This restaurant is owned and operated by the same Tampa family that founded it two generations ago. Beautifully hand-painted tiles and intricate ... More
Columbia Restaurant (The)
This restaurant is owned and operated by the same Tampa family that founded it two generations ago. Beautifully hand-painted tiles and intricate fretwork decorate the exterior of the restaurant, while the interior boasts a two-story atrium. Warm lighting and a sense of history combine to create an elegant and relaxed atmosphere. Enjoy authentic Spanish cuisine, such as paella, black beans and rice or traditional Spanish yellow rice and chicken. Share a pitcher of sangria while flamenco dancers provide entertainment. Call ahead to verify nights and times for the show.
I have lived in the Tampa Bay are since 1974 and have visited all Columbia restaurants (including the one that formerly existed in Harbour Island). My family used to frequent the St.Armand's Circle(Sarasota)location in the early 70's - where we knew the owners and we tipped well - so the wait staff made sure to treat us respectfully and serve excellent food. Our experience at the other locations have been average both in service and food-wise. The Ybor experience 10 yrs. ago was so horrible that I never returned! I (of Spanish descent)took my fiancee to the Flamenco dance and dinner. I reserved a month in advance and mentioned our special occasion. When we got there, we were ignored a good 45 minutes while others were escorted in and we were literally placed at the entrance doorway of the restaurant (furthest spot from the show) with a tiny wobbly table. We saw them pull it out of who knows where (I still get so annoyed remembering the evening). Our wine kept splashing all over the table that the wait staff refused to replace or let alone temporarily repair the table. The wait staff we encountered there were supercilious, they took an eternity to take our order, and never checked on us nor refilled our glasses. Needless to say, he was tipped little and then insulted us in Spanish as we walked out - which I understood. Since then, my mother has returned to the Sarasota Columbia and I have been invited to the St. Pete location and we both agree that the service was just OK but the food not worth eating again. I am very surprised that The Columbia Restaurant still claims to be "world known" because the reputation has been tainted by it's insulting poor service to it's clientele.
Although the restaurant was beautiful, it was in a horrible area. The staff was rude, service slow, and the food was cold. Don't waste your time going this place. The owners should fire everyone and start over again.
This has to be one of the most over-rated eating places in Sarasota. I once, years ago, had a meal at the original Columbia in Tampa; it wasn't great but it wasn't too bad either. But last week, at the Sarasota Columbia, I had one of the most expensive and unappetizing meals of my entire vacation in Florida. And it wasn't just the food - fish that was dried out and tasteless - it was also the service that bothered me; particularly a waiter who was evidently in a hurry to finish up work and who removed our plates as we finished eating while others at our table were still eating. What surprises me about this place is that it is so most nights the place is packed. I guess its patrons have more money than taste.
The hostess was rude. The service was slow. We were seated near a door where people went in and out to smoke. There was a cold breeze everytime the door opened and closed and the smell of smoke from the outside was awful. The food was okay, but quite disappointing. We will not return nor would we recommmend the restaurant to others.
take a shallow out of town guest only if they request it
By A Yahoo! Contributor, 11/27/06
I have dined at this restaurant on numerous occasions, only once by choice, the first time I went. The other times by invition because of some sort of persistent mostly undeserved reputation. The wait staff is aloof, haughty, rude, uncaring, and have no comprehension of "service." If you are forced to go to this restaurant request a newer and younger wait staff - one who is not part of the woodwork (owners, please put to pasture or in the kitchen anyone who doesn't smile - you must know who all the jerks are who are there because of tenure or connections or habit). The yellow rice is undoubtedly out of a cellophane wrapper, the salads compromised, the entrees mostly disagreeable however when one pays the price with a little lift from the ambiance it behooves our consciense to say the meal was adequate. Let's be candid. This is the worst and most overated restaurant in Tampa Bay. Not a disgrunted diner, I just wish this place would stop insulting their customers and the city with their mockery.
This place has been resting on its laurels for many years. The food's not especially fresh and not imaginative, the servers can be arrogant (especially if you're Anglo) and the proces are ridiculous. Cool-looking place, but that's it. If you really know food you won't like the Columbia. Try La Teresita or La Tropicana or something instead, you'll get better food for less money.
Elegant atmosphere. Perfect to bring a date. Features a live Flamenco dance show at certain times. Although it says Columbia, it does not offer Colombian food, food is basicly Spanish. It would need some pure Colombian food to live up to its name and maybe add some Authentic Colombian dances as well. Which was a bit of a disappointment cause I was expecting Colombian food, but overall there food was excellent, maybe they should change thier name to "The Spanish Restaurant"?
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