Ybor City’s Columbia

Ybor City’s Columbia Restaurant is a treasure. It is over 100 years old making it the oldest operating Spanish restaurant anywhere except Spain. It reflects the Spanish culture well. The cuisine is divine, the service, impeccable and the ambiance makes a trip memorable. One can even attend a Flamingo Dancers floor show, which is worth experiencing at least once. It has been a part of my life for 40 years. I have taken people from around  the world including Japan to dine there and they always want to come back. My favorite spot is in the old bar which has old style cafe tables across checkerboard tile and is away from the main dining rooms. I have adopted/adapted many of the recipes and often cook them at home. I also love the table side ceremony of mixing sangria with fresh fruit garnish and the 1905 salad which we actually had at home yesterday. There are other Columbia restaurants in Florida  and the food is equally good but the ambiance can not quite match Ybor City. (I have been to them all).

It has a storied past that reflects the history of Tampa well, with its assortment of underworld Dons, Politicos and celebrities. It has private dining rooms equipped with secret exits and dumbwaiters that enabled clandestine get togethers of all types.

Attached is one of my favorite recipes for home preparation, if you should wish to cook it I have 2 tips . The reduction process is critical to the final taste, and fresh basil and parsley are as well.  It saves well in a Tupperware in the fridge and is easily reheated in the microwave, you won’t want to throw away the leftovers.

If you should be fortunate enough to go,try the fresh warmed Cuban bread, Caldo Gallego (Turnip Greens Soup), and a glass (or two) of Sangria.



One Response

  1. For whatever reason, I’ve never visited the “original” Columbia. I’ve been to the Sarasota one once and to the St. Augustine one many times. Presumably, they’re all using the same recipes, so I’m missing only the “history” and not the taste.

    When in Tampa, I prefer to visit La Teresita (the “cafeteria” not the “white tablecloths” one). And, I prefer to order one of the daily specials, which I know have been under a heat lamp for hours. But still, there’s something about that which I find appealing. Besides the cheap price… 😉

    What I want to know is, what’s the recipe for the 1905 salad dressing. I suspect that’s a secret….

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