The Columbia Restaurant history includes a century of Spanish cuisine

Located in the historic district of St. Augustine, Florida, The Columbia Restaurant has a tranquil fountain in its front courtyard.

If you get near St. Augustine, Florida, make a point to dine at The Columbia Restaurant. Florida’s oldest restaurant, it was founded in 1905 as a café catering to immigrant cigar workers in Ybor City on the west side of Florida.

The restaurant offers a variety of classics. The hot-pressed Cuban sandwich is based on founder Casimiro Hernandez Sr.’s 1915 recipe — crusty Cuban bread, smoked ham, pork loin, salami, Swiss cheese, pickle chips and yellow mustard.

Other items include:

  • Queso Fundido: Mild Tetilla cheese baked in a Rioja tomato sauce and served with toasted Cuban bread points
  • Empanadas de Picadillo: spiced ground beef, garlic, tomato, onions, raisins and olives wrapped in pastry
  • Stuffed Piquillo Peppers: Sweet Piquillo peppers filled with a mushroom, chorizo and Serrano ham filling, baked in an almond pepper sauce and topped with Manchego cheese
  • Champiñones Rellenos: Baked Silver Dollar mushrooms stuffed with spinach, artichoke hearts, garlic and cheese.
  • Cannelloni de Langosta “7 Portes”: cannelloni pasta filled with Maine lobster meat, shrimp, scallops and shallots blended with a lobster sherry cream reduction and smothered with a lobster sherry Mornay cheese sauce.
  • Merluza “Russian Style”: Atlantic Merluza breaded with Cuban bread crumbs, grilled and garnished with a Russian sauce of lemon butter, parsley and hard-boiled eggs.
  • Guava Turnover “Carmita”: Guava and cream cheese baked in a pastry and drizzled with vanilla bean sauce.

Read the complete lunch and dinner menus.

The Columbia Restaurant has several spacious dining rooms, several brightened by skylights.

Visit The Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City, Sarasota, Clearwater Beach, Celebration, Riverwalk Tampa and the Tampa Airport.

Columbia Restaurant history and recipes

Purchase a copy of Andrew Huse’s book, “The Columbia Restaurant: Celebrating a Century of History, Culture, and Cuisine,” for an “indepth-look at the people who made the restaurant great. With a historian’s eye for accuracy and a storyteller’s ear for delicious anecdotes, he traces the fortunes of the Columbia from the founder, Casimiro Hernandez Sr., to his great grandson, fourth generation restraurateur Richard Gonzmart.”

Recipes in the book include:

  • Croquetas de Langosta (Lobster Croquettes)
  • Garbonzo y Gambas “al Ajillo” (Garbanzos and Shrimp)
  • Mejillones y Chorizo “Andres” (Mussels and Chorizo)
  • Queso Fundido (Spanish Fondue)
  • Caldo Gallego (Turnip Greens Soup)
  • Three styles of Paella: “Campesina,” “Marenara” and “Valenciana”
Start your meal with one of Columbia Restaurant’s signature drinks. The Tango Mango Daiquiri combines fresh mango and Don Casimiro Classic Silver Rum. If you would prefer something less sweet, try a Mojito.
The Spanish Bean Soup is a hearty soup that combines garbanzo beans, smoked ham and potatoes. The crusty Cuban bread is perfect for dipping.
Shrimp Criollo is a spicy entrée of wild-caught Gulf of Mexico shrimp sautéed with onions, tomatoes, ripe plantains and potatoes.
Leave room for dessert. One of my top 10 favorite desserts of all time, the Columbia Restaurant’s White Chocolate Bread Pudding is a decadent combination of white chocolate, La Segunda Central Bakery Cuban bread, local eggs and milk, and topped with a Don Casimiro Classic Silver Rum sauce.

About Kristine K. Stevens

Book Cover200Kristine is the author of "If Your Dream Doesn't Scare You, It Isn't Big Enough: A Solo Journey Around the World." This nonfiction book tells the story of how she sold her house, quit her job and traveled around the world.

Kirkus Book Review: "... Stevens makes a friendly, relatable narrator ... plenty of colorful stories to make this an enjoyable, inspiring read... An often sweet memoir about finding oneself in many different places."

Next travel book to spotlight Iceland

25817249396_f6c787ef9f_z Kristine broke free from a desk job once again, and this time ended up volunteering in the far corners of Iceland!

Details about the release of this book will be posted on Facebook.