Review: Ellen’s Cafe features homemade Southern-style cooking

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Photos by Anthony Rao

Since she was a little girl, Ellen Bruce dreamed of owning a restaurant. Finally, in 2019, she has made her dream come true.

Ellen’s Café on 3rd, a small, Southern-style diner, opened in September, one of several new shops and eateries popping up in downtown Leesburg.

Ellen and her daughter Brittany run the quaint café, which caters to businesspeople on their lunch breaks. They aim for “quick and quality” food, and for a casual place for people to talk between work hours.

The menu at Ellen’s is short and simple with a lot of diner-style food, including sloppy joes, pulled pork and chicken, tuna, chicken and egg salad, hot ham and cheese, and a selection of salads. One of the great things about Ellen’s is that most of the items on the menu are homemade. Daily soups, potato and pasta salads, sweet tea and cookies are just a few of the items that are made in-house. The diner’s specialty, however, is the homemade blue cheese. It can be described as creamier and milder than your typical store-bought blue cheese. The most popular items are the chicken salad by far, followed by the pulled pork, Ellen says.

When you walk into Ellen’s at lunchtime, you’re welcomed into a humble eatery with finished, repurposed wooden tables, a repurposed wooden wall and quiet chatter at each table where everyone seems satisfied with their food and company.

The lunch orders included the tuna sandwich, BBQ pulled chicken, BLT, and hot ham and cheese. The BBQ chicken was aromatic, hot, delicious and just saucy enough, served with a fresh side salad. The tuna sandwich on toasted rye with lettuce and tomato was a perfect light lunch with a side of pasta salad, which was different than most, but was good and tasted like bell peppers. The hot ham and cheese on rye was grilled perfectly. The fresh wedge salad was topped with nice, crisp bacon and delicious creamy blue cheese dressing, and the potato salad was flavorful and fresh. The sweet tea and lemonade were refreshing and great add-ons to the meals.

It was easy to tell which items were homemade, which always makes food even better.

Ellen’s Café on 3rd

110 S. 3rd St. Leesburg

352.630.1313

Hours: M-F 10:30am-3pm, closed on weekends

facebook.com/ellenscafeon3rd

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