Restaurant Review: The Columbia Restaurant

The Columbia Restaurant is a Florida icon. Dubbed Florida’s oldest restaurant, it opened in Ybor, a neighborhood in Tampa, in 1905 by Cuban immigrant Casimiro Hernandez, Sr., and it still owned by the family, five generations later.

Even if the food wasn’t fantastic, the building and décor is worth going to see. It’s quintessential Spanish décor will make you want to run home and redecorate your house.


Isn’t it so gorgeous? The light coming in through the ceiling in the main dining room is bright and lovely.

As beautiful as the restaurant is, it’s not the reason we take all of our visitors there. It’s for the food. And the sangria.

The sangria is one of my favorites in Tampa is made tableside! I love when restaurants make anything tableside, because it’s like you’re getting a little show with your meal.



While you’re  waiting for your meals they bring out the most delicious, soft, warm Cuban bread.


This is one time you shouldn’t skip the bread to save calories!

Now, I don’t really eat meat and I especially don’t eat pork. Yet I can’t get enough of the Columbia’s Cuban sandwich and 1905 salad. The Cuban has roasted pork and the salad has ham. And it’s delicious. Luckily, they have a lunch combo with half of a Cuban and a 1905 salad and I order it EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.


I’m literally drooling on my desk right now.

Thankfully, the people I take don’t always order the Cuban (rookies) so I get to try other things from the menu, while still having my Cuban and salad. The Husband tried the mojo chicken sandwich and although it looks boring (just like his taste in food!) it was really good!


That about sums up the Husband’s taste buds…

The last visitors we took were the Husband’s best friend and his girlfriend. Fortunately for me, they have great taste in food so I got to try the seafood paella.


It was so good! I would be tempted to forget about my sandwich and salad for this. Maybe.

If you find yourself in Tampa, or one of their other locations in Sarasota, Clearwater, St Augustine, or Orlando, you have to stop at the Columbia Restaurant. They also have a Columbia Café at Tampa International Airport, so you can get your Cuban and sangria fix before you even leave the airport!

Restaurant Rating (for the Ybor location only)

(Zero being the lowest, ten being the highest)


Quality of Food: 10

Drink Selection: 10

Cleanliness: 10

Friendliness: 10

Experience: 10

Parking: 10 (they actually have a parking lot and it’s free!)

Value: 10

Location: 10

Overall Rating: 10