"I want to marry the modern with tradition," says Harris Boukas the young owner of Elia. Like many restaurants in the Greek islands, Elia is housed in a centuries old building yet both the decor and menu cross time, blending grandmother's recipes with 21st century trends. The cocktail revival is part of this marriage as imaginative blends of local wild herbs and traditional distilled spirits add zing to long evenings relaxing among antiquity.
Ios is a classic island in the Cycladic archipelago meaning that it's the top of a mostly submerged mountain in this volcanic region of the Aegean. From the ferry terminal at the small picturesque port of Yialos, it's a short mile and a half taxi ride up the mountain to Chora or a photogenic three quarter mile stroll up the restored ancient Donkey Steps. Chora, the capital of Ios, is a quintessential Greek island pile of white washed buildings climbing further up the mountain crowned with three photo perfect chapels. The scene could not be more classic if designed by a sculptor.
Like so many island towns, reality has more to do with medieval security and geography than modern tourism photo ops. The narrow streets in Chora are pedestrian only simply because their pre-20th century construction makes car traffic impossible. The juxtaposition of locally owned shops, residential housing, trendy boutiques, small hotels and dozens of cafes make lingering in Chora sheer pleasure.
Although Ios is blessed with many secluded beaches it has a reputation for being a party island. The center of the activity that attracts many young Greek and Europeans is Mylopotas Beach several miles from Chora. Nightlife in Chora – post midnight – can certainly become lively during the summer season, but dining in the following seven tavernas and cafes is both relaxing and a gastronomic delight.
Disclaimer: the author was a guest of the Municipality of Ios