How To At Home: Columbia Restaurant

Founded in 1905 by Cuban immigrant Casimiro Hernandez, Sr., the Columbia Restaurant is Florida’s oldest restaurant, and the largest Spanish restaurant in the world. To this day, six of the Columbia restaurants are still owned and operated by the founding family, including The Columbia Cafe located in the Tampa Bay History Center downtown. With a rich history and incredibly flavorful menu, The Columbia Cafe has become a mandatory stop for visitors who want to truly experience the taste of Tampa.

“One of the most picturesque dining spots on the downtown Tampa waterfront, the cafe has indoor and outdoor seating overlooking Garrison Channel separating downtown from Harbour Island. The cafe serves the most popular dishes from the restaurant’s flagship in Ybor City, including the Original 1905 Salad and chicken and yellow rice. The cafe also serves cocktails, beer and wine, including the Spanish cava sangria made tableside” – Tampa Bay Times

This week the Columbia Restaurant was kind enough to share their family recipe for Picadillo with us. We hope you all enjoy making this delicious dish at home and visit our newsroom for more recipes from local restaurants every Wednesday.


What you’ll need:
2 pounds of lean boneless beef (preferably chuck), trimmed of excess fat and ground
4 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 cup of onions, finely chopped
2 teaspoons of garlic, minced
2 large green peppers, finely chopped
1 teaspoon of oregano
2 teaspoons of salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
4 bay leaves
6 medium-size ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped (or 2 cups canned whole tomatoes, drained and chopped)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup small pimento-stuffed green olives
1/4 cup seedless raisins
1 tablespoon of white vinegar
1 cup of burgundy

Directions: Serves 4 to 6
1. In a 10- to 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium heat until a light haze forms above it.
2. Saute onions and peppers, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, or until vegetables are soft but not brown.
3. Add tomatoes and garlic. Still stirring, cook briskly until most of the liquid in the pan has evaporated.
4. Add ground beef, oregano, bay leaves, and cumin. Stir until meat is no longer red.
5. Add salt, pepper, vinegar, raisins, olives, and wine.
6. Cook at low temperature for approximately 15 minutes.

Traditionally, picadillo is served with fluffy white rice and, when available, fried ripe plantains.