Saturday, 10 April 2010

Ybor City

 Columbia  Restaurant, Ybor City

You may remember that in an earlier blog entry I wrote about a book titled “Ybor City Chronicles” by Ferdie Pacheo. 

Ybor City was the heart and soul of a vital Cuban/Spanish/Italian community from circa 1900 to circa 1950. In those years Ybor City was famous for its hand rolled cigars.

The book is a tender and affectionate account of Ferdie’s upbringing in Ybor City (a district of Tampa, FL) between the years 1935 – 1945.

In my earlier blog entry I remarked that the book made me wistful for a place and time which I never knew.  

At the heart of that place was the Columbia Restaurant, est 1905.

Here is the Columbia Restaurant story.

After reading Pacheo’s book I became determined to travel the 60+ miles from Sarasota to Tampa and to dine at the Columbia.

We have a branch of the Columbia in Sarasota – it was established in the 1950’s and claims to be the oldest continually serving restaurant here – but I wanted to eat at the “mother ship” in Ybor City, Tampa.

This I did Thursday 8th April with my friends Ben, Bob and Ed.  We had a 3:30 p.m. “very late lunch”.  I was enchanted with the whole place.

We ate in the Patio Dining Room.  I had a cup of excellent Gazpacho and a “Cuban”.

I’ve seen advertisements for “Cubans” ever since I arrived in Florida back in 2006.  But I’d had no idea about what they are.

Since I was at this centre of more than 100 years of Cuban/American culture, it was the right time and place for my first Cuban.  It was  good!


 Columbia Restaurant at night

Bar area

Patio Dining Room where we had lunch

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