Eat Your Way Through Tampa’s Cuban Oasis
You might be surprised to hear that hidden in Tampa, Florida is a food oasis of the Cuban persuasion. Picadillo, plantano, pork asado, arroz con pollo and Cuban sandwiches flow like sailboats cruising down the bay. in Tampa’s Ybor City, the city’s cozy Latin Quarter. Try dinner at La Teresita Restaurant (3246 W Columbus Dr Tampa, FL 33607) where Maximino and Coralia Capdevila, who emigrated from Cuba in 1962, started as a small grocery store that eventually expanded into two sit-down restaurants that have since fed President Barack Obama. La Teresita also has an adjoining cafeteria where you can head for an informal buffet and heaping piles of Cuban delicacies. For a more historical experience, Columbia Restaurant (2117 East 7th Avenue Tampa, FL 33605) is the oldest restaurant in all of Florida, opened by Casimiro Hernandez in 1905. It’s been owned and operated by his family ever since. Columbia actually serves more of a pan-Latin fare, but diners have said the Cuban roots of Hernandez shine through in dishes like their albondingos—Spanish for meatballs—and Cuban black bean soup. Finally, to fill your classic Cuban sandwich lunchtime needs head over to Brocato’s Sandwich Shop (5021 E Columbus Dr Tampa, FL 33619) where you’ll likely run into a line out the door. Brocatos has been serving their massive 12-inch overstuffed Cuban sandwiches and specialty Devil Crab of crusted crabmeat with a red sauce rounding off at about the size of a softball, for more than 35 years. These people know what they’re doing. Head to Tampa and pretend you’re in Cuba.