By Sarah Coyne
As my January diet did not turn out to be quite as healthy as I had planned, I went looking for divine inspiration at the Meraki Market Café. In Paphos, this is the headquarters of healthy food and was the first vegetarian restaurant to open! It was launched in 2018, set back from the coastal road at the St George’s traffic lights in Chlorakas. The building offers an internal dining area, plus plenty of outdoor tables for the better weather. On the day we visited, it was pouring, and the café gave us a warm welcome with its homely atmosphere, filled with wooden tables and multicoloured chairs.
No wonder many vegans and vegetarians travel from across the Island to spend a few hours eating food designed especially for them. The menu changes every few months to allow for seasonal fruit and vegetables, and starts the day with one of the best selection of brunch dishes I have ever seen. There are eight brunch choices, and unusually I loved the sound of all of them, including Tutti Frutti Pancakes, Peanut Butter and Caramelised Banana Bagel and a Savoury and Sweet Smashed Avo.
While I am not a vegetarian, I have tried and failed to be one in the past, sometimes we need to be reminded of the benefits of a meat-free diet. The menu at Meraki was extensive for our lunchtime visit, with the dishes served all day after the brunch selection finishes at midday. It offers a combination of traditional dishes such as Lasagne, Burgers, Curry, Salads with some sandwich options, such as Falafel Wraps and Bagels. The lengthy, detailed descriptions on the menu demonstrate the abundance of fresh ingredients. On the side, you can order Sea Salt Fries, loaded with Mexicana or BBQ Jack, or unloaded, Sweet Potato Wedges, Dips and Salads. You can also request a side portion of their homemade sauces.
We chose the house speciality, Meraki Nachos. All the Tortilla Chips are homemade and come covered with Jalapeno ‘Cheez’ sauce, Vegan Sour Cream, Chopped Peppers, Cherry Tomatoes, Jalapenos, and Smashed Avocado. It is described as the “ultimate, indulgent, crunchy nacho experience” with a central pot of Bean Chilli. Indeed, my meat-loving partner declared it a huge success, which surprised me! It was served on a large wooden tray presented almost as a work of art. It could certainly be shared, if two persons were looking for a light lunch.
Our other main, Jamaican Curry with Caribbean Rice, was another winner! This was a medium spiced curry made with Kidney Beans, Red Lentils, Zucchini, Spring Onions and Garlic. It was accompanied by Caribbean Rice cooked in Coconut Milk with Pineapple, Green Pepper, Red Onion and Coriander. On a damp cold day, the combination of spicy curry flavours was very ‘hygge’, giving that feeling of wellness and contentment.
The real test was did we miss meat from our meal? The answer was a resounding No from both of us. This is testament to the fact that the kitchen at Meraki thoroughly knows its subject and prepares the dishes extremely well.
Since we had polished off all the healthy food, we were too full to try any desserts, which was a shame, as they looked very tempting. Most of the desserts at Meraki are dairy, gluten and refined sugar-free, including Cheesecakes, Chocolate Avocado Cake and Banoffee Pie.
The drinks menu is extensive and, quite rightly, centred around freshly pressed juices and smoothies. However, in addition to their regular coffee selection, they have a range of speciality drinks, including unusual lattes from Beetroot or Gingerbread to Turmeric or Dragon Fruit options. Thankfully, they also have Tsangarides wines and a great selection of spirits.
Meraki is the perfect destination for just a coffee, a juice, brunch or a vegetarian meal, and we will certainly return soon.
SPECIALTY Vegetarian/Gluten Free/Vegan
WHERE St George’s Shopping Mall, Griva Digeni 57, Chlorakas, Paphos
WHEN Monday to Saturday 9.30am – 5.30pm (Last orders)
CONTACT 26 221 527
HOW MUCH Main Courses from €7.50