Home to a top-five public university in the nation, Gainesville also houses some top-notch dining catered to diverse college students, visitors, and families. From cuisine found on the coasts of the Caribbean and South America to areas in Asia and Africa, these Gainesville restaurants offer some of the richest in flavor and culture a quaint college town can offer.Read More
Where to Eat, Drink and Play in Gainesville, Florida
The Gainesville go-tos
Reaching its 20th year in business, Satchel’s Pizza is a hippie’s paradise locals flock to for more than just the food. Its loud mosaic-tile paintings and stained-glass windows are a unique addition to founder Satchel Raye, who designed much of the pieces in his backyard, including a booth made out of his bright-blue 1965 Ford Falcon van after driving it for a decade. The restaurant is known for its over 30 pizza toppings, including four types of tempeh for vegans, and its deep-dish pie, the “Satch-Pan Pizza,” for $35. Guests can order individual slices for $4 or $6.50 for four toppings. Guests can expect live music and entertainment, a personal gift shop, and a children’s playground. The restaurant’s popularity led to Raye opening a sister location, Satch Squared, in 2021, specializing in Detroit-style pizza and waffles.
Germain's Chicken Sandwiches
Despite being just a newcomer to the Gainesville dining scene, Germain’s Chicken Sandwich Shop has quickly risen to near the top of it with locals. The restaurant began in Gainesville as a small food truck in February 2022, and it became so popular it quickly turned into a brick-and-mortar location featuring bright white and pink to give the restaurant a vintage feel and inviting atmosphere. Sandwiches are priced from $12 to $15, with creative names like the Honey Bird, topped by hot honey, and the Good Feather with garlic parmesan. The restaurant offers a Chic’N Little sandwich made with tofu for vegans and vegetarians and a Korean Fried Chicken Sandwich topped with kimchi.
El Indio Mexican Restaurant (Multiple locations)
No matter the meal being craved, this Latin American staple does not discriminate. Open 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily at both locations, El Indio offers breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert inspired by traditional Mexican cuisine. Located entirely outside, the restaurant reflects the warm climate of Central America. With a walk to the kiosk, guests can order El Indio’s breakfast-style quesadillas or Huevos Rancheros for $8, while taco salads loaded with beans, cheese, sour cream, salsa fresca, and guacamole in a crispy, golden-brown flour tortilla makes for a top lunch option. Finish the meal with a warm, fried cherry and apple burrito along with jamocha (combination of coffee, ice cream, and mocha syrup) malts, and milkshakes, which can be found on the menu for less than $4.
The Social at Midtown
The Social at Midtown offers the convenience of being just feet away from the University of Florida campus. It offers an expansive space with indoor, outdoor, and a rooftop bar, drawing in many university students and making it a hot spot for gameday events, especially since it's situated directly across the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Outside of football season, the restaurant and sports bar frequently hosts packed parties for events like Saint Patrick’s Day and the Fourth of July. But food isn’t an afterthought, with appetizers and entrees ranging from $9 to $15, with tater tots smothered in chili and sweet potato-fry poutine being barbecue favorites. Wednesdays, in particular, make for popular nights at the restaurant with karaoke and its popular cavatappi mac and cheese for $5.
Flaco's Cuban Bakery
Flaco’s Cuban Bakery caters to classic Cuban cuisine, both savory and sweet. With just a few sit-down tables and counters, this small shop is known for being the life of the after-party in Gainesville.
Up front, cooks serve warm plates of nachos with various toppings alongside soft corn arepas, stuffed sandwiches on flaky Cuban bread, burritos, and bowls for less than $11. In the back is a small taco bar for building your taco, burrito, or boat, with prices ranging from $2.50 to $7. For a quick pick-me-up, sweet guava pastries or savory meat empanadas can be paired with a drink for $2.75.
Cry Baby’s tight quarters always promise crowded nights as people flock for cocktails and dinner deals week after week. Entering its doors, guests are illuminated by blaring bops, bright bulbs hanging from the ceiling, and green walls contrasting the brick tile below. Its happy hour marks peak business for Cry Baby’s. The restaurant’s food and drinks are priced proportionately to its hours, with items ranging from $4 to $7 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. with items like Yucca fries and chorizo-topped nachos for $7. On Wednesday nights, Cry Baby’s attempts to crowd in couples all over town with a bucket of fried chicken, thin-cut fries, slaw, and a bottle of red or white wine to share for $25.
