Columbian Restaurant in Ybor City Tampa
I'm from New England and will be in Tampa this weekend and the beginning of next week for the Women's Final 4. Someone just invited me to dinner at the Columbian Restaurant. Website menu looks interesting. What do you locals think about it? What are the best things on the menu to order? Paella looks like it's a specialty....
Well, it's been a long time since I've been to the Columbia, but I've enjoyed myself everytime I've been. For entrees, the paella is good and also ask about seafood specials. For me, though, the most memorable item on their menu is the 1905 (?? - not sure of which year, but you'll know when you see the menu) Salad - if they have it on the menu still. It's a fabulous salad, made tableside with a flair. Hope you enjoy.
I've had some great entrees there. Just had the Snapper Adelita a couple weeks ago, topped with hearts of palm, artichokes and sun dried tomatoes. I assure you there was nothing shabby about it. The steak chacho is wonderful, with a demi and flabeed in bourbon. You can't go wrong with the salteado--- any meat. I also enjoyed the veal Isabella a while ago. The palomilla is always a winner for lunch or dinner. and the Cuban comboi is hard to beat. The company has been improving their food for the last 10 years, and I'mn often impressed. I had a ho hum experience in St. Augustine, but that is another story...
I agree that the soups, salads, and tapas are great as well. But I wouldn't shy away from entrees. Try them for lunch if you're unsure. I usually don't go for chicken sandwiches, but theirs is great, with roasted red peppers, etc.
and be sure to have the bread pudding! It is a gem, just be prepared to share, the portion in huge.
For drinks, mojitos, the mango tango is a great frozen daquiri thing, which i don't usually care for, but that drink is special. The sangria is good, if a little sweet for me.
I agree with the other three posters. Everyone should go at least once, it is an institution but there are other Spanish/Cuban restaurants that are as good or better. Probably the most frequented is La Teresita on Columbus in Tampa. It is handy to the St. Pete Times Forum where the games are.
The Columbia restaurant is definitely an institution in Tampa. When I go with my parents (I live in MD now, so I only go when I visit), we always order the sangria and the 1905 salad, both made at your table. I try different things every time I go, but half of the experience is the atmosphere. If you can see the flamenco show, that's excellent.
I love Ropa Vieja. That was the first thing I ordered off the adult menu at age 10. It's now a staple in my diet as an adult.