Good Greek

If you happened upon Vios Café & Marketplace on Capitol Hill, you’d think it was just a perfect neighborhood restaurant with delicious Greek food and a considerate attitude toward families: There’s a play area in the back and a wide changing table in the bathroom. Indeed, it is the whole package. Owner Thomas Soukakos is generous in that way.

The mention of Greek food usually conjures up images of heavy moussaka or cloying baklava. Vios offers a more modern take on Greek favorites. The lamb souvlaki, for example, consists of marinated lamb leg that’s grilled and served in a warm pita with oven-roasted tomatoes, red onions and tzatziki sauce. The roasted pork sandwich comes with braised fennel and sautéed greens. You also can get octopus salad with roasted carrots and chickpeas. Vios offers family-style menus, too, for when you want to dine with a group. In case you need to pick up Greek ingredients, such as olive oil, pita, cheese, wine and condiments, Vios sells a good selection of products.

What makes Vios—which means “life” in Greek—that much more special is the spirit that Soukakos imbued into the space. Soukakos had been the owner of El Greco Café, but sold it after his wife died. They had met and fell in love at El Greco and Soukakos needed to create a new space after her heart-breaking death, so he built Vios to celebrate life and have a place where his young son and other children could feel comfortable. (You can see scenes of Soukakos and his son visiting Vios during construction in the three-part Public Television series “The Meaning of Food.”) Now the joy on patrons’ faces adds to the homey spirit of this Seattle gem.

—Hsiao-Ching Chou