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Aug 24, 2008 03:30 PM

Ella's Deli (Madison)

Always on the look-out for the unique and unsual, and based on the many Chowhound posts, we decided to try Ella's Deli in Madison.

The first thing you see on driving up is a big, colorful Carousel with prancing wooden horses painted in a rainbow of colors. On walking inside, you are spellbound by the diverse collection of animated displays. Everywhere you look you find something to catch your eye and remind you of your childhood. Everything is bright, colorful and fun to watch. Everywhere you look something is moving, flying turning, or rollilng.

Although the restaurant was crowded (around 4pm on a Saturday) we were seated almost immediately. Our polite and friendly waitress appeared right away and took our drink orders (2 diet cokes with a shot of vanilla) while we read the menu.

Having enjoyed deli food in Chicago and Los Angeles, we quickly looked for our favorite dishes. We decided to start with a bowl of Chicken Matzo Ball Soup, followed by a Corned Beef Sandwich w/Potato Salad. We also added a piece of Kugel.

The chicken soup was delicious, and the matzo ball was tender but not too soft. The corned beef sandwich was good, but could have been served on a darker rye bread. The kugel was sweet and moist, with just enough crunchiness to the outer egg noodles. Everything had a delicious home-made taste.

We have no young children of our own, we usually do not frequent places that are so kid-friendly, but we enjoyed the look of wonderment and amazement on the faces of the children, who were well behaved and not a distraction.

We enjoyed our meal and hope to return the next time we're in Madison.

Ella's Deli
2902 E Washington Ave
Madison, WI 53704
(608) 241-5291

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  1. For what it's worth, I think Ella's is worth a visit only if you have a small kid who likes the atmosphere -- the food isn't terrible, but isn't (in my experience) very good. But it is good to have contrasting opinions available!

    3 Replies
    1. re: Machaca

      Thank you for your courteous response. You are right, in that Ella's is more suited for families with children, but it can also be a delightful diversion for us older folks, too.

      Coming from a small town in northern Illnois (where there are no delis) it was fun to enjoy deli food again.

      It was not the best deli food we'd ever had, but it was good enough that we'd go back again the next time we were in town.

      1. re: Machaca

        I love Ella's, and I have no children. I can't seem to find matzoh ball soup anywhere else, and I adore the fried pickles. I'm also quite picky about potato salad, and Ella's is one of the few places that makes a potato salad I not only eat, but love. It is the only potato choice I even consider when I'm there. And I love the crushed ice they use in their beverages.

        1. re: beenie

          The Nitty Gritty in downtown Madison and I think Bluephies has tasty matzoh ball soup (at least they used to). Call first!