space and food options to give both locals and tourists a waypoint upon which they can plan their visits.
SPECIALTY street food, beverages
WHERE Kanari 47-49, Limassol
WHEN Sunday to Thursday 7am-midnight, Friday to Saturday – 7am-2am
HOW MUCH €6-8 for a single food item, €5-10 for alcoholic beverages
CONTACT: 70070070, [email protected]