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“Gorgeous Historic Building, Great Food”

Columbia Restaurant
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Ranked #10 of 2,400 Restaurants in Tampa
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $15 - $40
Cuisines: Cuban, Spanish
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Business meetings, Local cuisine, Special occasions, Romantic, Large groups
Dining options: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Late Night, Delivery, Reservations
Dining style: Casual Dining
Neighborhood: Historic Ybor
Cross street: 21st street
Description: Open 365-days a year, including all holidays. Serving lunch and dinner daily. Reservations accepted. Children's menu available. In addition to award-winning Spanish/Cuban cuisine, Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City features Flamenco dance performances nightly, Monday - Saturday. There is no show on Sunday. The Café offers live jazz Tuesday through Saturday. The Hernandez Gonzmart family has been making restaurant history since 1905 when they opened their landmark Columbia Restaurant in Tampa's Historic Ybor City, which today is Florida's Oldest RestaurantSM. Today, 4th & 5th generation family members work hard to preserve the family's legacy that their great-grandfather Casimiro Hernandez, Sr. created over 112 years ago when he opened the Columbia as a corner café frequented by local cigar workers. Casual attire is fine, but we don't allow sleeveless shirts on men. Our guests enjoy many of the same century-old family recipes that have made the Columbia famous like Paella "a la Valenciana," Snapper "Alicante" Pompano en Papillot, The Original Cuban Sandwich, and Filet Mignon "Columbia". Don't miss Columbia's Original "1905" Salad(R), prepared tableside with our delicious, freshly-made dressing, a family recipe of fresh garlic, oregano, wine vinegar and Spanish extra virgin olive oil. Enjoy an ice cold pitcher of Sangria or Mojitos, or sample a fine Spanish wine like Montecillo or Campillo from our award-winning wine list.
Toms River, New Jersey
Level Contributor
419 reviews
371 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 146 helpful votes
“Gorgeous Historic Building, Great Food”
Reviewed March 3, 2014

Very popular place so reservations are a must. We started with an absolutely simple buy very delicious appetizer of chilled white asparagus, so good. Next we shared 2 tapas; the Mussels y Chorizo Andres & the Gambas Al Ajillo. Finally we shared the Pollo Asado. Everything was very tasty. I think the chorizo slices were too large and would have been much better if diced. The shrimp PERFECT. The chicken was moist and delicious. The service was excellent and they do table side preparation of sangria!

  • Visited February 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Sirena1234
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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4,319 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Greek first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Korean first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Turkish first
  • Any
English first
Tampa, Florida
Level Contributor
14 reviews
13 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“not so great”
Reviewed March 2, 2014

waited too long for service, food was cold and small portions. The server was very slow, it took for ever to get our meals.

  • Visited March 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Yanilia G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
guestservices1905, Public Relations Manager at Columbia Restaurant, responded to this review, March 4, 2014
We only have one chance to make a great first impression, and I am sorry to read that we did not do this on your visit. Thank you for leaving these examples of how we can do a better job. We will share them with our managers for continued training and improvement.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Clermont, Florida
Level Contributor
54 reviews
43 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Like eating in old Cuba, circa 1905!”
Reviewed March 2, 2014

The Columbia Restaurant has been in Ybor City, Tampa for more than 100 years. The walls are covered with beautiful hand painted tiles. You can either valet park or self park your car. Parking is limited in the area near the Columbia. We chose taxi, DC Limo services, inc., Dumesle was the drive. We rode with him 3 times that night each trip was the same price, $20. His limo was clean, comfortable and easily held our 4 and could have made it to 6 passengers. (Ask at your hotel for him.) You can text or call him and 10 to 15 minutes later he will be there to pick you up. Great service, nice young man. He will do his best for you.

