Founded in 1905, Columbia Restaurant holds the title as the oldest restaurant in Florida. It first emerged in Tampa’s Ybor City, but over the years other locations around the state have popped up, and today it is the largest Spanish restaurant in the world.
Going to college in Tampa I was fortunate to be in close proximity to the famous Ybor location, but as a typical broke college student I had to wait to indulge until my parents came to visit. Overtime, it became my special occasion restaurant and I went on to visit the Tampa, St. Petersburg, St. Augustine and Celebration locations.
Columbia serves a host of traditional, hearty Spanish dishes including ropa vieja, chicken salteado, paella, which are all worthy of a try. But another reason I love to visit Columbia is for its made to order Sangria de Cava.
The drink is made fresh and tableside with Jaume Serra Cristalino Spanish Cava (sparkling wine), Torres brandy, Torres orange liqueur, and citrus juice. While red sangria tends to be heavier and bolder, the Sangria de Cava is light and effervescent.
If you can’t make it to Spain, drink enough of the Sangria de Cava and you just might believe you are there.