Athens Eats: Diporto, the city’s most authentic taverna

 

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In the corner of a decaying, neoclassical building near the Varvakeios Central Market in Athens, Greece, two brown, hatchet doors open to concrete stairs, which lead down into a dimly lit basement thrumming with the hustle and bustle of dining. Step carefully down (watch your head on the ceiling), and you’ll enter a small basement operation that’s been a cult favorite of Athenian locals for decades. Diporto (named for the two doors it has as entrances on either side of the building) is one of the oldest tavernas in Athens, and it has the style to prove it. Harkening back to mid-century Greece, when tavernas were the underground haunts of working-class patrons, this unique eatery has an apartment-sized open kitchen, eight tiny tables, and barrels of homemade wine lining the walls.

With no printed menu, there are usually about eight dishes on offer, with some seasonal variations (practice ordering in Greek; English isn’t the standard at this establishment). Commonly recurring dishes include salata horiatiki (known to the world as “Greek Salad”), sardeles (fried sardines), fasolia (broad beans in soup with vegetables), yiouvetsi (orzo cooked with meat in red sauce) and patates yiahni (potatoes cooked in tomato sauce). When crowds are fierce, prepare to be seated with strangers, among them vendors from the Varvakeios Market, fellow travelers, and local fans. For the strong of stomach, pair your meal with retsina, a homemade, pine-resin infused white wine that dates back to Ancient Greece. They don’t make ’em like they used to, you know?

Diporto

9 Sokratous

Open everyday 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM

Closed on Sundays

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