Ella’s Deli & Ice Cream Parlor in Madison, Wisconsin

Ella's Deli & Ice Cream Parlor

Ella’s Deli & Ice Cream Parlor in Madison, Wisconsin is probably the most kid-friendly restaurant in Dane County. It’s location at 2902 East Washington Ave makes it easy to find and you can’t miss it—the only circus themed building with a giant, functional, carousel one the entire isthmus.

Kosher Deli

Ella’s is a hard place to describe. Basically, the interior is like dining inside a Dr. Seuss book. A giant banana greets you at the door and many of the tables feature collections of, say, matchbox cars have interactive games for you to play (our favorite is the Wooly Willy booth with the metal shavings and magnetic wands).

Plaster of Paris cartoon characters fly overhead, crisscrossing and circling the dining room. A large ferris wheel circles in the window display near the kosher deli, where you can order meat or to-go containers of matzo ball soup.

Ella's Carousel

Various interactive “things” are scattered around the dining room. We used to bring a dime to ride the  mechanical pony near the rest rooms, but haven’t seen it in a while. Near the cash register is a medium-size selection of toys and candy; you can also purchase outdoor carousel tickets here as well.

Ella's Ceiling

If you come to Ella’s on your child’s birthday, they will receive a scoop of ice cream, a helium balloon tied to button candy, and a free ride on the carousel (or a coupon for a free ride when the winter season is over).


Even the menu is overwhelming; it’s more like a small book with various sections including an extensive kid’s menu with choices ranging from Kid’s Kugel, to Sloppy Joe’s, to Fish and Fries. If you have a baby or toddler just eating finger food, try the “Very Little of Each” meal (apple sauce, yogurt, mandarin oranges, turkey, cheese, crackers, jelly, peas, and carrots for $1.95).

Ella's Candy Counter

Kids eat free on Monday and Tuesday nights and lunch specials include $5 meals. Check the website for hours, special events, and promotions like the coupon books that come out in November and December. We’ve never had to wait too long for a table at Ella’s, but if your party is over eight people or more, you might want to call ahead.

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About the Author

Julie Henning
Julie Henning is a freelance writer and journalist based out of Eugene, Oregon. She is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers and owner of the family-travel website RoadTripsForFamilies.com. She is a recent past member of the Midwest Travel Writers Association and the Association for Great Lakes Outdoor Writers. Julie is the Oregon Coast destination specialist for Bindu Media, an itinerary-focused website launching in Spring 2016 and featuring the work of 200+ professional, indie travel writers. Julie has been published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Wisconsin State Journal, The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Illinois), the Rochester Post Bulletin, Wisconsin Natural Resources (DNR) Magazine, Sustainable Chicago Magazine, Group Tour Magazine, Student Group Tour Magazine, Silent Sports Magazine, Intercom Magazine, Roadtrippers.com, and FTF Geocacher Magazine. Julie has appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio, Ohio Public Radio, and KCBX FM Central Coast Radio and is an affiliate producer with the Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, a National Public Radio travel podcast. She has blogged for TravelWisconsin.com, Travel Oregon, and VISIT Milwaukee. Julie travels with her three kids and black lab as much as possible and lives by the motto, "Not all who wander are lost." Check out some of her best work at www.juliehenning.com.