Emporium/ grocery cum wine-selling eatery
On Salaminos and Psaron Street, at the neighborhood of Tambouria in Piraeus, the sign on the wall gives you all the information you need to know. You have reached Oinopantopoleio To Eidikon, owned by Apostolis Papakonstantinou and Sons; year of foundation: 1920.
Oinopantopoleio, a venue on the verge of extinction nowadays, is an emporium/grocery and an eatery where you can buy the wine offered on the guests.
The building with the large windows is just marvelous. As I entered, at the back of the hall, my eyes caught sight of grocery shelves filled with elegantly displayed items and three large old refrigerators against the walls packed with all kinds of products. The ambiance inside this place was impressive! On the small tables, folk genuine people were having a glass of wine with an assortment of simple mezedes (Greek appetizers) surrounded by a setting filled with tens of black and white stunning photos taken during merry-making in this very taverna, colorful boxes of Roll, Tide, Azax cloth detergents, Swan and corn beef tins, and other products dating back to the 60s arranged on the grocery’s shelves, an old phonograph and a wooden refrigerator, a pure work of art.
Kyr-Apostolis (kyr, added before the name of an old man, is a way to speak about, salute or address him in a respectful way, informal word), the owner of the taverna, is a peaceful sweet-tempered man, who wins you over the moment you meet him.
“Back in 1920, the three Papakonstantinou brothers, who came from Trikala, opened this grocery here, in the middle of nowhere. It was much later that the neighborhood was overwhelmed by Greek refugees from Minor Asia. When the tramway served the neighborhood, the stop, which was at just 50m away from the store, was named Papakonstantinou. You can’t imagine how many young guys would wait by the windows of the grocery, that -by that time- had become an eatery selling its own wine – to gaze at the girls who disembarked at this stop on their way home having worked their shift at the factory. Up until the 1980s, the grocery and the eatery were both in operation. However, after the 80s we kept only the eatery open. We have always been making our own wine – a production of around twenty tones. The guests of the taverna could taste the wine that was also sold in the grocery”.
Kyra-Voula (kyra, added before the name of an old married woman, is a way to speak about, address or salute her, an informal word), the wife of kyr-Apostolis, cooks in the kitchen. Aristides, their son, helps in any way he can and Grigoris, moving dexterously between the jam-packed tables, serves delicious dishes: fresh salad, yellow split bean purée (fava) topped with sautéed onions and tomatoes, Greek style fried meatballs (keftedakia), meatball sausages with cumin and tomato sauce (soutzoukakia), liver that is so tasty like foie gras, fried potatoes with fried eggs. I must say that the retsina (wine flavoured with pine resin) of kyr-Apostolis is one of the best ones I have ever tasted.
“Do you see these holes over there on the roller shutters where light passes through? They have been made by bullets from guerilla fighting during Greece’s Nazi occupation. We left them there so that we never forget the past”.
This taverna is synonym to merry-making. The spark is always there! Habitués arriving here with friends are in a rollicking mood to eat, sing and even dance to live music!
As a cover for my book “The traditional tavernas of Athens” I chose, not incidentally, a snapshot from Eidikon, the taverna of kyr-Apostolis. I love this taverna. I love its owners. I love the people going there!
- Address38 Psaron and Salaminos Street, Piraeus
- LocationAthens - Attica