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Jan 21, 2010 02:58 PM

Suggestions for Gainesville

I ran a search and majority of the posts from the other Gainesville threads looks dated, so I'd like to get some more recent input. I'm coming from Dallas for a business trip and I will have a car.

Dallas has a restaurant in a Hare Krishna temple that serves outstanding food, so I'm also very interested in checking out Gainesville's Hare Krishna lunch. Excited about possibly trying dishes I haven't seen before. Where can I find more details/info? I hope I can sneak away from my not-so-adventurous coworkers to do this!

Bahn Thai also sounded promising. I glanced at the menu online, but do they also have a Thai language menu? I ask because it sounds like a place that would have one with more authentic dishes. I'm not interested in ordering "safe" entrees like pad thai or panang curry, and I have no problems tolerating spicy foods.

I'm also open to other ethnic options (feel free to suggest anything) as well as good local mom n' pop joints. Looking forward to the recs.

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  1. Gainesville is not exactly a hotbed of culinary activity! That said ...
    Pizza - Satchel's or Blue Highway (Micanopy location)
    Mildreds and New Deal have good reps, but my experiences there have been spotty - last burger from New Deal was ordered med-rare, served unpleasantly charred on the outside, raw inside
    Have heard LOTS good about Manuel's downtown, but I haven't tried it yet, same with the Fat Tuscan.
    Thai - Bahn Thai or Tim's Thai are the two you hear about; neither is great, consistency seems to be an issue for both. I do like Chopstix (on SW 13th).
    I like Leonardo's 706, especially for dessert.

    1 Reply
    1. re: suemac

      Understood that it isn't a hotbed for food, I just thought, it is a college town so there has got to be some locally owned non-chain places that are outstanding. Just looking to make the best out of the trip and try the best of the local flavor.

      What differentiates the pizzas between Satchel's vs Blue Highway?

    2. The Hare Krishna lunch that you've heard about is on campus outside Library West in Plaza of the Americas. The Krishnas set up a few tables and you are served the lunch on a paper plate. I believe the price is a donation of whatever you want to give. I never tried it but people always lined up for spaghetti. I graduated in 2003 so you might want to do a google search to see if you come up with more information.

      1. Don't know if you are going to be there on a Sat. but this is from their website....Every Saturday evening from 6-9 pm a 5 course vegetarian feast is served at Krishna House for a donation of $5 for students and $7 for non-students.

        It's right behind Krispy Kreme...I second the Satchel's Recommendation, it is great. I love Sushi at Dragonfly it is always packed with Asian Students, which is always a good sign when eating Asian food.

        1. I second the Blue Highway nomination--excellent pizza. I also concur with the observation that New Deal Cafe can be very good, but is overall uneven. (Once my husband ordered a burger there, and we noticed the patty was not only about twice as large as normal, but kind of oblong; two ends of it stuck out of the bun. He took the top bun off to add condiments and saw the burger was roughly alligator-shaped! It was the day of first Gator game of the season, after all...l)

          Everyone in town raves about Chopstix, but I just don't get it. The setting is beautiful (it has a great lakeside view), and the service is pleasant, but the food doesn't do it for me. But then, I'm Chinese and having lived and eaten with the natives in California and Vancouver, I'm very spoiled!

          A nice mom-and-pop place is The Jones Eastside Eatery (NW corner of Main and NW 23rd street)--it emphasizes organic and locally grown foods and is both carnivore- and vegetarian-friendly. For ethnic stuff, Indian Cuisine (that's what it's called) on SW 34th Street serves, well, Indian cuisine. Very polished dishes, a bit pricey for the hole-in-the-wall ambiance, though. La Tienda on SW 13th is a total hole-in-the-wall, but serves the only authentic Mexican food in Gainesville. By Los Angeles/Tijuana standards, it's a solid, A-/B+; for north-central Florida, an A.

          Enjoy your trip!

          4 Replies
          1. re: Piglet

            Piglet, thank you so much for the suggestion of Jones Eastside Eatery as it sounds like a place run by folks who advocate philosophies like slow food and SOLE (sustainable, organic, local, ethical). I'm only going to be in town from a monday to the following friday so this will definitely be my first dinner!

            Please keep the suggestions flowing, really appreciate it. Actually I'd love a rec for a good seafood restaurant too.

            1. re: air

              Being so far inland, Gainesville doesn't have any <i>great</i> seafood places. It has at least one <i>good</i> one, though -- Harry's downtown. It's a small, Florida-based chain (although I've never seen any other locations) with a New Orleans theme. They have some very good N'awlins/Creole/Cajun food, as good as you're going to find in the area. And there's a great gelato place right around the corner from Harry's, but I forgot its name.

              I will second Chop Stix Cafe, Dragonfly for sushi, and Satchel's Pizza (which is far better than the overrated Leonardo's on University and 13th, unless you like being judged by surly alterna-hipsters).

              1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                I agree, Leo's is overrated, but I'm still addicted to the garlic rolls. I guess it's leftover from college days (along with the inability to pass by Krispy Kreme when the 'Hot Doughnuts' sign is lit lol.

            2. re: Piglet

              Edit to previous post: The Jones is on the SOUTHEAST corner of Main and NE 23rd. (Air, NW 23rd and NE 23rd are the same street; it simply changes to NE when you cross Main, as do all east-west streets in Gainesville.) Sorry about that!

            3. I highly recommend Manuel's Vintage Room downtown. It's on the pricey side, but worth every penny for the wonderful service and delicious Italian food. Manuel, the owner, is so charming, you will feel instantly at home. Definitely try the caprese salad (best I've ever had) and the gnocchi. You will not be sorry you visited.

              Manuel's Vintage Room
              6 S Main St, Gainesville, FL 32601

              1 Reply
              1. re: nannagins

                Had Manuel's for dinner tonight and the gnocchi recommendation was on point. What a spectacular dish, it's very hard to find properly prepared gnocchi as it usually turns out rubbery or gooey - not the case at Manuel's! They also kept bringing out the fresh baked bread, which was so hard to resist, very easy to get full on it.

                Would have loved to see what kind of desserts they had at Manuels as well but I felt like having a beer and ended up finding about a good place for craft beer through another site. Went to Alcove for a drink after dinner, which was about a block and a half down Main St. It's a cozy little pub with an outstanding beer selection, both on draft and in bottle. Great pours from the staff, who were also pretty knowledgable about beer. Noticed that the chalkboard listing the draft offerings was being updated, and considering there are 10 or so handles, I would guess these rotate quite frequently too.