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A Tiny Taste of Home in Greektown

The Greek music is piped through the store, where a hint of strong coffee first greets many to this Greektown market. This authentic cultural mini-shop gives the appearance of a traditional market from a small village in Greece that could be located in the middle of any busy street.

Elea Mediterranean Food Market, located on Halsted Street in Chicago, has all the necessities any Greek meal requires.

Family owned by Greek immigrants, this market brings popular food imported from Greece: Kalamata olives, fresh feta cheese and honey.

This market is a “specialty boutique in Greek products,” said Antonia Tsamis, the market owner.

“A lot of what the store sells is what I would find in a Greek supermarket in Greece,” said George Laberis, a Chicago suburb customer. “I drive 30 minutes to get Greek products that no one else sells.”

Elea is known for its traditional Greek taramosalata, a spread made of fish eggs with mashed potatoes or bread. Boar’s Head deli sandwiches are also their specialty and a part of a deli assortment.

The Tsamis family imports, distributes and sells all that is in the shop. This market opened August 2011 after a previous Greek grocery closed due to a building fire two years ago.

“There was nowhere to buy Greek products,” Tsamis said. “We needed something like this in our community.” So far this successful market’s busiest day was around the Easter holiday, she added.

With Greece’s struggling economy, Elea market tries to help by buying exported goods straight from Greece. Other Greek markets throughout the tri-state area sell “Greek” products that are made in the United States.

“I love that the store is small, convenient and organized because I can get in and out in a matter of five seconds,” said Andrea Kirimis, a frequent customer. “It gives you a sense of Greece and has all Greece has to offer in such a tiny store.”

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