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Food Scene: Forage No Further 

Food Scene: Forage No Further 

Whether it is eclectic or comfort food, home cooking or cosmopolitan, local fare or international cuisine, Greater Gainesville can satiate any craving. Here is the dish on what is hot and delicious. 


Fine-Dining Fare  

Alpin Bistro dish, Gainesville food

Whether candle lit, dimly lit or lit by the setting sun, the upscale restaurant mix found in Gainesville’s fine dining scene not only brings elegant ambiance to the table, but their decadent dishes are a reminder of the finer things in life.  

Overlooking a beautiful lake on UF Health’s campus, Covey Kitchen + Cocktails is in the Eleo Hotel. The floor-to-ceiling windows and contemporary décor exude simple elegance while the creative, globally influenced menu and cocktails provide an epicurean experience to foodies and picky-eaters alike.  

Shulas’ modern décor offers a sophisticated ambiance while their extensive selection of premium angus beef is hand selected and aged just right. The bar in the hotel lobby is the perfect parking spot to order a drink before a show or for meet-ups with friends.  

Prime & Pearl, located in Celebration Pointe, brings savory steaks and the finest oyster selection in town. Stone House Neighborhood Grill specializes in savory meats, including slow roasted brisket, prime rib and hand-cut steaks, located in Newberry’s town square. Another cannot-miss steakhouse is Mark’s Prime Steakhouse & Seafood, a classy option for surf and turf lovers with an appreciation for classic pairings with fresh vegetables.  

Great wines 

With impeccable service by onsite sommeliers, Embers has the most extensive wine list the city has to offer. Pair that with the white wine sauteed escargot, pan seared fois gras or the bronzed colossal diver scallops for the full decadent experience. Embers’ sister restaurant next door, Spark, offers a more intimate vibe with a limited, but elevated, bar-style menu. 

Winos have quality selections of whites and reds at their disposal at Superette Wine & Provisions, Formaggio’s Bistro & Wine Bar and Alpin Beer & Wine Bistro. 

Farm to table, locally sourced  

Using ingredients farmed and found in and around GG, these restaurants bring a relaxing and trendy vibe to the local food scene: Mildred’s, Paramount Grill, Alpin Bistro, The Leaning Pig and Spurriers Gridiron Grill.  



Bangin’ Barbecue  

Mojo BBQ wings, Gainesville food

Low and slow, smoked and grilled, bring on the wet naps. GG loves barbecue meats, savory sides and a casual good time.  

Adams Ribs is a local barbecue restaurant that has all the fixings at inexpensive prices. They have two locations. Looking to wash down a big meal with a refreshing libation? The southern location is the one of the two restaurants that serves beer.   

Experience a unique take on small-town Florida charm at Pearl’s Country Store & Barbecue in historic Micanopy. It combines a convenience store with all the typical snacks and beverages, a country store with locally sourced foods and a Florida Heritage section, and last but not least, barbecue to die for — whether dining in or catering an event. 

Ordering an order of burnt ends at Mojo’s BBQ downtown may have patrons reconsidering it as a shared plate. Smoked meats are far from the only menu item. For the brown water lover, this place has an extensive bourbon selection lining the shelves that are as long as the restaurant and as high as the ceiling. Even bourbon aficionados are sure to find something new to try on these shelves.  



Eats from the East 

From Korea to Thailand and China to the Philippines, nearly every country in Asia is culinarily represented here. Spice up life with one of these many options. 

Mr. Han’s has been serving gourmet Chinese food for over 40 hours in Greater Gainesville. Don’t miss their special Peking duck and deliciously crafted cocktails. 

Looking for Korean? Grill barbecue style at the table at Beque Holic or Seoul Pocha or sip a savory kimchi soup at Garlic and Ginger. 

From tom kha kai to pad thai, GG has some of the best Thai food west of Bangkok. Wah Ha Ha Thai Food and Noodle Shop, Tup Tim Thai and Bangkok Square are just a few possibilities, but there are much more to explore. Sit at the sushi bar at If It Is Kitchen & Café, where the friendly sushi chef will entertain with his knife skills and bubbly personality.  

