The Columbia 1905 Salad

Thursday, April 15, 2010


What could I possibly say about the iconic Columbia Restaurant that hasn’t been said before?  From its humble Ybor City beginnings in 1905 as a small corner sandwich shop to its current status as Florida’s oldest restaurant and the largest Spanish restaurant in the world, the Columbia has been dishing up authentic Cuban cuisine for over one hundred years – and shows no signs of ever slowing down.

Founded in 1905 by Cuban immigrant Casimiro Hernandez, Sr., the Columbia Cafe catered to Ybor City’s hard-working and hard-drinking local cigar workers with light meals and strong drinks. In 1918, with Florida’s prohibition laws in full swing, the Columbia hastily transformed into a restaurant and shot glasses were replaced by demitasse cups filled with its own special blend of Cuban coffee.


The original 1905 Columbia Cafe*

Joined by his son, also named Casimiro, Casimiro, Sr. took over the restaurant next door in 1919 and converted it into an additional dining room. Casimiro Jr. aspired to take the Columbia beyond its humble beginnings and envisioned an elegant dining room with music and dancing, the likes of which were unheard of in this part of the country at the time.  When he took over the Columbia’s reigns after the death of his father in 1930, Casimiro Jr. began turning his dream into reality by building the first air-conditioned dining room in Tampa, complete with an elevated dance floor. He named it the Don Quixote Room. Since then, many more dining rooms have been added, including a 300-seat showroom, called the Siboney Room, designed to showcase top Latin talent.


The Don Quixote Room circa 1950*

Today, the Columbia in Ybor City has a total of 52,000 square feet with seating for up to 1,700 customers in fifteen dining rooms. It encompasses an entire city block!  It has also earned more distinguished awards and accolades than you can count.  There are also seven offshoots of the original restaurant scattered around the state of Florida, including the first one opened in Sarasota in 1959.  All are still run by descendants of Casimiro Sr.


The original 60 seat café from 1905 as it looks today**

With such an illustrious history, you can imagine that the food served at the Columbia is something special.  It truly is. I adore eating at both the Sarasota restaurant and at the original in Tampa.  There are several signature dishes from the Columbia that I order again and again, including the “1905” Salad. It is my hands down, absolute favorite salad in the whole world.

The “1905” is a mélange of crisp iceberg lettuce, julienned ham, Swiss cheese, tomato, olives and grated Romano cheese tossed with the most fabulous garlicky, lemony dressing.  At the restaurant, waiters in tuxedos prepare the salad tableside with great pomp and circumstance, which only adds to its allure. You can also do this at home to impress your friends and family, but I guarantee they’ll be thrilled even if you don’t.  Trust me. It is so worth the fact that you will have garlic oozing from your pores for days after you eat one of these!


When I make the “1905” at home, I do often add some ingredients not included in the original recipe.  It’s a salad after all, and I like to improvise.  I like to put cucumbers and radishes in my salad for extra crunch.  Sometimes I’ll throw in a few anchovy fillets as well – just for fun.   I’m crazy that way.  Whatever extra things you decide to add, just make sure you don’t leave anything out.  I firmly believe that every ingredient is there for a reason, and leaving one out will mess with the synergy of the dish.  And, we definitely wouldn’t want that!

As you’ve probably already guessed, this salad was also part of the Cuban feast I’ve been telling you about.  If you decide to try it, do what I did.  Make extra dressing to keep on hand for the rest of the week.  It actually gets better as it sits in the fridge and is great on steamed vegetables and grilled chicken too.


Columbia “1905” Salad
from the Columbia Restaurant

Salad Ingredients:

4 cups iceberg lettuce, broken into 1 1/2″ × 1 1/2″ pieces
1 ripe tomato, cut into eighths
1/2 cup baked ham, julienned 2″ × ⅛” (may substitute turkey or shrimp)
1/2 cup Swiss cheese, julienned 2″ × ⅛”
1/2 cup pimiento-stuffed green Spanish olives
2 cups “1905” Dressing (see recipe below)
1/2 cup Romano cheese, grated
1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, according to your taste
1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, according to your taste


Combine lettuce, tomato, ham, Swiss cheese, and olives in a large salad bowl. Before serving, add “1905” Dressing, Romano cheese, Worcestershire, and the juice of 1 lemon. Toss well and serve immediately.

Makes 2 dinner salads or 4 side salads.

