Where Italian Street Eats are an Everyday Affair
Warm, welcoming offerings like panini, espresso and a revolving door of desserts are served in casual style at Strada Caffe in Tyler.
Photo by Eli Acuna
Strada Caffè — which means “coffee street” in Italian — is where you come for the coffee, but stay for breakfast or lunch.
This small, cozy eatery in Tyler is open every day of the week — until 4 p.m. on weekdays, 8 p.m. on Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays.
When you walk inside, the home-like decor is welcoming, as are the chalkboard menu and art on the walls. Although the same food isn’t available every day, the daily specials are delicious and have great “plate appeal.”
The breakfast menu is well-rounded with options like croissants, oatmeal, quiche, and fruit. The local favorite is the Belgian waffle. Served on weekends, it comes with a side of fresh strawberries and whipping cream, and is lightly dusted with Belgian pearl sugar so it doesn’t even require maple syrup.
Bakery menu items at the espresso cafe differ daily too and range from carrot cake and tiramisu to cinnamon rolls and scones. Strada’s specialties include the Tarta de Santiago, an almond cake from Galicia, Spain, which is gluten- and dairy-free.
During a recent trip to Strada, I decided to order a Vegetarian Panino and a soy chai latte. The young man at the register assured me that the panino (singular for panini) is one of the restaurant’s most popular choices. In addition to the vegetarian option, customers may choose from the ever-popular chicken pesto panino, ham and turkey, or special panino of the day. Specials may range from a turkey/bacon/avocado combo to a Yucatan version — containing pulled pork marinated in citrus juices and served on a rustic baguette.
Strada also offers soups, and salads. The chicken salad sandwich is another popular pick, along with the Caprese and Mediterranean salads.
After ordering, you can sit at a bar, table, or a long booth. As we waited, I passed the time using the free wi-fi. The food is cooked fresh so it may take a bit of time, but once your plate heads your way, you won’t be disappointed.
The bread at Strada is warm, soft, and has just the right texture. A filling of spinach leaves, feta cheese, and roasted bell peppers on ciabatta and tomatoes is particularly savory, and Strada’s sandwich plates come with a side of perfectly salted chips or a soup of the day. Service is great; the staff is friendly and when prompted, provide suggestions. They even allow you to customize your plate; if you want something off menu, all you have to do is ask.
Customers order and pay at the front, then seat themselves. Located near the register is a bakery case where an abundance of freshly baked goods such as pies and cookies are available.
As a cafe, Strada offers a myriad of caffeinated options. Along with standard tea flavors, you can order lattes, cappuccinos, straight coffee, and several other classics. Some people really love the laid-back coffee table setup, where patrons have everything from honey to raw or regular sugar, along with creamer and milk and non-calorie sweeteners to prepare their coffees.
The soy chai latte is smooth and subtly sweet. Faint notes of the strong coffee beans mesh well with cinnamon chai flavor, and the soy milk adds a touch of vanilla. It doesn’t taste strong, but definitely has enough caffeine to perk up your day.
Other drink options include smoothies, juices, and Italian or Mexican sodas. One smoothie, called the Good Kind of Fat, blends avocado and vanilla bean ice cream together for an oddly delicious and satisfying treat.
Like most cafes, Strada offers cookies and pie for dessert. A stand out is the affogato, a dessert that consists of a scoop of either vanilla or chocolate ice cream drenched in a shot of espresso.
Strada is one of my favorite places to visit when I come to Tyler. The outdoor patio is a great option when weather permits. It is located at 302 E. Front Street. Call 903.944.7744 or visit stradacaffe.com to learn more.