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“The Original”

The Columbia Restaurant
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Ranked #11 of 2,383 Restaurants in Tampa
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: US$10 - US$30
Cuisines: Spanish, Cuban
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Special Occasion Dining, Groups, Romantic, Child-friendly, Kids, Bar Scene, Business meetings, Local cuisine
Dining options: Brunch, Dinner, Lunch, Accepts American Express, Accepts Mastercard, Accepts Visa, Free Off-Street Parking, Full Bar, Highchairs Available, Parking Available, Private Dining, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Takeout, Valet Parking, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible
Dining style: Casual Dining
Neighbourhood: 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.
Greenwich, Connecticut
Level Contributor
64 reviews
17 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
“The Original”
Reviewed 14 August 2012

I was taken here by some locals and I was the out of town guest. The food is really interesting, this is not a gourmet restaurant that you would find in a large city like NY or SF, its a local tradition with good quality Cuban food that is fairly true to the roots of Cuban/Caribbean cooking with some creative additions. Be prepared for huge portions and an extremely reasonable bill at the end. Around the table we had giant veal chop, sea bass and of course I had to try the Ropa vieja. All were excellent. Both the sea bass and the veal chop were topped with fresh lump crab meat of the highest quality. The ropa vieja was a little more tomatoey than I liked but a good choice. There was a falmenco dance show in the adjacent room which was loud and not very authentic but it didn't start until 8:00pm and that room was filled with locals who came specifically for the show. I encourage you to look at the 6-7 different dining rooms before you select one. The bar dining area was quite nice and felt very historically accurate in this historic part of Tampa.

  • Visited August 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Longreach06830
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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English first
Tampa, Florida
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“The Columbia restaurant is over-rated”
Reviewed 13 August 2012

My wife, myself, and friends had dinner at the Columbia restaurant in Ybor City in August 2012. I had heard many great things about the restaurant being upscale, with local spanish charm, superb service, and great food, and really was hoping for a great experience. The building was old with authentic spanish charm inside, but that is the end of anything good about this place. Too say the food was bad, is an understatement. The food was terrible, and too the point of not being edible. I'm not sure if we just got unlucky, or if this is the normal food quality. All the people at our table described their meals as disgusting. My wife's seafood cannoli was mushy, and did not taste fresh at all, someone had gotten the Mahi Mahi, and said it tasted very old, and wasnt even close to fresh, and had a very odd smell to it. I ordered the chorizo tapas, which was disgusting. it basically was fried slices of pepperoni, saturated in oil, and the portion sizes were exceptional small for what you pay. And this was for all the entrees as well, very small portions. I also orderd pollo ajillo, which was 4 small chicken nugget pieces soaked in oil, terrible. I could've gone to Mcdonalds if i wanted plain chicken nuggets. And none of the food had nice aroma or sauces, everything was bland. The waiter we had was very odd, and rude at times to my friends. He explained to us how some of the food was old, and not served fresh, and that one of the pork dishes actually tasted like a "dry napkin". The service was slow, with very poor service. Waiter constantly reaching over people's head, and across people face to place food down. The person who brought out our food had no idea what the dishes were called, and who they were going to. Our drinks were not re-filled. the tables were very crowded together, making walking around the restaurant difficult. The bathrooms were not all working. I think at one time this restaurant may have been decent, but I think it is now way over-hyped, and the service and quality of food has dramatically worsened. I think its a tourist trap that people say you gotta check out, but let me tell you avoid this place at all costs, you will be greatly disappointed.

  • Visited August 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
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Helpful?
1 Thank erikpa74
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
guestservices1905, Public Relations Manager at The Columbia Restaurant, responded to this review, 14 August 2012
I had to double-check to make sure I was not reading a review of some other restaurant, because what you described should never happen at The Columbia! I am so sorry that we let you and your wife and friends down so badly. We pride ourselves on taking care of our guests, but this did not happen at all on your visit. There is no excuse for this, and we thank you for pointing out our many mistakes so we can share your comments with our general manager, and make sure that these mistakes are corrected.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sanibel Island, Florida
Level Contributor
23 reviews
20 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“DON'T MISS IT”
Reviewed 12 August 2012

this was amazing - as usual - don't miss coming here - Garrett - thanks for being a great sport with taking pictures - Andrew - thanks for great service and recommendations - not easy being a vegetarian anywhere these days! Thanks to all the chefs!

  • Visited August 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank twolf1717
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Tampa, Florida, United States
Level Contributor
41 reviews
19 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“Great for visitors and locals”
Reviewed 12 August 2012

If you're visiting Tampa, your dining experiences would not be complete without a visit to the Columbia. This historic restaurant is not only beautiful in its ambiance, the food is excellent. Authentic Spanish food that is both flavorful and filling. The 1905 Salad is a must, and my comfort food favorite, chicken and yellow rice is well seasoned and tasty. I live in Tampa and still enjoy this wonderful restaurant.

  • Visited August 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
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Helpful?
1 Thank Julia S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bartow, Florida
Level Contributor
25 reviews
23 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“a must visit in Tampa”
Reviewed 11 August 2012

The service was excellent. The appetizer and salad were both timely and delicious. It is not a place to rush thru a meal and run. Take your time and enjoy the atmosphere. When ready to go just take a stroll thru a delightful building.

  • Visited August 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Raleigh F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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