I have dined at the Columbia Restaurant in St. Petersburg and Sarasota, but never at the location that started it all - the Columbia Ybor City. This location was first opened in 1905 and their website details their history throughout six generations. While the other restaurants share the same food, style and flavor, it is an interesting experience to dine at the original. Parking is available for Columbia diners only in a lot behind the restaurant and from behind, one gets a real sense of how huge the restaurant is, in fact. One of my favorite features of the restaurant are the colorful tiles outside and inside the restaurant and it is something to pay close attention. The restaurant is very happy for patrons to get up during their dining experience and wander around the restaurant and check out various rooms. Go upstairs and look down on the floor below or take a peek in the king's room. Also, they have a large banquet room. There are many rooms and it could be easy to get lost. We were seated in the courtyard room, which gave a nice open feel.
The service here is very efficient and friendly. First drink orders of wine and sangria, and then hot cuban bread arrives for each diner with plenty of butter to slather on. I liked the sangria, but after trying a taste of my husband's Don Cesar tinto, I ordered that for my second drink. We decided to try different tapas for our dining experience. We tried the shrimp and crabmeat alcacho, which is baked in a casserole dish and served with crackers for dipping. Also, we tried the devil crab croquettes, the Shrimp Ajillo, and the Albondigas(beef meatballs). It was all very good, and perfect for sharing among the three of us. Altogether, it was a very enjoyable experience with good food in a delightful atmosphere.
2117 East 7th Avenue
Ybor City, FL 33605