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Ilona is an Eastern Mediterranean restaurant in the South End from the same people behind Kava Neo-Taverna, a nearby Greek restaurant that’s one of our Greatest Hits. When you first look at the menu, you might think it has a lot of similarities to Kava (there’s octopus, halloumi, and a lot of eggplant). But the food here is a little meatier, saucier, and heavier, so you could consider making Ilona your winter spot and Kava your summer spot. Either way, it has just as many dishes that you’ll be thinking about for a long time after the meal, like the eggplant fried in carnival-style fried dough, or the perfectly grilled, garlicky octopus. It’s a crowded place with a lot of people taking pictures of a giant mural of a lady who shampooed with flowers or something, but it’s the fun kind of crowded - especially since, unlike Kava, Ilona has a full liquor license.

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