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Featured Review
Columbia Restaurant
This is one of the many rooms at this restaurant; it's brighter and more open than some of the others. 8.33 Florida ratingStar
Columbia Restaurant guyonthego

Columbia Restaurant is a historic Spanish restaurant in the Ybor City part of Tampa. Established in 1905, the restaurant notes that it is the oldest restaurant in Florida as well as the largest Spanish restaurant in the world. There are 8 locations in Florida but Ybor City is the largest and most impressive and the only location with Flamenco dancing shows. Columbia's extensive menu includes a number of specialty wines as well as salads, soups, tapas, seafood and steaks. Prices are above average. Some food is prepared tableside.

The restaurant was started by a Cuban émigré, Casimiro Hernandez Sr. At the time, Ybor City was a major cigar manufacturing area. Fourth and fifth generation descendants of Hernandez now manage the restaurant. The Ybor City location is enormous, a full city block, and has a variety of dining rooms with varying sizes and styles. There also is a gift shop and cigar making demonstrations. The tables have real table cloths and the servers dress more formally.

The extensive menu made ordering challenging. Lunch consisted of black bean cakes, paella (rice with vegetables) and bread pudding. All were winners taste-wise. The black bean cakes were best with a crunchier exterior and fluffy interior. A rich bean taste was made even better with guacamole and sour cream dips. The paella portion was large enough for leftovers. It was a light dish but still appetizing with a hint of olive oil and an ample mix of vegetables and yellow rice. The bread pudding looked like French toast. Its chocolate caramel taste will appeal to chocolate lovers but may be a bit too sweet for others. Service was attentive and helpful. As the restaurant is quite popular, a wait of up to 1.5 hours for lunch and dinner is possible. Reservations are accepted though and are a good choice, especially for larger groups. Columbia is a Tampa institution and one of those places that everyone should try at least once, but it’s definitely good enough to go back.
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