Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe is the sort of place you’d expect to find in Austin, but is actually in Seminole Heights, Tampa. The “Folk Art” part of the name is no misnomer; the place is covered in all sorts of funky creations, such as this lil’ fella…
…this bigger fella…
…this Ed “Big Daddy” Roth-inspired piece…
…this other little fella…
…and no place like Ella’s would be complete without a shrine to The King, the biggest fella of them all:
Here’s the inscription over the entryway to the kitchen:
And here’s a zoomed-out view:
The Lady Friend and I went to Ella’s on Sunday, which is “Soul Food Sunday” there (check out the Sunday menu). We arrived around 1 p.m., and the place was still pretty full. Luckily for us, there were still some seats available at the bar, which gave us a good view of the kitchen as well as the scene below:
The staff at Ella’s are a friendly bunch. They’ve all got that universal North American hipster-ish look; if it weren’t for their accents, which ranged from a slight southern twang to the full on “y’all drawl”, they could easily be mistaken for the denizens of Accordion City’s Parkdale neighbourhood. The guy behind the bar suggested that we start with Bloody Ellas, which is my preferred brunch drink:
It’s a Bloody Mary with an Ella’s twist: they rim the glass with a barbecue spice rub, and it’s garnished with an olive, pickle and hunk of perfectly cooked and tender beef rib. I’m going to have to start making Caesars this way.
The Lady Friend decided to go for pulled pork and collard greens. As for me, I went for some special southern treats:
…chicken and waffles. Real down-home southern fried chicken (two drumsticks and a breast), served with a belgian waffle, a devilled egg and maple bourbon gravy on the side. To complement it, some fried green tomatoes:
(I might get excommunicated from the Smart Ass Fitness mailing list for this…)
I will be atoning for these sins at the pool and the gym all week, but these are rarities for me, and sometimes you just have to indulge.
A kind gentleman saw the Lady Friend getting pictures of me and my food and offered to snap a shot of the both of us:
In addition to being a great place to get some delicious American homestyle food, Ella’s is also known for being a great music venue. It’s co-owned by Melissa Deming and Ernie Locke, who’s a local musician, formerly with a band called Nervous Turkey. There’s a stage in the corner of the restaurant, where live bands play several evenings a week. I’ll have to come back here for one of those nights.
If you’re ever in Tampa, find a way to Ella’s!