HOME > Chowhound > Florida >


Anything Good in Gainesville?

Going to Gainesville for UF's family weekend in Oct. ls there anywhere good to eat besides chain restaurants? My daughter says she's found a good sushi place, but my husband refuses to eat sushi. Any suggestions?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Paramount Grill downtown is my top choice; close second is Mildred's Big City Food.
    Mildred's has a website but I don't think Paramount does. both are great

    1 Reply
    1. re: steakman55

      The Paramount is fantastic, and they recently put up a web-site: http://www.paramountgrill.com/. Take a peek at their menu and then give it a shot, you wont regret it.

        1. Dragonfly (downtown G'ville) has the best sushi in Gainesville and some of the best I've ever had anywhere. I'm pretty sure they have some non-sushi items on the menu to please your husband.

          I love Chop Stix Cafe, a picturesque Pan-Asian restaurant that specializes in noodle dishes, but it doesn't seem to be that popular on this message board. It's on SW 13th Street, located on a beautiful lake.

          1. I would echo the above sentiments. Paramount Grill is one of my favorites - I've never been disappointed. Also, having recently developed a taste for sushi, Dragonfly is fantastic for both sushi-lovers and those opposed to raw fish. Plenty of cooked items on the menu. Have fun!

            7 Replies
            1. re: gatordoc

              I have had some good meals at Emiliano's. The 43rd st deli does a nice breakfast. I was disappointed in chopstix and unimpressed by Mildred's. Thought the menu there read well, but preparation was lackluster.
              Looking forward to trying the Paramount.

              1. re: janebold

                I second Emiliano's -- delicious pork loin. Now that the weather is getting cooler in the evening, take a table outside on the sidewalk.

                1. re: floridan

                  I love the desserts and sangria at Emilano's and its nice to sit outside when its not summertime.

              2. re: gatordoc

                It is so nice to hear Dragonfly is still open! They inspired my love for sushi while I was a student... delicious! Do they still have that roll with strawberries? That was interesting...

                1. re: yomyb

                  I haven't been back to Gainesville since an overnight in 2005, but last I heard they were still open.

                  1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                    Dragonfly is not only still open, but they have also expanded! I believe they took over the old Mark's restaurant that was next door...or could be Hooters, but I'm sure a Hooters in downtown Gainesville wouldn't close down. Now there is a larger, more upscale dining room. If you recall, the old dining room was kind of wannabe-cheesy-modern-ish. Now they have nicer fixtures, tables and chairs.

                    Yomyb - i also LOVE that strawberry roll! I believe it was called a dragon roll. Also can't beat the crab wontons. My cousin thinks the sauce they serve with it is actually apricot baby food. Sounds weird, but tastes delicious.

                    1. re: jessicam29

                      Yes, Hooter's downtown closed and moved to a more student-oriented location on SW 34th St.

              3. Gainesville's eating scene is getting better and better. You've gotten some good advice already, and I will echo some of that: Paramount is dependably excellent, Dragonfly is wonderful, Emiliano's has its ups and downs but is mostly great. I have never been a fan of Mildred's (well, since they left Micanopy, anyway--I liked the one down there).

                Here are a few places to add to the list:

                Leonardo's 706 - nice pasta and cali pizza dishes

                The Top - funky little place downtown with an interesting and usually very good menu

                Bistro 1245 - same owner as 706, completely different menu (their roasted chicken sandwich and roasted chicken salad are two of my favorites)

                Satchel's Pizza - extremely funky little place in the NE section of town with the best pizza and salad you will get anywhere in the south

                Mario's Bistro - a brand new place in Thornebrook Plaza, small European wine bar and bistro, with small selection of yummy food - I had the best pork loin ever there

                1 Reply
                1. re: babysis

                  I've been to all of those except Mario's, and they're all solid recommendations. Satchel's is the best pizza I ever had in Gainesville, and I have yet to experience its equal in Orlando. The Top has great sweet potato fries -- I used to order those and a pint of Guinness, and think about flirting with all the gorgeous alterna-girls that used to hang out there (but just ate and drank instead).

