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“Hidden Gem Before Your Eyes.”
Review of La Tropicana Cafe

La Tropicana Cafe
Ranked #373 of 2,447 Restaurants in Tampa
Cuisines: Cuban, Spanish
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Restaurant details
Good for: Local cuisine
Dining options: Takeout
Neighbourhood: Historic Ybor
Reviewed 28 April 2014

The Tropicana is in a non-descript location in Ybor City, probably because the regulars know it's there. The black beans and rice (especially good if you pay extra for the yellow rice) is out of this world. They don't ask if you want onions It's naturally expected. The deviled crabs are delicious, and a meal in themselves.
Caution!!!! They do not accept credit cards. Legal tender is in that old form of settlement, cash.
It's a hidden treasure. Try it out!

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1  Thank Casacarajo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviews (102)
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69 - 73 of 102 reviews

Reviewed 7 April 2014

We were staying at a nearby hotel and after checking out wanted to grab some breakfast, the Tropicana Cafe was recommended by a number of people at the hotel as well as along our walk.. when we arrived we found that there was only two options for breakfast. One being Cheese toast, the other an Egg Sandwich. The food was fine, we were just hoping for a more extensive menu.. The service was great, no issues there, the place is dated, but seemed clean and it was busy with locals. I would possibly return for a sandwich someday if in the area, but definitely not for breakfast.

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Thank rcroz2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 January 2014 via mobile

We wanted to meet friends near I4, so we picked this based upon Trip Advisor. Went for breakfast. Limited! Coffee con leche was so-so. Had a ham pork sandwich. Bread was tasty. Served our purpose but no hurry to go back.

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Thank JudgeMunch
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 January 2014

If you are looking for an elegant eating establishment in Ybor City, go to the Columbia. You you want to see how the old-time residents enjoyed a simple meal, then this is the place for you.

I first had lunch here over 40 years ago. It was good then -- it is good now.

My family and I moved to Atlanta in 1981. Whenever we come home to Tampa, the Tropicana is our #2 must do thing. What's number 1? Visiting family. It's also on the must do list for Presidents and presidential candidates when they are in Tampa.

We usually make two trips to this little restaurant that's so full of history. One to eat in their dining room. The other to their drive-up window on the back to Atlanta.

Cuban sandwiches and Devil Crabs are our favorites. Cuban sandwiches from the Tropicana are "real" Tampa-style Cuban sandwiches. Let me explain: These Ybor City sandwiches can only be found in Tampa -- and no where else in the world. A bold claim, I know. Here is the back story: In the early 1900's Cubans and Italian immigrants settle in Ybor City to work in the towns many cigar factories. The Italians didn't much like the original Cuban bread, so they added more shortening to the dough and Tampa-style Cuban bread was born.

To really understand the uniqueness of the bread, you might want to sample the bread baked in Miami by the later generations of Cuban immigrants. Not even close.

The Devil Crabs at La Tropicana are descendants of the jumbo crab rolls first served at the Seabreeze Resturant (now defunct) on the 22nd Street Causeway. These crab rolls were bigger than the ones sold by the street vendors of Ybor City. As these vendors grew older and passed away, the street variety was replaced by the Jumbo ones that were developed by the Licata family at the Seabreeze. Today, the Tropicana Café is owned by descendants of this famous restaurant family.

One final thought: Most of the really old timers are gone now. Besides the Columbia, only La Tropicana can say it served them. They have been replaced by their sons, daughters, and grandchildren. Watching them is as much fun as eating the food.

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1  Thank Gerald P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 December 2013

Our favorite way to start a weekend. Located in historic Ybor with a private parking lot the restaurant is loud, friendly and serves good Cuban food. come early and you won't find a table, but after the regulars leave by 10am things settle down. .they usually close around 3pm. Warning! cash only.

Thank Vincent M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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