We took a road trip today for lunch and took our friends Gary and Sue along. We went to a favorite restaurant of ours, Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City. It is located just at the outskirts of Tampa and is a fairly quick drive from home. There are six locations of this Spanish restaurant in Florida and we have eaten at three of them. This one, in Ybor City, is the original, started in 1905.
I usually have the same lunch each time because it is so very good. They have a "1905 Salad" that they mix at the table. Lettuce, smoked ham, swiss cheese, tomatoes, lots of Spanish olives, Romano cheese and a wonderful dressing made with garlic, olive oil, vinegar, oregano and lots of Worcestershire sauce. It is so good and addictive. Along with this comes a hunk of warm Cuban bread. I always opt for the Cuban Black Bean soup topped with chopped raw onion. As if this is not enough, we all wanted a pitcher of Sangria that they mixed right at the table also. They add their fruit juice mix, orange and lime slices and Spanish red wine, a small amount of brandy and ice. Needless to say, we emptied the pitcher.
This original restaurant is very beautiful. Lots of Spanish tiles and Moorish influence in the decoration of the inside, especially the ornate doorways and a fountain in one of the courtyard rooms. A very delightful restaurant and usually very busy. It is only in the last 10 years that the restaurant has relented to let women also be waiters. The men are dressing very formally and they are very professional.