What: Omonoia Greek Bakery
Where: 2813 East Colfax Avenue
Pros: With their authentic Greek pastries and family friendly setting, Omonoia has been around forever. The spanakopita is perfectly flaky, and the melomacarona, or honey cookies, are to die for. Try the traditionally prepared Greek coffee to
Cons: The space is rather small, but it is very comfortable and would make a great place to spend an afternoon reading.
The long stretch of Colfax Avenue is home to a wide variety of ethnic restaurants, but it’s the small collection of Greek establishments on East Colfax that comprise Denver’s one and only official cultural town: Greek Town. Tucked amidst Pete’s Kitchen and the Gyros Place you’ll find Omonoia Bakery, an institution that has been open in this location for 43 years.
While the original owner passed away four years ago, his protégé, Paulina Gourmos, has been running the bakery ever since. She takes the recipes he passed along to her and continues the tradition, making everything from scratch. The space is small but clean and vibrant, the red walls a backdrop for Greek artifacts and statues, family photos, and of course, pastry cases filled with goodies. A small television in the corner plays Greek cinema, while old men catch up over a plate of cookies and demitasses of Greek coffee. It is very much a comfortable, family environment.
While many are familiar with gyros and moussaka, Greece also has a rich tradition of pastries and breads. Perhaps the most famous are those made with filo dough, like the spanakopita, or spinach pie. Gourmos’ spanakopita is classic and delicious, with layers of flaky filo and dill-scented spinach filling. Also delicious was the cheese pie, or tyropita, which took that same flaky filo and filled it with salty feta cheese.
Sweet desserts also make use of the filo dough, like the baklava, the many-layered favorite including spiced nuts and plenty of honey. The baklava at Omonoia is crunchy, and spiced with plenty of cardamom and cinnamon, and drenched in honey. Though the baklava was delicious, I really enjoyed getting to try some of the lesser-known Greek sweets.
While Gourmos stocks her pastry case with French inspired cream puffs and fruit tarts (and a highly recommended almond cake) it was the hard-to-pronounce Greek cookies that I was most interested in. The melomacarona, or honey cookies, were my favorite. This traditional holiday treat consists of a moist, orange and spice olive oil cookie that is soaked in honey and topped with chopped walnuts after being baked. The result is a texture unlike anything I’ve had before—cakey yet moist and dense, without being too sweet.. The bakery also offers plenty of gluten free cookies, like the amygdolota, chewy confections made with almond flour.
Whatever it is you choose to snack on, don’t leave without trying a Greek coffee, which Gourmos prepares in a traditional copper pot, or briki. Gourmos imports the copper pots from Greece, as well as the coffee. The copper pot is an important part of making authentic Greek coffee—without it you won’t achieve the proper layer of foam on top. The coffee is sweetened by request, but cream is never added to the strong, thick brew. The dark, slightly bitter jolt of the coffee is the perfect counterpoint to all of the delicious baked goods.
While Denver is certainly exploding with plenty of new, high-concept, globally-inspired restaurants, it’s great to see that authentic places like Omonoia are still thriving after so many years. Omonoia certainly has a loyal clientele for their classic and family driven food, and for good reason. Stop by and discover this hidden gem.
All photography by Kiddest Metaferia.