Primary Menu

This week I’m excited to share my thoughts on one of Tampa’s most famous restaurants, the Columbia Restaurant. This historical building in Ybor City is over 100 years old and features the best Spanish and Cuban food in town. My favorite dish at is the paella, which takes extra time to cook but is worth it if you are there for a date night or special occasion.

However, if you’ve got a short lunch hour, the best quick lunch is the black bean soup with the 1905 Salad, a Cuban sandwich and glass of Sangria.

The Columbia Restaurant has expanded over the years and has locations in Clearwater, downtown Tampa, Sarasota and St. Augustine. Reservations are recommended and curbside take-out is available.

According to the restaurant’s website it was founded in 1905 by Cuban immigrant Casimiro Hernandez, Sr., and it is Florida’s oldest restaurant. It began as a 60-seat corner café in Ybor City that was know for its Cuban coffee and Cuban sandwiches and frequented by the cigar workers. 115 years since it first opened the restaurant remains in the same family.

The restaurant has been visited by celebrities including, Bruce Springsteen, Steven Tyler, Marilyn Monroe, Liza Minelli, George Clooney, Stephen King, and Brooke Shields.

Hear more about the Columbia Restaurant (6:30) on the Experience Tampa Bay in 10 Minutes or Less podcast. You can also hear more about Hubbard’s Marina at John’s Pass (:54) and learn more about the Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading (3:33).