OH ULELE…You Had Me At First BITE 🙂

Feb 6, 2015 | Reviews | 16 comments

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I just LOVE a good LOVE story, especially ones that simply makes you just go…AWWWW and OOOOHHH.   Don’t you?  What I LOVE even more are the ones that are actually based on a true story followed with some good ole history.  Well would you believe me if I told you that I had the pleasure of eating at a restaurant based off of OLD TRUE LOVE, A PRINCESS & HISTORY?  I kid you not.  Let me indulge you for a moment…

So how did Ulele get their name?  The history is quite remarkable.

In 1528 Ulele, the young daughter of local Tocabaga Chief Hirrihigua, pleaded and threw herself over 17-year-old Juan Ortiz as he was about to be roasted alive in revenge for the tribe’s previous hostile encounters with explorers.  Ortiz, a member of the Spanish Narvaez expedition, was spared.  Whether love or pity prompted Ulele’s actions we will never know.  But we prefer to believe it was love – just as we prefer to believe that all -too-similar Pocahontas-JohnSmith story 80 years later is based on this one.  AHHHHHHH!!!

What’s amazing about Ulele is that the ingredients you taste, have tasted or WILL be tasting are from the Florida waters and land that our Native Americans once lived, including young PRINCESS Ulele!!!  How cool is that?!?!?

Ulele (pronounce You-Lay-Lee)  is One of the Top 100 Restaurants in the U.S. – Open Table” , “One of the Best New Restaurants in Florida – Florida Trend”, “Best Overall Restaurant – Yelp Tampa Bay” AND recently landed the #7 spot for Top 50 Restaurants in Tampa Bay as scored by Laura Reily of the Tampa Bay Times. 

Do you want to see WHY this is?

IMG_7637 Welcome to Ulele!  Can we please pause and talk about these doors for a moment?  How cool do these look?  These are made local by Rustic Steel Creations. Behind these doors, you are about to experience LOVE at first BITE!

IMG_7623 Ulele invited me and the Tampa Bay Bloggers over for dinner and we got to try out their NO ORDINARY menu!  Just wait until you see what’s coming…

IMG_7627  Oh I was so looking forward to the @Uleletampa experience!  I love trying NEW places and NEW FOOD!!!

IMG_7628  This is a water bottle that’s over 100 years old from the Columbia!  What’s pretty awesome about this is… The Columbia Restaurant is Ulele’s sister company.  So look, we all already know how GOOD The Columbia, so you can ONLY imagine the goodness coming from Ulele, right?

IMG_7631 We got a pretty good treat as well.  The CMO, Michael Kilgore sharing Ulele’s story.  Did you know that Ulele was a former Water Works pumping station from 1903?  Think about that.

IMG_7645  Why go to the SEA, when the SEA can come to you?  Check out the SEA of oysters as an appetizer!  These guys are from the heart of the ocean in Louisiana, New Orleans!!!

IMG_7646 Next up was the Charbroiled oysters and these were DELISH!!! Oh my, the smell could have done me in, but I just settled for a couple 🙂

IMG_7658 OK, so if you haven’t paid any attention to anything I have said thus far, you have to look at these!  GATOR HUSHPUPPIES!!!  These were sooooo goood.  I don’t eat much alligator, but these were made up of so much yumminess!  Duck bacon…wait, what?! Duck bacon?, fresh corn, country ham and several sauces to your liking.  MUST, MUST TRY!

IMG_7652 So for all you veggie lovers out there, you will THANK ME later for this.  Here is a Squash Gratin.  You can order this as a side dish to any of your entree’s.  The veggies are roasted squash, zucchini, tomato and red onion with a Manchego crunchy crust on top!  I’m telling you, these absolutely MELT in your mouth!  Where are my seconds?

IMG_7667 Another vegetarian dish!  This had a unique taste and some great spices.  I loved how each dish that has been presented incorporates the Native American culture.  This dish is only served during lunch.  In this you will find some green beans, wild rice, carrots, squash, onions and a soy ginger flavoring.  I’m not much of a ginger fan, but the way it is flavored in this dish, makes me a FAN 🙂

Sooooo, I was trying to slow my roll at this point as there was MORE dishes to come, we hadn’t even hit the MAIN courses. UGH! I should have worn sweat pants…

IMG_7660 So this…

IMG_7661 Wait for it…

IMG_7663 Is this.. Filet Mignon!  For all you steak lovers out there, this is for YOU!!!  OMG.  The taste was unbelievable.  SO… do you see anything different in the white cheddar potatoes?  That my friends is REAL POPCORN!  Yeppers, I said it and you see it.  They actually grind popcorn up in the potatoes as well.  This is a staple to paying homage to our Native Americans!  I had never seen anything like this before and it actually tasted, well… FINGER POPPING GOOD 🙂

IMG_7692  So this is what made me fall in LOVE with Ulele!  This is the Ulele Burger and it is HEAVENLY.  Just looking at this picture makes my mouth water.  This burger is made up of char-grilled ground short rib, brisket and chuck!  Then it’s topped with house steak sauce, Wisconsin sharp cheddar, Portobello mushrooms, and my fav, fried leeks! The toasted buttery flavored brioche bun is tasty too. Gotta have this burger!

