The Columbia Restaurant at Airside E has only been open since May, and already it’s made a “best of” list.
FoxNews.com included the Columbia Café in its list of nine airport restaurants that the article describes as giving “travelers a sample of the city’s culinary creations that lie beyond the restaurant – many of which may even be worth missing your flight for.”
Restaurants in airports in Singapore, Amsterdam, London and Los Angeles also made the list.
The article specifically mentioned the Columbia Café’s 1905 salad, crab croquettes, chicken and yellow rice, and, of course, Cuban sandwiches.
“We’ve eaten at the Columbia in Ybor City and know their Cuban sandwiches. You can’t go wrong,” said Amy McGilvary, who recently stopped by the Columbia’s airport location for lunch while waiting to board a flight to Detroit. “When we eat at the Columbia it’s always good and this is just as good.”
General Manager Casey Gonzmart, a fifth-generation Columbia restaurateur, said he takes great pride in the airport restaurant’s growing popularity.
“We make everything here fresh and from scratch, just like we do at the main restaurant. Two of our lead cooks trained in Ybor City for two months to learn the techniques and the recipes,” Gonzmart said.
There are a few differences in the restaurants, such as the scaled down menu and faster-paced dining, Gonzmart said, but that doesn’t change the goal of creating a true Columbia Restaurant experience each and every time.
“My favorite comment that I hear from guests who have eaten here is that there isn’t a difference between the two places,” said Gonzmart. “When I hear that, it makes me happy and I know that we’re getting it right.”
The Columbia Café is one of four new restaurants at Tampa International Airport that offer local flavors. The Green Iguana in Airside A, Cigar City Brewing in Airside C, and First Flight, in the main terminal, are also home-grown favorites.