Columbia Restaurant - Sarasota, Florida

In 1905, Casimiro Hernandez, Sr. founded Columbia. Today, it is Florida’s oldest restaurant. In addition to being the oldest restaurant, Columbia also claims the title of world’s largest Spanish restaurant. The original location still receives much traffic today in Tampa’s historic Y-Bor City. Due to the immense popularity, six other locations have opened throughout the state including Sarasota, Sand Key, St. Augustine, Celebration, Riverwalk Tampa, and the Tampa airport.

Columbia has won many, many awards over the years for its’ outstanding Spanish cuisine. The menu features an extensive assortment of dishes to suit everyone’s personal taste.

Each location offers its’ own unique setting, however, an evening visit to the original Y-Bor city location features the added bonus of live flamenco dancers. All locations feature the same fabulous award-winning Spanish/Cuban cuisine. The Sand Key restaurant, however, wins the award for best setting. The patio overlooks Clearwater Bay and has been rated one of the most scenic restaurants!

Waterfront dining at Columbia Sand Key

Sarasota’s oldest restaurant

Columbia Sarasota opened in 1959, making it Sarasota’s oldest restaurant. It also seems to be the most popular in the area, as evidenced by the number of tourists enjoying the patio dining. This particular Columbia is located in beautiful St. Armand’s Circle. This gorgeous outdoor shopping destination is the perfect place to stroll around before or after your meal. Columbia is home to a beautiful indoor/outdoor dining room combination. The interior is very pretty with beautiful statues, paintings, and plenty of trees.

Columbia Restaurant Sarasota indoor dining room
Gorgeous ambiance for a date!

Home of the famous Cuban Black Beans

Columbia is most famous for their Cuban Black Bean soup, a simple yet delicious combination of seasoned black beans, white rice, and onions. Columbia’s “1905 Salad,” is also very popular. In fact, there was not a table in the restaurant that wasn’t ordering this mixture of iceberg lettuce, baked ham, Swiss cheese, olives, tomatoes, Romano Cheese, and garlic dressing. The salad was named for the year in which the original Y-Bor city restaurant opened.

Cuban black bean soup at Columbia Restaurant in Sarasota, Florida
The winning dish at Columbia

Spanish dining at its’ best

The menu features a large selection of Tapas, which are large sized appetizers meant to be shared across the table. Tapas are very popular in Spanish cuisine. Black bean cakes, shrimp sauteed in olive oil and garlic, shrimp and crabmeat casserole, and sliced chorizo and onion sauteed in olive oil are just a few of the treats on the menu.

Black bean cakes at Columbia restaurant
The must try appetizer here is the delicious Black Bean cakes

The extensive seafood selection includes: a variety of Red Grouper, Shrimp, Salmon, and Mahi Mahi dishes. Meat entrees include various Filet Mignon, Roast Pork, and Chicken dishes. The Chicken and Yellow Rice “Ybor” includes a delicious assortment of yellow rice, peppers, tomatoes, onions, spices, and olive oil topped with baked chicken.

Chicken and Yellow Rice "Ybor" at Columbia Restaurant in Sarasota, Florida
Chicken and Yellow Rice

You will find a variety of Paella dishes, including a vegetarian option. Paella is a rice dish originating from Spain. The dish combines meats, vegetables, beans, and spices with a variety of flavors. The Paella Vegetariana dish was excellent – a great combination of all sorts of vegetables and beans (artichoke hearts, green beans, tomatoes, garlic, peppers, onions, and La Bomba Spanish rice cooked with a saffron broth).

Paella Vegetariana at Columbia Restaurant Sarasota, Florida
Vegetarian Paella

Even Vegetarians can enjoy a meal here!

Fortunately, in recent years they have added a few more vegetarian options, although these are still limited. Black Bean cakes (mentioned above), the Black Bean soup, Paella Vegetarian, Queso dip with Cuban bread points, and Stuffed silver dollar mushrooms (spinach, artichokes, romano cheese), Eggplant Riojana give a few more options for veggie lovers.

Columbia is the perfect choice for those seeking authentic Spanish/Cuban cuisine. If you find yourself in any of the aforementioned cities, be sure to plan a lunch or dinner stop at one of the world’s best Spanish restaurants. In Sarasota, there is no better choice for a delicious, upscale fine dining experience.

Location/Hours of Columbia Sarasota

Columbia Restaurant is located at : 411 St Armands Cir, Sarasota, FL 34236. Hours: Sunday – Thursday: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m., Friday & Saturday: 11 a.m. – 11 p.m., & Sunday: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Reservations: (941) 388-3987