5119 N Nebraska Ave., Tampa, FL 33603
Cost range: 10.01-20.00
Payment options: Credit cards accepted
Alcohol: Beer and wine only
More in this neighborhood: Seminole Heights
Ella’s has been embraced by Seminole Heights scenesters, everyone charmed by its collection of American outsider and visionary art (each artist's work getting a thoughtful page of explication on the menu). But what makes Ella's delightful is the bright, clean flavors of dishes with an eye to healthfulness and visual appeal. For example, tempura-battered shrimp and yams come with a pile of long romaine leaves and a tangle of mint, cilantro and basil. Roll it all, Vietnamese-style, and dip it in an updated fish sauce flavored with apricot. Try the house bruschetta, really a salad of tomato, cucumber, basil and fresh mozzarella, which you spoon onto garlicky toasts. It reads like healthy but sophisticated home cooking.
The vibe: A hip restaurant and bar doubling as an eclectic art gallery and live music venue.
Specialty: The signature cocktails are plenty creative (Jagermeister and root beer!), but some of the best keep it simple, with a twist. For example, the Boozy Suzy — a great summer afternoon cocktail — uses a ginger-infused simple syrup to round out the double-shot of Jim Beam Rye, bitters, soda and lemon. Also simple but unusual is the Bungalow Juice — white rum, guava nectar and soda. Don't be surprised when your cocktail shows up in a pint glass!
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