Smile Politely

Elnora’s Catering brought the flavor at last night’s sold out pop up event

Last night, Elnora’s Catering & Cafe opened for their first pop up event in Baldarotta’s kitchen. Elnora’s slogan is “Our food is Slap Yo Mama Good,” and wow, was it good. 

In the Baldarotta's kitchen, Elnora's staff works the kitchen for a pop up event in Urbana. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

The pop up event was scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m., but they sold out sometime before the end of the event. I got there right before 5, and there was already a line to order. The menu was simple: fried rice and fried chicken. I ordered both.

Inside the Lincoln Square Mall in Urbana, patrons wait to order or receive their order from the pop up event by Elnora's Catering & Cafe. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

While I waited for my order, the line continued to grow as more and more people showed up (masked and distanced) to get some of Elnora’s food. The kitchen was busy, and staff were moving quickly to get orders out.

Jordan Baldarotta assists with Elnora's Catering & Cafe pop up event at Baldarotta's kitchen in the Lincoln Square Mall. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Hosted at Baldarotta’s restaurant, Elnora’s Catering & Cafe took over the kitchen, front of house, and seating area for the night. Baldarotta’s didn’t just offer up their kitchen; the owners were there helping the Elnora’s team with the event. I saw Jordan Baldarotta helping call tickets to the kitchen and Paris Baldarotta assisting at the register. Now that’s community; that’s businesses supporting other businesses.

Five small chicken wings, breaded and golden brown, lay on a white plate. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Okay, the food. The pop up event offered five pieces for $5, and that’s what I ordered. Someone ordered 25 wings while I was waiting, so clearly, this chicken was available in increments of five. My order of five fried chicken, three drums and two flats, was packaged nicely, and the wings were still warm when I got home to dig in.

The golden batter was thick: crunchy and crispy. The breading had a homemade feel to it, just like my grandmother’s breading but — dare I say — better. The little chicken wings had a big crunch and were well-seasoned.

Fried rice from Elnora's Catering & Cafe features dark brown rice with green onion, white onion, green bell pepper, and chicken slices. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

This rice, readers. This rice was too good for me to share with my husband. Sold at $10 for a small and $15 for a large, this fried rice wasn’t Asian-style fried rice. With big and small chunks of chicken, this rice was peppered with sliced green onion, chopped white onion, and tender-crisp diced green bell peppers. The rice was fragrant, savory, and packed with flavor. The flavors reminded me of jambalaya, a Louisiana flavor profile. It was so good that I regret not ordering the large.

According to their Facebook page, Elnora’s Catering & Cafe has been around since 2014. The flavors behind the food are worth a try if you can get some while the food lasts. I asked when the next pop up event is, and they said hopefully next month on March 21st.

Follow Elnora’s Catering & Cafe on Facebook for updates.

Top image by Alyssa Buckley.

Food + Drink Editor

Related Articles