- IndyGirl Feb 4, 2007 05:13 PM
I've read some of the existing threads, but thought I'd put this out there again for any fresh thoughts. There is a one in three chance I'll be moving there this summer, probably for a very long time. We love ethnic food (Viet, Thai, Indian, sushi); Trader Joes (I already know there's no TJs in all of Florida! :( ); and mostly vegetarian/meat free food.
Thoughts? We are in Indianapolis right now and I have this fear in the pit of my stomach about the change in food scenes.
Aside from the very excellent Chop Stix (pan-Asian dishes, specializing in noodles, with a beautiful lake view and great prices), you can get outstanding sushi at Dragonfly downtown (unless it's closed by now). It was very much styled after a trendy NYC/South Beach sushi place, expensive by Gainesville standards, but really good. The turnover rate tends to be high for non-chain restaurants, especially in fickle downtown, but it was still there as of 2003 when I last lived there.
There WAS a good Thai place called Moraghot out on 43rd Street, farther from where most students live. Not sure if it's still around or not. Bahn Thai, as someone else mentioned, is an institution. I only ever ate there once, before I was an adventurous Chowhound, but people more experienced with Thai food always spoke highly of it.
For Indian, however, people often drove all the way to Imrit Palace in Ocala. I wouldn't be surprised if a good Indian restaurant or two have opened since I left, since there was a clear void that needed to be filled.
Gainesville is very vegetarian-friendly, which you will appreciate. There's also Falafel King and Gyro Plus, which are holes in the wall and worth checking out.
re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou
Dragonfly is still going strong. They even opened a "fast-food" type location behind Carrabbas by Archer and 34th call Rolls 'n Bowls. It's very good for a quick, fairly healthy meal. Moraghot is unfortunately closed. I have yet to find an adequate replacement. Chopstix is ok, I'm not the biggest fan of Bahn Thai, and I still need to sample Tim's. I used to be one of people who drove to Amrit's Palace in Ocala for my Indian fixes, however now, I enjoy Indian Cuisine off of 34rd, just south of Archer across the street from the Kangaroo.
There is a good thai place on 441 (13th Street) just south of the university - Bahn Thai. I have not dined there in years though. Iveys on West University is a very popular place and Mr. Han, off of Newberry, across from the mall (behind Red Lobster) is a great chinese place though expensive. Downtown there is Emiliano's for Cuban and Burrito Brothers Taco Co which is an institution, and Mildred's Big City Food which is good too. There are scores of Indian, Thai and sushi paces in town - just ask around.
For vegetarian/vegan you can try Book Lover's cafe, a small cafe in a used books store. We moved from Tampa a year ago and we used to go there for lunch all the time. Satchel's pizza is great, but my husband prefers Leo's pizza downtown. I worked across the street from burrito bros, so I don't know how many burritos I ended up having there. Good and cheap. When we moved to Tampa in 2000 we couldn't find any Indian, but now I know there are a few smaller ones and one slightly more upscale off 39th ave on the other side of I-75. Pretty good food, but the service was very slow when we went there so i don't know if they're still around. Paramount Grill is another nice place downtown.
When I lived in Gainesville as a youngster I was a vegetarian. Now I've lived in many cities across the U.S., and I eat poultry and seafood, but I still crave food I can only get in Gainesville. Disclaimer: besides Bahn Thai, I haven't been to any of these restaurants in a year or more.
Bahn Thai is easily my favorite Thai restaurant in the world. That isn't to say that every dish is spectacular, but when they're on they're amazing. Their vegetarian dishes are extremely good. The tom yum soup is the best I've ever had. The ultra-flavorful pad thai is different from that anywhere else in the U.S., but it is my favorite. #89, a cold glass noodle dish, blows away and yum woon sen I've had. Panang curry is excellent. Try to order things with seitan or baked tofu. If you like spicy, they will make it spicy.
I like Falafel King and Gyros Plus, especially the latter. Gyros Plus makes possibly the best Lebanese food I've ever had. I love the falafel and pumpkin kibbe. The grape leaves are superb. Excellent zaatar pie.
Burrito Brothers makes great vegetarian burritos and chips, salsa, and guacamole. There's something special about these burritos, but it's hard to say what it is, because I've had many burritos that are objectively better.
I have always enjoyed Emiliano's for a nice lunch on the patio.
Hmmm...well...I've run out of places I really like. That's the problem with small towns. But those restaurants compete with the best of LA/SF/NYC/DC/Boston in my subjective opinion.
(someone else wrote that there are scores of Indian restaurants in Gainesville--when I was there last, there were none. Amrit Palace in Ocala is pretty good, as mentioned.)
When I was a student there, I was a vegetarian and had a few vegan friends. Because of the student population, the town is pretty friendly to those with different diets. I agree with what everyone said about Burrito Bros. and the Falafel King was one of my faves.
If you're interested in what kind of places are available in town, check out http://www.chompmenus.com/ It has a decent compendium of restaurant menus.