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The Tampa Bay Area Restaurants

Columbia

Updated 04/24/2014

Fodor's Review

Make a date for some of the best Latin cuisine in Tampa. A fixture since 1905, this magnificent structure with an old-world air and spacious dining rooms takes up an entire city block and seems to feed the entire city—locals as well as visitors—throughout the week, but especially on weekends. The paella, bursting with seafood, chicken, and pork, is arguably the best in Florida, and the 1905 salad—with ham, olives, cheese, and garlic—is legendary. The menu has Cuban

classics such as boliche criollo (tender eye of round stuffed with chorizo), ropa vieja (shredded beef with onions, peppers, and tomatoes), and arroz con pollo (chicken with yellow rice). Don't miss the flamenco dancing show every night but Sunday. This place is also known for its sangria. If you can, walk around the building and check out the elaborate, antique decor along every inch of the interior.

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Restaurant Information

Address:

2117 E. 7th Ave., Tampa, Florida, 33605, USA

Map It

Phone:

813-248–4961

Updated 04/24/2014

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Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating

By Trigold

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Jun 24, 2008

Resting on its Laurels

This restaurant is way past its prime. While the building still looks fabulous, the food is lousy and the service is barely OK. The flamenco show is fun, if contrived.

By Quinte

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Oct 21, 2007

The Columbia and La Teresita

I was surprised to see two of my most favorite restaurants slammed by another reviewer in the same review. I grew up in Tampa and my family and I have been eating at La Teresita since it came to being about 30 years ago. I can admit that it has seen better days. But still one of the best bargains in the city. As for the Columbia, you must go to the one in Ybor City. I don’t live in Tampa anymore but I was there this last summer and I had

a great meal. The food is Cuban with a heavy influence from Spain. The atmosphere is really something to see. Make sure you roam around all of the rooms. The service was a bit relaxed but extremely friendly. Tampa has its share of good places to eat. But I don’t go to Tampa without fitting both of these places into my schedule.

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By Trent2

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Jul 27, 2007

Terrible Waste

While the building is beautiful, the dining is a joke. I concur that it's not even a good tourist-trap meal. We dropped $25 on paella that never saw the inside of an oven: the rice came from a yellow bag and was mushy and swimming in metallic, bag-flavored broth. The waiter expressed abject and appropriate shame. On the menu, it says that you have to wait half an hour for the authentic paella. So we left feeling like the butts of a joke as well.

Not a warm memory, that.

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May 16, 2007

Cuban Food?

I don't know what restaurant the other poster was talking about it being exquisite Cuban Food. Just like "La Teresita" it could not be any further from authentic Cuban Food. Yes am from Cuban parents and grew up on it. The only place outside of a Cuban house in Tampa that serves good Cuban Food is Arco Iris on Columbus

By Ben

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Jun 6, 2006

Where We Take Our Guests

I cannot believe the negative remarks about The Columbia - totally unjustified. I believe this is the oldest restaraunt in Florida, and the eclectic decor is amazing. On the weekends you can watch authentic Flamenco dancers (need to reserve tables in advance for the show in season). We recently took a guest who's dabbled in Flamenco dancing herself and she marveled at their skill. Admitedly the atmosphere is better than the food, but the food

is still pretty good with a wide selection. Overall, it's such a unique dining experience with such great history that we continue to take our out-of-town guests here on a regular basis. It's a unique attraction that shouldn't be missed.

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By Bob

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Apr 17, 2006

Great Salad and bean(s) Soup

Moderately priced fare with good selection of white and red Spanish, Chilean, Argentinian wines. I like thr Ybor City location the best. 1905 salad is a real winner Try the sangria.

By Rick

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Nov 24, 2005

Spanish food is not gourmet

Another tourist trap, with poor to average Spanish food, mediocre service. Go once for the experience. There is better Spanish food throughout Tampa Bay.

