Eidikon: The 100+year-old taverna in Piraeus

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Everything in the surrounding area of ​​Piraeus is in a hurry to change. The subway is completed, apartment buildings rose up, barbershops became hair salons, the old oil mill was transformed into a primary school filled with graffiti, and children's voices are exchanging information about viral videos on TikTok.

Walking along Salaminos street, where it corners with Psaron, just before Piraeus touches Drapetsona, stands the historic taverna To Eidikon. A corner that looks in the right place with the rest of the square, even if it is not hip. Hand-painted signs with 'Edodima', 'Colonial' and 'Mediterranean Retsina' are hung and instantly transport you to another era, which you are transported from the doorstep before you even set foot on the shop's worn concrete tiles.

The grocery store started operating in 1920 by Mr. Aristidis from Piraeus, originally from Gardiki, Trikala. In the morning, it functioned as a grocer and in the evening as a tavern, a style that flourished in those years. From production to consumption, therefore, the appetisers and wine for sale in the morning were served at a few tables in the evening.

The people who pass through the door today know Mr. Apostolis, son of the founder, custodian of the shop.

The first date

Tall, upright and with a vitriolic sense of humour, Apostolis was waiting for our reservation, not with much impatience since, as a genuine star, he has given many interviews to Greek and international media.

"Ever since I took over, I knew who would make a fuss from the start. Everything is visible to the eyes, and I read them. Nothing bad happened here, but even if it did, I had my way," he said.

This tavern is a real phenomenon, as nothing - essential - has changed since its birth. The ballad, the water tap, the shop windows, the old advertisements, the feeling of time travel.

The pride of the shop is the old ice cooler (electric now) behind the marble counter. With carved wooden panelling, more suitable for a chest of drawers, it proudly bears the inscription "Original Refrigerator In Greece 1938" and the maker's signature.

"Do you know how many people come here to tell me they want to buy the store or to ask me how I did it? I'm tired of counting them. I'm not selling it; I'm not leaving here. In this attic, which is above your head, my mother gave birth to me, and here, my whole family has been raised. This is my shop, and it cannot be someone else's," he said.

His son continues with him the tavern and wine production in the basement. The Papakonstantinou family was one of the first to make their own wine for their tavern and remains one of the last in the country.

"During the [German] occupation, the basement became a shelter for the entire neighbourhood. Everyone ran to the store at every siren, ate whatever they could find, and slept among the barrels. The shutters and doors still have the holes from the Germans' bullets," he explained.

"In the basement, we all gathered again during the invasion of Cyprus in the summer of 1974, where my father used to send me as a child to bring up wine; there, we played with my cousins," Apostolis added.

Then and now

Looking at the walls, shelves and hanging pictures gives the picture of another era. The space brings to mind frames from an old movie, the grocery store of Zikos, or scenes from "Thanasakis, the Statesman" while remaining modern in a very special way.

The son Aristidis - named after the grandfather - takes the place in his post as they prepare to open.

Just before we refill our glasses, I ask Mr. Apostolis, "Does your son pressure you at all to put new things on the menu?"

"Not at all. I'm not pressured in general. I am neither pressured nor oppressed. Not for plates, not for glasses, not for customers. I have built a complete shop. He has everything he needs and wants. My father used to do this: a few appetisers and fresh ones. Stores that have a lot of options scare me, can a list of twenty items all be fresh? Mine are five or six, and they are of first quality; that's all we get, and everyone is happy," he says.

Cheese, fava beans, tomato with olives, meatballs, liver, corn beef omelette and the famous deep dish with fried potatoes and four eggs on top. Drinks, wine and beer. Perfect.

The wife, Mrs. Voula, makes the appetisers and fries and maintains order behind the counter. Nothing is found or damaged in the space.

"Everything has its place and purpose," he admits with a conspiratorial look. "Here, everyone is a customer, and everyone is equal. Whether it's a big businessman or the simple householder, everyone will be served the same way and eat exactly the same food."

The rudeness of "big" restaurants to non-celebrities and famous people in Eidikon is considered a joke. Walking down the road to the port, I may have revised a bit. The area has indeed started to change - for the better - but when such ancient plane trees are in your way, you will always want to rest in the shade of their authenticity.

info: Eidikon, 38 Psaron & Salaminos, Piraeus, tel. 210 4612674

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