La Ideal Cafeteria
La Ideal Cafeteria is located in West Tampa at the corner of Tampa Bay Blvd. and Gomez, at 2924 Tampa Bay Blvd., only a few blocks east of Tampa Bay Blvd. Elementary School and Raymond James Stadium. Located in what was once an old grocery store, La Ideal is a favorite neighborhood hangout for members of Tampa’s Cuban-American community.
Never judge a book by its cover; what it lacks in exterior appearance it more than makes up for with its mouth-watering Cuban food and potent Cuban coffee.
La Ideal is a popular gathering spot for locals in the predominantly Hispanic West Tampa community. The atmosphere is highly charged and the dining area is always filled with patrons during lunchtime. The clatter of dozens of simultaneous conversations and Cuban music fill the air to make your visit an exhilarating experience for all your senses.
La Ideal's energized atmosphere reflects the personality of manager Mario "Majito" Aguila, Jr., the dynamic force behind the atmosphere at La Ideal. Constantly back & forth from the kitchen to the dining area serving customers, taking orders and making more coffee, he wears a perpetual smile as he works, laughs, sings and dances to the upbeat Cuban music.
Majito’s dad, Mario Sr., moved his family to the United States from Cuba in 1966. After ten years in New York, the family settled in Tampa and opened La Ideal. In 2005 Mario Sr. sold La Ideal to Luis and Juanita Tejada. The ownership has changed, but Majito has stayed on at the front of the house, and with Juanita in charge in the kitchen, the food is still great. Cuban sandwiches, toasted in a large sandwich press, are a specialty of the house.
NOTE: Since creation of this web page, the Aguila's are no longer affiliated with this location. As of 2008, they operate "La Aguila" on Hillsborough just east of Himes, the former "Cuban Sandwhich Shop."
Aguila Sandwich Shop - 3200 W Hillsborough Ave, Tampa, FL 33614 (813) 876-4022
My favorite is the steak sandwich, served piping hot on pressed "Cuban" bread. Marinated in Mojo sauce and served with grilled onions and fried shoestring potatoes right in the sandwich. I prefer no condiments on mine, so I can savor the full flavor of the mojo and potatoes. Lettuce, tomatoes and cheese are optional for only a quarter.
Numerous awards for best Cuban cafeteria hang on the walls, along with past newspaper articles about La Ideal's popularity.
This award in 1997 was from a local publication called "Weekly Planet."
La Ideal wins Creative Loafing's Cuban Sandwich blind taste test in 2005 at "Cuba Goodies"
Ideal Cafeteria is very affordable and it is a MUST
VISIT stop if you are ever in Tampa! Check
out another review
about La Ideal and their Cuban Sandwich, with great pictures and close up of the menu on the wall.
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MORE West Tampa
pages at Tampapix:
Albany Avenue - See the orignal "Academy of the Holy Names" and cigar factories on Albany Ave.
Columbus Drive Bridge - The Gateway to West Tampa, Hillsborough River & Rivercrest Park
Fire Station No. 9 at Tampania and Chestnut St.
Fort Homer Hesterly Armory has showcased everything from NWA wrestling to JFK, Pink Floyd and Elvis.
George Guida house at MacFarlane Park - Once the home of "Mr. West Tampa"
Howard Avenue - Travel along Howard Ave. from Main St. to St. Louis St.
La Ideal Cafeteria at Tampa Bay Blvd. and Gomez Ave., a popular West Tampa landmark
La Teresita Grocery Store at Columbus Drive and Lincoln Ave.
Macfarlane Park - A favorite of West Tampans, named for the father of West Tampa
Raymond James Stadium - Home of the 2002 NFL Champions Tampa Bay Bucs and Super Bowl 43
Tampa Bay Blvd. Elementary School - Built in 1926 to educate cigar workers' children
West Tampa Little League Ball Park - Home of the 1970 Senior Little League World Champs
West Tampa History - The cigar that sparked a revolution, and Fernando Figueredo, West Tampa's first mayor.