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Apr 14, 2009 09:11 AM

UF Gainesville campus?

Any Gators out there? NYC hound in town for meeting at the University. Where to go for dinner on/near UF Gainesville campus? Will be with colleague, can be casual and low-key but not a college hang out. Any cuisine, any price point. We are staying right on the campus practically, at the Holiday Inn and will not have a car. (NW 13th Street (US Highway 441) and University Avenue .)

Many thanks.

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  1. Good luck finding something in Gainesville without the college crowd.
    Everything within walking distance of the Holiday Inn, is a college hangout

    Here are a couple of suggestions:
    Marks U.S. Prime (long walk or TAXI)
    Mario’s Wine Bar & European Bistro (TAXI)
    The Melting Pot (long walk or TAXI)

    1. If you're staying within walking distance I would rec Leonardo's 706. You'll avoid a good amount of the college crowd and it has good food for Gainesville. Bistro 1245 is right across the street from Holiday Inn, but I usually go there for lunch and not dinner as they have a good selection of sandwiches and lighter fare, although they do have more heavy dishes as well. If you are considering a short taxi ride and want sushi, Dragonfly has surprisingly good sushi...and not just "for Gainesville". It's a good atmosphere too. Mixed between students and professionals, although most students there are on dates so it's not the typical college scene. I'll second Mark's Prime, but they're not doing anything really original there that you can't get in your own town. I can't speak for Mario's and, again, I'm sure there's a melting pot where you're coming from.

      Leonardo's 706 & Bistro 1245 (Same owner)

      Dragonfly -

      6 Replies
      1. re: ash0529

        Tank you. I am not looking to be blown away. I am from New York City and take advantage of our great dining seen all the time. Just looking around online and Burrito Bros actually sounds pretty good to me! I did come across Bistro 1245 and some Monkey place? Mario’s Wine Bar & European Bistro sounds like it would disappint.

        1. re: chow_gal

          Burrito Bros is a local fav. It may be hard to find as it's tucked away off of University but walking over from the hotel if you get to target copy you've gone too far (just before it). Awesome chorizo burrito but FYI it's a takeout window with some patio furniture outside. Copper Monkey is also within walking distance but much more of a college scene. Solid burgers. Since you're open to casual, you might want to try The Swamp. It's the place everyone says you have to go when you go into Gainesville and it gets packed most nights with the college drinking crowd, but they actually have good food and if it's a nice night the outdoor patio is a perfect place to eat before the crowd comes. Although it probably seems overhyped, I would choose their food over most in the area. Tuscan Chicken Sandwich is prob my fav there.

          Swamp -

          1. re: ash0529

            I'm a UF graduate and always look forward to going back to my favorite restaurants.

            I would second Ash & Chow gals recs of Copper Monkey (great buffalo chicken sandwich) and the Swamp. Food at the Swamp is surprisingly above-average as far as food goes. It might be crowded with college students, but its "the" place to go to in Gainesville.

            I also really like Cafe Gardens. Its behind the Swamp and has a large outdoor patio with some indoor seating. They have a huge variety of burgers and chicken sandwiches there. My favorites are the Chicken Maui with pineapple and ham, and the California Chicken, served on a pita with guac, spinach, and swiss cheese. The sweet potato fries are really awesome.

            Dragonfly is also great, but not walking distance. It will be about a 5-10 minute cab ride. Its a little more "upscale" but keep in mind, this is Gainesville, so everyone wears shorts and flip flops. The sushi is great and the cooked dishes are really good too. I'm always amazed at how much cheaper it is than sushi places here in Miami! Dragonfly is located in downtown Gainesville, so this might be a good option if you want to hang out after and get drinks somewhere.

            1. re: jessicam29

              WOW!! I just looked at the Dragonfly menu prices. I remember while I was in grad school thinking that it was pretty expensive! Now that I'm down in South Florida I can only laugh at how cheap it is compared to down here.

              Cafe Gardens, IMO, is average. The sweet potato fries are great, but there really isn't anything on the menu that stands out besides that. The one thing I'll give it is that it's never disappointed (although never impressed either). I guess consistency is worth something, right?

          2. re: chow_gal

            Mario's would NOT disappoint! It's a tiny little European bistro run by an actual European (German), but sadly, he will be moving back soon and the place will be changing hands. I believe the prospective new owner intends to keep it the same, but without Mario's personal touch, it will be hard to replicate it.

            Bistro 1245 is directly across the street from the Holiday Inn and is pretty reliably good. None of the other places near campus are worth really mentioning. I'm not a fan of Burrito Brothers. I find El Indio on 13th Street makes far better burritos.

            Head downtown (about 1.5-2 miles from campus) for a nice selection of places, including Paramount Grill, Emiliano's, The Top, and Mark's, among others.

            1. re: babysis

              Um, thanks for the ideas, but you will note that I posted this in April. That trip has come and gone. ... On to the next....

          1. Satchel's Pizza (taxi, for sure)--If you go here you will realize why it is the only MUST VISIT restaurant in Gainesville, FL...seriously.

            If you want decent, but forgettable meals check out:

            Cafe Gardens (located behind The Swamp Restaurant)--good burgers, sanwiches, and sweet potato fries with uninspired entrees

            Chopstix (worth the taxi ride down 13th street)--great pan-asian cuisine

            Emiliano's (downtown)- Latin inspired dishes

            Las Margaritas (43rd street)--Best mexican you'll find in Gainesville, Fl

            1. Thank you Gators! Ended up going to the SWAMP and it was exactly what we wanted. Total college, fun bar. Crazy cheap, fun drinks, average food. Shots. Turned out to be a perfect night. The essence of Gainesville.

              2 Replies
              1. re: chow_gal

                "Can be casual and low-key but not a college hang out"

                "Ended up going to the SWAMP and it was exactly what we wanted. Total college, fun bar."

                My greatest fear of sending my two kids to UF,and spending a bunch of money (hope your visit did not involve my kids).

                1. re: TampaPete

                  Realized once on the campus you can't but help get caught up in the college festivities! (I come from NYC and no way places like Emiliano's or Mark's US Prime are going to be better than what I get here, so chose something that represents Gainesville, IMO.) I was visiting with some of the University's scientists and they readily admit that the caliber of the students is quite high but it IS a party school. One commented: 'they work hard, they play hard.'

                  Sounds good to me: I was doing free tequila shots on a Tuesday at the Swamp - and I got to keep the glasses.