We love to go to the Strip District when we want to hit a lot of different types of ethnic grocery stores in one trip, or when we're entertaining out of town visitors. But that doesn't necessarily mean the Strip District is the best place for all types of ethnic grocery shopping. For better prices or a bigger selection, sometimes you need to look at specific stores outside of the Strip. One such store is Salonika Imports, a Greek and Bulgarian grocery store on the edge of lower Lawrenceville and the Strip District.
We recently ended up at Salonika Imports on a Friday during lunchtime and were pleasantly surprised with the great prices, the wide selection of products, the delicious gyros, and the friendly service.
Olives and Cheeses
When you first walk in to Salonika Imports, you'll likely notice the huge olive bar in the middle of the store. We picked up some delicious kalamata olives with oregano, but they also have other varieties of kalamata and green olives stuffed with or marinated in different herbs and spices.
The dairy selection is equally impressive, including all sorts of Greek and Bulgarian cheeses and yogurts. Salonika Imports is one of only two places in the city (the other place being Stamooli's in the Strip) that we've found sirene cheese, a Bulgarian cheese that's like a milder and saltier Greek feta.
If the only Greek cheese you've had is feta, we'd highly recommend coming here and getting a few other Greek cheeses to try. We bought some kefalotiri, an aged cheese that's salty with a nice bite. We also got some kasseri, a milder cheese that is reminiscent of provolone but with a more intense flavor. The employee helping us even let us try some of the kasseri before we bought it.
Pantry and Freezer Items
The pantry items and canned goods section of the store has all sorts of Greek honeys and jams, pickled vegetables, beans, and grains. We picked up lots of goodies including a spicy roasted red pepper spread (actually Bulgarian), pickled peppers, and a large package of (cheap) pita bread.
In the freezer section you'll find plain phyllo dough as well as lots of different kinds of Greek pastries like baklava, kataifi, and kourambeithes. They also had one of our favorites from our time in Greece- bougatsa.
The Best Gyros
We've had a difficult time finding good gyros in the US. Most of the time they're made from ground lamb and beef rather than the hunks of pork we remember from Greece. But at Salonika Imports, the gyros are delicious and made with tender hunks of pork. The pita is fluffy and the pork is topped with creamy tzatziki sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, and spicy or not spicy onions (the spicy ones are amazing!). The gyros are only available on select days, and they ran out of the pork only a few hours into their lunch service- and we can definitely understand why!
Salonika Imports is located at 3509 Smallman Street in lower Lawrenceville / Strip District.
For more great international food, check out our Strip District neighborhood guide!
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