We were given a complimentary meal for this post, but as always, all opinions are 100% our own.
We have been huge fans of Ella's Americana Folk Art Cafe for over six years now and began going to this unique and trendy spot shortly after they opened. Every time we have friends in town, this is one of the spots we love taking them to. We've spent so much time here that we decided it was time to share this hidden gem.
Ella's Cafe is owned by Mellissa Deming, who has a love for collecting unique folk art. Her entire cafe is like a mini art museum and at every corner you look, from indoors to outdoors, it is filled with special art pieces. Every time we go back, we spot something different, since it is endlessly evolving.
Speaking of evolving, Ella's initially was a place where people gathered to listen to live music, but their food was so delicious that people started coming to Ella's for both the music and food. They took notice of the popularity of their dishes and expanded their food menu, eventually turning into a full restaurant.
Now, they are most well known for their Soul Food Sundays. Instead of a traditional brunch menu, Ella's offers elevated comfort food. Their most popular dishes are the Fried Chicken and Waffles, Fried Catfish and Biscuits and Gravy. We've had all three of these dishes and we agree that they are fantastic! We've also had other dishes like the Veggie Burger and Brisket and they are equally as good as the favorites. Their side dishes are tasty as well like their Bacon Mac 'n Cheese, Fried Green Tomatoes and Okra Succotash. Chef Suz, who has been with Ella’s from the start, definitely knows what she's doing!
Not only does Ella's serve amazing food, but bartender Nick serves their award-winning Bloody Ella, which won "Best Bloody Mary" at the Tampa Bay Bloody Mary Festival. Their Bloody Mary is garnished with a nice piece of rib on top of the drink and even a towelette to clean up afterwards (how thoughtful, right?). They coat the rim with their BBQ rub and it gives the drink a nice extra kick. It's also made with their house infused ancho vodka, which gives it even more of a kick. If Bloody Mary's aren't your thing, don't worry, they have plenty of other specialty cocktails that are fabulous.
If you have a pet, there is a great outdoor seating area that has a nice shade from the giant tree over the restaurant. The seating areas even have hooks to hold your dog leash, which is a brilliant idea. Our corgi, Kuma, was loving all the attention from all the dog lovers and of course loved getting some of our yummy leftovers.
On top of all this goodness, you can even enjoy free live shows on Fridays at 9PM and Sundays at 4PM. They typically have Americana type music, which is a little bit country, a little blues, smaller bands, local bands and traveling acts. The stage is indoors and you can still enjoy the food and drinks in the dining area and bar.
Ella's Cafe is definitely a must-stop restaurant when you're in the Tampa Bay area. They have been around for years and we believe the secret to their success is that they are always evolving and listen to what their customers enjoy. Many thanks to Melissa, Ty, Nick, Suz, Justin and Nicki for hosting us and making our time at Ella's extra special. We truly enjoyed our meal, service and music and will continue bringing friends and family for years to come.
TIP: Soul Food Sundays are very popular, so to avoid wait times, arrive right when they open at 11am or call ahead and get your name on the waiting list.
ELLA'S AMERICANA FOLK ART CAFE
ADDRESS: 5119 N. Nebraska Ave Tampa, Fl 33603
HOURS: Tue - Thu 5pm to 11pm / Fri and Sat 5pm to Midnight / Sun 11am to 8pm