I’m forever thankful to the writer of the Lonely Planet Athens guide for introducing us to Fresko, a fresh Greek yogurt shop located on Dionysiou Areopagitou between the Acropolis and Hadrian's Gate, during our trip to Athens this winter.
We had just left the Acropolis in Athens, Greece and, after being mesmerized by the history and beauty of its many ancient sites, we were in desperate need of a snack. Flipping through the small travel guide, the answer jumped off the page. Located on a pedestrian street, my family happily went in search of Fresko – ready to experience something we never had in the U.S.
And, we weren’t disappointed. At all.
Walking up to the brightly lit shop, we were captivated by the three big stone bowls filled with fresh Greek yogurt of differing fat levels. The man behind the counter quickly explained to us how it works: you pick your yogurt, select your toppings, and enjoy each spoonful.
The topping options included a vast array of preserved fruits like sour cherries, figs, blueberries, lemons and more. You also could have muesli, Kinder Bueno, Oreo pieces and other sweet and savory toppings you’d find at a frozen yogurt shop in the U.S. But, the one standout topping was honey – in several varieties I'd never even heard of before.
When it was my turn, I stepped up to order my yogurt topped with preserved figs and honey. But, I was quickly informed that it would be too sweet to do both – so I should just got with the preserved figs.
So, I did. And, I was so glad I heeded that sage gastronomic advice.
The preserved figs had just the right amount of sweetness to accentuate the tart taste of the Greek yogurt – and a healthy dose of chewiness from the figs themselves.
It was perfect – that time and the two other times I ordered the exact same thing when we returned to Fresko at the urging of our sons.
When we left Greece, we thought we’d left that experience behind - with the hope of only being able to try our best to recreate it at home.
But, then my husband and I traveled to New York City for three days just a few weeks later – and we got to enjoy it all again.
While walking through Little Italy, talking about how well a fresh Greek yogurt store would do in Manhattan, we spotted Greecologies. We couldn’t believe our luck – and the timing!
We had just snacked on one of the famous Yonah Schimmel knishes – which is not light snack. But, we had to make room for fresh Greek yogurt!
And, again, we weren’t disappointed.
Greecologies offers you the choice of fresh yogurt – strained or unstrained – with a similar variety of toppings. But, they also offered savory topping combinations like olive oil, sun-dried tomatoes and olives – which appealed to us, too!
My husband and I happily got in line to place our orders – and then savored this delicious taste of Greece right in the Big Apple. And, we vowed to return at least one more time during our three days there.
We thought we were lucky to have struck fresh Greek yogurt shop gold once in New York City. So, you can imagine how shocked we were when we struck it again!
With full bellies and satisfied grins on our faces, we continued on to wander New York City's downtown streets. And, once again we were struck by a very welcome sight – a full-fledge Chobani store right in Soho!
Chobani, the maker of the popular packaged Greek yogurt you can find in grocery stores across the U.S., now operates a quick service store in Manhattan. Like Fresko and Greecologies, you can order fresh Greek yogurt with a variety of toppings. But, no fresh figs.
Our second day in New York City started with a return trip to Chobani – to eat and not just stare at the menu this time.
There, I had preserved cherries and muesli. And, I plotted when I could go back to try one of its simit sandwiches – thin, round sesame seed-crusted bread filled with seasonal preserves and labne, tomato and olive tapenade, and roasted turkey and avocado.
That wasn’t the last time we enjoyed fresh Greek yogurt in New York City.
On our third and final day there, we headed out of our hotel on a breakfast mission that included just one thing – fresh Greek yogurt at Greecologies.
As we savored it, we relished again in the fact that New York City was home to multiple fresh Greek yogurt stores – and we were able to enjoy it once a day for our three days there.
When we landed back in Chicago, I began to search for a Greecologies, Chobani or another fresh Greek yogurt store in Chicago. But, I haven’t had any luck – yet.
Like many food trends, they tend to start in New York City and then head west to Chicago. So, I remain hopeful – and a bit impatient – that fresh Greek yogurt stores will find there way here soon.
Have you visited a fresh Greek yogurt store? What is your favorite Greek yogurt topping? Share your experiences and favorites in the comments below.