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Gainesville...anything special?

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.

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  1. You can never lose with Satchel's Pizza! It's not ethnic but it's delicious! Here's the link to their website: http://www.satchelspizza.com/ . I don't know if you've tried Chop Stix, but it's really good Thai food. Hope it helped...

    4 Replies
    1. re: Skolnia

      this is indeed helpful. Again, there's a 33% chance that I'll be moving there for a career and staying for a long, long time, so I was just curious. Other ideas are also welcome!! Thanks!

      1. re: IndyGirl

        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.

        1. 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.

      2. re: Skolnia

        I lived in Gainesville for seven years (ended up with two degrees), and Chop Stix is my favorite restaurant in town and Satchel's is my favorite pizza joint. Good choices!

      3. 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.

        1 Reply
        1. re: sunsuze

          Ah! well, then things aren't as bleak as previous threads seemed to imply. Thanks!

        2. 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.

          1. 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.)

            1 Reply
            1. re: fenian

              There are at least two Indian restaurants in Gainesville as of Feb 2007. One is simply called Indian Cuisine and is across from the megasprawl complex on Archer Road. It is pretty good, although a little pricey. The other's name escapes me at present.

            2. 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.

              1. We drive through G'ville once a month and I would give a thumbs up for Emiliano's (cuban & best sangria ever); Burrito Brothers, and Leonardo's (pizza). Also Ivy's is good solid breakfast and lunch

                1. The best restaurant in Gainesville hands down, IMO, is Dinner at Thornebrook. Pricey, but wonderful.

                  The Top downtown is a great choice for vegetarians. Bistro 1245 is a nice, cheapish bistro spot. Satchel's, as mentioned, is great but always packed. Dragonfly has the town's best Sushi. Mildred's is good. Las Margaritas is my favorite Mexican spot. Gyro Plus is good for Middle Eastern.

                  The best food news in Gainesville of late is the opening of 2nd Street Bakery on 16th Ave and 2nd street. Their baked goods are absolutely phenomenal, and they also serve a good lunch. It's also nice that we now have two good local ice cream places--Sweet Dreams in the Goering's plaza and the Gelato Company downtown. We also have a local artisanal coffee roaster now (Sweetwater Coffee). I have lived in G'ville 6 years, and the food scene has really improved over that time.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: loraxc

                    New good places as of 7/09 include The Jones http://thejoneseastside.com/, Boca Fiesta http://www.bocafiesta.com/, Buddha Belly http://www.buddhabelly.us/. This place is far away from me but looks great: http://sistersforbreakfast.com/pgs/si...

                    1. re: loraxc

                      Sisters is a great breakfast spot! They have a creative menu, which you don't see enough for breakfast, and the place has a really cute feeling which fits well being in Haile Village. The menu is always changing too, so you can try various fritatas, quiche, etc... It's worth the drive to check out at least once.

                  2. To answer your question - no - there is nothing very special in Gainesville (I live in the Jacksonville area - and I wouldn't make a special trip to Gainesville to eat). On the other hand - there are a lot of restaurants - some quite good. No reason to list my favorites. If you move to the area - you will find the ones you like soon enough. And - since Gainesville is a huge academic community - with a large number of non-US students - you will find more than a few that are ethnic and/or vegetarian (cheap too). There is also a decent farmer's market which I've gone to a few times (there's a flea/farmer's market in Waldo - just a bit up the road - which has interesting local seasonal produce too).

                    I think that you will enjoy Gainesville if you move there. Assuming you like "centrally isolated" large college towns. There's a lot going on - everything from the arts to football :). Note that Gainesville is also near a lot of fun outdoor things to do in north Central Florida (like fishing and canoeing - you'll be close to a lot of state parks). Robyn

                    1. I've always been sort of partial to El Toro's down on 13th. This isn't necessarily vegetarian, and certainly not especially spicy. I love their thin, cripsy, warm chips. It's not food I'd wax poetic about, but it's good stuff, and reasonable. I've never been able to polish off a whole meal there yet.

                      1. I lived in Gainesville a couple years ago and now live in Jax. My favorite thing to do when I go to Gainesville is EAT! There was so much good (vegetarian) food when I lived there. I'm not sure if all these places are still around, but here's where I loved to eat: The Vietnamese place on University near 13th (excellent vegetarian pho), Satchel's, The Top, lunch at the Wine and Cheese Gallery (pretty much across Main St. from the Top), Chopstix, the little veggie/cheese pockets from one of the Caribbean places on University (Caribbean Spice maybe?), Steamers (I heard they have new owners but hopefully it's just as good) - awesome tempeh burgers. And who can forget Krishna lunch on campus?! Super cheap (used to be free, but I'm pretty sure it costs a little money now...like $2?) and lots of food, always vegetarian.

                        I really loved Gainesville and wish you the best of luck should you end up there. It's a beautiful place...make sure you check out Ginnie Springs and tubing on the Ichetucknee. There's tons of awesome outdoor things to do around there and the spring water is a cool 72 degrees year round...perfect in the summer. Have fun!

                        1. If you're a fan of BBQ don't miss the mobile BBQ vendors. 'Terrell's' is regularly on E. 16th Ave near the FoodLion, and there are others East on Hawthorne Rd.

                          Travel east and look for the truck/trailers. You hit most by East 15th Street.