Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Ybor City

Have you heard of Ybor City? Unless you are from Florida or of Cuban heritage, Ybor City probably isn't on your radar. But what a cool place to visit.

Ybor City is an historical neighborhood located northeast of Tampa. Originally a neighborhood settled by Italians, Spanish and Cuban immigrants, it was the hub of cigar factories where millions of cigars were rolled each year. In fact, you can still watch artisans hand roll cigars there.

Once a thriving urban area, it's  decline began around World War II. In recent years, it has become a thriving area again, especially for outdoor cafe's and nightclubs. Of course, there is shopping, a movie theatre and the ever present cigars to purchase.

But the most famous thing that Ybor City is known for is the Cuban Sandwich. Usually made of ham, salami, roast pork, mustard or mayo, and pickles on Cuban bread, Ybor City holds the Cuban Sandwich Festival every year. And it has beat out Miami as the Cuban Sandwich capital in a vote by Florida residents.

We visited the Tampa Brewing Company and sat outside on it's patio enjoying the Christmas decorations.Then it was on to the highlight of our visit - Gaspar's Grotto where we had the above Cuban Sandwich on one of their outdoor patios.

If you're up for a fun day strolling historical streets or an evening going out for Latin food, then Ybor City is your place. The Tampa Cigar Heritage Festival takes place in Mid November. For more info about Ybor City, head here

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