Written & Photographed by Barbara King
Looking for a new fresh, funky breakfast place that exudes an urban, modern vibe? Look no further than Strada Caffè, east of downtown, at the corner of Front St. and Fannin St., not far from the heart of everything Tyler.
Open since May, the café incorporates all the elements of a great breakfast and lunch experience: super atmosphere, variety and selection, service with a smile, and fresh, very fresh food. Owners Tavo Tellez and Heather Alderman bring years of experience in the restaurant business to this unique bistro with exotic influences.
“We want our guests to come and stay and have a welcoming experience,” said Tellez. The pastry case up front and center displays the most incredible, always made-from-scratch wonders. The Tarta de Santiago is a prime example of the care that goes into everything you’ll taste at the Caffé. “The Tarta is modeled after a recipe my mother made every day in Mexico,” explained Tellez. “It is the traditional coffee cake in my country, and my mother made it for my family. We tweaked it a bit, and when we had our Grand Opening, she tasted it and said it was even better than when she makes it.” It’s a gluten-free treat that lots of folks enjoy with a latte or espresso.
Breakfast begins at 7am and there are many fresh options to choose from including breakfast croissants with eggs, bacon, cheese, spinach and tomato, breakfast veggie panino, quiche of the day, granola parfait, or oatmeal. Weekends feature the Belgian Waffle Bar, where you can watch your waffle be created just for you right in front of your eyes. Made-from-scratch with authentic Belgium pearl sugar and topped with your choice of berries – these are a no miss.
The caffé furniture and fixtures are a mix of modern and retro, with the original brick walls from the gas station mixed with jazzy art (from local artist Dacia Kidd among others) popping with bright colors and modern themes.
There is a great outdoor patio with long wood tables, “a tribute to a popular rooftop bar in Mexico City that I took my inspiration from,” said Tellez. The outside patio features large wooden chairs and tables and a plant wall that invites patrons to enjoy their meals and coffee and linger. Another great thing about the patio is that it is super family friendly. The area is completely enclosed by a child-proof fence that Tellez describes as “escape-proof.”
Soups and salads are made fresh daily and salads include Mediterranean, caprese, and chicken choices. Sandwiches are served with chips and include chicken salad, veggie panino, ham & turkey panino, grilled cheese, turkey, bacon, avocado, and chicken pesto panino.
Back to the desserts that are all made from scratch in-house, and include carrot cake, coconut cream pie, tiramisu, strada cookies, cranberry orange bread, banana walnut bread, veggie muffin, bran maple muffin, scones, cinnamon rolls, and affogato (ice cream and espresso).
It might be the coffee that brings you in and makes you stay. The Cuvée coffee featured at the café is roasted in Austin and is unique to Strada. The huge red espresso machine is the focal point of the eatery and hard to miss. The high-end La Marzocco machine “represents 33% of the entire equipment costs of the venture,” said Tellez. Every month a seasonal specialty blend is also offered. Specialty drinks include the brewed coffee in medium or dark roast, iced coffee, cappuccino, caffe latte, espresso, espresso macchiato, espresso cortado, café au lait, caffe breve, French press, kalita, steamer, red espresso, choco latte and chai latte. Hot teas (jasmine, shotty, English Breakfast, Golden Tip Assam, Apricot, Spring Dragon, Earl Grey, Star Spangled Herbal, Darjeeling) may hit the spot too.
Juices are made with a selection of 100% natural ingredients: Frida (Guava, Pineapple, Orange, and Honey), Tropical Lust (Pineapple, Strawberry, Orange, and Banana), Abundant-C (Papaya, Kiwi, Orange, and Honey), Liquid Gold (Apple, Carrot, Ginger, and Honey), and the American Green (Cucumber, Parsley, Lime, and Pineapple).
You can get a great Smoothie, including Bright Side (Greek Yogurt, Strawberry, and Banana), Athena (Greek Yogurt, Berry mix), Apollo (Greek Yogurt, Strawberry, and Pecans) and Health Nut (Greek Yogurt, Mamey, Pecan, and Flax Seed). You might want to try a handmade shake, like Launchpad (vanilla bean and espresso), Mocha Shake (chocolate and espresso), or a Good Kind of Fat (Avocado and Vanilla Bean).
Friends Amber McMillan, Keturah Walter, and Bekka Reid were enjoying coffee and quiche in an atmosphere they said was “out of the box and not like a cookie cutter chain.” They said that the caffé reminded them of “being in a big city like Dallas or Austin, especially with the neat elements of the original gas station being kept in the design.”
Co-owner Alderman said that “the dream was to create an environment where people felt like they could come and stay and have first class food and service with a downtown feel.” The eclectic feel and look of the café lend itself to being in another city or even another country.
Keith and Emilia Mueller of Flint were enjoying the outside patio with their daughter Ema. Originally from Romania, Emilia said that the “ambiance and European style is the closest she has felt to being back at home since she has been in Tyler.” She is a big espresso fan and was very impressed with the taste and presentation of the coffee. Keith commented on the outside seating and said they have been back a few times because of the unrushed, comfortable atmosphere.
The café also offers an outside drive-through, and Tellez recommends ordering ahead and picking up. He cautions that the food takes a bit longer to prepare because it is made to order and is homemade, so it’s different from the fast-food drive-through experience.
Visit with friends, meet with clients, or bring the family to Strada for great food and conversation.
The Strada Caffè is located at 302 E. Front St. at Fannin St. in Tyler, and is open daily (summer hours) from Monday-Friday 7am-4pm, Saturday 8am-8pm, and Sunday from 8am-2pm. Call (903)944-7744 for more info or to place a to-go order. Find them on Facebook.com/stradacaffe or www.stradacaffe.com.