Dressing Ingredients:

1/2 cup extra-virgin Spanish olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/8 cup white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste


Mix olive oil, garlic, and oregano in a bowl with a wire whisk. Stir in vinegar, gradually beating to form an emulsion, and then season with salt and pepper. For best results, prepare 1 to 2 days in advance and refrigerate.


*Photo from

**Photo from Columbia Restaurant

41 responses to The Columbia 1905 Salad

  1. On April 15, 2010 at 2:01pm, Jessica @ How Sweet said...

    That salad sounds absolutely fabulous!

  2. On April 15, 2010 at 2:02pm, Rosa said...

    OMG, that salad look mouthwatering! What an awesome combination of ingredients!



  3. On April 15, 2010 at 2:04pm, Núria said...

    What a lovely post, Susan! I didn’t know about this salad and its history. Warm weather is here and new ideas for salads are always welcome! Thanks.

  4. On April 15, 2010 at 2:38pm, Rachelle said...

    oh that looks good! I love salads with everything in it.

  5. On April 15, 2010 at 3:10pm, Rachel (S[d]OC) said...

    What a gorgeous restaurant with such great history.

    Definitely a cut above your average chef salad.

  6. On April 15, 2010 at 3:18pm, mayra said...

    Columbia is one f my favorite restaurants. I will certainly make this salad

  7. On April 15, 2010 at 4:14pm, momgateway said...

    I like the purity of timeless flavors that are in this salad.

  8. On April 15, 2010 at 6:12pm, Sandra :) said...

    This sounds absolutely fabulous – I can’t wait to try it!! I’ll be careful not to mess with it’s synergy – I’ll make sure not to forget any ingredients, lol!!

  9. On April 16, 2010 at 10:56am, Kate said...

    Columbia in St. Augustine was the first restaurant that my husband and I ate out in as a married couple on a real date. They treated us fabulously, the food was unbelievable and the experience will always hold a special place in our hearts – this salad included!

  10. On April 16, 2010 at 3:15pm, SMITH BITES said...

    Can we just say ‘DROOL’??? You had me at ‘oozing garlic’!

  11. On April 16, 2010 at 3:43pm, tia said...

    wow. just leave out the olives and i’m all over this :)

  12. On April 16, 2010 at 7:48pm, Joan Nova said...

    You’re very Cubana these days — I’m loving it! The opened a branch in West Palm Beach a few years ago but for some strange reason, it wasn’t successful and ultimately closed.

  13. On April 17, 2010 at 6:37am, Jen @ Maple n Cornbread said...

    I love reading about history like this, thanks for sharing! And this salad… total yum!!!!

  14. On April 18, 2010 at 8:04pm, gfe--gluten free easily said...

    This post made me feel young again, Susan. To explain, my girlfriends and I went to Columbia on a Spring Break trip when I was back in college. I even remember the sundress I wore. 😉 Very fond memories. We had to scrape together some pennies to go there as we had very limited funds, but we loved it very much. Thanks for this post with the history (I remember reading some of it on the menu I believe). And, I’ll be making this salad soon!


  15. On April 18, 2010 at 8:04pm, Shari said...

    Ohhhhh this looks so good! I live on the other side of the country dang it! I’m going to make this, but i’m having trouble reading (even with my glasses!) the measurement for the white wine vinegar, -is it 1/8 cup? I need to know! And i promise not to leave out any ingredients!

    • On July 13, 2010 at 7:12pm, Don said...

      Yes, Shari…. 1 / 8 Cup vinegar

  16. On April 20, 2010 at 2:35pm, The Food Hunter said...

    I wish I could have that salad for lunch right now.

  17. On April 20, 2010 at 4:27pm, vincent said...


    We bumped into your blog and we really liked it – great recipes YUM YUM.
    We would like to add it to the

    We would be delighted if you could add your blog to Petitchef so that our users can, as us,
    enjoy your recipes.

    Petitchef is a french based Cooking recipes Portal. Several hundred Blogs are already members
    and benefit from their exposure on

    To add your site to the Petitchef family you can use or just go to and click on “Add your site”

    Best regards,


  18. On May 07, 2010 at 2:12pm, Shandy said...

    Hurrah! I came across your blog from a link at “17 and Baking” and it looks like we’re in the same general region. And here’s one of my favorite foods–I love this salad. Thank you so much for posting it.

