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Ella's Deli

In a word: Kosher Carnival.

The specs: #0155
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; Madison Originals profile; reviews at Yelp, Ruppert Food Blog, Cap Times, Madison Fish Fry, collected at del.icio.us; photoessay at Shiv/Shill/Shine; official web site; Ella's Deli on Urbanspoon

Latest Ella's Deli news and reviews

Amanda ate the matzo ball soup.
Carlos ate the guacamole burger.
Emo ate some fries and drank a lot of lemonade.
JM ate the BBQ burger.
Nichole ate some other kind of burger.
Sabi ate 2 kids' mac and cheeses.
The bill was $50, or $8.33/person, plus tip (kids eat free on Mondays).
JM gave Ella's an A-; Nichole gave Ella's a B+; Sabi gave Ella's an A- (see our grading rubric).

Ella's is kind of a blur, but we think they like it that way. Check out the fantastic fried dill pickles over octopus:

Ella's dill pickle fries

The whirling Ferris wheel:

Ella's Ferris wheel

And the allure of the train scene (pictures courtesy Emo, age 3):


Few places have menus that can be described as "epic," but Ella's qualifies. There's enough breadth there to justify a whole 'nother blog. But we're only a few mortals, and only sampled a few dishes.

Amanda gave props to the matzo ball soup. JM likewise endorsed the BBQ burger and the v. good fries, and of the macaroni and cheese, Sabi (4) said, "It tastes like nacho sauce. I really like it a lot. It's so good."

On the other hand, Carlos' burger was a "tragedy", rare to the point of moo-ing. He was happily able to fill up on chili fries, and said the guacamole is great.

Emo, who would have been content to watch the model train course around the track forever, was heard to say, "ABCDE Ella, silly," and enjoyed the lemonade. One of the best things about Ella's is crushed ice in the drinks - Amanda especially wishes this would catch on.

The carnival atmosphere of Ella's can make or break an evening out, however. Carlos said he loves the tables and toys everywhere, but it can get too noisy. Sabi, who is a quasi-regular with her grandma, said, "If there's one thing I don't like in a restaurant, it's bad behavior." We're guessing she might see a lot of that from the restaurant's shortest patrons, but we didn't let that get us down.


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The memories...

You are such a great writer! It might just be an average evening at a restaurant, but it gets processed in your brain and comes out SO funny. I really appreciate you!

I'm from the Washington DC area. Not even NY. But Ella's is a far cry from the real east coast delis with their great matzah ball soup, corned beef and pastrami piled high, and smoked fish stuff (which I still turn my nose up but my grandparents love). Might be good enough for people who like the circus stuff, the ice cream, or haven't eaten at real kosher-style delis, but for me it's too much of a disappointment to bear.

I have to disagree with Mike. Ella's is the closest I've had to NY deli food since I moved here from NY 9 years ago. It's not 100%, but it's at least an acceptable facsimile.

I thought Ella's was shlocky, dirty, low on portion size, high on price, and low on quality. This is really a kid's hamburger joint with a bunch of (admittedly cool) homemade kitsch. Worst of all, no potato dishes to be found! Don't eat here.

I had a Chicago Dog at Ella's. Absolutely dreadful! Just wrong! They haven't got a clue. I've had better Chicago Dogs at Beef Etc. in La Crosse. Go figure>

Beef Etc. - what a name! Next time I'm in La Crosse...

I recently had a Chicago hot dog at Ella's for the first time, and was similarly disappointed. It was the worst EVER. Nevertheless, there are treasures in Ella's "epic" menu, and the novelty alone is worth it.

The ice cream is generally awesome, as is the carosel and (admittedly dusty) decor. And one of my favorite things to order is the baked potato with brocooli and cheese. Simple but tasty. Did someone say there are NO potato dishes?

I say go there, but not with high expectations. It is what it is, and to me it's worthwhile. :)

One more thing--get a flavored Coke at Ella's.

I don't remember seeing it on the menu, but if you ask, I think you can get your Coke with cherry, lemon, or vanilla syrup.

Brings back memories of high school, when half of my friends worked there and the flavored Cokes were free (for me, at least).

I can confirm the availability of vanilla and cherry flavors for your Coke. No clue on the lemon.

They most certainly have potato salad - I'm not normally a fan, but I love it at Ella's and always order it in lieu of their fries.

The comments to this entry are closed.


Listen to The Corner Table podcast "Remembering Restaurants," aired December 24, 2020, where Chris and Lindsay talk with us "about the menus and memories left behind when restaurants go away."

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