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The Columbia makes the best Cuban sandwich in Florida, according to Southern Living

exterior of a restaurant at night. Two neon light tubes flank either side of the front entrance door.
The Columbia is one of the most beloved restaurants in Florida, and it all began in Ybor City | Photo via The Columbia Restaurant Group

The Cuban sandwich debate in Florida is one that always stirs a lot of emotions. Many argue over the proper way to craft the sandwich, the best spot to find one, and of course where it originated. Southern Living has entered the chat and named The Columbia as the best Cuban sandwich spot in the state.

“All 52,000 square feet of the space smells of baking bread, garlic, and spices,” writes Andrew Schrader for Southern Living. “…it’s more like a magical foodie castle, covered in Spanish tiles, where everyone is invited to the feast.”


a diagonally cut sandwich filled with meat, cheese, pickles and tomatoes, pressed and toasted and held up in front of mosaic tiles
The original Cuban sandwich at The Columbia has enchanted diners for decades | Photo via The Columbia (Facebook)

The Columbia crafts a perfect sandwich trifecta

Andrew T. Huse, Tampa Bay historian and lead author of The Cuban Sandwich: A History in Layers, notes that it was never referred to as a Cuban sandwich by Cubans. “It was called a mixto (mixed sandwich),” he says, “and the ingredients changed over time.”

Columbia’s current Cuban is based on the sandwich popularized over a century ago and features salami, ham, and roast pork. Historian Andrew Huse says the three biggest factors that make The Columbia’s so special are sugar, fat, and bread.

Southern Living also highlights the use of La Segunda Bakery bread for the sandwich. You can see the magazine’s full award’s list here.


The Columbia’s original Ybor location can be found at 2117 E 7th Ave. Visit its website to learn more about the restaurant.

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