On our second to last day in Cyprus our hosts, Paul and Anne, took us to the Holy Monastery of St. Neophytos, and then surprised us with lunch at one of their favorite places - a hidden gem known as The Last Castle.
While not in an actual castle, the restaurant was nevertheless as majestic as the name implies. The "last" part of the name is pretty appropriate as well - if you don't have a guide to get you to this place, good luck! For us it was about a 45 minute drive from the monastery. We drove down from the mountains of the monastery and then all along the coast of the Mediterranean. The views were gorgeous, and at first we thought Paul was just driving us around to see the views. Eventually the road turned to dirt and became narrower and narrower, and we reached a point where you can no longer go with car, but you can go with a "buggy" (aka the four wheelers available for rent all over the island).
At that point we turned right, away from the water, and began to climb uphill once again. The road was winding and it truly felt like we were driving into the middle of nowhere. Then suddenly, at the top of a hill, with no signage or anything proclaiming its presence, was what looked like a large patio covered with vines. As we got closer we realized, this is where we would be having lunch! We pulled into the parking lot then headed towards the restaurant. We stopped for a picture almost immediately because the views were stunning.
You have to walk on a path to get into the restaurant, surrounded by greenery, flowers and vegetation of all kinds. It truly felt like walking into a secret garden. Places like this really excite me so I was getting almost giddy at that point!
Along the path in you can catch a glimpse of the "kitchen" - which is really just open fires and grills where the meat is roasted. It smelled incredible at this point. Before we went Paul did check to make sure that we would eat chicken and pork, as that is mostly all the restaurant serves. There is no menu - only your choice of chicken, pork, or mix (one of each), served with chips (fries), a salad, and some bread. That's it! No choices to make or options to choose from, just one delicious option.
When we stepped into the main area of the restaurant I couldn't help but smile. It felt magical! The seating area is covered in vines, and the sunlight shines through, leaving the floor dappled with sunspots. The tables are all large and made of stone, with solid wooden chairs for seating. Paul had called ahead to make sure we could get one of the best tables - the ones along the edge where you can look out to see the sea!
The view from our seat was just incredible. The weather was perfect as well - in the shade it felt almost cool and there was a slight breeze. The setting was so amazing I almost didn't mind that it took over an hour after sitting down to get our food. As we waited Paul and Anne filled us in on a little more information about the restaurant. One big surprise for us - it has no electricity! It is open air seating and cooking over a fire so they don't need it. This means the restaurant is only open from about 11-5 each day (it's Cyprus so no real set times) and is only open from May-October.
Additionally, Paul and Anne also pointed out that the "ceiling" was made from grape vines - which included actual grapes! Like, if you wanted to, you could just reach up and pick some grapes to eat! How amazing is that!
When the food finally arrived it was worth the wait. We had each chosen to get the mix so we got one piece of chicken and pork each. Paired with the chips, salad and bread we had more than enough food! It was all served family style on platters and bowls and then we served ourselves. The chicken was crispy on the outside and perfectly seasoned, and the pork was flavorful and parts of it practically melted in my mouth. I don't know what the salad was dressed with but I loved it, and the fries were excellent.
All in all this is my favorite place that we ate at while in Cyprus. The company was wonderful, the food was excellent and the views and overall setting just cannot be beat. If you ever find yourself in the area this is a restaurant you cannot miss out on! They do have somewhat of a presence on Google so with some luck (or better yet a local with some knowledge) you should be able to get there and have the best lunch of your stay. Just make sure it's in the summer months and in the middle of the day and if you can, call ahead so you get a sea view seat!
So what is the most beautiful view you've ever had while eating a meal? Was it at a restaurant somewhere? Perhaps just a picnic lunch with a friend or spouse? Maybe your own backyard is your favorite view. Tell me all about it!