Ella’s Deli

For the past three years, my sister has been living in Madison, Wisconsin.  It’s a pleasant four hour drive from where I live in St. Paul and I have visited her more than a dozen times.  On the way to her house, while driving though Madison, I pass a slightly creepy looking building which appears circus-like called ‘Ella’s Deli.’

This weekend I visited her and we decided to check the place out…thoroughly.  I had been there once before, for a bowl of ice cream.  I was intrigued at the decor and wanted to return and fully exploit the place through the magic of my camera.

Ella’s is decorated in mechanical…everything.  There are flying characters as old as Betty Boop  and as recent as Harry Potter, though most decor is pretty old.   The food is not really unique, but somewhat dated if you take into account that rarely do people eat beef tongue sandwiches in the twenty-first century.  The one insane I-Must-Try-This!!! item was the deep fried dill pickles.


They were actually amazing.  State Fair type food during our seemingly endless winter in the Midwest was great.   That’s all I am going to say about the food, it just is not a foodies place.  It is a visual place.

When you walk into the restaurant, you are overwhelmed with the amount of crap buzzing by your head.  It’s loud.  It made me wonder how anyone could hold down a job at this establishment without developing a severe twitch from the commotion.  After a few mintues, I set out with my camera and clicked a few pictures of some of the table tops, which are all shadow boxes with different themes.  We sat at the ocean table, kind boring.


Also, there was a gum table


A soda table.


A pez table


A marienette table that will continue to create nighmares for me until I make a trip back and smash their creepy faces.

creepy dolls

I then took pictures of the “stuff”…the moving sets of people, feet, and animals singing and dancing.  Yeah, I said feet.


Here’s a video of the band, who played no music just moved around really bizarrely.  Notice the guy in the back needs to ‘go’ real bad.  (and turn down your sound, the background buzz is kinda annoying)

And finally. The Juggling clowns!  This was a little machine you stuck your eyes up to, then pushed a button that would create the illusion that bald clowns were juggling bowling pins.  The thing was a million years old and just ends up looking frightening.

I imagine if you were the type to drop acid, you would wish to be here or stay far away during your trip.  Don’t know for sure I’ve never tried the stuff.

***Informal Poll***

If you have done LSD, would this place be too much or just right?  Discuss.

About kristiane

killing spiders with my laser eyes.
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12 Responses to Ella’s Deli

  1. Stephanie says:

    You had me at “Deep Fried Pickles”.

    No wait! “Dancing Feet”. Feet get me every time.

  2. Sarah says:

    How could you not think the food was spectacular? The menu is 12 pages long. There are some great things on that list, like matza ball soup, French toast, and well the pickles were amazing:)

    It is such a great madtown establishment. I’m happy you blogged about it. I think I may go back one last time for the pickles!

  3. stephanie says:

    wow. i am amazed that something as crazy as that restaurant can survive today. i have never done lsd. having said that, im already too scared to go there. you did a fabulous job of reviewing it and i will remember if i want to avoid nightmares for the rest of my life, i must keep on driving.

    but those pickles could be yummy!

  4. Guise says:

    That’s amazong and I so want to go there, I never imagined Wisconsin would have something that, well, freaked out. I can only think the tripping on LSD while sat in there would be enough mindbending to tear the fabric of space.

    Also, I need someone to tell me that I’m not the only person to think the band member had a special someone hidden inside the drum, and that was the reason for that movement.

  5. Amy says:

    You’ve really brought out the dark side of Ella’s Deli. I just remember it as a place to get ice cream, and the carousel was never working.

    Chris, you’ve clearly never heard of Wisconsin Dells. Plenty of creepy there to last a lifetime, not all of it intended. Maybe when you fly to Cali your plane will get diverted.

  6. I concur with Stephanie. I’d like to try those pickles.

    Only in the Midwest will you find those Feet Head Things…

  7. dailytri says:

    I’ve got a 20 pound sledge hammer for those damn marienettes.

  8. kristiane says:

    Sarah- The menu was fine, but there was honestly nothing unique….with the exception of the pickles.

    Amy- apparently the carousel only works whe it’s warm outside…so like three days a year.

    dt- thanks

  9. DJ D says:

    I don’t care for the marionettes at all. Not. At. All.

    Also, I need someone to tell me that I’m not the only person to think the band member had a special someone hidden inside the drum, and that was the reason for that movement.


  10. Greg says:

    Just leave it to you to find unique, quirky, interesting places (or things).

  11. Greg says:

    The creepiest thing I see here is that “drummer”.

  12. Will says:

    Those feet will haunt my dreams tonight.

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