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Amphora Restaurant
377 Maple Ave. W., Vienna, VA 22180

(703) 938-7877

The Amphora Restaurant—not to be confused with Amphora’s Diner Deluxe in Herndon, that gleaming homage to the classic American roadside eatery—is, by far, the most ambitious diner in the area. And it has little to do with Amphora’s 350-item menu, which requires serious speed-reading skills if you plan to zip through all the Byzantine international offerings before your waiter grows impatient. No, the Amphora’s ambition has to do with its kitchen, which produces the vast majority of its food in-house, from sauces and salad dressings to breads and potato chips. I guess I should say Amphora’s kitchens produce the food, since much of the restaurant’s goods are prepared at the Diner Deluxe, the younger sibling with the far larger cooking area. Regardless, the house-made products are immediately apparent on the palate, whether with the hand-cut French fries or the tzatziki sauce that comes with the decidedly delicious Grecian meatballs on the meze platter. Going Greek is, in fact, the smart play at Amphora. The owners are Greek, and somehow they’ve been able to translate their homeland’s cuisine to the Latinos who mostly man their kitchens. The avgolemono, for instance, delivers the sour-eggy flavors you want, without weighing down the soup with excessive cornstarch, and the spanakopita is a mouthwatering mixture of spinach and feta wrapped in a flaky pastry that tastes like it sports enough butter to sink Manhattan. Just as important, the Amphora feels like a ‘70s-era diner, which it is. The place has a sort of dated elegance, all etched-glass and dark woods, which recalls an important period in diner history: a time when, in attempt to compete with fast-food chains, they were designed for homey comfort. Today, that homey ambience is a little frayed at the edges, perhaps just like your parents’ house.