Yesterday for lunch we went the La Tropicana, which has quickly become our favorite lunch spot in Ybor City. While The Columbia restaurant is top of mind for most folks when it comes to good food in Ybor, and I've eaten at various Columbia locations many times before, La Tropicana is tops in my book for authentic Cuban food in Ybor. Compared to The Columbia, La Tropicana is the new kid on the block. The Columbia dates back to 1905, La Tropicana since 1963.
I ordered "the special" which is half of a Cuban sandwich (a good sized portion) and a bowl of black bean soup. I tried to order a chicken salad, which they were out of so I was forced to have a Cuban instead. Traci had a greek salad.
Every meal comes with warm Cuban bread with butter. La Tropicana's Cuban bread is out of this world and reminds me of New Orleans french bread. We sat up at the counter which puts you more in the mix of the hustle and bustle of the wait staff. Service is quick, prices are great (cash only, though, this is old school and family run) and the food is consistently top notch and authentic as it comes. A great no-frills lunch spot.
A fun factoid is that President Bush stopped by La Tropicana for lunch when he was in town a few years ago. La Tropicana proudly displays a picture of the visit up at their register.
Bottom-line: Great Cuban food at extremely affordable prices in a historic setting. No visit to Ybor during the day is complete without grabbing a bite to eat at La Tropicana.