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“Nice place, good food”

Columbia Restaurant Airport Cafe
Ranked #136 of 2,399 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.
Miami, Florida
Level Contributor
63 reviews
27 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
“Nice place, good food”
Reviewed April 30, 2013

We loved visiting the restaurant as well as the store on its corner. The food was delicoius so the wait was worth it.

Visited March 2013
Thank lightandfit
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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221 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Any
English first
Monrovia, California
Level Contributor
402 reviews
234 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 310 helpful votes
“Columbia - a welcome find at TPA”
Reviewed April 21, 2013

We are big fans of the Columbia Restaurant. We go nearly every year to the restaurant in Sarasota when we visit family, and last year, had lunch at the Ybor City (Tampa) restaurant which is Florida's oldest restaurant.

So as we headed to the airport for home this time, we lamented no Columbia visit.

As we headed to the Delta Sky Lounge, however, we stopped in our tracks. A new Columbia Cafe at Delta International Airport opened since our last visit!

We ordered a half and half combo - one bowl of soup - either the equally famous Spanish Bean Soup or the Vegetarian Black Bean Soup and the famous 1905 Salad, ( a choice of two between the soup, salad and a half Cuban Sandwich are offered.

We both had the half and half combo. Spanish Bean soup (garbanzos, ham, chorizo sausage, potatoes in a ham and chicken stock seasoned with saffron, garlic and onions) and the 1905 salad (local beefsteak tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, julienne of ham & swiss cheese, Romano cheese, Spanish olives and a garlic dressing with a splash of Lee and Perrin's Worcestershire Sauce) $10.95

We also ordered the wonderful Cuban bread - made by the same Tampa family bakery for 90 years. It's a papery crusted baguette, that shatters upon breaking. A palm frond makes the indented trench in the upper crust before baking. My piece had the piece of baked palm rib still imbedded. (I read this on the menu, a new fact for me) Crispy crust, soft in the middle. It's fabulous, complimentary, but you can order a loaf to take home for $2.15.

We also ordered the Mojito pitcher for $28.95, glass for $9.85. Made tableside with Don Casimero Classic Silver Rum (named for restaurant founder Casimero Fernandez, Sr. who immigrated to Tampa's Ybor city in 1905) Made with lime juice, Cuban sparkling water (out of simple syrup), limes and rum, and served with apiece of sugar cane.

There are lots of other things on the menu, but I always order the soup and salad anyway, and it fit the bill before a transcontinental flight home.

  • Visited April 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
1 Thank astrojane
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dutchess County NY USA
Level Contributor
56 reviews
45 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“Worth visiting for the history, disappointing food”
Reviewed April 20, 2013

A second trip to this historic restaurant in Ybor City. It's worth a visit to feel some vestiges of old Tampa. But the food (though sounds great on the menu) is just average. It's such a huge place that I guess the assembly-line quality is unavoidable. Our wait staff was quite friendly and helpful in general. However, we had a vegan among us who discovered ham in his 'vegetarian' paella. A manager came over, and though he did the right thing with the check, had a condescending attitude.

  • Visited April 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank HudsonValleyNY
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, April 25, 2013
Thank you for taking the time to let us know about your visit. We are sorry that you did not enjoy your meal, and apologize for the mistake with your friend's paella. I just want to note that your review is actually for our Columbia in Ybor City, Florida’s oldest restaurant, and not for our Columbia Restaurant Café at Tampa International Airport, as we do not offer paella at our airport location.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, Ontario
Level Contributor
86 reviews
42 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
“Fun despite a delay!”
Reviewed April 16, 2013

We had a 3 hour flight delay recently at Tampa Airport, and we were lucky to be leaving from a gate right next to the Columbia Cafe.
Our food was good, 2 of us had pork sandwiches and 2 had chicken sandwiches with sides of garlic plantain chips. Very interesting food, and although we weren't blown away by the food, it was certainly good by airport standards, and we had no complaints.
Our server, Kaile, was a hoot. She was funny, attentive (despite being busy) and had some great recommendations about the menu. Despite being delayed for 3 hours, she made our time pass quickly!!
We would definitely recommend stopping in at the Columbia Cafe if you find yourself at Tampa Airport.

  • Visited April 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Percivas
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Woodstock, Canada
Level Contributor
66 reviews
32 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
“Uncommonly good for airport dining”
Reviewed April 15, 2013

I love the Tampa International Airport. Now I have another reason to look forward to going through it. Columbia Restaurant Cafe is an uncommon gem in a world of terrible high priced airport food options.

Going against the philosophy that a captive audience gets just enough, the Columbia provides an incredible Cuban focused menu at good prices (for an airport) in an atmosphere that encourages enjoyment by providing an oasis in the stress and chaos of modern air travel.

I had the chicken empenadas, marinated olives and a couple of beers. All were excellent and came quickly served by Natalie with a smile and good humor - when was the last time you saw that in an airport?

My only complaint? No Key Lime Pie. I was really looking forward to it.

  • Visited April 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Ken M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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