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“Atmosphere, Food, Drinks as good as before-service not so much, wish parking was better”

The Columbia Restaurant
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Ranked #12 of 2,367 Restaurants in Tampa
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: US$10 - US$30
Cuisines: Spanish, Cuban
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Restaurant details
Good for: Bar Scene, Business meetings, Romantic, Special Occasion Dining, Groups, Local cuisine, Kids, Child-friendly
Dining options: Dinner, Brunch, 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 111 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.
terri007
Level Contributor
97 reviews
57 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 54 helpful votes
“Atmosphere, Food, Drinks as good as before-service not so much, wish parking was better”
Reviewed 28 September 2010

I went to college in Tampa in the mid- 80's and after graduation stayed in the area for two years. During that time dining at the Columbia in Ybor, was a regular occurrence because of the excellent food, atmosphere, drinks and occasionally the flamenco dancing; a nice place to go on a date. I haven't been there in about 10 years but while visiting my parents in nearby Winter Haven, we decided to take a trip for lunch on Saturday, September 18, 2010. There were three showers going on that day and parking was near to impossible but after driving around for literally 40 minutes one of the parties was leaving and some spaces opened up.
We waited about 10 minutes for a table which was not bad at all. My mother got the chicken special (breaded chicken with cheese & yellow rice), while my father got the quarter chicken with yellow rice. They both raved about the quality of their meals. Being that they are now in their early 80's they were able to take some home for lunch the next day where they said it was just as great as the day before. I had the seafood special which consisted of scallops and shrimp in a Madeira sauce with yellow rice. It was excellent. I finished the seafood and ate about a quarter of the rice and did not take it home. I also had the small Columbia salad which was wonderful as well. The bread was just as warm and fresh as I remember it being. The only downside was the waitress. She was slow in getting to our table and my father asked for a decaf coffee four times and was finished with his meal before she brought it. I had asked for a glass of Sangria and she never brought it nor did she bring me the Coffee Des leches I had ordered after I had given up all hope of seeing the Sangria.
Unlike a previous reviewer, I'm glad that Tampa isn't Miami where one must speak be able to speak Spanish in order to get around town and hope it never evolves into another Miami. I just wanted the waitress to be at our table and bring our drinks not speak Spanish.
I waited tables while at USF (at a place that no longer exists) as well as the first two years I spent teaching, so I always tip 20% and I did this time as well but I felt she warranted at best 10%. I won't publish her name but I did send in the comment card with her name on it. However, I live in VA and don't expect management to get back to me. However, she seemed to be quicker with other tables than she did with ours.
I would definitely recommend the Columbia in Ybor to anyone who was going to be in the area. I've dined at the ones in Celebration, Sarasota, The Pier & St. Augustine and never had a bad meal at any of their restaurants. I just wish they would come to Northern Virginia.
If you have the opportunity to dine at the beautiful "flagship" in Ybor, do it-you will not be sorry.

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Thank terri007
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Date | Rating
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English first
DFW Texas
Level Contributor
49 reviews
20 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
“DON'T MISS THIS GEM!!”
Reviewed 20 September 2010

Best Maragarita ever. The (Cuban) Bread (slathered in butter, of course) is to die for. Do NOT miss the 1905 Salad and Cuban Sandwich. Great Gazpacho.

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Helpful?
Thank VanInTexas
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
27 reviews
18 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“I had the lobster flat bread as an...”
Reviewed 5 September 2010

I had the lobster flat bread as an appetizer which was very good! My lunch arrived which was the Spanish paella which looked like mush. It was ok. I also had the white chocolate bread pudding which was great. The service was also great!

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Helpful?
Thank Eroldan78
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ipswich, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
183 reviews
141 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
“Like a trip overseas without leaving home”
Reviewed 23 August 2010

The atmosphere is great, service crisp and efficient and the food, very good. I have eaten here many times and it consistently delivers.

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Helpful?
Thank Travelingman074
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
West Bloomfield, Michigan
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Perfect evening - great service, great food, great show!”
Reviewed 18 August 2010

We traveled with a group of four adults and twelve children ages 3 - 17. I believe many places would be less than thrilled to see so many children. The staff did not even blink an eye. They treated the children with the same level of service and courtesy as they would treat adults and the children responded with (nearly!) perfect manners. The service was fast, friendly, very attentive. The food was delicicous! The decor is impressive. The show was lively and engaging. We had a fabulous evening!

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Helpful?
Thank wbmi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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