Ok so I come from a Cuban family but
have never been (CORRECTION: I went when I was little, see photo below) to Ybor City, a suburb of Tampa that is known as one of the first Cuban immigrant cities (think Hialeah for the 19th century). I felt I had to do homage to my heritage and visit. But you know what, I was kinda disappointed (but bear in mind I have high standards for Cuban food).
First off, EVERYTHING was way more expensive than I think it should be and you know I travel on a budget. My biggest issue with Ybor City is that it felt like a run-down museum of yesteryear. If you want to see Cuban culture in America, head to Miami; it’s a bit scarier but you’ll get great food at a great price.
Tre Amici @ The Bunker
For those of you who do not speak Spanish or Italian, “tre amici” is Italian for “three friends” (it’s “tres amigos” in Spanish). Before you cry out that how dare I have Italian while in the Cuban Mecca you should know that the Italians have almost equal immigrant footing in Ybor City. And Will googled that this was a great breakfast place. My food was good (a Cafe con Leche with Cuban Bread with Swiss cheese) BUT the price was stupid considering all I got milk, espresso, sugar, white bread, and cheese.
Cost: $20 (breakfast & coffees for two)
La Segunda Central Bakery
As the birthplace of the Cuban Sandwhich, we could not leave Ybor City without getting one! Will googled and found La Segunda Bakery right off of the main street in Ybor City was highly rated. We got a loaf of Cuban Bread to bring back home and a sandwhich. The bread is sooo delicious BUT look at how huge it is!! The sandwhich however was just ok. First off, it had tomatoes on it and that was weird, secondly it was $7.99 (what the hell!).
Cost: $11.05 (gigantic loaf of Cuban bread & a Cuban Sandwhich)
Although we didn’t at Columbia’s on this trip (we have eaten at their St. Augustine location), it is a mainstay of Tampa and one of the “must do/see/eats’ in Ybor City. I thought their St. Augustine location was gorgeous and the food was good, especially their 1905 Salad (yes, a salad!). However, it’s not the “best Cuban food” I’ve ever had, that award goes to my Aba. 🙂
Cost: average for a nice night out
What do you guys think of trying to find “authentic” ethnic restaurants while traveling?