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“Can an airport restaurant be this good?”

Columbia Restaurant Airport Cafe
Ranked #128 of 2,405 Restaurants in Tampa
Price range: $10 - $20
Cuisines: Spanish
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Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Description: Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served daily, offering family recipes that have made the Columbia famous for over a century, like the Original Tampa Cuban Sandwich (proclaimed by Tampa's City Council as the City's "Signature Sandwich"), steaming hot bowls of Spanish Bean Soup and Cuban Black Bean Soup, and the too good to miss, Original "1905" Salad(R), named "One of the 10 Best Salads to Make a Meal Out Of" by USA Today. Other menu favorites include Miranda's Ybor City Devil Crab Croquettes, Chicken and Yellow Rice "Ybor" and Picadillo "Criollo." Breakfast choices include Eggs Malaguena, Tortilla Espanola, Torreja's and the Ybor City standard breakfast of Cafe con Leche and Cuban toast. The original Columbia Restaurant was founded in Tampa's Historic Ybor City in 1905 by Cuban immigrant Casimiro Hernandez, Sr. It began as a 60-seat corner cafe known for its Cuban coffee and authentic Cuban sandwiches, frequented by the local cigar workers. Today The Columbia is Florida's Oldest RestaurantSM. Inside the Columbia Restaurant Cafe at Tampa International Airport, customers can dine at a scaled version of the original Brunswick bar, built over a century ago at Columbia Ybor City. A full bar is available. Serving Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner daily. Please see our website for the most current menu.
bloomington, MN
Level 4 Contributor
44 reviews
31 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
“Can an airport restaurant be this good?”
Reviewed March 15, 2013

The Columbia has a well-deserved reputation in the original Tampa restaurant the family opened a century ago and the few Florida restaurants they have gradually added. When I first saw the TPA restaurant I assumed --- incorrectly --- that they had scaled down their quality in order to operate in an airport. I was sure wrong. I'm not sure the menu as quite as extensive as the other restaurants, but the food is every bit as good. My suggestion: order the Spanish soup or the black bean soup and eat it hot at the airport restaurant. And order the 1905 signature salad "to go" and eat it on the plane. Not much more than $11 for both and a whole lot better than what airlines serve these days even if you are lucky enough to be upgraded to first class.

  • Visited March 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
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Thank randybloomington_MN
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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223 reviews from our community

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English first
Richmond, Virginia
Level 6 Contributor
253 reviews
179 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 77 helpful votes
“What is a nice place like this doing in an airport?”
Reviewed March 8, 2013

I am regularly disappointed by airport food, even in places that try to pass themselves off as decent restaurants. In most cases, they are half-hearted off shoots of an established place. They capitalize on someone else's hard earned reputation and overcharge for the privilege of eating there. Columbia fits none of these criteria.

I can't say I know a thing about South American food. But I know what I like, and this was it. I came in for breakfast, and ventured into something called Eggs Malaguena. Two poached eggs with vegetables, chorizo, ham and a spicy sauce. All served VERY hot. My only complaint was running out of toast while there was still a bit of sauce to extract from the bowl.

My server Julie was a lot of fun. I fear I don't fly through Tampa often. But if I do make it back, I know where I am eating.

  • Visited March 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
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    • Food
Thank slovaktoo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Berkley, Michigan
Level 6 Contributor
146 reviews
94 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 84 helpful votes
“Best airport food ever”
Reviewed February 23, 2013

I was delighted to find the Columbia had taken over this restaurant space in the Tampa International Airport. My husband and I wanted breakfast before boarding out flight, and I was so happy to finish out our vacation with Cuban food. (Note to a recent reviewer: they serve Cuban, not Columbian food!) Our trip to Tampa was too short to try the Columbia in Ybor City, so I was curious to see if this location would live up to the reputation of the original location.
I had the Cuban breakfast of cafe con leche and toasted Cuban bread, and my husband had the breakfast sandwich. While he is not a fan of Cuban bread, he declared his meal an "8 out of 10," high praise from him. My observation is that the scrambled eggs in the sandwich were fluffy and fresh, and it looked delicious. My breakfast was perfect.
The menu had lots of choices, even for breakfast. The service was spotty, but the servers were all friendly and helpful, so we were able to get what we needed.

  • Visited February 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank susanw452
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
6 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Great Food and Service”
Reviewed February 20, 2013

Authentic Cuban food served with a smile. The bread was out of this world. We had Ropa Vieja, Fish and Chicken. All were served with rice and beans and platanos. The salad was tremendous. Choose the house salad (has a number in the name) and you will be delighted.

Visited February 2013
Thank Brayjoe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Estevan, Canada
Level 5 Contributor
79 reviews
48 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
Reviewed February 18, 2013 via mobile

This was my first time trying Colombian food and I was not impressed. The waitress even recommended the dishes seeing as we'd never had Colombian food. She was also very pushy with the extras..

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank MrsPacker54
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
guestservices1905, Public Relations Manager at Columbia Restaurant Airport Cafe, responded to this review, February 26, 2013
We are sorry to read that you did not enjoy your first visit with us. I just want to note that we are The Columbia, spelled differently than the country of Colombia. Our menu items are a blend of both of our family heritages, Spanish and Cuban -- showcasing many traditional foods as well as many items that are creations by each of the five generations who have owned and operated the Columbia since 1905.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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