The Columbia Restaurant (est. 1905) is not only the oldest restaurant in Florida,
but it's also one of the largest Spanish restaurants in the world.
An occasional passerby or coworker had mentioned the Columbia Restaurant before, but I never put much thought into making the drive and actually eating there. Embarrassingly enough, we unknowingly drove by it multiple times on our way to the home makeover mecca of Ikea.
The Columbia Restaurant is incredibly difficult to miss at some 50,000 square feet and an entire city block, but we remained oblivious to its location for almost an entire year of residence in Florida. However, we did redeem our ignorance with a first time visit to the 100 year old Columbia Restaurant and were not disappointed. We left happy and with full bellies.
We started our dining experience with a cold beer and a glass of sangria. I already knew I wanted to eat their cuban sandwich, but when the menu claimed they were one of 10 great places to make a meal out of a salad, I knew I had to try the Original "1905" Salad. We each ended up eating the Original Cuban Sandwich with salad and soups. Let me tell you, we had plenty of food with some to take home.
The Original "1905" Salad is not a joke. I'm pretty sure that no woman on a diet is going to order this one for lunch, and that's exactly why I had to try it. You'll find juicy beefsteak tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, ham, Swiss and Romano cheese, and their incredible garlic dressing. This truly could have been a meal in itself. No joke.
Our Cuban sandwiches were fantastic too. We found ham, salami, pork, cheese, pickles, and mustard sandwiched between two pieces of pressed Cuban bread. It was enough to leave us smacking our lips and knowing that we will definitely eat at the Columbia Restaurant again.
Not only was the food great, but the architecture and atmosphere were enough to leave me wondering what kinds of people roamed the halls of this restaurant in the past. Walking through the front doors is like taking a step back in time. There were plenty of things to look at, and the ornate details included beautiful colored tiles, gorgeous chandeliers, and skylights.
If you have never experienced the Columbia Restaurant, I suggest you make a trip there as soon as possible. Aside from food and atmosphere, they also feature flamenco dancers on certain evenings. Next time we may get more adventurous and order an assortment of tapas, the grilled snapper, or even some flan for dessert while watching the dancers! For now though, I'll be thinking about that meal of a salad I enjoyed. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.