Bougatsa Bantis, Thessaloniki

THESSALONIKI | There are many names and regional variations of Turkish “pie” börek. As a consequence of hundreds of years of Ottoman rule and influence, you’ll find the flaky, layered pastry in the cuisine of many cultures.

In Northern Greece, the version you’ll most commonly encounter is bougatsa. It was introduced into the region in the 1920s by Greek refugees leaving Constantinople. Interestingly, the name can be traced back to the ancient Roman pānis focācius. And yes, that’s also where the name “focaccia” came from.

I grew up calling it kora, which as it turns out is actually the Macedonian word for the individual sheets of pastry. Some friends I grew up with whose families came from the same region called it zelnik, which is the actual Macedonian word for the pie. Whatever you want to call it, it’s one of my favourite things to eat. And, as is becoming the common theme for these Thessaloniki posts, the versions you’ll find here are the closest to what my grandmothers used to make.

One of the best places to eat bougatsa in Thessaloniki is Bougatsa Bantis. It’s a small bakery, owned and run by Philippos Bandis, whose carrying on the business that was started by his father Dimitris in 1969, and run by his dad Dimitris before Philippos took over. Philippos’ bougatsa is based on his grandfather, Philippos’s recipes, refined with experience gained training as a pastry chef and working in kitchens in Thessaloniki and Manchester.

There’s a steady stream of customers at Bougatsa Bandis, with the display at the front constantly being replenished with freshly baked, hand made bougatsa. There’s a variety of sweet and savoury options, with the classics by far the most popular. That’d by spinach, feta cheese, mince, and custard. For me, it had to be one spinach, and one feta cheese.

Each bite of the bougatsa here is heavenly. Thin, flaky, crispy layers, not oily of heavy, and a well proportioned amount of fillings. Feta cheese and spinach is my favourite filling, and while the combo isn’t an option here, you can just do what I did and combine a piece of each in one mouthful. Add a freshly brewed Greek coffee to the mix, and you’re sorted.


Bougatsa Bantis

Panagias Faneromenis 33
Thessaloniki 546 32
Greece

Telephone: 2310 510 355
E-mail: n/a
Website

Open
Mon – Sat: 6:30am to 3:00pm
Sun: 6:30pm to 1:00pm

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