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#1
Posted February 21st 2012, 1:00pm
Elea: New Greek Market in Greektown

Starting back in pre-LTH (Chowhound) days, I've had occasion to do write-ups of a number of Greek food shops in the Chicago area. The first one was my beloved but now defunct Athens Market on Halsted in Greektown; two others are, at least from my perspective, rather far-flung, namely, the old Ellinikon Pandopoleion on the far southeast side of town (I would presume also defunct now) and the west-suburban Minos, a fine shop but not conveniently located for city dwellers. Well, some two years since the sad news of the demise of Athens Market, there is finally some good news on the Greek-grocery front and very good news it is indeed. A few months ago, a new Greek shop opened up on the east side of Halsted in the heart of Greektown, just across from where the Athens Market was and just a short ways north of the new National Hellenic Museum.
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The new shop bears the noble name Elea, the Greek word for 'olive' (and a word near and dear to my heart, since I spent a very long time working out a new etymology for that word*). A more appropriate name for this shop would be hard to think of, for one of the truly outstanding features of Elea is their selection of supremely fresh, delicious Greek olives. Now, as things turn out, that was also one of the great virtues of the old Athens Market but it seems that the olive supplier to that shop, George Tsamis, is the supplier for Elea, which is run by his daughter, Nia.

In addition to pristine olives, Elea also offers a variety of feta cheeses, among which there are two varieties of barrel feta from Greece, one which is excellent and another, the Kalavriton, which is even better. This latter feta is absolutely beautifully balanced with a texture to match.

Below are some pictures of the shop in which I try to show as many of the items they offer as I can. Alas, I somehow forgot to take one focussing on the feta cheeses but that was likely because I was busy scarfing down some samples I was offered.

Here's the main section of the shop, which is small but nicely organised and attractive:
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Olives and some of the cheeses:
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Kefalotyri:
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Graviera:
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A nice selection of Greek pasta and trahanas, dried legumes:
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Paximadia, biscuits, cookies:
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Coffee, honey, etc.:
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Titan brand olive oil (and some other products, such as pasta), are part of the Tsamis family business. Their olive oil (extra virgin) is from Skilloudia Olympias and it's a very fine product at a good price ($9 for 750ml):
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The shop offers a small range of Greek wines and spirits:
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They also sell their own brand of myzithra cheese, balls of which can be seen in the cooler. A small freezer with frozen phyllo dough and other products can be seen here as well:
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I should add that they carry Boar's Head cold cuts and make sandwiches but so far, I have not had occasion to get one. Here are the hours:
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I'll post again soon with a few pictures of products from the shop from my kitchen, including the house-made tamarosalata, which is very much worth trying out — it's a really good version.
All of the folks I've met working there — Nia, George, Kosta and Dimitra — have been extremely friendly and helpful and, given the high quality of the products that they offer and their central location in the city, I really hope their shop thrives!

Antonius

*The etymology is presented in an article in the proceedings volume from the Oxford Symposium 2009, Food and Language.

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Elea
Mediterranean Food Market
309 South Halsted Street
Chicago, IL 60661
tel: 312.207.1655
Last edited by Antonius on February 22nd 2012, 9:03pm, edited 2 times in total.
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#2
Posted February 21st 2012, 1:33pm
Fantastic, thanks Antonius! Was much saddened by the loss of Athens Market; will make sure to check out Elea in the near future.
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#3
Posted February 21st 2012, 1:34pm
Antonius,

This is excellent news indeed! I'll be there very soon. The thought of a good home made version of taramasalata has me very excited.
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#4
Posted February 21st 2012, 4:14pm
stevez wrote:Antonius,

This is excellent news indeed! I'll be there very soon. The thought of a good home made version of taramasalata has me very excited.

Me too. Thanks, Antonius, for the intel.

=R=
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#5
Posted February 26th 2012, 11:06pm
Antonius wrote:Well, some two years since the sad news of the demise of Athens Market, there is finally some good news on the Greek-grocery front and very good news it is indeed. A few months ago, a new Greek shop opened up on the east side of Halsted in the heart of Greektown, just across from where the Athens Market was and just a short ways north of the new National Hellenic Museum.

Thanks for the nice write-up of Elea. I was curious about it, having passed by on the bus a number of times, and this finally got me to stop in. It's a little jewel of a shop, with a small but carefully chosen stock. I bought a sack of groceries including two types of olives and taramosalata, per your recommendation. With some bread from Artopolis across the street it made an excellent lunch.

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The cheese selection looks strong and from a small sampling I'd say the quality is high. I'll certainly be trying more soon. Another nice thing about Elea is they carry some different brands than either Minos in Addison or Brillakis in Niles (see below). They had several types of paximadia and a brand of trahana I hadn't tried before. It's great having such products available again within the city limits.

Antonius wrote:Starting back in pre-LTH (Chowhound) days, I've had occasion to do write-ups of a number of Greek food shops in the Chicago area. The first one was my beloved but now defunct Athens Market on Halsted in Greektown; two others are, at least from my perspective, rather far-flung, namely, the old Ellinikon Pandopoleion on the far southeast side of town (I would presume also defunct now) and the west-suburban Minos, a fine shop but not conveniently located for city dwellers.

Believe it or not, the old Pantopoleion (10538 S Ewing) is still in business. A few days ago I was in the neighborhood for something else and stopped in for a look around. I suspect a lot of the stuff on the shelves is exactly the same as when we discussed the shop over 6 years ago (and I don't think it was new back then).

Ελληνικον Παντοπωλειον, 23 February 2012
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Another Greek market well worth a visit is Brillakis Import Foods in Niles. It's slightly smaller than Minos in Addison but still has a wide selection of goods, including alcoholic beverages. A lot easier than Minos to get to from the city, it's definitely a worthy destination.

Brillakis Import Foods
9061 N Courtland Dr (just east of Milwaukee Av)
Niles IL
847-966-1250
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#6
Posted February 27th 2012, 12:51am
Such a grand and gratifying coincidence. Just yesterday I was staggering up and down Halsted discovering with dismay that Athens Market had gone. (I don't get over there much now that I don't work in the west Loop.) Somehow in my frenzy to find the olives d'antan, I failed to notice Elea. (I was rushed, trying to squeeze in olive shopping while still meeting friends on time for dinner.) I cannot wait to try these fetas, tamarosalata, and the great olives from before. This brightens the end of a long, somewhat stressful day.
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#7
Posted February 27th 2012, 12:25pm
It happens that we are meeting family in Greektown for dinner tomorrow night. Since I work close by and will have some time to kill before our dinner, I will definitely check this out.

Suzy
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#8
Posted February 28th 2012, 8:26pm
Stopped in yesterday. Friendly proprietor offered, nay encouraged me to taste my way through all the feta and anything else I wanted. Came home with beautiful large green and Kalamata olives, the "best" of the feta, and some taramasalata. A salty but delicious meal ensued.
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#9
Posted June 20th 2013, 2:05pm
Very late to the party, but happily just discovered this place and it certainly helps fill the void left by the Athens Market.

I was quite impressed by the hospitable ambience and in addition to the nice array of olives, oils and cheeses, found that they also sell loose salt-packed anchovies, so even more options for delicious, salty dining!
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