With traditional dishes like loc lac and ba-bong, Prum’s Kitchen covers Cambodia. Pho Hanoi, Crispy Baguette and a few others specialize in Vietnamese favorites like bahn mi and pho.  



Filipino favorites 

Filipino Flavors in Newberry brings a warm, friendly atmosphere serving the best dishes from the Philippines like adobo, lumpia, pancit and so much more. 

Cannot decide which region to relish in? Asian fusion places like Chopsticks Café, Momoyaki, Sensei Asian Bistro and Liquid Ginger carry an array of all the favorites from a variety of cultures.  


With a great seasonal omakase menu, both classic and eclectic sushi options and an array of sakes and creative cocktails, Dragonfly is so much more than the run-of-the-mill sushi restaurant. This downtown gem offers an experience beyond tuna rolls and miso soup making it an amazing date destination. 

Volcanic Sushi + Sake in the Haile Village is a neighborhood restaurant where not only does everyone know your name, but you may have a roll named after you. They have two locations, one in Haile Plantation and the other at Hunters Crossing.  

Some other sushi must trys are Arashi Yama in Magnolia Park, Fuji Sushi in Newberry and Hana Sushi in Celebration Pointe. 




Crane Ramen is another restaurant that has an incredible vibe to accompany its hipster Japanese cuisine. Great cocktails, insane ramen broths and pillowy steamed buns are why they are on a wait almost every Friday and Saturday night.  

Check out these restaurants for authentic fare specializing in the various regions across China: Yummy House has the best dim sum outside of Shanghai, while Nine Spices Fondue offers a truly unique experience with their traditional hotpot.   



Under the sea umami 

Swamp Boil plates

With toes in the water and butts in the sand, Floridians know a thing or two about seafood. Despite Gainesville’s landlocked locale, fresh seafood is certainly not sacrificed.  

Northwest Seafood is both market and kitchen bringing fresh fishy favorites to order already made or get it raw to cook at home. Ballyhoo Grill is a Gainesville seafood staple with a great patio often hosting live music. Blue Gill Quality Food is another fan favorite but stirs things up by adding a southern spin to classic dishes.   

Lay down the newspaper down, grab a cracker and then choose which critter will go in your crab boil with the corn and sausage at Wahoo Seafood Grill.  

This is the place where New Orleans meets Saigon, where both étoufée and pho are on the menu, and where the seafood boil could be seasoned by Old Bay or lemongrass. With their unique menu, Swamp Boil is Gainesville’s first and only Vietnamese-Cajun restaurant. 



Pizza and other Italian Faves 

gainesville food, pizza slice

With deep dish and thin crust, any shape of pasta imaginable and sauces flowing like the Santa Fe River, GG puts the “Eat” in Italy. Piesanos Stone Fired Pizza, Blue Highway Pizza, Pomodoro and Milhopper’s Leanorado’s are just a few of the places that offer a delicious array of Italian dishes just like Nonna used to make.   

From the antipasti to the secondi piatti, O Sole Mio offers an authentic Italian dining experience. Be sure to save room for their delicious dolci selection. Their fresh cannolis are the perfect marriage of crunchy and creamy and sweet and savory. One bite into this decadent delight will have diners belting out the lyrics “O Sole Mio” better than Pavarotti.   

The piccante pizza can be found at V’s pizza located by the Hippodrome downtown. This mouth-watering masterpiece is first covered in San Marzano sauce and mozzarella then topped with soppressata, Italian sausage and dollops of Calabrian pepper paste then finished off with a drizzle of Calabrian pepper oil. Put the fire out with one of their delicious libations from their craft cocktail bar Sidecar.  

Other pizza parlors that are on our try lists are Satch Squared, Scuola Pizza, My Pizza Place on Main Street in Alachua and Villagios’s Pizzeria in Newberry.  


Latin lovers 

From Mexican to Cuban, Greater Gainesville’s Latin food scene is perfect for those looking for authentic and inexpensive eats.  

