The Thing: Spinach Pie at Hellas Pastry Shop

When you walk into Hellas Pastry Shop (2627 W Lawrence Ave.), the trays of cookies behind glass will almost force the knee jerk reaction to order a box of sweets. The gooey baklava, the powdered almond crescents, chocolate dipped and sprinkled sandwich butter cookies filled with something that simply tastes like childhood. Spinach will be the last thing taunting your taste buds as wafts of warm honey fill your increasingly thankful nostrils. Resist, though. Actually, don’t because at Hellas prices you can actually have it all. Get the box of cookies and then make sure to grab what Hellas' owner calls the best spinach pie you’ll ever eat. And it is not a lie.

Hellas is an unassuming spot on the corner of Lawrence and Talman. It’s hard to saunter past Beans & Bagels, but hop off at Rockwell and keep walking. It’s not glitzy, it’s not instagramably designed, but it holds a history and homemade Greek taste that hasn’t been tainted by the marketing gimmick of frills and filters. Hellas has been around for over 50 years and many of the bakery’s recipes have never changed since its opening. Including the coveted spinach pie. Made fresh daily, best eaten warm right out of the wax paper.

The spinach pie at Hellas is not like any other spanakopita that has been plunked on your plate at any other Greek eatery as a side note, an appetizer usually left unfinished. It’s not flaky per se, in the sense that it crumbles away into the air, but it is light and layered and crisp. The filling is fresh yet cheesy with tangy bites of feta. The spinach complimented by dill is completely devoid of that frozen tang you find in quick made pies. It is a walkable street food snack, it has complexity enough to sit down and knife and fork it, it is somehow elegant in its simplicity and comforting in its tried and true creation.

Butter cookies.

Maybe you walked in for a cookie, but you’ll walk out knowing where you have to go every time you want a snack, a meal, a dose of spinach that will make you feel like you ate a salad, an addition to your party platter that you could slice up and possibly get away with saying you were behind that perfection. Not that I’ve ever done that. There is no question, the thing at Hellas Pastry Shop is the spinach pie.

Hellas Pastry Shop, 2627 W. Lawrence, is open daily from 9:30am to 4pm; they close at 3pm on Sundays. 773-271-7500.

Photos by Caroline Huftalen.

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Caroline Huftalen

Caroline L. Huftalen is the food editor at Third Coast Review and columnist behind Dear Cinnamon. Her reviews and interviews can also be seen on BuskingAtTheSeams.com. Huftalen is the founder of Survivors Project, Inc. which raises awareness for domestic violence by sharing stories of survival. A graduate of the University at Buffalo and the Savannah College of Art of Design. Huftalen lives in Chicago with her family and is currently writing a novel.