By Carla Selby
Sometimes the most delicious food comes from the least expected places. Located at 12008 Race Track Rd, Ellie’s Family Restaurant is truly a hidden gem. This inconspicuous homey diner, owned and operated by Dino Mihalopoulos and his family, serves American breakfast and lunch staples ranging from pancakes to burgers, in a casual and friendly environment.
“Wow, what a great hidden treat,” says Rose K. about her recent visit to Ellie’s. “The staff is amazing, they have great food at affordable prices and large portions. Everything was very tasty and well prepared. This place is perfect for a casual and homemade breakfast or lunch. Ellie’s is the locals hang out, which is open to everyone. It’s in an industrial park setting, somewhat unknown to first-time visitors but well worth the visit. We had a large party and everyone was very happy with their meals. The greek omelet filled with gyro meat and feta filled the plate, along with a side of perfectly cooked hash browns. Give it a try, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.”
Ellie’s previous owners, Tom and Ellie, had been wanting to retire, but not before leaving their beloved restaurant in the hands of people who were as responsible and family-oriented as they were. When Tom and Ellie met Dino and his family, they knew that their famous diner was going to be in great hands and that the family principles and values would live on, as well as many of the same delicious and affordable dishes still featured on the current menu.
Since Dino took over Ellie’s a little over three years ago, a lot of things have changed, but many have remained the same. The name Ellie’s was a family staple so they held onto it. “The place already had a fantastic reputation in town and people from the neighborhood knew the name and were loyal to it,” says Dino. “We also kept the back of the breakfast menu the same. It depicts a lovely cartoon of Tom and Ellie, the previous owners. Also, a lot of our food items are named after the previous owners, and I would not have it any other way,” he added.
Ellie’s offers an extensive Breakfast menu, including classics like bacon and eggs, french toast, biscuits and gravy (which come with a homemade sausage gravy that is to die for!), Tom’s Famous Omelettes (I recommend their greek or their spinach, feta, and onion), and a large selection of breakfast sandwiches and pancakes and eggs combos.
For lunch, Ellie’s variety of wraps, cold or grilled sandwiches, hot or cold subs, melts, and salads, provide enough options to satisfy the entire family. I have had the pleasure of trying many sandwiches at Ellie’s, and they have all been fantastic! They just pile on the meats and cheeses, and the result is always great looking sandwiches that taste freshly homemade. My personal favorite is the Philly Cheese Steak sandwich, and a lot of people agree with me. Remember, Dino is from Philly, so he knows the secrets on how to make a truly authentic and fantastic Philly Cheesesteak sandwich.
“Ellie’s has great diner-style food. Just don’t let the lack of atmosphere scare you off. This is a great locals place,” says Erik A. “Just trust me and try the Philly Cheese, one of the best I’ve found in the area. Food is always made to order and a good value.”
“I had the Philly steak and cheese sub and I will say it was top 2 best I ever ate, hands down. I will definitely recommend this place and this sandwich to anyone,” says local guide David L.
Make sure you try some of their specials!
For those who prefer a hot meal for lunch, make sure to check out the fantastic daily specials listed online and on the board inside the restaurant. They provide a great variety of fresh daily creations. Best part? Most of the specials are under $10.00. This week they had some amazing deals like a Mac and Cheese Skillet topped with spicy chicken tenders for $9.95 and blackened pork chops with mashed potatoes and veggies, also of $9.95.
Ellie’s truly offers something for everybody, so it comes to no surprise that it has acquired a very loyal following throughout the years. The Westchase community knows they can always count on a good fresh meal and great service at this place, which is what keeps everyone coming back for more, myself included.
Perhaps the best part about eating at Ellie’s, is that it quickly becomes your own little go-to “hole-in-the-wall” favorite spot. It is not overhyped or crowded, so you can be seated relatively fast and then rest comfortably knowing that the quality of the food and service will always be top-notch.
Long time customer James Z. says, “The staff is super friendly, they have the best food in this area!!! I have been coming here for years and have never been disappointed.”
Don’t drive around wondering where to eat today, avoid spending money on greasy and expensive fast food chains. Do your taste buds and your wallet a favor and head to Ellie’s for the most mouth watering, homemade and affordable food in the area.
Ellie’s Restaurant is conveniently open 7 days a week; Monday through Friday, from 6:00am till 2:30pm, with breakfast being served until 11:30am. On Saturday and Sunday they open at 7:00am and serve breakfast ALL DAY LONG.
Ellie’s Restaurant is located at 12008 Race Track Rd, Tampa, FL 33626. Visit www.elliestampa.com to see their daily specials.