Flacos Cuban Bakery is most popular for their late-night crowds that wrap around the building after the night winds down. Abuelas brings Havana home cooking. Las Margaritas, Boca Fiesta and Sublime features Mexican classics such as tacos, burritos and quesadillas.  

Cilantro Tacos uses supremely fresh ingredients in all their bowls, burritos and tacos that can be ordered street style, Nate style or loaded. Cintrón brings the best Caribbean fare to Gainesville, while Nopal by Cintrón is “nacho average Mexican.” A little off the beaten path is La Pasadita is where you go to get real authentic Mexican.  

Their hot pressed, crispy baguette stuffed with ham and roasted pork is one of Mi Apa Latin Café’s many specialties. Chase that with a café con leche and one of their pastelitos, and it becomes obvious why they have the best Cuban food north of Miami.  



Middle Eastern musts 

Tucked away in the Suncenter downtown, Sababa offers homemade authentic Israeli cuisine. The owners take pride in their fresh ingredients, and patrons can feel the love they put into it with every bite.  

For authentic Lebanese fare, Falafel King is a one stop shop with all the favorites like falafels, gyros and baklava. This restaurant market combo also sells international grocery items and has been a local staple since 1984.


From grill to griddle 

Rise and shine and check out these bacon-riddled, egg-griddled gems for the most important meal of the day.  

With a barrage of breakfast options, 43rd Street Deli, Dave’s NY Deli, Brown’s Country Buffet in Alachua, Metro Diner and Peach Valley Café have something for everyone. East End Eatery and Afternoon are a bit off the beaten path but are totally worth the exploration. 

Boasting a “Southern style with a twist,” The Flying Biscuit Cafe is the perfect spot for breakfast at any time of day. Pair biscuits with one of their Bloody Marys or a mimosa for a complete brunch experience.  

Halo Donuts and Luke’s NY Bagels both started their business during the pandemic and instantly became a Gainesville fan favorite. When in the mood for a cheat day, pick up one of their artisanal delights. If giant muffins are more your thing, head to The Mill Bakery for their special baked goods and breakfast.  


Vegan Vogue 

Carnivore-catering restaurants are a thing of the past as the vegan scene continues to explode in GG. With plant-based places like Daily Green, Bolay, Curia on the Drag and Karma Cream, the vegan community happily has a place at the table.  

Located downtown, The Top has been a local favorite since 2000. Their creative menu welcomes all dietary lifestyles, and its extensive bar makes this the perfect place to grab a cocktail before checking out Gainesville’s nightlife.  


Chains Got Game 

The Butler Shopping District is known to host some of the most recognized restaurant brands, including: 

  • Cheesecake Factory 
  • PF Changs 
  • Longhorn Steakhouse 
  • Olive Garden 
  • Bonefish Grill 
  • 4 Rivers BBQ 
  • Grub Kitchen & Bar 
  • Zoes Kitchen 
  • Starbucks 
  • Jersey Mike’s  
  • Yogurtology 
  • Outback Steakhouse 
  • Firehouse Subs 
  • Chili’s Grill and Bar 
  • TGIFridays 
  • Bahama Breeze 
  • Jimmy Johns 
  • Bolay 
  • Tijuana Flats 
  • Keke’s Breakfast Café  
  • And much more.  

There are some other locally known franchises in Butler, including McAlister’s Deli, Zaxby’s, Maple Street Biscuit Company and Gigi’s Cupcakes. 


Sandwich Shops 

Leaning Pig fried chicken sandwich

What makes a sandwich? There are endless combinations, from portobello buns to pita or the classic sesame roll holding together literally any meat, vegetable, condiment or topping imaginable. Local sandwich shops take both classic and experimental approaches to this most versatile of dishes. 

