In a large urban area like Athens, the concept of the traditional workshop is something difficult to maintain and also to locate. However, there are some places within the city limits, where the tradition of the old dairy store (in Greek galaktopoleio/γαλακτοπωλείο), which is selling basically milk and yogurt, is kept alive and passed down from generation to generation. They are small oases of gastronomic tradition with products of high quality and nutritional value. Yogurt, in particular, is an important element of the Greek traditional diet and in these places, you will find it in its purest form. Traditional yogurt is prepared in the traditional way, that is, by coagulating the milk usually with the addition of yogurt of the previous batch.Τhis is the “live” yogurt which contains a specific, impressively high number of lactic acid bacteria.
After much research, we located six unique dairy stores in Athens (we did not expand our research in wider Attica) which produce and sell their own products. We have excluded places that, although they produce fine dairy products, such as confectioneries, bakeries, and cheese workshops, do not fit in the canon of the traditional dairy store. They are all small family workshops struggling to keep the quality of their products and maintain the tradition alive.
Stani (Στάνη): This dairy store in Omonoia Square is now an institution of the city with a history that began in 1931 in Piraeus and since 1949 continues in the centre of Athens. The current owner – grandson of the founder Nikos – continues to get the milk from the same family of Mountainous Corinthia as his grandfather. Its most emblematic product is stilvon (στίλβον), fresh sheep yogurt that is served in large portions on a plate, with fine honey and walnuts. Apart from the yogurt, exceptional and always fresh are the rice pudding and the cream. Nevertheless, the dairy store has now evolved into a complete confectionery where, among other sweets, the galaktoboureko and the loukoumades (fried Greek donuts) stand out. Stani’s fame has exceeded the city limits and it is a very common sight to see tourists (Greeks and foreigners) enjoying its excellent products. (Marikas Kotopouli 10, Omonoia) [Photo at the top]
Giannis Kontos (Γιάννης Κοντός): Continuing a family tradition of many decades, Giannis Kontos in his small workshop in the neighbourhood of Academia Platonos keeps alive a tradition that is disappearing from the urban centres. His workshop, which remains closed in summer when there is no fresh sheep’s milk, makes sheep yogurt with excellent taste (with minimal acidity) and proper texture. Here you will also try the classic cream and the rice pudding, but also homemade sweets based on yogurt such as black forest and lemon pie. Visit this traditional dairy store with loyal customers from every corner of the city, right next to the unique archeological park of Akadimia Platonos, and you will not regret it. (Kreontos 9, Akadimia Platonos)
Tsiaparas (Τσιαπάρας): The Tsiaparas family dairy is a legend of the western suburbs of the city. Its history began in 1956 and today the second generation continues the tradition of good yogurt. The sheep’s milk always comes fresh in the evening (another workshop that stays closed for three months in the summer) and at dawn, the processing starts to become a delicious and milky sheep’s yogurt. Also here they make in a traditional way thick strained yogurt with excellent taste. Finally cream and rice pudding with a mild not very sweet taste complete the catalog of the store. They also have a van that distributes their products in many neighbourhoods of western Athens. This is a workshop with passionate people, proud of the tradition they continue. (Ikaron 67, Haidari)
Spirantzos (Σπυράντζος): In the neighbourhood of Keratsini, which always hides gastronomic surprises, there is also this special dairy store. For many years, Spyrantzos’ workshop has been a favourite destination for the inhabitants of the surrounding areas. In the renovated and modern shop, we got and tried very good sheep yogurt with a more watery texture than usual but with an excellent taste and also rice pudding with very good taste. It is also worth mentioning that they make excellent homemade ice cream with fresh milk in many original flavours. (Leoforos Salaminos 147, Keratsini)
Βakogiannis (Μπακογιάννης): Hidden in the alleys of Ilioupoli, Bakoyannis’ workshop continues a tradition that began in 1956 when the area was still pasture. The son of the founder continues with modern machines to make yogurt with the recipe of his father and to produce sheep yogurt with a soft texture and full taste. In addition to yogurt, creams, and rice puddings, they also make ice cream, bottled fresh milk, and their own unique chocolate milk made from sheep’s milk, honey and cocoa without any sugar and added preservatives. Although the reputation of this workshop allows for expansion and larger production, the owner and his family prefer to keep the production small in order to completely control the quality of the raw materials and the final product (the workshop is closed during the summer months). (Chrisostomou Smyrnis 15, Ilioupoli)
Lousi (Λούσι): This workshop operates since 1935 and its founder was a milkman from a Greek village named Panourgias in Fokida. Counting till now three generations of traditional yogurt production, they manage to keep the quality the same and collect their milk from Attiki’s pastures. They produce quality sheep, goat and cow yogurt, along with creams, rice puddings and ice cream. This is the only example in our list of dairy stores that has expanded beyond the limits of the initial workshop in Alimos and now has two more selling points in Athens and at the same time supply its products to various other stores in Attiki. However, their family philosophy remains the same and they still control the quality of all aspects of the production. (Serifou 6, Alimos / Ethikis Antistaseos 67, Kaisariani / Papagou 60, Zografou)
These six places are custodians of our food tradition and are all worth a visit. Although nowadays the city is full of dairy stores of larger companies (which also started as traditional workshops) such as Stamou (Στάμου) and Dimitriou (Δημητρίου), which produce cheaper and fairly good products, these small family workshops deserve our support to continue producing these nutritional treasures.