“Five Forks”—Spanish government ranking
“Recommended”—AAA Travel Guide and Mobil Travel Guide
Golden Spoon Hall of Fame Award—Florida Trend
Distinguished Restaurants of North America (DiRoNA) Award of Excellence
Fine Dining Hall of Fame Award—Nation’s Restaurant News
In this narrated cookbook, Adela Hernandez Gonzmart and Ferdie Pacheco memorialize their passion for the Columbia, the nation’s largest Spanish restaurant and Florida’s oldest restaurant. This special 115th anniversary edition of the The Columbia Restaurant Spanish Cookbook features a touching foreword by Andrea Gonzmart Williams, granddaughter of Adela.
Adela’s affair with food is a family legacy that began in the early twentieth century, when her grandfather Casimiro Hernandez emigrated from Cuba to Tampa. In 1905, Casimiro purchased a small corner café, where he started selling soup, sandwiches, and coffee. Out of gratitude to his new country, he named his small café Columbia, after the personification of America in the popular song “Columbia, Gem of the Ocean.” Prophetically, he added this motto to his sign: “The Gem of All Spanish Restaurants.”
Casimiro became known for dishes that the Columbia still serves today—Spanish bean soup, his hearty creation that combines sausage, garbanzo beans, and potatoes in a beef stock; arroz con pollo, a classic chicken and rice dish; an authentic Cuban sandwich; and the “1905” Salad®, dressed with the family’s special blend of fresh garlic, oregano, wine vinegar, lemon juice, and Spanish olive oil.
This anniversary edition of The Columbia Restaurant Spanish Cookbook is a history of the elegant family restaurant, which now boasts multiple locations across Florida, and a delicious cookbook of 178 recipes that make them famous. It is also the biography of Adela, the heart of the Columbia, with commentary by Ferdie Pacheco—Muhammad Ali’s “Fight Doctor,” Ybor City’s famous raconteur, and Adela’s childhood friend. Adela and Ferdie have since passed, but this book remains a testament to their love of good food and their joy in sharing the aroma, the seasonings, and the glamour of the Columbia.
Adela Hernandez Gonzmart (1920–2001) was born two blocks from the Columbia Restaurant. After graduating from the Juilliard School of Music, she toured the United States and Cuba as a concert pianist. After her marriage to violinist Cesar Gonzmart, she performed with such entertainers as Liberace, Ernesto Lecuona, and Amparo Hurb. She was instrumental in forming the Tampa Symphony Orchestra and in her lifetime received countless honors from organizations in the Tampa community.
Ferdie Pacheco (1927–2017), who as a teenager worked in the Columbia Restaurant as a waiter, served as Muhammad Ali’s personal physician and was the author of many books, including Ybor City Chronicles, Pacheco’s Art of Ybor City and Tales from the 5th Street Gym: Ali, the Dundees, and Miami’s Golden Age of Boxing.