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What humbly began in Ybor City of Tampa as a relatively small Cuban cafe has evolved into the largest Spanish restaurant in the world. Casimiro Hernandez Sr. founded Columbia Restaurant in 1905, after immigrating to the states, and now it has officially become the oldest restaurant in all of the Sunshine State. Through generations taking on the responsibilities of the family business, the flavorful hot spot frequented by past and present celebrities has expanded to Sarasota, St. Augustine, Orlando, Clearwater Beach, Tampa Riverwalk and the international airport. But Ybor will always be the first.
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The original location has continued to expand via renovation during the 100 plus years of its existence. The result is a massive establishment with multiple elegant dining rooms that all feature an upscale yet culturally significant vibe.
All beginning from authentic Spanish and Cuban recipes, Columbia has held tightly to its roots, while newer generations from the family have refined their culinary skills via renowned training establishments in Switzerland and so on. The result is a mesmerizing menu that initially tantalizes with a selection of cocktails and sangrias made tableside with citrus juices and signature wine. While more complex dishes add excitement to the extensive menu, guests love the Cuban sandwich, rice dishes, paella, bean soups, simple tapas and indulgent coffees like the staple cafe con leche.
Flamenco performances are a traditional form of Spanish dance that has transformed over the years and is a festive part of the Columbia Restaurant experience. Entertainers are decked out in iconic pink outfits before taking to the wooden stage to dazzle diners. The Spanish guitar adds to the vivid peek into a portion of Latin Heritage. Check with the restaurant to find out which day’s performances take place.
If you don’t come to this iconic Tampa restaurant often, consider splurging on a handcrafted and hand-painted Spanish sangria pitcher. It’s a lovely memento that will remind you of the immersive feel of Columbia Restaurant.
Address: 2117 E. 7th Ave. Tampa, FL 33605