“But what do you do when you go out?!” i would say is basically the second question from people’s mouths (after either “But Where do you get your protein from?!” or “Omg what do you even eat?!”). The ironic thing is, that it really isn’t that difficult and there are several options if you know where to go. If you eat out as much as I do (every Sat. night is an absolute must for me) then finding options is REALLY important. I must admit that, if there were no options whilst dining out, i’m not sure i would have adopted this lifestyle so easily because social dining is something i really enjoy and is one of my pleasures (and we all need our pleasures..!). Second admittance is that Cyprus is not the easiest country by far to be vegan or vegetarian in, especially considering that “a meal without meat isn’t a meal“. Visiting other more (*cough cough) developed countries (at least developed in terms of gourmet / cuisine), almost makes me wonder why more people don’t choose this lifestyle abroad since they have so many options!
Nevertheless, we live in Cyprus, and from my “informal market research” I’ve realized “eating out” is a primary concern for people when thinking about making changes. So I put myself on a mission, to make a list and try to help others see that they can continue to eat out just often as they did while eating cruelty free, specifically for Larnaca (for now…) However, this post is also about showing how if you genuinely want to make something work, you gotta throw aside the excuses and then just make it work. The day Ryan (hubs) asked me if we could go plant-based, my first response was “I woulddd do it. But its just not possible in Cyprus. Maybe if we lived anywhere else. But we cant be vegetarian here”. Excuse laid! So i became aware of that, and took action. The day i decided to go predominantly plant-based i emailed several places and asked them what options they had available, if they were willing to add more vegan-friendly options and if they knew about this lifestyle. Some hadn’t even heard the word vegan or plant-based before (believe it or not), and so i helped them understand. Some were fine to include more options and some were not (which i consider absolutely their loss), and some even went so far so as to change their menu and ingredients (you know who you are – bless you)
The criteria to be on the list were:
- The resto has been tested more than 3 times and V-options have been available each time
- The food was enjoyable and to a certain quality standard
- There are equal or more than two completely plant-based (vegan) options.
To the people that run these restaurants, thank you for having cruelty-free options, and PLEASE feel free to add more on your menu. Really, i mean it, Feel FREE! (To those that dont have such options, you’re missing out, there’s a bunch of us willing to jump at the chance of meat-and-dairy-free food!)
Links to all these restaurants can be found at the bottom of the page/post
1. Maqam al Sultan (Lebanese cuisine): They have a feast for our eyes as well as our stomachs since they have a vegetarian meze, which also just happens to be dairy-free (apart from two small dishes which have yogurt). Meze dishes include falafels, stuffed pastries, hummus, baba ganoush, tabbouleh, stuffed aubergines, muhammara and i could go on..!). Let me add, its decently priced considering the amount you get! If you are in a group of people,a family or if you’re hosting, this place is a good choice since its all sharing style and particularly healthy too. But, even if “you are the only vegetarian in the village” they have a vegetarian meze-platter for one, which is delish. I have also been recently informed, that they are adding more meat-free main meals to their menu – woohoo! Lastly, Every weekend they have dancers and arabic music so atmosphere is also vibrant.
[Where? Larnaca sea-front, just before the fort]
2. Spaggeteria Italia (Italian cuisine): Very authentic Italian food with several vegetarian options to choose from!
In fact most Vegetarian options are also vegan since he uses dairy-free cream in the cream based dishes. An added bonus is that if you’re not a fan of cream anyway (whether you’re vegan or not) you can choose to have a tomato-based sauce instead, the owner is so accommodating. In almost each pasta dish you have the option of having your pasta homemade (this will probably contain minimal egg though), which is a lovely touch, since such a thing is rarely offered anywhere else. In fact, they can even make your dish Gluten Free if you’re adopting that! Gosh, in terms of favourites where would i start..? I think my favourite is the porcini mushroom stuffed fresh tortelloni, the gnocci with truffles and the Melanzane Parmigiane (not dairy-free, but can be made). Hubs’ favourite is a smashed artichoke parpadelle in a cream sauce. Oh my god just saying it makes me excited. Lastly, and a big plus, he can even make all his pizzas with dairy-free cheese therefore making vegan choices there super easy! [okay i’m gonna say it: this place is my personal favourite!]
[Where? Near the American Academy Larnaca, in between Viale and the Georgiana Bookshop]
3. 1900 Art Cafe (cypriot food with a twist) :
Out of the 7 main meals they have two vegetarian main meals (which also happen to be vegan) and several meat-free starters (we love the slow cooked aubergine for starter). They often have soup of the day available too, which comes in handy on those cold nights! The two V dishes are also traditional home-cooked-style food, which really matches the romantic cypriot styly atmosphere of the place and is a good place to take people when you’re hosting. We choose to go here more in winter, since the options are more “wintery” if that makes sense, and there’s a fire-place – and i love fire-places. If you’re only going for wine and you just want some nibbles, Mary makes a lovely spanakopitta (spinach pie) to pair your wine with! They once made it without cheese, so you’ll have to check if they still do.
