Thursday, February 11, 2010

Back to the Hood

When I lived in Seminole Heights, there was always the hope that more restaurants would open near the neat old bungalows of the neighborhood. While there were a few, such as my friend Elizabeth's Bungalow Bistro, Cappy's Pizza, and Viva La Frida (for a while), we always wanted more. Tonight, I made a return visit to the old neighborhood to find a new, and exciting entry in the restaurant scene in Seminole Heights. Our friend Karen suggested meeting at Ella's American Folk Art Cafe on Nebraska Avenue. For those familiar with Nebraska Avenue in this area of Tampa, restaurants are not its claim to fame. No, that would be "ladies of the night" parading their stuff up and down the avenue. Fortunately, the area is improving, but to find a funky restaurant like Ella's was still a surprise.
The main dining room is a two story space filled with artsy decor, a large bar, and nice spacious seating. The menu is eclectic (overused word to describe menus I think, but the best I could do here.) It is probably best if you check Ella's website (click the link above). We shared the hummus appetizer which was made with black beans and chickpeas. We each opted for one of the burgers; there are four on the menu, The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, and The Boring. Karen and I each had The Bad, with roasted red peppers and goat cheese. Frank selected the aptly named The Boring with cheddar cheese, lettuce and tomato. All were made with organic Angus beef, and the quality of the beef was evident in the first bite. The burgers are served with your choice of Sweet Potato Fries or Zucchini Fritters. We tried both and both were good. My only complaint was the doneness of my burger. I had requested medium rare, and it was more on the medium than the rare side. Ella's offers a nice selection of beers, and a shorter selection of wines.  
The restaurant appears to be a local favorite after being open only five months. It was very busy by 6:30 on a Thursday evening. So, if you want good food and good service in a funky setting in a old neighborhood still on the rebound, I strongly recommend Ella's American Folk Art Cafe. We will return to try other items from Ella's menu. 

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