                2. Blue Highway in Micanopy, a deceptively plain-looking building along Route 441 16 miles south of town and 5 miles fron the I-75, may well be the best pizza I've ever had in Florida; excellent sandwiches and salads as well. Well woth the trip, especially if you're hitting the antique shops in Micanopy. Satchel's is good but not up to BH's standard.

                  For places in town, I'm also a Mildred's fan, and I recommend Allesandro's in the Millhopper Plaza for upscale Italian.

                  Catching up on links ...

                  Blue Highway Pizzeria
                  204 NE Highway 441, Micanopy, FL 32667

                  Paramount Grill
                  12 SW 1st Ave, Gainesville, FL 32601

                  Mildred's Big City Food
                  3445 W University Ave, Gainesville, FL 32607

                  Alessandro Ristorante
                  4212 NW 16th Blvd, Gainesville, FL 32605

                  201 SE 2nd Ave, Gainesville, FL 32601

                  Emiliano's Cafe
                  7 SE 1st Ave, Gainesville, FL 32601

                  Chop Stix Cafe
                  3500 SW 13th St, Gainesville, FL 32608

                  Leonardo's 706
                  706 W University Ave, Gainesville, FL 32601

                  30 N Main St, Gainesville, FL 32601

                  Bistro 1245
                  1245 W University Ave, Gainesville, FL 32601

                  Satchel's Pizza
                  1800 NE 23rd Ave, Gainesville, FL 32609

                  43rd Street Deli & Breakfast
                  1505 NW 13th St, Gainesville, FL

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: maxzook

                    Two more places I forgot: Mr. Han is the best Chinese in town (admiottedly not much competitition for that, but they are good). And Tapas 12 West is almost good enough to make me forget the late lamented Wolfgang's whose space they took over.

                    1. re: maxzook


                      Mr Han's Chinese Restaurant
                      6944 NW 10th Pl # 1, Gainesville, FL

                      Tapas 12 West
                      12 W University Ave, Gainesville, FL 32601

                      1. re: maxzook

                        Although I prefer Dragonfly, a good backup is the nearby Liquid Ginger, only one block away behind the Hippodrome. Very small menu, very intimate, and, unlike the noisy Dragonfly, very quiet. Excellent lunch also.

                        I also highly recommend two places in Alachua, about 10 miles NW of Gainesville: Ristorante Deneno for Italian, and Ivy House (also located in Williston) in a Victorian mansion serving Southern dishes.

                        1. re: Podie1956

                          Yes, I also like Liquid Ginger!

                          Liquid Ginger
                          101 SE 2nd Pl, Gainesville, FL 32601

                          1. re: Podie1956


                            Ivy House
                            106 N Main St, Williston, FL

                            Restaurante Deneno's
                            14960 NW 141st St, Alachua, FL 32615

                      2. Has anyone been to Backyard Barbecue in Newberry recently? I admit I never made it there when I lived in Gainesville, but people often raved about how good it was, especially compared to the local offerings of Sonny's, David's, and Bono's.

                        I will be taking my girlfriend to visit Gainesville in a few weeks (she's never been there before), and the restaurants I have in mind are definitely Mildred's, Dragonfly, and Chop Stix Cafe, and possibly Emiliano's, Bahn Thai, Satchel's Pizza, or Backyard Barbecue, depending on what we're in the mood for.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                          We just got back from a fun-filled Gainesville weekend. We went to Mildred's New Deal Cafe for lunch as soon as we got there, before we even checked into our room. It was my girlfriend's idea, something more casual than the regular Mildred's (since I showed her the online menus in advance). She had a terrific pecan-crusted chicken breast with vanilla-whipped sweet potatoes, and I had a delicious medium-rare burger with juicy Maytag bleu cheese and bacon. We were starved after driving up from Orlando, and it hit the spot perfectly.

                          For dinner, she was craving breakfast food, especially good biscuits, so we went to Cracker Barrel, less than five minutes from our hotel. Yes, it's a chain, but it's one of those damn good chains. It has always been a favorite of mine, especially for breakfast food, and we don't have any convenient to where we currently live.

