When CNN highlighted some excellent historic restaurants in major cities across the country last month, readers wondered why their small-town and smaller-city favorites didn't make the cut. Thus, in this follow-up tribute to more laudable veteran restaurants, we've zeroed in - thanks to suggestions from our commenters - on the decades-old, and in certain cases centuries-old, icons that thrive outside of America's biggest metropolises.
Columbia Restaurant, 1905
The Hernandez/Gonzmart family claims the title of Florida's oldest restaurant and America's oldest Spanish restaurant with their 107-year-old icon Columbia in the Ybor City area of Tampa. What started as a corner cafe for the cigar workers in town has ballooned into a 1,700-seat restaurant specializing in Cuban and Spanish cuisine. Live jazz and flamenco shows are offered on most nights, and the gift shop comes complete with cigar rolling demonstrations in the afternoon. The restaurant expanded with locations across Florida - including one in Tampa International Airport - but the locals still stop in here for the famous Cuban sandwiches, the 1905 salad, tossed tableside and the old-school Spanish decor.
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