If someone asked me where the most touristic place to have dinner in Athens was, I would answer quite vaguely “in a taverna” but in my opinion there are two kind of tavernas, so allow me to be a bit more specific about Kottaroú.
The authentic taverna is a haven, a small agora where thoughts are exchanged; it’s a place to express grief or happiness, where all people are the same, drinking the same inexpensive house wine. Up until the ’50s they were relegated to basements and usually were the perfect hangouts of outsiders, artists and/or outlaws. They were places full of stories.
One of those few old old OLD-style tavern that stays in the city is Kottaroú (“poultry farm”), that was an open-air farm where carts drivers used to come by to pick up orders to be delivered in Athens. Usually they drank wine while they were waiting. After a while, some food started being served along with this wine.
To me, the chorus of rumbustious customers and the absence of adequate lighting create a mystical atmosphere. Daily, two old-school musicians sit at the central table and play traditional Greek tunes live and unplugged.
You won’t find it in any guidebooks, but it’s 100 percent worth a visit.