Thursday, October 16, 2014

Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe – Tampa, FL


We spent our day off at the Museum of Science and Industry – MOSI is offering free tickets in October to anyone with a YMCA membership!

Since we were already near Seminole Heights, we headed to Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe for dinner.  I tried to go a few years ago with my parents, but it was so crowded we couldn’t get a table!  And somehow I hadn’t made it there again until yesterday.  According to Tasting Tampa, it’s one of the top 10 best restaurants in Seminole Heights (it has good company on the list – including The Refinery and Rooster & the Till).

We got there just a few minutes before they opened at 5pm, so it was pretty quiet and there was plenty of parking.  But by 6pm, it was packed!  I’d recommend trying to get there early if you don’t want to wait. 

It makes sense to have “folk art” in the title – the entire places is covered in funky upcycled creations – much of the art being made from scrap metal.  The landscaping in front of the restaurant is lined with old bowling balls, and the booth we were seated at had a shrine to Elvis with all sorts of funky pieces of art featuring “the King”. 


They have a great patio with outdoor booths, Adirondack chairs, and a big oak tree.  Had it been a couple degrees cooler, we would have dined out there. 


We were there during Happy Hour – Tuesdays through Fridays 5-7pm they have $3 draft beers and well drinks, $4 house wine, and $2 off their signature cocktails.  I tried The Revival – Sweet Tea with Wild Turkey American Honey Whiskey, muddled lemon, agave, and mint.  Sweet and refreshing.  If you’re a fan of Bloody Mary’s though, they make a pretty impressive one garnished with a rib!

We ordered a bunch of appetizers as our dinner – the Tuna Cracka’ Staka’, Rasta-Far-Fries, and Jerk Chicken Wings. 

They brought us bread while we waited – it was soft and warm with herb butter.  We got the fries and tuna together.  Wow the tuna was awesome!  It was served over crispy wonton chips with Asian slaw and topped with roe.  They tasted very fresh – I could have eaten a dozen. 

The fries were enormous!  They were cut in large wedges and topped with their house mustard, sea salt, cilantro, and Sriracha.  It was a bit more mustard than I would have liked, but the rest of the toppings were perfect – just the right amount of spiciness.

The wings were island spiced, hickory smoked, then flash fried and tossed in sweet & spicy jerk sauce.  They were some of the best wings I’ve tasted – and the lime cream sauce paired perfectly with the jerk seasoning.  We used the lime sauce to cool down the spicy fries as well. 

We ended with their chocolate covered bacon dessert – it won an award in last year’s Creative Loafing Best of the Bay.  It included 2 large strips of bacon dipped in dark chocolate and peanuts, along with 2 pieces of pancetta coated in white chocolate and almonds.  The pancetta was very good, but I especially loved how dark the chocolate was on bacon.  A perfect sweet and salty dessert!

If you haven’t been to Ella’s yet, I’d put it on your must-visit list.  We thoroughly enjoyed our meal.  They have live entertainment most evenings, and I hear that their Soul Food Sundays are incredible as well! 

Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe is located at 5119 N Nebraska Ave, Tampa, FL 33603 and is open 5pm – 11pm Tuesday through Thursday, 5pm – 12am Fridays and Saturdays, and 11am – 8pm on Sundays. 

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