For true foodies, finding the best restaurants around town is a must. Next time you want a meal worthy of a 5-star review, check out these Gainesville restaurants.
The Top is a trendy and cozy spot to have a few drinks and enjoy some delicious food. Located on N Main Street, it’s in the heart of it all, and you can walk to any nightclub of your choosing. The place serves burgers, beer, and other modern American dishes in addition to vegan and vegetarian options. This is one of the most happening spots in Gainesville, so it’s also a great place to meet new people and make some friends. Locals really seem to enjoy the cozy yet cheerful vibe of this popular, sophisticated bar.
Location: 30 N Main St
Embers is a stylish, classy, upscale chophouse serving surf ‘n’ turf dishes and a variety of wines. The place features a full bar where you can order any cocktail of your choosing, stirred or shaken just how you like. There is also outdoor seating for when you want to enjoy the fresh Florida air. Embers is the perfect place to dine on a special night, like a romantic date, anniversary, wedding rehearsal, or birthday. The food is cooked to perfection and you can definitely have one of the best steaks in all of Gainesville. Service is also exceptional, with the staff being very courteous and attentive.
Location: 3545 SW 34th St A
Metro Diner is a classic Gainesville favorite, serving up tasty comfort food in a cozy atmosphere. Located in 34th St Plaza, this place is centrical and immensely popular. You can expect lots of Gainesville locals and students having a quick bite for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The food here is amazing, with dishes like chicken & waffles and crab cake Benedict, along with perfectly cooked eggs, french toast, hash browns, meatloaf, club sandwiches, chicken pot pies, and so much more. The portions are big too, so make sure you’re feeling hungry. If you don’t mind dealing with long wait times and a noisy, vibrant, bustling environment, definitely try the illustrious Metro Diner.
Location: 2130 SW 34th St
Flaco’s Cuban Bakery
When you’re looking for some of those Latin & Caribbean flavors, look no further than Flaco’s in Downtown. This is a simple, no-frills Cuban bakery serving up sandwiches, arepas, “pastelitos” and some great coffee. The great part about Flaco’s is that it’s open late, so when you’re feeling that midnight snack, you can be sure that this place will be open. The sandwiches are huge and the pastries, including meat, cheese, guava, and all your other Cuban favorites, are always prepared to perfection. You can also enjoy other plates of food like rice and beans and sweet plantains. The other side of the restaurant features some flavorful Mexican options, with awesome tacos and burritos. Just beware the club-goers who flock to this place after a night on the town.
Location: 200 W University Ave
This chic and modern izakaya (AKA Japanese pub) serves tapas-style dishes and snacks alongside tempting sake and cocktails. Dragonfly is one of the most popular sushi spots in Gainesville, considering its bright, lively atmosphere and cool, creative menu. The selection of sushi, including both nigiri and rolls, are always prepared fresh and pack loads of flavor. There is also a wide variety of cooked options, like chicken and steak sushi rolls, Korean ribs, spring rolls, grilled meat and fish, steamed buns, and so much more.
You can try out a sake sampler that’s made in-house or order one of the fancy cocktails that Dragonfly offers. Always be sure to ask for specials and rolls of the day -- there may even be some secret options that aren’t listed on the menu. There are quite a few seasoned servers and bartenders, so always see what they recommend. Keep in mind that Dragonfly can be a bit pricey and busy, but the taste and experience are worth it.
Location: 201 SE 2nd Ave #104
For some authentic Mexican food that blends flavor with creativity, look no further than La Tienda. Some people even argue that La Tienda offers the best Mexican cuisine around Gainesville. The place is a small, no-frills restaurant adorned with classic Mexican decor and vibrant colors. Customers feel right at home, getting their food in no time and digging in at any of the comfy seating options, inside or outside. The owners of La Tienda are of Mexican descent and their technique and culture really resonate with the food’s flavors and quality. La Tienda has been around for years and is a classic favorite amongst Gators.
Location: 2204 SW 13th St
Going to Satchel’s is an experience like no other. This one-of-a-kind pizza place offers seriously delicious pizza and a cool, eclectic ambiance. Satchel’s is vibrant, cozy, inviting, and unforgettable. With its funky, recycled art and its groovy, live music, you’ll always be entertained. This is some of the best pizza you can get in all of Gainesville.
You can even sit down and eat in quirky places, like an old, tricked-out minivan, under an airplane, and inside a greenhouse. There’s even a playground outside for kids to play. Beyond the cool, eccentric environment, Satchel’s also has some amazing food. Enjoy thin-crust pizzas, calzones, salads, and homemade sodas at this unique pizza wonderland.
East End Eatery
East End Eatery is a casual all-American joint that makes you feel like family. The cute, homey interior provides a nice atmosphere while you enjoy classic breakfast and brunch favorites along with vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options. The wait staff is always very friendly and the customer service is great. Food is excellent, as well, offering good ol’ Southern comfort, using locally-sourced, sustainable ingredients. There’s also a kid’s play area and patio for when you, or the kids, need some fresh air.
Location: 1202 NE 8th Ave
Reggae Shack Cafe
This cozy and colorful Jamaican restaurant is a city staple, serving up the best island vibes and flavors. You’ll find this gem nestled in some tall buildings on West University Avenue, located next to the awesome study spot and coffe shop: Karma Cream. Reggae Shack Café is a little hole in the wall, but it’s warm, homey, and offers a wonderful assortment of flavorful, hearty dishes. You can almost taste the Caribbean from your dining chair as you dig into dishes like oxtail, jerk pork, curry chicken, Jamaican patties, callaloo, and more!
If you’re a vegetarian or a vegan, there’s also a lot of scrumptious choices for you! A section at the bottom of Reggae Shack’s menu outlines all of the vegetarian dishes. Each vegetarian option is 100% vegan, cooked separately, and served on special green plates and baskets. No matter which dish you choose, be careful with the spices -- they may set your mouth on fire…
Location: 619 W University Ave
Offering a variety of dishes with Korean-American fusion, Country Foodly is chill and inviting place that’s perfect for a quick bite early in the day. The place is fairly simple, with “bare-bones decor” and cozy seating options. Country Foodly serves no-frills comfort food, with favorites like the Bulgogi omelet, biscuits and gravy, and chicken and waffles. Experience is a quirky blend of culture and flavors at Country Foodly, and enjoy some of the best breakfast and brunch in town.
Location: 5240 NW 34th Blvd