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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