Crepes are not an item that I go out of my way to find. I do not gush over them. That’s not to say that I have a particular dislike for them, I’ve just never been very impressed by them… until now.
MG & I were wandering about Tampa’s historic Ybor City. There are a number of clubs, cafes, and restaurants that line the streets. There was a little place that caught my eye. I’m not sure what the attracting quality was, maybe it was the little fellow in the window. Garbed in full chef’s regalia, he looked like a caricature of the hard-bitten, determined, and stubborn artisan. Well… as it turned out, he made our crepes.
La Creperia Cafe is quaint. There is a large espresso machine sitting behind the counter. In the refrigerator are the requisite juices and sodas, but there is also another fridge dedicated to wines and other alcohols. It is small and pleasant. Enough about the ambiance, on to the crepes.
There are at least 30 sweet crepes listed on their menu. It takes up an entire page. Savory Crepes take up another page with another 20 or so items. There are another 10 or so Breakfast Crepes. The menu is rounded out with sandwiches, panini, pasta, soups, and so forth. However, MG & I were looking for a little something sweet. Their sweet listings cover all sorts of permutations that include fruit, Nutella, Baileys, bananas, strawberries, and the like. Everything can be customized to your liking by adding jam, coconut, Grand Marnier, and more. We went with one of their standard offerings, the Ana Lucia ($8.50). It contains Dolce de Leche and strawberries. The final product was topped with powdered sugar and whipped cream.
This is worlds apart from the crepes vendors that are always found in New York City street fairs during the summer. This was incredible.
First, the fillings. The inside was loaded with fresh strawberry slices, and when I say “loaded”, I truly mean LOADED. There was not so much to overwhelm the pastry (which we will get to shortly), but they certainly did not skimp. The Dolce de Leche was also generously applied. It was not cloying sweet, but was like the most perfect caramel I’ve ever tasted. It went so well with the strawberries, I wondered why other dishes have not utilized this combination. Strawberry and Dolce de Leche ice cream. Dolce de Leche and strawberry jam. The list is endless.
Second, the pastry. Many crepes that I’ve had in the past have been one little pancake of pastry rolled to create a “crepe in a blanket”. Not so at La Creperia Cafe. The little triangle was the result of numerous folds, but the pastry was not heavy at all. It was superb. There was enough substance to create a filling desert, but little enough to not become a huge meal unto itself. The flavor? It was the best balance of sweet and bready that I can recall having in a long, LONG time.
Finally, the whipped cream. It was pretty good. Not heavy, not sickeningly sweet, not too creamy, it was like a sweet, buttery cloud. By the way: I HATE WHIPPED CREAM! Maybe if I had this stuff instead of Cool Whip first, my opinion on the food would be different.
As you can see, MG & I plowed through this dish sighing and groaning with each forkful. Any visit to Ybor City, or anywhere near the area should include a stop at La Creperia Cafe.
La Creperia Cafe
1729 East Seventh Avenue
Tampa, FL 33605