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Lunch in Gainesville

I have a morning meeting at UF and then I have the afternoon to myself. Any suggestions? I'll be dining by myself, if that matters. I've never been to the area before, and I'm coming from Maryland, so if there are any famous spots or local treats I must try, please let me know. Price isn't a huge issue, but I'd rather not break the bank, since I'm sure there are lots of cheap student favorites around.

It looks like the weather isn't going to be that great this week -- otherwise I'd specify somewhere with a nice outdoor area to enjoy the sunshine.

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  1. Right across the street from campus is Leonardo's By the Slice, a pizzeria that is considered a local institution. It caters to a hipster/artsy/punk/counterculture crowd, so don't be surprised to see plenty of tattoos, piercings, and multicolored hair while you're there, on both sides of the counter. Pizza and salads aren't bad, and it's an interesting place to people-watch.

    A bit further down University Avenue, heading east away from campus, you have Farah's on the Avenue on the left side of the road, which is a nice, pretty restaurant with a Mediterranean-inspired menu. Across the street you have the more casual Gyro Plus, which has great Greek and Lebanese food. It's cheaper than Farah's, but none of these places are expensive.

    Of course, if you want to stay right near UF, you have several options directly across University Avenue from campus: The Swamp (with plenty of outdoor seating and people-watching opportunities), Copper Monkey upstairs in a strip mall, Kotobuki right in the same place (good sushi and Japanese food), and Cafe Gardens downstairs from them, in a tucked-away little building. All of them are decent to good.

    If you have a car, I recommend Chop Stix Cafe, which you get to by taking 13th Street south, past SW 16th Avenue. It's only about ten minutes from campus in light traffic, but they have an expansive pan-Asian menu, huge portions, cheap prices, excellent food, and a gorgeous location right on a scenic lake. It was always my favorite restaurant in Gainesville, and a place I always try to take unfamiliar visitors when I'm back in town.

    12 Replies
    1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

      I was wondering how Leonardo's was doing. Glad to hear it still appears to be going strong!

      1. re: eatnbmerry

        if only mama lo's were still around..

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mama_Lo&...

        1. re: karmalaw

          Dang karma, I shoulda known you had some gator soul in you!!

          Do you remember a wine and cheese bar called Gandalf's (or maybe it was Bilbo and Gandalf's or vice versa)? Oh well too many brain cells ago! Don't worry if you don't, just means you are younger or had less alcoholic beverages during your formative years :).

          The place had a great scene with mellow live music and high-browed "getting down" which today will all know translates to "hooking up" and they call this progress LOL.

          1. re: eatnbmerry

            Yes.. of course I remember Gandalf's! Do you remember the name of the place near campus that had the cinnamon biscuits? They were heavenly.

            My formative years were spent doing things like deciding to go moose-hunting with my best friend at 1:45 a.m. after a night at Lillian's (something 2 girls should NOT do, and certainly should not have ended up in Fanning Springs trying to do).

            1. re: karmalaw

              Sorry my recollection of sweets near campus is not worthy of this site it seems.

              BTW, did you ever get your moose? In any case, thanks for bringing back some good time memories.

              Oh yeah almost forgot OP, in a pinch Burrito Bros was always a fav no frills stop for lunch.

              1. re: eatnbmerry

                Burrito Bros. is still around (and as good as ever), tho they're temporarily located towards the back of the Presbyterian Student Center on Univ. Ave. (they've razed the corner at 13th and University and are putting up apartments, etc.).

                I second the recommendation for Chopstix - food is good and the lake view is wonderful. Downtown there's always Emiliano's. Leonardo's is good, tho I prefer to go to their 706 restaurant down the street rather than the pizza-by-the-slice place by campus ... depends on what you want.

                1. re: suemac

                  Great to hear that both Leonardo's and the Bros are still doing it up!!!

              2. re: karmalaw

                Sorry to bump an old topic... but if any of you have ANY other memories involving experiences at Bilbo and Gandalf's, PLEASE let me know. I would especially love to see pictures of it - if any exist. (I have a very sentimental and personal connection to the place, but very little information about it.) Thanks!

            2. re: karmalaw

              I spent just one year in Hogtown (91-92) but I was there long enough to discover Mama Lo's and even get her to autograph my copy of Roadfood!

              The two places I probably ate the most lunches at were Leonardo's and Hogan's Heros.

              1. re: Bob W

                The burger at the Swamp is ridiculously good... right on University across from stadium entrance.

          2. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

            I would stay away from Chop Stix Cafe. It is notorious for having health code violations.

            1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

              Copper Monkey has the best burger in town, in my humble opinion.

            2. Im gunna butcher this recomendation.. BUT there is a place with the most amazing burgers, its a drive through and walk up only.. im pretty sure its called "Macs".... its the BEST BURGER IVE EVER HAD!! its only open on the weekdays and they close at 5.. get a double with fries :drool:.. the burgers are kinda like IN-N-OUT but i think better

              edit: found the address
              129 NW 10th Ave
              Gainesville, FL 32601

              1. This is a really old thread, but I just made it back to Gainesville and had a GREAT meal at Chop Stix Cafe. The food and service were good and the view of the lake was excellent. I saw a heron and a bald eagle! (Views of lakes are probably a dime a dozen around here, but not where I'm from.)

                So a belated thank you. Might be a lot of sushi in one day, but I think I'm going to Dragonfly for dinner. I've heard good things.