Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Columbia Restaurant, Tampa, FL

In Tampa, we ate at the oldest Spanish restaurant in the US -- The Columbia Restaurant.  Established in Ybor City in 1905, the restaurant has been passed down through several generations and branches of the same family ever since.  It's a great Spanish Colonial space, bustling with activity, even at 5 pm when we went there.  We had a large group, so we shared some tapas to start, including chorizo espanola, mussels and chorizo "Andres," and stuffed piquillo peppers.

Redneckhunter and I both ordered dishes that were made to order and required extra time -- I got Arroz con Pollo "Valenciana", and he got Paella "Campesina."  They were both worth the wait.  I have a soft spot for arroz con pollo (chicken with rice) -- a simple dish, but such satisfying comfort food when made right.  This one was.  The rice was toothsome and full of "sabor" (aka flavor),  the chicken fell off the bone.
Another thing, the portions were very generous!  I had enough left for the next day's lunch for a couple of us.  Below are some of the other dishes ordered by people in our group:
Roast Pork "A la Cubana" with rice and beans and yucca.
Veal Chop "La Reina Isabella" with saffron butter sauce and lump blue crab meat.
Boliche "Criollo" - roasted eye round of beef stuffed with chorizo, with rice and beans and plaintains.
And the ginormous "1905" Salad - lettuce, baked ham, Swiss cheese, tomato, olives, grated Romano, and house garlic dressing (with the secret ingredient of Worcestershire sauce) - all tossed tableside.
We shared a flan for dessert, which was one of the best I've had.  It was all gone before I could snap a picture.

Columbia Restaurant
2117 East 7th Avenue
Tampa, Florida 33605
(813) 248-4961

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