When a friend invited me to lunch at Tela’s Market and Café, a new-ish place in her Fairmount neighborhood, I gratefully accepted. She described our destination as a “cute all-day-café cum market.” I was intrigued.
Tela’s bills itself as a fresh and prepared food market, stocked with high-quality local foods from the region’s most-trusted farmers, growers and fishermen, and they place a premium on their position as a neighborhood gathering place.
I arrived to a bustling café filled with folks from all walks of life — businesspeople, parents with kids, seniors and everything in between. I immediately determined that the description was spot on.
Tela’s occupies a bright, busy corner at 19th Street and Fairmount Avenue. The left side of the space is filled with tables, some long and communal, as well as some two- and four-tops. The ceiling is draped with festive lights, and the vibe is relaxed and welcoming. Diners order at a front counter, whether it be coffee and pastry, takeout or eat-in.
We each enjoyed a generous bowl of the soup of the day — in our case, vegetable; the steaming bowl of tomato broth chock-full of fresh veggies was perfect on a chilly March day.
We then split the generous grilled tuna salad; the sesame-coated rare tuna was served sliced atop a bed of greens, tossed with edamame, cherry tomato, cucumber, onion and cilantro, and lightly dressed with a soy-mustard dressing. Both the soup and the salad were well seasoned, obviously fresh and of high quality.
As an all-day café, Tela’s offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. The breakfast menu spans the traditional: Eggs, bagels, lox, a breakfast burrito, omelets, pancakes, granola and oatmeal offer something for every palate. Lunch delivers an array of sandwiches, salads and kid-friendly items (PB&J, chicken fingers, mac and cheese and grilled cheese sandwiches). The dinner menu is vegetarian heavy, with some fish, a chicken and a poke bowl.
Prices are on the upper end of moderate, but for the quality and selection seemed fair. Breakfast prices range from oatmeal at $6.95 to a $10.95 omelet. Lunch items start at a $7.95 for a plain Caesar salad to the $16.95 salad. Dinner items start at $9.95 for ratatouille bowl and top out at $14.95 for BBQ salmon.
The market side was intriguing and beautifully presented. The center of the space contained a large refrigerated case filled with appealing prepared dishes. The perimeter housed grocery shelves with an eye-popping array of top-quality basics and unique nonperishables and beautifully arrayed produce bins and baskets.
Prices were on the upper end, but that was to be expected in this boutique-type setting with the high-end items offered. In the rear of the shop, visitors can find a fishmonger and butcher offering a small selection of fresh fish and meats. The bright red tuna steak caught my eye, and given that I had enjoyed it for lunch, the inventory confirmed my assessment of extreme freshness.
Tela’s provides home and business catering service, and also can be used as an after-hours event space.
If you go:
Tela’s Market and Café
1833 Fairmount Ave.
Open Monday-Friday 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.