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The Sweet History of the Oldest Bougatsa Shop in Chania, Crete

Bougatsa Traditional dish from Chania, Crete
Traditional Bougatsa from Iordanis, ιn Chania. Credit: Gabi Ancarola

A substantial part of Greek culture is made up of culinary traditions from traditions passed down from one generation to the next. One such culinary landmark is the delicious pastry called bougatsa. A historic shop in Chania, Crete has been making bougatsa for one hundred years.

Bougatsa is a dish made with filo pastry and with fillings that can change from region to region. In some areas of Greece, bougatsa can even have savory filling, such as meat.

In Chania, Crete, the most famous pastry shop, Iordanis Bougatsa, has been baking fresh bougatsa on a daily basis since 1922. Through the years, his shop has appeared in endless food and travel magazines.

Bougatsa Traditional dish from Chania, Crete
Bougatsa Iordanis since 1922, the oldest shop in Chania. Credit: Gabi Ancarola

The Story of Iordanis

Iordanis Akasiadis and his wife, Ioanna, are the current owners of Iordanis Bougatsa. They carry with them a tradition that’s a hundred years old.

Iordanis and Ioanna carry on with the tradition
Iordanis and Ioanna carry on with the tradition: a family business that is 100 years old. Credit: Gabi Ancarola

Iordanis’ great-grandfather was a baker who arrived in Chania from Ortakoy, a village near the ancient Greek city of Nicomedia in Asia Minor. He was forced to relocate to Chania during the compulsory population exchange between Turkey and Greece in the early 20th century.

Bougatsa Traditional dish from Chania, Crete
Freshly baked bougatsa ready to be served. Credit: Gabi Ancarola

Upon arrival, he bought a bakery shop from a Cretan Muslim who also had to move during the population exchange from Greece to Turkey.

The original shop was in the heart of the old town in a district called Maxairadika—where it was located on Sisfaka Street—in which knives were traditionally manufactured. Today, the shop is in a more modern venue just a few steps away from the Municipal Market of Chania.

Traditional dish from Chania, Crete
Bougatsa Iordanis, the oldest shop in Chania. Credit: Gabi Ancarola

Iordanis’ famous bougatsa in Chania

There is no other secret to the success of the historic bougatsa shop other than the fact that a traditional, tried and true recipe made with real, fresh ingredients makes all the difference.

Uniquely, Iordanis Bougatsa is not made with cream, in the traditional way, but with local cheese called myzithra.

Traditional dish from Chania, Crete
Working the dough…in the air!. Credit: Gabi Ancarola

The olive oil and the flour they use also come from Chania. Additionally, they only use handmade filo pastry produced in house.

This bougatsa only required five ingredients: flour, water, olive oil, myzithra, and salt. Sugar is only added prior to serving it. Iordanis and his wife explain that, in fact, the name bougatsa does not refer to the dish itself but to the technique used to work the filo dough.

Traditional dish from Crete
The final dish takes its name from the technique to work the dough. Credit: Gabi Ancarola

Fillings, on the other hand, can vary from meat to spinach or onions, while some bakers in Greece serve it plain (‘sketo’ in Greek). Iordanis now makes only on one flavor but bougatsa with different fillings was served in the past.

Traditional dish from Crete
Cutting fresh portions, every half an hour. Credit: Gabi Ancarola

Iordanis Bougatsa is on Apokoronou street in downtown Chania, and it’s open every day from 6 a.m. in the morning, which is when their oven starts baking this sweet treat every half hour.

Many visitors come directly to the shop from the airport or the port for a delicious breakfast. Others, going to bed at about the same time after a night out, also pay a visit to Iordanis for a later night snack. They are open until 2:30 p.m. on weekdays and close an hour earlier during the weekend.

Traditional dish from Crete
Some choose to eat it with sugar on top. Credit: Gabi Ancarola

One more tip: Even though bougatsa is their specialty, their Greek coffee is the best in town.

Bougatsa Traditional dish from Crete
Authentic Chaniotic breakfast: Bougatsa and Greek coffee. Credit: Gabi Ancarola

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