Back to the Columbia, reservations are very important. Those waiting when we arrived had a 45 minute to an hour wait. Ten minutes after we arrived we were seated. Dress is tourist, not shorts and T-shirt! Service is not in a hurry, fresh hot. Hot Cuban bread was served while checking out the menu. You'll have plenty of time to check out the Cuban choices. Ask the server for specials.
There are three types of Sangria, domestic, white and red ("Sangre De Toro Sangria"). For $21 the pitcher serves 6 to 7 glasses. The red was very good.
The dinner salad (the "Columbia Original'1905'Salad", small) easily serves two, for $4.95. It's made at the table before it is served. Excellent.
Our meals consisted of Grouper Osceola ($28), a dinner special. It was served with black beans and rice, yuca and platanos. Was very good. Roast pork "A la Cubana", very large order of pork, so tender a knife was not needed. It also was served with blank beans and rice, yuca and platanos. ($21). Shrimp & Crabmeat Alcachofas,($26) baked shrimp,crabmeat and artichoke hearts topped with Romano cheese. Plenty of large shrimp stuffed with the crabmeat and artichoke.
Finally a Filet Mignon Chacho served with yuca . The steak was served medium rare. The server served it with a flaming 1/2 oz of bourbon. Impressive display!
For desert we had a Flan($6).and a very large order of Bread Pudding($9). The deserts were easily shared. The dinners were fantastic.
Starting at 8 o'clock a band entertains the diners.
Note: There is a tango program available, ask about it when you make reservations.

The Historic District of Ybor City,
2117 E. 7th Ave. Tampa. (813-248-4961)
(www.columbiarestaurant.com)

  • Visited March 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Baysinj42
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Orlando, Florida
Level Contributor
77 reviews
39 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 38 helpful votes
“Beauty and Deliciousness”
Reviewed March 2, 2014 via mobile

We visited Tampa for a show at the Straz performing Arts center m before the show we visited the restaurant. If we didn't already have plans we would have stayed for the flamenco dancing.
The dress code is casual but it felt like a place I wanted to dress up nice for. Most people were dressed smartly, not a lot of shorts and t shirts. Which was nice.

This restaurant is a historic landmark. The walks are tiled in old florida style. There are news clippings and plaques detailing the history of this place.

The food was excellent. We all started with the salad. One of the best I've had. It was a nice touch that it was prepared table side. The Sangria was refreshing and also mixed table side.
I had the Chacho. A filet served flambĕ with a shot of house bourbon. It was served perfectly rare. Juicy and satisfying
My wife had the Grouper Osceola. It was light and refreshing.
My father had the roast pork served the traditional Cuban way. Tender and juicy.
My mother had the crab stuffed shrimp"Jesse Gonzalez". It can be said that they were over stuffed.

For dessert we shared the flan and bread pudding. For me the bread pudding took center stage for me. It was a generous portion and perfectly blended together.

All in all this restaurant is experience with having. Between the beautiful decoration and Delicious food, It was a perfect dinner. I felt transported to Havana and dined on it's rich history.

I highly recommend this experience.

Helpful?
Thank Baysinger
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lititz
Level Contributor
133 reviews
106 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
“OK at best”
Reviewed March 2, 2014

The food was good, the dancers were great, but the service was poor. We had a difficult time trying to find the correct entrance to start. Tried three entrances and once we were told we have the correct one, had to then ask and go back a small dark hallway to the hostess. Apparently, it had something to do with us having reservations for the dance show. The server was less then pleasant. He seemed to be upset because we didn't have alcohol and shared an entrée. He seemed to be very slow initially, but once we neared the end, he was rushing us through, asking about dessert and wanting to take our plates while my wife was still eating and while the dance show was still on stage. The entire cost was $65.71 which seemed pricey for one entrée, a salad and no drink, but that did include the dance show. The dancers were great. We probably will not return. Again, the food was good, but poor service.

  • Visited February 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Teddy1081
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
guestservices1905, Public Relations Manager at Columbia Restaurant, responded to this review, March 4, 2014
We are happy to read that you and your wife enjoyed your meals and our Flamenco dance show. Thank you for letting us know about the issues you had with service, and we apologize that you were not taken care of properly. We read all comments here, and will remind all of our servers of the importance of taking care of our guests throughout their meals.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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