[Where? In town, opposite the post-office, on a side street, on the corner of Hellenic bank]
4. Abu Dany (Middle-eastern cuisine): I would say this is more of a lunch or fast food place as opposed to a restaurant, but i needed to include it because, he’s just fed us way too many times! In fact he even catered for a whole party of ours once (see pic). The owner really respects a plant-based lifestyle and so makes several V dishes. Hes lovely man and is
very accommodating in making any dish which is vegetarian, dairy free, without sacrificing on taste, in fact possibly building on it. I would recommend the Fatte (chickpea bake, pitta, tahini sauce], Falafel sandwiches, Tabbouleh and Baba Ganouj. His prices are also amazing considering the flavour of the dishes and size! I also love that every two days or so, he makes sure he has a “dish of the day” which is great, because i’m nothing if i don’t like variety..! If i’m not mistaken, he even makes Gluten free options if you’re into that too. Perfect for take-aways when you dont fancy cooking! Just call up ahead and Milos will prepare it all for you as you want it
[Where? In town, opposite the police station, near traffic lights]
5. Chez Faina (french cuisine): Here they actually have a 3-course vegetarian set menu, which you don’t often see in Cyp, and it can easily be edited to become dairy-free / vegan. What is great is that in general they use Vegetal cream, instead of cow-based cream, so its also healthier and plant-based. If you call them up a day before you go and tell them you are veggie or vegan, they can sometimes make something special for you which isn’t on the menu (when we went they made us a vegan version of chicken a la creme, with artichoke and french button mushrooms instead of chicken- it was lovely! See picture). Prices are very acceptable here too, hovering just below average restaurant prices. This a relatively new place so the place unfortunately still lacks in atmosphere. It is the sister restaurant to a Lebanese restaurant, which exists within the establishments, which I’ve been recently told is now adding a plethora of vegetarian options… Yeeyy!
because that word really doesn’t sell it) where you can find several smaller plates which you can order and end up with a little Indian Meze of your own. In terms of small plates, the gobi aloo (curried cauliflower) and fresh bhindi (indian stewed okra) are wonderful! The main of vegetable biryani also comes with a side of vegetable curry or lentil dhal (which are very flavoursome) and they even do a vegetable korma (not dairy-free unfortunately) which you need to ask for (isn’t on the menu). If you do eat cheese, they do have paneer curries too. [Where? Dhekelia road, near palm beach hotel, next to KFC]
[Where? Areos street, a parallel street off Makariou street]
- Wagamamas is also an excellent choice for vegan and veggie options; it didnt appear on the list merely because its a chain.
- Cyprus Traditional Eateries, also known as Psistaria (Ψησταριά) will almost always have at least 3 vegan / vegetarian greek traditional choices since most of the authentic traditional cypriot food is vegetarian (e.g. Louvi, Fakes, “Gemista” and even “V Meatballs/Keftedes”). They are great for healthy take aways since everything is freshly cooked, but also good to sit down and eat. Our favourite and most consistent with V-friendly availability is “Gevseis ton Gevseon” [on Faneromeni road] and “Papaz” [opposite the American Academy]. Tip: Go on a Wednesday or Friday to have more options as these are “fasting” days traditionally
- Some other places came pretty close to being on here, and of course there are other places which have options, but they just missed because they either lacked in quality or amount of vegan options at the time we visited. (Anyway, the longer you are vegan, the more you’ll find yourself having developed this magical talent to look at a menu and suddenly compute calculations to see how to veganize a complete meal of your own. Yes, a jacket potato stuffed with avocado and a side of mushrooms, tahini and olives is totally okay, okay! I like to hope that in the next list of “Eating Out V style” there will be more restaurants on the list 😉 Ditch the penne-primavera or penne-arrabiata Cyprus, and start getting a bit more creative!
Its a plant based life after all <3
Links to restaurants mentioned:
Spaggeteria Italia: http://www.spaghetteriaitalia.com/
Abu Dany: https://www.facebook.com/falafelabudany/
Maqam al Sultan: http://maqamalsultan.com/
Chez Faina: http://www.restaurantchezfaina.com/
Pizza Astoria (online menu, dont have a website): https://foody.com.cy/astoria-pizza
Art Cafe 1900s: http://www.artcafe1900.com.cy/