Located right off the Hillsborough River, Ulele offers dishes inspired by the fusion of Florida’s Native American culture including Ulele, a Native American princess. I ate at Ulele for the first time this summer and I was blown away by the food. My latest eating experience at Ulele was for a birthday dinner for my friend. And just like before, the food was incredible. I like to think of each dish as a visual gift to my eyes and a flavor-packed present to my taste buds. The mix of flavors from everything I ate made for an experience I still dream about!
Unlike your regular hush puppies, Ulele's Alligator Hush Puppies are on another level of awesome. They combine the alligator with ham and bacon plus jalapeño making them something that’s both savory and spicy. I’m not someone who eats spicy food all the time, but this was definitely tolerable for my palate.
The outer layer was crispy while hiding the soft, pillowy inside. The hush puppies arrived on top of a honey datil pepper sauce with a creamy, freshly ground horseradish aioli. The pepper sauce was tangy and sweet (I actually scooped some sauce on a spoon before dipping a piece of hush puppy), and tropical. There was no mistaking the amount of horseradish in the aioli either. Horseradish is a strong flavor and it was obvious that it was the star ingredient in the aioli.
For my entrée, I ordered the Juan’s Snapper. My favorite thing about this dish is the white truffle garlic spinach. When I make spinach for myself, it comes out super wilted and soggy. The spinach in this dish is #goals. No sogginess and wilted spinach whatsoever. When I bit into the spinach and it still retained some of its crispiness, I leaned over to my boyfriend Robert and told him I need to learn how to perfect my spinach cooking skills.
Ulele’s cast ironed seared snapper filet was seasoned to perfection. It’s not bland at all so there’s no need to reach for the salt or pepper. Even through the seasoning, I was still able to taste the fish. The meat was soft and broke easily when I used my fork to slice it.
It was also garnished with a small bushel of saffron and I appreciated the color it brought to the dish. At first, I was confused about whether or not the saffron was supposed to be eaten since I’m used to it being ground as seasoning. But on day two when I reheated the meal, I ate it and it wasn’t that bad.
I’m such a sucker when it comes to dessert. That’s the moment my inner little kid comes out and I’m trying to find the one thing on the menu that sounds the sweetest.Just from the description, the Guava Pie sounded like something my taste buds would enjoy immensely. I imagined myself back on the Caribbean islands I traveled visited over the summer on a cruise. Ulele's guava pie didn’t taste like the usual pie but its creamy, mousse-like texture felt like clouds on the tip of my tongue. A guava sauce topping enhanced the tropical flavor of the pie while guava pieces gave the sauce some texture. If I could, I’d put that sauce on any kind of pie I eat in the future. I’m definitely ordering this again the next time I’m at Ulele!
One of the highlights from that night was another diner coming over to our table and hanging out. Over a few glasses of wine, he cracked jokes with everyone at the birthday dinner. He didn’t want to leave even when his friends tried to get him to come back to his own party.
Between the food and the company, I’d relive this night all over again!
1810 N Highlands Ave.
Tampa, FL 33602