    Now, any thoughts on how to conquer the Columbia’s Spanish bean soup at home? Because that is heaven in a bowl right there.

    Beautiful blog!

  19. On July 14, 2010 at 7:09pm, Steve said...

    There’s something terribly wrong here…. The recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of Worchestershire Sauce, which sounded like an incredible amount. There are dozens of recipes for this on the web, and all call for one teaspoon at best. Ditto the lemon juice: “juice of one lemon” is about 1/4-1/3 cup–doubling the amount of wine vinegar already there. Other recipes call for one or two teaspoons. Beware!

    • On July 14, 2010 at 9:02pm, Susan said...

      Please calm down, Steve! I am not trying to poison my readers! 😉 I have also seen a number of “1905” recipes on the web that call for only 1 or 2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce. However, the recipe that I used came directly from the Columbia Restaurant web site, which is why I took it as the authentic recipe. The web site also lists the amount of lemon juice to be the juice of one whole lemon. After reading your comment, I took a look in the Columbia Restaurant Cookbook, which I own, and it does call for 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire. I think it is a matter of taste, as I made it with the 2 tablespoons and my family loved it. I have adjusted the recipe to reflect the discrepancy.

      The lemon juice amount was a typo. It should have read juice of 1/2 of a lemon, which would give about a tablespoon or two, depending on the size of the lemon. I did cut that quantity down because using the whole lemon was a little too “lemony” for me.

      As with any of my recipes, nothing is written in stone. Everyone has different tastes and there are often many ways to prepare a particular dish. If an ingredient doesn’t work for you, feel free to change it however you like.

  20. On December 30, 2010 at 1:29pm, Liz Hood said...

    Do you have anything from las Novedades Restaurant? My dad took me there back in 1960 or 1961. He and the owner had grown up together in Tampa in the nineteen teens. They had the most glorious coconut ice cream. It wasn’t sherbet but true ice cream. It was next door to Molly Ferrara’s Columbia Record Shop. She was the alcadesa of Ybor City at that time.

    • On November 25, 2011 at 10:04am, Sam Ferrara said...

      Molly was my grandmother. I remember eating at Las Novedades tons of times. In my opinion, it was better than the Columbia. Much classier at the time.

      • On February 15, 2012 at 6:56pm, Dan Perez said...

        Liz and Sam, I’m currently working on a feature on Las Novedades for my website. I’ve gathered lots of old photos and history. Check my site now and then for the feature, may be done by this weekend. Meanwhile, have you seen this photo? It appears to show Molly’s Columbia Record shop–could it be where the sign is that says “RCA Victor” and “Electric Tuning”? This photo is from the 1930s and was taken of the building next to Las Novedades.

    • On May 23, 2013 at 10:50pm, Jane said...

      Liz…there is a cookbook available, titled Clarita’s Cocina. It is the recipes from the matriarch of Las Novedades, and filled with recipes from the restaurant and from her home kitchen. I agree…it was far superior to the Columbia…as was Spanish Park and Valencia Gardens. But I have to admit…I make the 1905 Salad frequently. Here’s a link of a talk given by Manny Garcia, of the Las Novedades family. He spoke at the University Club…and had the chefs prepare several of the traditional recipes from the family restaurant. He’s married to my sister’s good friend. (

  21. On August 18, 2011 at 4:45pm, mary said...

    what kind of ham do you use?

  22. On September 02, 2011 at 3:24am, Olga said...

    somebody please help me! how much in one cup?
    200 ml? more or less? I’m asking this crazy ? cause in Russia we havent got such measering.
    thanks for answering

  23. On December 03, 2011 at 12:24pm, Mike H said...

    Thanks so much for this recipe… But I am a little confused. This recipe says to mix “2 cups “1905” Dressing (see recipe below)” with the salad. The Columbia Restaurant website says the same thing. However the dressing recipe says to use 1/2 cup oil and 1/8 cup vinager. How do you get two cups out of this. And if you use two cups of dressing the salad will be floating in it. Seems like too much to me.

    And has anyone tried to , make this in larger quantities to serve 16 or 20? Do you just double or triple the ingredients in proportion?

