Establishment neighborhood
Captain Panos Sailing
Naxos Harbor, Naxos
There are a few different boat companies on Naxos, but the expeditions led by Captain Panos and his crew easily lead the pack. There are dozens of secret coves, hidden caves, and sandy beaches on Naxos that are reachable only by boat, and Panos knows all of them. It takes a full day to get the lay of the land, but the hours pass too quickly in a haze of swimming, snorkeling, and—for the more intrepid explorers—cliff jumping. Water, snacks, and beer are abundant on the boat, and lunch is served on a nearby island, Pano Koufounisi. The crew knows every nook and cranny of the island and is especially good at encouraging the more nervous swimmers into the water. Their historical and topographical knowledge, meanwhile, beats any guidebook.
Naxos Port, Naxos
This two-and-a-half-thousand-year-old marble doorway leads nowhere. What was left of the never-finished temple was completely ransacked by Turkish and Venetian invaders during their respective occupations of the island. Standing about eight meters high, the Portara is made of solid marble and stands on what has become its own small island (blame the wind and waves for the erosion) reachable by causeway. There is something majestic about this portal. Maybe it’s the fact that it faces the island of Delos, the birthplace of Apollo. Or maybe it’s that this giant doorway is still standing, having survived the battering of the elements for thousands of years. In any case, the scenery and the structure are simply breathtaking.
Giannis Taverna
Chalkio, Naxos
The scent of simmering chicken and pork roasting on the spit draws people into Giannis, but vegetarians will find plenty to order, too. The bean salad with feta had one goop staffer coming back more than once on her summer trip, and the hilltop setting in the village of Chalki is gorgeous (try to explore the little alleyways and meandering streets after dinner). Service can be slow, but such is the pace of life in this hidden-away town, far from the crowds at the port. Just roll with it—and bring cash.
Matina Taverna
Koronos, Naxos
The little town of Koronos is about eighteen miles from the main town of Chora on Naxos. This means that Matina Taverna is pretty much a locals-only spot, and a trip here is a good excuse to get off the beaten track. Stavros—Matina’s husband—is a Naxian who grows his own vegetables, churns his own dairy, and even makes his own wine. It’s all served at the restaurant, with plentiful portions of Stavros’s cheese to round off a meal. There’s no menu. Instead, the server lets each table know what’s cooking that day. Matina’s slow-cooked stews and meat braises—all simmered in traditional clay pots—and her flaky vegetable-stuffed pastries make for deeply nourishing, soul-satisfying dinners.