The chef and namesake of Meyer's Latin Bistro, Meyer Pinchassow, incorporates global culinary trends and personal inspiration into dishes from Spain, Cuba, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Beyond praising the food, a review in Life Magazine's Good Eats Dining Guide said, of owners Meyer and his wife, Claudia, that he is "classically trained, with skills lovingly honed by family recipes and traditions," and she "brings a business acumen, lovable people skills and a warmth to the table." Chef Pinchassow uses both his instincts and an education from The International Culinary School while creating dishes such as paella valenciana with seafood and chorizo or slow-roasted chicken with fresh strawberries and honey-glazed walnuts.
The restaurant's upbeat, welcoming vibe stems from occasional live Latin music and its warm, rustic decor. The walls have been painted with flowers and patterns that resemble natural rock formations and the boulders that are traditionally rolled through cornfields to make tortillas.
A belly dancer deftly balances a sword on her head as her hips shimmy expertly to the beat of live Greek music on the patio of Mythos Greek Taverna. Shouts of “Opa!” rise from the doorway as black-clad wait staff usher in flaming plates of saganaki, the luscious cheese going gooey at the touch of the fire. The lively atmosphere is mirrored by equally lively cuisine crafted by Chef Christina Lempesi, who emigrated from Athens in 2007. Along with her tea, the chef whips up traditional Greek cuisine from scratch, without the help of a traditional Greek kitchen minotaur. Her platters of lamb and lemon-drizzled chicken, grilled kebabs, and charbroiled seafood arrive to tables surrounded by hanging plants and faux brick and stucco walls. Outside, umbrellas in classic Greek blue shield white-clothed tables from the spray of the fountain as diners enjoy a breezy meal.
In 1991, tired of sating their late night delivery cravings with pizza, University of Florida pals Matt Friedman and Adam Scott concocted an alternative snack in their frat house's kitchen. Many hours and tweaked sauce recipes later, the duo dispensed their brand of buffalo wings to the university’s students, selling out their stock in the first two nights. Since relocating from the frat house to its two original Gainesville storefronts, the restaurant has opened nearly 100 locations nationwide, supplying wing lovers with boneless bites slathered in 15 award-winning flavors, including nuclear habanero, garlic parm, and blue buffalo. Three of the pair’s sauces have garnered awards at the National Buffalo Wing Festival, which recently inducted Adam and Scott into the Buffalo Wing “Hall of Flame,” where they share reigniting duty every time a strong breeze extinguishes its symbolic eternal flame.
Over the past few years, the term “salt life” has come to identify those who prefer to spend their time at the ocean, whether to surf, dive, or simply relax along the beach. Salt Life Food Shack embodies this ocean-centric culture at its three beachside locations run by four self-proclaimed extreme surfers, spearfishers, and overall watermen.
At the community-driven locations, you’ll find a full menu packed with sandwiches, salads, and fresh seafood, including seared ahi tuna, soft-shell crab, and oysters. When Folio Weekly gave Salt Life Food Shack its Best New Restaurant award in 2010, it described the marinated fresh tuna in Caliche’s Poke Bowl as “make-you-pick-a-fight-it’s-so-good.” Completing the salt life theme are the surf decorations, which range from ocean pictures to a saltwater aquarium to long blonde wigs hanging from the wall.
Like any good wing stop, Wings-N-Ale coats its fried or grilled chicken wings in a variety of sauces. But in addition to classic barbecue and mild, medium, and hot options, Wings-N-Ale has inventive dressings in flavors such as raspberry, parmesan-garlic with parsley flakes, and olive oil and herbs with a hint of lemon and lime. The sauces make their way onto other dishes too, including burgers and grilled mahi-mahi sandwiches. Diners watch sports on the eatery's five TVs as they revel in each bite, pairing savory flavors with a selection of domestic brews.
Bella Vita Pizza takes special care in constructing every pizza masterpiece, lovingly layering original and sicilian crusts with fresh, authentic ingredients. Wielded by powerful pizza warriors, the Bella Vita original ($11.95–$20.50) becomes a tool for appetite destruction, and the peace-loving Pizza Hawaiian reconciles taste buds and grumbling stomachs with a luau of sweet pineapple, ham, and a blend of mozzarella and ricotta ($11.95–$18.95). The meat lovers pizza rolls meatballs on top of pepperoni, sausage, bacon, and a generous helping of gooey cheese ($11.95–$20.95). To allow diners to seek their own pizza utopia, Bella Vita also offers up plain cheese pizza foundations—build your own topping hegemony with a thick-crusted sicilian base ($14.95) and the sturdy flavors of 17 toppings ($0.75–$2 each).