IMG_7671 Here is one for all you fish lovers!  The Florida Pompano.  This will absolutely MELT in your mouth.  It is pan-seared and cooked in a sun-dried tomato cream sauce.  Then layed on a bed of wild rice and topped with fried carrot ribbons!    The fried carrot ribbons were the bomb.com!

IMG_7693  Are you ready to get STEAK WASTED?!?  Are you up for a challenge?  Here you have what Ulele calls the “Kilo Porterhouse” steak.  It is 2.2lb’s and just rolls right off the bone!  I mean, I have never seen anything like it.  It tasted AMAZING!!!

IMG_7706 OK, so If I had it my way, I would ALWAYS have dessert first.  This was MY favorite of the night.  I totally would go back and gain 5LBs just to inhale this beaut!  NO JOKING!!!  I had never had duck bacon before, but it was AMAZING!  Here you have the candied duck bacon maple fried ice cream.  Say that 5 times lol.  This was covered in corn flakes and surrounded in a Knob Creek creme caramel sauce.  I tell ya what, Ulele, I believe you’re on to something with this delicacy!

IMG_7705   OOOOh, these ice creams were made all in-house and sooooo delish!  I think they should open up an ice cream shop, RIGHT NOW 🙂  Here, we got to devour ourselves in toasted coconut, which was my favorite, Valhrona chocolate, coffee, Ugandan vanilla bean, and Strawberry.

IMG_7686  I guess I didn’t really like my food?  What do you think?

IMG_7696 WHAT?!?! A horse in the middle of a restaurant? That’s right, this is just one of Ulele Art – “The Laughing Horse” by Peruvian Artist Victor Delfin. To check out this amazing statue and others, GET to making that reservation RIGHT NOW!! To help you, I’ve provided Ulele’s contact info below.

Ulele Reservations or 813-999-4952

1810 N. Highland Avenue, Tampa, FL 33602, In Tampa Heights

I hear Valentine’s Day is around the corner, so what are you doing?  Why not try out ULELE and experience the true meaning of FALLING in LOVE with food.  I guarantee you will with your FIRST BITE!  I mean, Ulele is a great LOVE story after all…

So tell me, did any of these dishes have your mouth watering?  Comment below on which one did!!!

The review is written by me on behalf of Ulele. The opinions in this post are all mine.


  1. mryjhnsn

    What a wonderful experience and love the story! And your pictures are making me so hungry!

    • noordinaryliz

      Oh It was AMAZING!!! I truly enjoyed every bite LOL. If you ever visit FL, make sure you have this on your TOP 5 places to eat at!! I promise, you won’t be disappointed 🙂

  2. Heather @ My Little HEA

    A princess story?! Love it! I also love all of the wonderful things I’ve been hearing about this place across the internet. That food looks so good (minus the oysters) and that ice cream!!! Stopping by #FridaySharefest from #TBB

  3. OutdoorsyDiva

    I have one thing to say Liz….ICE CREAM!!!! I can’t wait to get back.

  4. Tia

    This spread looks delish! It’s awesome you not only got a chance to eat but also learn the history of the restaurant and its operating company.

  5. savingcmncents

    I’ve never tried oysters, but Ulele makes them looks really good! Everything looks delicious!

  6. 3sonshaveiErinn S

    That fillet mignon looks like a little pit of heaven and popcorn? That’s awesome! Food looks great

  7. Stephanie Keeping

    That food does look amazing!!

  8. satrntgr

    How fun – looks like a great place!! I love the front doors on the building, those are some you would remember! 🙂

  9. Nichole C

    Everything was soooo good!!

    • noordinaryliz

      I know, right? I can’t wait to go again…and again 🙂

  10. Erin P

    So yummy! I bet you had a complete blast!

  11. Run DMT

    Great write-up and review! Was it such an amazing time?! I’m so glad you fell in love with Ulele and I love that you snapped a photo of our private party. <3

    • noordinaryliz

      Oh it was an awesome time!!! I truly enjoyed every bit 🙂 I love doing reviews on places such as these!!

  12. Lora

    So excited to be going back on Sunday!! 😀


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No Ordinary Liz is unique stories about my past in foster care, my awesome present life and hope for the future. I have lived a not so ordinary life so to speak and feel that I need to share these experiences with each of you. These stories will be funny, sad, inspirational, uncomfortable and motivational. Stop by and take a look around. And don’t forget to purchase my book! http://tinyurl.com/noordinaryliz

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