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Meet the Greek who Introduced Real Souvlaki to Colombia

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Greek souvlaki in Colombia. Credit: Greek Reporter

An unconventional find and delightful Mediterranean surprise awaits you in Bogotá, Colombia, and it is all thanks to a Giorgos Sitaras, a Greek who left his hometown of Thessaloniki, Greece, to share authentic Greek food like souvlaki with the Colombian people.

On September 15, 2017, Colombians were blessed with a Greek treat, as Sitaras opened the doors of his restaurant, Salonika.

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Who would ever dream that as you walk the streets of Bogotá, Colombia’s sprawling capital, that you would encounter an authentic taste of Greece? That is exactly what you find at the Greek immigrant’s restaurant.

Greek community in Bogota

Bogota, the capital of Colombia and a sprawling mega-city of almost 10 million inhabitants, is home to a grand total of approximately 150 Greek people.

However, most have become successful entrepreneurs in the food industry, adding a Greek touch to the rich gastronomic tradition of this Latin American country.

Salonika offers locals the chance to experience fresh fast food with Greek and Mediterranean flair.

Offering up a little piece of Greece in Bogotá, Sitaras took it upon himself to introduce the locals to what an authentic souvlaki shop is all about, right down to serving up real gyros.

Patrons, both loyal and new, head out to Salonika for lunch, dinner and drinks. The locals are both curious and receptive of the Greek cuisine, even booking parties and gatherings at Salonika.

Greek food, especially souvlaki, is popular in Colombia

The restaurant has become a great success and a meeting point in the community. Customers rave about the service, food, and even boast about Salonika’s “salsa especial de la casa” (or, special sauce of the house), that they say compliments every dish.

If the food isn’t enough to transport you to Greece, the restaurant’s indoor-outdoor seating set-up reminds you of a Greek taverna in the summertime. And, the inviting decor…well, let’s just say that if the blue and white color scheme doesn’t remind you that you are in a Greek restaurant, the paintings of Greece on the wall certainly will!

More than anything, what Giorgos has managed to do is bring the hospitality and comfort food of Greece to Colombia, right down to the dessert — who can resist homemade baklava?

“It’s not just a place to eat. We have created a Greek corner in the city,” he says proudly, as he points to the walls with photographs of Thessaloniki, the Greek islands and his beloved Aris football club.

“Colombians are fond of Greeks. They know a lot about Greek culture, history and the the Greek islands,” Sitaras explains.

Next time you are in Bogotá, be sure to check out Salonika, and listen to his story in his words below:

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