Looking for some killer Cuban food tonight? Do you love picadillo, plantanos, pork asado, arroz con pollo and Cuban sandwiches.? If so, we have the scoop on the best places on both sides of the bay to chow down on the most authentic Cuban food in Tampa Bay.
La Teresita Restaurant
3246 W Columbus Dr
Tampa, FL 33607
7101 66th St N
Pinellas Park, FL
Maximino and Coralia Capdevila emigrated from Cuba in 1962 and are a true American success story. Through countless hours of hard work their small business, which started as a grocery offering a few sandwiches, has grown into 2 sit-down restaurants that have fed Presidents. You can still however get a delicious meal in their adjoining, informal cafeteria, where you can feed your need for heaping, hearty portions of pork asado, arroz con pollo and more for a very modest price.
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The Original Location
2117 East 7th Avenue
Tampa (Ybor City), FL 33605
(813) 248-4961 | www.columbiarestaurant.com
The first Columbia is Florida’s oldest restaurant. It was opened in Ybor City in 1905 by Casimiro Hernandez and has been owned and operated by his family ever since. There are 8 locations of the Columbia, 5 are in Tampa Bay. One of which is located in the Tampa Airport in Terminal E Airside serving Delta and Air Canada. In fairness, the Columbia is actually a Spanish restaurant (the world’s largest), but the Cuban roots of its founder comes through. That said, the menu winds up being pan-latin, which may leave some Cuban purists grousing, while also opening the door to some other excellent options. See their website for other locations in Tampa, Clearwater and St. Petersburg.
Brocato’s Sandwich Shop
5021 E Columbus Dr
Tampa, FL 33619
(813) 248-9977 | www.brocatossandwich.com
Looking for a the best Cuban sandwich at lunch time? This very simple sandwich shop is of king massive Cubans and heavenly Devil Crab. They’ve been serving it up for more than 35 years so you know they know how to do it right. Don’t be surprised if you see a line out the door. Their 12-inch, overstuffed Cuban sandwiches run about $10 and will feed you and a friend. For the uninitiated, a Devil Crab is crabmeat with a red sauce in a crust about the size of a softball, shaped like a football (see picture to right) that you will have a ball eating.
5402 Gulfport Blvd. So.
Gulfport, FL 33707
(727)321-8855 | www.habanacafe-usa.com
Very good value for the money, excellent food, good service. The slow roast pork with mojo sauce is incredible. The drunken shrimp is also a tasty choice with plenty of their crusty bread for sopping up the juice. The black beans are authentic and plantanos sweet and tasty. Habana Cafe’s Sangria is homemade comes in three styles, red, white, or sparkling sangria. For desert the cream cheese flan is out of this world.
105 E Shell Point Rd
Ruskin, FL 33570
(813) 641-7300 | no website
Don’t let the exterior appearance and parking lot of this hole-in-the-wall establishment deter you from enjoying a great cuban meal. The Cuban sandwiches are well priced and delicious. Their sampler platter is succulent with ropa vieja, lechon asado pork, picadillo and plantanos. They even serve Rabdo Encendido (oxtail stew) and Canalones Gratinados (home made pasta stuffed with Grouper, Shrimp and Crab). The flan, guava cheesecake, and bread pudding in a brandy sauce will delight even the toughest Cuban food critic.
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Bodega Comida Cantina Cafe
1120 Central Ave
St. Petersburg, FL 33705
Small, quaint, funky, eclectic and hospitable street cafe. Bodgega specializes in Cuban sandwiches, Cuban coffee, beer and ceviche platters. Their vaca frita – fried cow – is incredible with the perfect combination of garlic, bay and lime exploding in your mouth. Bodega is mostly a lunch place with tables along the sidewalk, which make eating lunch and people watching an easy combination. There is additional, covered seating inside. Lunch: Mon-Wed 11 am – 4 pm Lunch & Dinner: Thu-Sat 11 am – 10 pm