  24. On January 23, 2012 at 6:25pm, Juliet said...

    When I used to live in Tampa, the Columbia, Las Novadades and Cafe Pepe were my favorite restaurants – and the Kapok Tree Inn was my favorite “tourist” restaurant. The matchbooks at the Columbia used to have the recipe for this salad on the inside of the cover and this is the recipe for the dressing I got off of that:
    4 cloves of garlic, minced
    1 tsp. oregano
    1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
    juice of 1/2 a lemon
    1/2 cup olive oil
    1/8 cup white vinegar
    salt and pepper

    In the old recipe, the Worcestershire and lemon were mixed into the dressing rather than separately into the salad.

  25. On March 07, 2012 at 8:43am, Sam Ferrara said...

    Dan, the picture I viewed was not Molly’s store. It had to be somewhere else. The building she had next to the Las Novedades was only 2 stories. The building in the picture was 3 stories.

    • On April 18, 2013 at 2:59pm, Ron Antinori said...

      That’s right Sam. You and your brother burned down the 3rd story!

  26. On June 13, 2012 at 5:38pm, Sasha said...

    So the girls at work are Raving about this salad, so Ive decided to make it on Saturday as I have my family over. My question….Im also considering Lasagna. Is that going to be too much? Sadly, I dont eat salad myself, so Im clueless.
    Should I just offer this and bread? Im not sure the manly men will just want salad. Any ideas for what to pair this with?

  27. On March 06, 2013 at 7:55pm, Christy Hayes said...

    Best salad and great time in Tampa. Paiella was fantastic and sangria wasgreat

  28. On October 29, 2013 at 8:32am, ダウンジャケット 高品質 said...

    Your mode of telling all in this paragraph is in fact good, all can easily know it,
    Thanks a lot.

  29. On March 23, 2014 at 12:11am, survival analysis how to said...

    What’s up friends, how is the whole thing, and
    what you would like to say regarding this piece of writing, in my view its really
    remarkable in favor of me.

  30. On April 19, 2014 at 4:40pm, phoenix az bankruptcy attorney said...

    Good day I am so grateful I found your site, I really
    found you by error, while I was researching on Yahoo for something
    else, Nonetheless I am here now and would just like to say cheers for a remarkable post and a all round thrilling blog (I
    also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to read it all at the moment
    but I have bookmarked it and also added in your RSS feeds, so
    when I have time I will be back to read more, Please do keep up the
    excellent job.

  31. On April 22, 2014 at 7:36pm, pool cleaning phoenix az said...

    It’s going to be finish of mine day, however before
    finish I am reading this great piece of writing to improve my

  32. On August 25, 2015 at 11:14pm, barb said...

    I adore this salad. Lived in FL for many years. Enjoyed the salad presentation. Thanks I found you on Pinterest. Now I must put this salad I
    n the rotation

  33. On February 24, 2016 at 7:23pm, Mary Jean ficquett said...

    The best salad I have ever eaten by far!

  34. On March 26, 2016 at 7:55pm, test said...

    Howdy I am so thrilled I found your web site, I really found you by error, while I
    was browsing on Askjeeve for something else, Regardless I
    am here now and would just like to say cheers for a marvelous post and a all round exciting blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to go
    through it all at the minute but I have saved it and also added your
    RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a great deal
    more, Please do keep up the excellent b.

3 pings to The Columbia 1905 Salad

  1. On May 16, 2012 at 12:11am, Cooking, baking, & some other things on the side « peonies & apricots pinged...

    […] to do is make them again. Anyways, in other news, the next night (Mother’s Day), we made this salad and these rolls, along with this summer corn salad. I think I just like food way too much. The […]

  2. On May 28, 2013 at 11:40pm, Cooking, baking, & some other things on the side | here & there pinged...

    […] I want to do is make them again. The next night (Mother’s Day), we made this salad and these rolls, along with this summer corn salad. I think I just like food way too much. […]

  3. On May 14, 2014 at 10:11am, Salads Across America | Drive The Nation pinged...

    […] Credits: Waldorf Salad, Caesar Salad, Pittsburgh Pub Salad, 1905 Salad, Portillo’s Chopped […]

please post a comment...

kiss the cook!

Hello and welcome to SGCC! I’m Susan, a professional writer, food columnist, recipe developer, wife, mother, daughter and sister, who used to be a lawyer in a previous life. My love of food comes from a long line of wonderful and creative Italian home cooks who didn’t always have a lot, but knew how to make a lot out of what they had. I hope that you enjoy yourself while you’re here, and visit often! read more >>

Just Browsing?
55 Knives
follow me!

    Follow Me on Pinterest

    Friday Food Lust

    Fine Cooking