I first became aware of Hellas Pastry Shop when I ate more than my fair share off the cookie table at a 1/2 Greek wedding this summer. I knew it was located in Lincoln Square, but as I traveled up and down Lincoln Ave. in my mind, I couldn’t place it. The reason, dear reader/eater, is because it’s on Lawrence NOT Lincoln.
Understatedly unassuming, Hellas is a Greek pastry shop on the corner of Lawrence and Talman. Everything is super fresh (like “wait just one minute I have to finish this dough and then I’ll be right out” fresh) and here’s what to get:
ANYTHING “macaron.” Oval and encrusted in almonds and sandwiching apricot jam, or round with an old lady red cherry in the middle, these are light and chewy and addicting.
And then there are the honey cookies. A substantial cookie with finely ground nuts soaked in honey, they are surprisingly melt-in-your-mouth but still best with a side of tea or coffee.
Then there are cookies that look like huge crescent shaped piles of snow. I was actually asked if I was planning on ordering any of these when I started my box so they could be placed on the bottom and not snow on everything else. Joke’s on planning though since I ordered so much that my couple-of-these-5-of-those all needed to be transported to a larger box. (snow banks were still properly maintained)
They also make baklava enrobed in chocolate. Also spinach pie and also eclairs, and they’ve been around since 1969 and I’m certain I’ve driven past approx 10000 times and probably blindly parked right out in front at least 5 times. And now if I get a parking spot within even a 1/2 mile radius, I’ll be stopping in Hellas.
Polka Dot Pie.
Like a cheesecake made into a pie. But with a hint of espresso. And a swirl of marzipan. And dots of dark chocolate. So basically a creamy, nutty, just-rich-enough slice that pairs perfectly with a huge cup of coffee. Like even if you don’t really want any pie (me, never), you take one liiiiitle bite of this pie and then, whoops, it’s gone because yes, you want this pie.
Reliably always on the menu at First Slice Pie Cafe. Praise be.
Sad day: when you are the one to inform the chocolate shop that it’s National Chocolate Day
Happy day: when you discover a new chocolate shop
Proud day: when your 19-month-old is almost more excited than you and shouts “CHOCOLATE!” “CANDY!” “GUMBALL!” “MORE CHOCOLATE!” “BIG ONE!!!” #mychild
Cora Lee Candies has been churning out toffee and chocolates and “Grumpies” and “Barque” in Glenview since 1963 – probably long before the first National Chocolate Day. The assorted creams and caramels are covered in thick smooth chocolate and they have a decent “retro” section with wax bottles, candy dots, flying saucers, Big League Chew, etc. Basically something for everyone. Including sponge candy covered in dark chocolate. That’s the something for me.
Crème brûlée donut: stop. With mascarpone: Stop. Chocolate mascarpone: STOP. Fig chocolate mascarpone: STAAAAHHPP.
And a lil PB&J back to school special featuring peanut butter mousse and raspberry blood orange jelly. A far cry from soggy lunchbox sandwiches of yore. A new cry of deliciousness.
Happening now at Firecakes. GO!!!
Found: new favorite bakery cafe: Lost Larson.
Found: largest assortment of laminated pastries to ever grace a countertop. twisted/rolled/folded/braided/sugared/all screaming “EAT ME! EAT ME!” – this place is a crispy layered wonderland. (see above: delicious kouign amann and churros croissant)
Found: a pastry photoshoot in progress (but they didn’t need a hand/mouth model)
Found: coffee that lives up to the pastry
Found: big open windows and a tucked away back garden
Lost (otherwise known as “returning for”): cardamom buns, chocolate passionfruit hazelnut caramel tart whatwhatwhat, princess cake, rye raisin cookie, etc, etc, etc, etc.
Found: new favorite tasting companion (see below)
Is it a cookie? Is it a cheesecake? Who knows….. IT IS PERFECTION.
A combo of chongos zamoranos and a citrusy goat cheese cream topped with a cherry or a blueberry or whatever’s seasonal, Loba Pastry‘s lil cookie concoction is a chewy buttery not-too-sweet cheesy almost-nutty dream. Kinda like a suped up corner blondie.
They had 4 left when I stopped in, and really I should have gotten all 4. But I’m so nice I left some for you! Better call ahead to be sure they’re still there.
I don’t know what the deal with peach is…..(Did I miss it? Has it not happened yet??)…. but I do know this: Mario’s has new flavors including lychee and grapefruit, and the grapefruit is AMAZING – frozen bits of grapefruit and all (and combos well with watermelon) – and I’m getting the lychee next time.
At minimum, get a large.
You are welcome.