Cuban in Central Florida or Tampa Area
We will be kicking around central Florida and Tampa/ St. Pete and would appreciate some recommendations for Cuban restaurants. We love everything from food carts to sit down, all would be most appreciated. Also, it has been a decade since I dined at the Columbia in Ybor City, any thoughts on that location and the others throughout the area? Thanks!
The Columbia on St. Armands Circle in Sarasota is the only one that serves stone crabs. Otherwise they are about equal.
I like La Teresita on Columbus in Tampa, but most people on this board recommend Arco Iris up the street over La Teresita. Neither one is a temple to hygiene, but I will admit that LT makes me wonder more often about sanitation than does Arco Iris. But I'll be danged if just about everything on the LT menu is not plate-lick worthy. (I haven't found that to be the case at Arco Iris.)
I have strong opinions about the Columbia which also may not be the consensus of other Tampa chowhounds. I think the food at any of their locations is criminally bad, but the history, and ambience of many of their locations - especially the original, of course - is so incredibly charming that it's worth the trip, in spite of the food. It's so nice in the Ybor location, especially in the central "atrium" that I might recommend a trip to Ybor for that alone. But don't expect much in the way of food. I've wanted to love anything I've had there -- even the 1905 salad everyone raves about -- but I just don't think there's anything good about it, unless I'm tasting it through the lens of the history and beautiful light and colors of the space.
Enjoy your trip.
Most of the central Florida (orlando) chowhouders swear by Padrino's. Its in the Hunters Creek area of Orlando (25 min drive from downtown Orlando) and on the theme park side of town.