                          After a complimentary continental breakfast in the hotel, I took her to explore UF, where I used to go, and we had a sweet snack at Ben and Jerry's across the street. We met some friends for a late lunch at Chop Stix Cafe, one of my aforementioned favorites, and she got a huge teriyak steak bento lunch special, that was an amazing value with rice, soup, salad, an eggroll, and more. I went more exotic, as usual, ordering spicy duck noodle soup, a crispy drunken gator roll on the side (one of my old favorite rolls), and Thai iced tea. The noodles in the soup were similar to ramen, and the duck was in big pieces, bones and all, including an entire leg. It was tasty, but messy and difficult to eat. I have no complaints, but wouldn't order it again. Our friends are vegetarians so they got some sweet and sour tofu or something... better them than us.

                          Since we ate so late, we just felt like lolling around the hotel room and bringing food in. I resorted to an old Gainesville favorite: Pokey Sticks (Stix?) from Gumby's Pizza on 34th Street and 20th Avenue: soft pizza dough sliced into pull-apart rectangles and covered with butter and melted cheese and dusted with parmesan cheese and herbs, to be dipped in ranch dressing. I also got a 6" Italian sub for myself since I was craving one, but it was a pretty awful sub. They didn't hold the mayo like I asked, and the bread was bland, the lettuce was soggy, and it needed some kind of sauce to make it better. Seriously, Subway is much better, but after two degrees from UF, I should have known better than to rely on Gumby's/Court of Heroes for subs. At least the Pokey Sticks were warm and soft and delicious, and totally hit the spot.

                          After a busy morning and a tour of the Butterfly Rainforest at the Florida Museum of Natural History, we stopped at Sweet Dreams, a relatively new ice cream parlor in the same shopping center as Mildred's. All the ice creams, sorbets, and Italian ices are homemade, and they are all great. My girl enjoyed cookies 'n' cream and butter pecan, and I had a nice, refreshing orange pineapple sorbet. If you like ice cream, definitely tear yourself away from Cold Stone and Marble Slab and give this independent place a try. They have some really neat, creative flavors as well as all the old favorites, and a wide variety of sorbets and Italian ices, for the health-conscious, lactose-intolerant, or vegan folks.

                          We had lunch at Falafel King in Butler Plaza on our way out of town earlier today. They were always a favorite of mine, especially for being a little independent ethnic eatery in the middle of chain hell on Archer Road. Good gyros, falafel, spinach pie, and fresh lemonade... a perfect lunch and a perfect farewell to the town where I did my "coming of age."

                        2. I agree with the previous suggestions, but would also have to mention Ballyhoo as an excellent choice for dinner. It does get crowded but we always had luck grabbing a seat outside (first come, first served). Try the stuffed grouper and bananas foster (featured on ESPN's coverage of the UF - Auburn game)

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: polkcountygator

                            We just visited Ballyhoo yesterday for the first time after seeing it on t.v. during the Auburn game. We loved it! The atmostphere was perfect for after a football game - we sat at the bar and watched the other college games and had drinks, appetizer and dinner. I had the Big Blue Steak Salad - yummy. It is several different salad greens, steak strips, chunks of blue cheese, cucumbers, and balsamic viniagrette dress. Try the Firecracker Shrimp appetizer too. There's outside seating and inside tables as well as the large bar area. Fun place!

                            1. re: PDeveaux

                              Ballyhoo is a favorite for us. Usually stop there for a meal when visiting #1 son at UF. Had great grouper there and the bloody marys are very tasty.

                              1. re: scubadoo97

                                Backyard Barbecue is still very good. We don't even consider going anywhere else when we want barbecue. I was disappointed with Mildred's for dinner but still enjoy lunch there. And I've had a couple of bad experiences with Emiliano's when they've been out of several things on the menu.

                          2. TTT
                            I am visiting this weekend (Jan 2012) and wonder if the same places are around and have the same reviews?