The old town of Paphos continues being modernised at rapid speed. Blink, and a new shop or restaurant has opened. One such eatery recommended to me many times is Agora Taverna, which relocated last year from its previous first-floor premises on Kennedy Square to its new position on the cliff edge. Now this restaurant is undoubtedly more prominent and very much in the public eye. However, I had heard stories that it is booked up days in advance, so I thought it wise to visit at lunchtime and make a reservation. Thankfully it was not that busy upon our arrival on a weekday.
The new location is exceptional, with outstanding views down to the sea. It is hard to miss the beautiful pink building with its green windows when driving through the old town. The interior is traditionally decorated with antiques, and a wraparound vine-covered terrace is available for warmer days. The terrace benefited from a cool breeze blowing in from the distant sea – a venue for all seasons.
The restaurant only serves meze, in meat or vegetarian varieties. Through friends’ recommendations, I knew the type of food which would be served, but if I had a slight criticism, it was that nothing from the menus or staff told you what was included or the actual price. During our time, no end of people entering the restaurant looked confused and left, which is a great shame, as the potential diners and the owner’s income really missed out.
We ordered the full meze (at lunchtime only, there is a mini version available), which arrived on the table in record time, possibly a little too fast.
The procession of dishes started with a large salad dressed in carob syrup with a generous serving of feta. After that, the table was suddenly covered with an assortment of pretty dishes (so much better than the stainless-steel varieties), which included apple, beetroot and pumpkin seeds with couscous, chickpeas with a tahini dressing, traditional tzatziki, and a spicy cheese dip with caramelised nuts. Then a board arrived with halloumi, traditional sausage and lountza. With previous mezes, I have never been a fan of this sausage and rarely eat it. However, this variety was very different and oozed flavour. The quality of the sausage and the lountza was a sign of the excellent meat to be served as part of the meze.
Next to appear on the table was a red pepper filled with spicy cheese followed by a herby mushroom. At this stage, my appetite was satisfied, but this is when the meat dishes started with the arrival of some excellent pork souvlaki. It is worth mentioning that to enjoy the Agora meze fully, you would have to be a fan of pork. The pork souvla served on a skewer was a very generous portion with a hint of sweetness and supremely tender.
Thankfully the final two dishes concluded the meze with a plate of doner chicken and a bowl of roast potatoes. At this stage, I had passed the point of no return, but both tasted fine. Very often, at the end of a meze, the restaurant would serve a fruit or dessert; however, on this occasion, I was glad that Agora did not adhere to this tradition.
During our meal, we observed several diners enjoying a selection of cocktails, something I understand the restaurant is renowned for, and they did look great. However, to accompany our meze, we enjoyed Maratheftiko, which was one of the wines available by the glass.
Sitting on the terrace with the sea views, you feel on top of the world – a peaceful escape in central Paphos. If you plan to visit, remember that you must book in advance and, if possible, request an edge position on the terrace to enjoy the views. Plus, the nearby lift accesses a pay and display car park just below the restaurant in an area notoriously hard to park and currently full of road works. At just €22, the meze offered excellent value for the brilliant location and the quality of the meal. The old town just gets better and better.
SPECIALTY Cypriot Meze – Vegetarian or Vegan available
WHERE Agora Tavern, Talat Paşa 1, Paphos
WHEN Wednesday-Friday 11.30am-2.30pm, 6.30-10pm, Saturday 11.30am-2.30pm, 6.30-10.30pm, SUNDAY CLOSED, Monday 12-2.30pm, 6.30-11.30pm, Tuesday 11.30am-2.30pm, 6.30-11.30pm
CONTACT 99 611817– Reservations are essential
HOW MUCH Full Meze €22, Mini Meze at lunchtime only €24 for two