Anyone from the Northeast, or simply fans of their food, have all the classics right here. Serving up tasty hot and cold New York deli sandwiches, Philly cheesesteaks, burgers, cheesecake, breakfast and more to hungry Gainesville residents since 2009, Dave’s New York Deli in the Tioga Town Center satisfies cravings for a genuine New York-style deli experience. High Springs-area residents have their own sandwich shop paying homage to the Northeast in The Steakout, which serves Philly cheesesteaks, pizza, stromboli and salads. Philadelphia natives and sisters, Mary Claire Connelly and Terri Gianos, opened their downtown eatery in January 2021, and it has been a hit ever since. In downtown Gainesville, owner Keith Miller has served Gator fans and the community all kinds of cheesesteaks, along with a variety of sandwiches and fresh salads, for 20 years at Big Mill’s Cheesesteaks. 

See Also

Decisions, decisions — it will never be an easy choice at The Leaning Pig, where the menu has some really tasty pork sandwiches but does not stop there, with several different meat and vegetarian options. The Leaning Pig fits as much as possible between the buns — no customer leaves hungry. The same goes for Newberry’s Woodyard Grill, where it is all about the meats. Grill masters labor over barbecue meats for filling, juicy, hearty sandwich perfection.  

Who does not love a good Cuban sandwich? Mi Apa creates authentic sandwiches inspired by the flavors of Cuba and Florida, with menu items including the Key West Cuban, Ybor City Tampa Cuban, Miami and the frita Cubana. Flaco’s has all the Cuban favorites, from the classic sandwich and popular Cuban Gator sandwich to arepas, bowls and puff pastries. 

Harvest Thyme Café takes pride in accommodating many dietary needs, including gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian, with the freshest possible ingredients. Whether going healthy or indulgent, Harvest Thyme Café in Alachua does not disappoint. SweetBerries Eatery & Frozen Custard shares a value of quality ingredients and a strong balance of healthy and vegetarian options alongside savory sandwich favorites. The SweetBerries family shares their family recipes for chicken salad, tuna salad and broccoli salad among all their locations, not just in Gainesville but also Bradenton and Sarasota. 


Provisions with a Park  

Hungry parents rarely get a hot meal. Check out these child-welcoming venues, where mom and dad can finally relax while they eat.  

4th Ave Food Park 

Satch Squared, Fehrenbacher’s Artisan Sausages, Humble wood Fire, Opus Coffee, Baker Baker and Sublime Tacos all set up shop in this delicious food park. With outdoor seating and a jungle gym, this multi-restaurant station provides plenty of roaming space for kids and dogs alike.  

Depot Park 

Mexicocina dish

Grab a burger at Goldie’s Burgers or a pie at Humble wood at this massive industrial-themed park located by the Cade Museum. Boxcar Beer and Wine Garden is also a must.  

Midpoint Eatery and Park 

This trendy food park offers delicious options like Mexicocina, Plantology, Zen Asian Street Eats and Scuola in a comfortable outdoor atmosphere.   


Greater Gainesville Food Trucks  

For affordable catering options, food trucks are your best bet. You can’t beat made to order fresh meals served quickly and efficiently at your location. It is great for employee appreciation gatherings, weddings, graduations and other events. Check out some of these delicious meals on wheels at your favorite hot spots.  

Jeffrey’s Asian Fusion 

Humble Wood Fire Pizza 

Arepa Burger 

Birdie Box 

Soup to Nuts 

Vegan Gator 

Taste Asian Fusion 


B’z Gelati 

Ahar Indian Food 

Charlie’s Snow Shack 

Heart and Seoul 

Off the Griddle 

Swamp Religion 

Twisted Tikka 

Mayflower Cellars 


Off the Beaten Path 

While the City of Gainesville hosts many fantastic food options, every town here has something great to offer. Here are some of this region’s fan favorites: 

High Springs 

  • Headwaters 
  • The Great Outdoors 
  • Pink Flamingo Diner 


  • El Toro 
  • Main Street Pie 


  • Woodyard Grill 
  • Villaggio Pizzeria 


  • Blue Water Bay 

Cross Creek 

  • The Yearling 


  • Pj’s Café 


  • The Pearl Country Store and Barbecue  


Whatever the mood, Greater Gainesville has many options to choose from. Check out a complete listing of all local restaurants on the online Guide Directory.   


By Christy Robinson-Costello and Laura Parrinello 



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