There is an abundance of restaurants in North Cyprus, offering both local and foreign dishes. Characteristic of the local menu is the meze. This consists of a dozen or more small dishes containing a variety of cold food, such as beans, beetroot, yoghurt, fishballs, humus, etc. from which the diner serves himself. Bread or toast is also provided, and the meze is supplemented at intervals with freshly cooked items, such as fried hellim cheese, or a plate of deep fried kalamari (squid). The meze is followed by the main course, which is usually accompanied by chips and a salad. Fish or kebab (meat chunks roasted on skewers) are popular choices for the main course, but chicken is also available in some places. The meal ends with fruit, followed by Turkish coffee and local cognac. The coffee is served sade (no sugar), ofla (some sugar), or sekerli (sweet).
The diner will enjoy many excellent meals in North Cyprus. However, the quality and service in many of the restaurants is very variable. There are a few exceptions: for a reliable meze followed by fish, try the Altinkaya restaurant, located about 5 miles west of Kyrenia, just past the sloping concrete monument, on the right. There is a sign, but it is easy to miss at night. Plenty of space for children to run about, and there are swings outside. Further west, shortly before Deniz kizi, the St Tropez is a new restaurant specializing in French-style cuisine. Next door to the Celebrity, further west, the Marmaris offers excellent meze and fish.
For European style food, the Grapewine in Kyrenia (next to the Esso petrol station on the road to Nicosia, as you leave Kyrenia) is highly recommended. A popular haunt of the expatriates, who are drawn by the pleasant ambience and the low bar prices. Open lunch times and evenings, except Sundays. Just around the corner, Effendi`s is usually packed. Another reliable restaurant in Kyrenia, past the Dome Hotel, on the left, is Niyazi`s Restaurant A good selection of Turkish Cypriot cuisine is offered here, including meze, and kebab. The Harbour Club situated towards the castle end of Kyrenia harbour is well appointed, and offers a select European menu. Located a couple of miles to the east of Kyrenia at karakum, the Courtyard is a popular pub and restaurant. Abbey House, situated on the east side of Bellapais Abbey, is a restaurant serving excellent European style food, and offering a wide choice of wines. It is open in the evenings, except Sundays.
The selection above in no way condemns the restaurants not mentioned: the setting of a meal is often as important as the food itself and many visitors delight in dining in one of the many restaurants overlooking Kyrenia harbour, or up in the hills at Karmi. The more adventurous should also try the lokantas, where they will find that the local dishes are both excellent and cheap.
No instruction is necessary regarding the wines and beer (lager only), which may accompany the meal - the visitor will quickly learn which are to his taste. However, two drinks not common in Europe should be sampled: raki, a spirit derived from aniseed, is widely consumed, often as an aperitif. This clear liquor turns milky, when diluted with water. Regarded by many as the national drink, the brandy-sour enrols many fans amongst those seeking a long drink during the hot weather. It is concocted from brandy, billers, lemon, and soda water. A most refreshing non-alcoholic drink is ayran, made from yoghurt, water, salt, and a sprinkling of chopped mint leaves