By Sean

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Mar 8, 2005

Tampa Dining Defined

Any visitor to Tampa should visit the Columbia in Ybor. Any resident who hasn't should be ashamed. The Columbia is a fixture in Tampa and a great experience. I have been to the Ybor site twice and two of the other locations once each. I have not been disappointed. The service can be a little slow on busy days, but the waitrons are always cordial.

By John

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Mar 1, 2005

Really Bad Food & Service To Match

We've benn there several times over the years and it has steadily declined from good, to mediocre, to just plain baaad!!

By Sue

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Jan 7, 2005

Resting on its laurels, perhaps?

We can't quite understand how the Columbia rated so high in Fodor's. What a disappointment. Service was almost surly, food was mediocre at best. Black bean soup was unseasoned; scallops were coated in dry, tasteless breadcrumbs...and the famed 1905 salad is good if iceberg lettuce appeals to you (I guess that's the only kind that was available in 1905...it's tasteless here, made somewhat palatable only by a thick gooey dressing). Vegetarians beware,

there is nothing to choose from. When we inquired, our waiter shrugged his shoulders, and would not even ask the kitchen to omit the meat or fish from a dish--which says to me that much of the food is prepared in advance, frozen, and then microwaved as needed. Save your money, and find someplace authentic, with a real chef in the kitchen and not just some hired help pulling food out of a freezer.

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By Marie

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Dec 29, 2004

Tourist attraction

Interesting historical surroundings with middle of the road food.

By Laurel

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Aug 7, 2004

Save your $$ - Have a drink at the Bar

Yes, - its in an historical building, in a seedy part of Ybor and I was hoping that the ratings (the annonymous ones?) were right on that it was going to be a great dinner/ evening. Oh boy, were we wrong! Our party of 4 had better Cuban food in a gas station off the interstate 95 - and just moving from California - the 405 & Inglewood Ave. My husband described his Palomillo Steak as "a gray piece of leather". The Paella was horrific - how could

it be so bad? It was soupy and every single ingredient was overcooked! Saffron - what saffron? Please - listen to the others and do NOT waste your "dining" experience here. Last comment - I wish we knew about the bar (which I haven't seen written much about) because its gorgeous with its old wood, big rectangle shape, high ceilings and right off the Flamenco dancers dance floor), with a band of their own and tables set for dining. I wish, I wish we would have had a few "tapas" there, took some photos and then continued on to somewhere else.

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By Eric

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Oct 25, 2003

A Cuban/Spanish Restaurant/Institution

Historic and cavernous, this place has been around a long time and it endures. The food is good, not perfect. The staff are attentive, not overbearing. It is worth a visit if you are in the area.

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Apr 23, 2003

Old fashioned spanish restaurant worth the stop

Guitar music by the fountain, tuxedoed waiters prepare the 1905 Salad tableside, great sangria (which by its very nature is watered down with fruit and fruit juices) and very good classical spanish entrees. Someone complained about the ceasar salad...why would you go to a Spanish restaurant and order the most mundane of American salads? It may not be 5 star food but it is a Floridian experience celebrating the spanish/cuban heritage in Tampa. Ole!

By TC

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Dec 12, 2002

Tour Don't Eat

While the building is beautiful and of great historical value, the food is awful. I am surprised at such high ratings from Fodors. Watered sangria, tough calimari, garlic overload on everything, Caesar salad with mozzarella cheese (?), not even a decent cup of coffee. From friends who live in Florida, it seems this chain is known for mediocre food. Fodor's take back your star.

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Dec 7, 2002

Ole!

We love the decor and ambience of the restaurant. Have dined where we can watch the flamenco dancers and definitely recommend that for anyone coming into town and wishing to experience the whole shebang. Service was excellent, but food so-so. I've had paella at a couple of the Columbia Restaurants and have yet to find a decent one - always dry and lacking in saffron. Interestingly, I've also had their Paella at "Taste of Tampa" and it's been good.

The restaurant version seems to have sat too long with a heater, which doesn't bode well for other dinners I would think.

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By Angela

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Apr 3, 2001

My Favorite Restaurant!

The best Cuban food and a great place to hang out in Ybor!

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