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Wandering Chef: Jody Adams in Thessaloniki

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Fresh vegetables sold at the covered food market in Thessaloniki, Greece. 

All photos courtesy of Ken Rivard

Fresh vegetables sold at the covered food market in Thessaloniki, Greece. 

Take a tour of this Greek city through the tastebuds of this Boston chef.

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Before opening Boston’s new fast-casual Greek eatery, Saloniki, chef Jody Adams took a research trip to Thessaloniki, Greece, the city that inspired the restaurant’s name. Accompanied by her business partners, Eric Papachristos and Jon Mendez, along with her husband, Ken Rivard, Adams embarked on a journey that confirmed that the menu she had planned for Saloniki was authentic. With Greek Easter coming up on Sunday, May 1, we asked Adams to share her top discoveries from the trip. 

What are some of your favorite restaurants?

“The best sandwich shop we visited was Gyromania in Thermi. The cooks made the most amazing pork sandwich—it has pure Thessaloniki flavors. It was our first stop after the flight, and nothing could have tasted better. We also went to The Famous Rooster, known for its grilled spatchcocked lemon chicken, fried potatoes, and fresh sauces. And finally, we visited Laikon, where the souvlaki, a skewer of grilled bacon and bread, is a must.”

A grilled chicken dish from The Famous Rooster
How about bars?

Mia Feta is a feta bar near the old port in downtown Thessaloniki. It has an amazing selection of feta, of course, and great wines. We also spent time at Kitchen Bar, a big, modern restaurant on the water. The spot has a lively vibe and scene, plus great cocktails. And we loved Monroe, a covered side alley that’s been turned into a bar. They play hopping, loud music, which creates a fun atmosphere.”

Did you visit any great markets?

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Modiano Market, a covered food market in the center of Thessaloniki that sells everything from vegetables to meats and fish. We loved tasting all the cheese and olive oils. I recommend checking out the street vendors, especially the ones who sell sesame bread rings called koulouri, and those who sell fresh strawberries out of converted baby carriages.”

The covered food market
What was your favorite pastry shop?

Halkidis Bougatsa, a tiny spot in Katerini that has the best bougatsa, a layered pastry filled with either sweet custard or savory feta. The bakery is one of the last in all of Greece to bake the bougatsa from scratch. We watched as sheets of phyllo were stretched to the size of bed sheets, then folded around either the sweet or savory filling, and finally baked. We ate tray after tray of them.”

Bougatsa from Halkidis Bougatsa
Did anything in particular surprise you?

“I was surprised by how modern the restaurants were, both in design and in terms of sensibility, and by how consistently fresh and compelling the traditional food was everywhere we ate—a sure sign that local diners have high standards. And so much dining was done outdoors: We saw people eating sandwiches all day.”

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