Paramount Grill has become one of the special occasion, fine-dining restaurants in Gainesville, holding a special place in the heart of its customers and staff, especially after the death of owner Clif Nelson and nearing closure in 2020. The cozy space boasts a small dining room with just a few tables, with hanging picture frames and carpet flooring to create a relaxed ambiance that differs from the surrounding bars. The restaurant is one of the town anomalies with a separate lunch, dinner, and brunch menu, with items that helped contribute to its Golden Spoon Award from Florida Trend Magazine in 2018. Lunch carries a variety of paninis, wraps, and burgers for $8 to $15, while dinner is known for its surf-and-turf specials like salmon, steak, and duck for $30 to $45. Brunch is offered every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., serving omelets and benedicts from $15 to $20.
The Swamp Restaurant
The Swamp Restaurant made a highly anticipated return to Gainesville in 2022 after being shut down and destroyed for a new property two years earlier. Since 1994, the Swamp has been the pit stop for game days of all kinds, with original jerseys and posters hanging from walls in every corner, plasma-screen TVs indoors and out, and an upstairs venue and balcony for parties and events. The restaurant offers lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch menus, with items ranging from $7 to $15. Jumbo wings tossed in sauces of your choice and fried alligator tails make for popular appetizers, as are pitchers of beer and cocktails for drinking. A smaller game-day menu offers specialty items and prices, including a best-seller barbecue pulled pork and cocktails.
Dragonfly Sushi & Sake Company
Another vision brought to life by Gator graduates, Dragonfly Sushi and Sake Co. has popularized Japanese cuisine in Gainesville for over two decades. Owners Hiro Leung and Song Kim aimed to expand access to Japanese food in a town they felt lacked it. The shareable menu items consistently bring in a large crowd, becoming a popular restaurant for date nights and celebrations. Begin the meal with buttered edamame and fried, peach-glazed krab wontons, followed by a specialty roll loaded with toppings not found in sushi bars nearby for $10 to $17, such as the Doralzuela roll with chimichurri steak and the Cobra Kai roll with garlic pesto and berry balsamic.
Amelia's Italian Restaurant
In the heart of downtown Gainesville lies this small Italian-style restaurant with more veal dishes than any other in town: Amelia’s. A tiny gate opens to just a few tables and string-light decor, while inside diners find warm-colored walls and small round tables making this restaurant the go-to for dates and family gatherings. To kick off the meal, start with he Crostini NY topped with spinach and artichoke cream sauce, and the fried calamari for just $10. For less than $30, the restaurant serves a chicken, veal, or vegetarian entree along with a house salad, a choice of any marinara-garnished pasta, and bread. And the restaurant’s pasta dishes and eggplant parmesan don’t price over $20.
Fehrenbacher's Artisan Sausage
Sitting next to some of Gainesville’s most iconic food joints in Fourth Avenue Food Park, Fehrenbacher’s doubles as a local butcher and deli. Started by globally trained chef Adam Fehrenbacher in 2018, Fehrenbacher’s began as a vendor at several Gainesville farmer's markets, selling up to 60 pounds of sausage daily. Upon walking through its doors, guests are greeted with a menu of over 50 housemade sausages, nearly 20 sandwiches, and hot dogs. The sandwiches and loaded dogs are served on a variety of breads and filled with items like corned beef, smoked salmon, and Spanish chorizo, which are priced from $9 to $12, while special platters are offered for $12 to $14, and a charcuterie board for $20.
Luke's New York Bagel Shop
The irony of food from a lavish city coming to a small college town in the South is not lost on locals. That is why Luke’s New York Bagels has maintained growing popularity since its opening in 2020. Before the bagels, eyes are caught by the shop’s bright red color. Compared to typical bagel shops, Luke’s operates a grab-and-go style, with just a window to place an order. The shop prepares 15 bagels that average mostly within $3, all made with the New York Water Maker that produces the same water native to New York City. In addition, Luke’s prepares eight flavors and nearly 400 pounds worth of shmear weekly. Although slightly more expensive, its tofu-based options are inclusive of vegan and vegetarian customers. But what most guests truly come for are the breakfast sandwiches starting at $4. Fried eggs are paired with anything from bacon and sausage to Taylor ham for $7.50 plus the price of the bagel.