Here's a little backstory. There's always backstory, isn't there? So, we flew back to Tampa on our anniversary. We got there - and my exboyfriend from high school was gracious enough to pick us up. So we got back to my father's house, and he was not there - and the BMW was gone. So, we figured he was at Lowe's or Home Depot, he couldn't be at the bank because it was closed. So we waited. We had some beers. And we waited. We had some more beers. It started to get dark. We didn't have a car, didn't know where he was. We weren't sure what to do. So, the FP called his mom. He asked her what to do. She told him to wait an hour, then start calling the hospital, then the police.
So, right before it was time to start making the calls, my dad's physician called me. He asked if I got his message, and I said I never received it. So, my dad was in the hospital. Basically, the local homeless shelter where my mom used to volunteer had some guys go cut my dad's lawn earlier in the day. The temperature was probably 89 degrees. My dad stood out there and watched them. Then he decided to go to the homeless shelter and ask the foreman about building a fence - he wanted to make the space a compound. So, my dad got in his car, and he started to drive. Then he felt dizzy, so he drove to my mom's friend's house. She is a retired nurse. So he rings the doorbell and throws himself on her couch saying he feels dizzy. She took his blood pressure and it was really low. She took him to his doctor, who then checked him into the hospital. His blood pressure stabilized as soon as he ate something, but they kept him overnight for observation.
So, the doctor was calling to tell me he was okay. He couldn't remember the name of the nurse who took my dad to him, and he didn't have her number! So, I called one of my mom's other friends, and she gave us a ride to the hospital. My dad looked so frail, but fine. I think he liked the attention. We asked him the name of the people who took him to the hospital, but he could't remember! He was like, "the older couple from Colombia or South America.... I didn't know who that was. So we stayed a while, then we went back to the house. With no car.
The next morning, a nurse called to say he had been discharged, so whenever we could pick him up... except we didn't have a car! The car was at the hospital, but as far as we knew, my dad did not have the keys. The mystery people had them. So we waited. The hospital called again, and we explained the situation. Finally, the mystery couple went to see my dad, and they called me from his cell phone. They said they would come bring us the car. So they did. And we talked for half an hour about my dad, and about how we should move in with him and work at Disney. They obviously didn't know much about our family.
So, we got my dad. We were waiting for a wheelchair, but they didn't bring one for a few minutes, so we just walked out. As soon as we got to the car, my dad started lecturing us. I told him he needed to rest, but he would not have it. We were going to go grocery shopping, and he was going to take us to the cheaper stores because Publix was too expensive. So he took us to a crappy yucky store. It was cheaper. But most of the produce was ugly. So I wanted to go to Walmart, which is reasonable, and the produce was better, but he wouldn't have it. So we went to the asian market, which didn't have much variety. He wanted to go to Sam's, but that was not what we needed. So we got as much stuff as we could, and hours later we were back at the house. We cooked for him, and he lectured us about our past sins and how things were going to be and how subpar cooks we were. So this was the start of the longest 4 days of my life. He just criticized us about every single move we made. He made me nauseous every time we sat down to eat, because he would start picking at us. We were both losing our minds. One morning, we set breakfast for him, and one plate. Neither of us would sit and eat with him. We watched him waste time, looking for papers, totalling numbers over and over again, obsessing over every single thing.
So, my sis and her hub came on Friday night to rescue us. My dad was pacified that night. Then the next morning, he was back giving us grief. We went on a scary drive with my dad driving in the rain. He wouldn't let us drive. Finally, we made a decision. We were going to Tampa that night. So the FP got on his iphone and booked us a hotel room in Ybor. So later that night, I told my dad we were leaving. I told him we were flying out the next day - which was a lie. But we could not stay there anymore. So, we headed on out. My sis braved the wild and stayed another night, feeding him before she left. He wanted a "lowfat" meal, not like the "high cholesterol" food we had been feeding him.
So, we got to Ybor, and it's like our who bodies relaxed. I think it must be similar to the feeling someone has after being rescued and dropped off at a hotel. I'm not even exaggerating. So, we hung out in Ybor City that night. The next day, we went to Columbia Restaurant to have a proper anniversary lunch. We needed it!
So, Columbia is an old restaurant on the corner of 7th and 21st. It's like the first building when you go onto 7th. Here's the story of Columbia Restaurant.
So, to tell you the truth, I didn't know much about the place, except for it was old. So, it's a hispanic restaurant, of which there are a gazillion in Tampa area.
So, we got our drinks. We needed them.
Sangria and Mojito. Both pretty yummy.
So, then we ordered. That's always a difficult decision even if I've been to a place. So it's extra difficult if I'm somewhere new. So, the first thing we got was "columbia's original 1905 salad". Here's the menu description
Columbia's Original "1905" SaladTM
The Columbia's legendary salad tossed at your table. Crisp iceberg lettuce with julienne of baked ham, natural Swiss cheese, tomato, olives, grated Romano cheese and our famous garlic dressing (our 100 year old family recipe of fresh garlic, oregano, wine vinegar and Spanish extra virgin olive oil).
So, it's tossed and plated tableside. Totally old school.
This was so...perfect.
Next we got the empanada, which was disappointing after the wonderful salad. The empanada itself was good, the filling was flavorful enough, but the black bean salsa just didn't go with it. Hm.. black bean salsa. Remember when that was in? That was like back when we loved Chilis! Ha ha! I imagine some foodies would like to believe that they grew up with a discriminating palate, even though their mom fed them TV dinners or canned corn.
Gambas al ajillo. Just delicious. Nice big sweet gulf shrimp. Just enough garlic and olive oil. It's the simple things.
Arroz con pollo. Really just nicely homecooked tasting. Simple, no weird unflattering garnishes, flavorful rice, tender chicken. Okay, so they added the peas at the last minute, but I'm not going to complain about such a minor detail that kept the peas bright green. It was very nice. I felt good. I hadn't felt good all week.
So, based on our one visit, I'm going to go ahead and give Columbia Restaurant a \/\/\/\/ 8 chopstick rating. Because I don't know if I'll go back again. But it lived up to my expectations and more. Really just a romantic old world kind of restaurant.
Columbia Restaurant Ybor City
2117 East 7th Avenue, Tampa FL 33605