Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Visit to Ybor City, Florida

One day while staying at our beach condo in Florida, we made a trip into Tampa and visited Ybor (pronounced EE-borh) City. It's an historic neighborhood on the northeast side of downtown Tampa founded in the 1880s by cigar manufacturers. For 50 years, immigrant labor supplied the manpower to hand-roll millions of cigars. Now it's an entertainment hotspot and tourist destination. 

A few shops still hand-roll and sell cigars from walk-in humidors like this one at Ybor Cigars Plus on East 7th Avenue.

Hand-rolling cigars at Ybor Cigars Plus
In the Ybor Cigars Plus shop, the "plus" is Cuban coffee. It's an espresso, served "con leche" (with milk) if you ask. I absolutely love it. 

So does Dan!

After our late morning coffee, we walked down the street to Gaspar's Grotto for lunch. Signage indicates that they serve "the best Cubans" (sandwich) in Ybor City. Well, several of the restaurants say that! We asked for a recommendation from Ybor Cigars Plus and were sent to Gaspar's Grotto. We were not disappointed.

Our while-you're-waiting appetizer was Cajun boiled peanuts. I'd never heard of them, let alone tried them! Typically, I don't go for spicy food, but these had just the right amount of zip. Messy eating, though.

My Cuban sandwich was "ahhh, wonderful." It's made with several types of meat, cheese, mustard and pickles. It probably sounds like a sub sandwich, but the difference is that the Cuban is made with Cuban bread and then "hot pressed" to make a crispy crust. Excellent, especially when eaten with sweet potato fries.

Dan's Cuban was served with fried plantains.
And I won't mention the one-of-a-kind Bar Cat draft beer we enjoyed with lunch. In total, all the foods that completely blew my no-carb diet to smithereens... but worth every morsel.


  1. You won't find a Cuban anywhere like you can in Tampa!

  2. Espresso coffee AND Cuban cigars - I'd never be able to drag Boak away from a shop like that! Delicious lunch too, though I could feel the pounds piling onto my hips just reading about it! (After 2 months of self-discipline I'm back to my WW goal weight, and staying there)

  3. Mmmmmmm....I so LOVE cuban sandwiches!! I don't know if the ones we make at home are authentic, but oh,are they yummy! Oh, didn't anyone tell you that carb & calories don't count when you are vacationing!!! Sounds as if you are having a blast, I've only seen just enough of Tampa to board a cruise ship, but I envy you just the same! ENJOY!!!



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