Sweet Mel's combines food and drink in a way not seen since the invention of the banana milkshake, offering a lengthy lineup of burgers, beers, and mixed drinks inside a red and black bar. From their perches on exposed-brick walls, hungry TVs can only dream of sampling what they see?pork chops, deep-fried Oreos, beef patties sandwiched between funnel cakes (The Sweet Mel), and foot-long hoagies packed with slabs of ground beef and bacon (The Boss). To wash down big meals, bartenders pour a steady stream of martinis and specialty cocktails, and fill 100-ounce towers with beer, the only beverage that does not immediately curdle when poured into a tower. A wide array of events puts the corner stage to use, with $1 drafts on Mondays, trivia on Tuesday, and Shakespearean-style readings of the menu specials every day.
The posse of chefs at Agave Blue piques curious palates with a menu of casual Mexican fusion fare. Step in from the eatery's parking lot to warm up masticators with an appetizer of taco cheese fries ($5.95) topped with taco meat, jalapeños, and shredded cheese. Mouths can move on to deep-fried chicken chimichangas ($9.95), a trio of steak tacos ($10.95) harmonizing with mexican slaw and chimichurri sauce, or the baja burger ($8.95), which hulas to tables with an entourage of grilled pineapple, pepper jack cheese, and sautéed onions. Diners can sip, slurp, and blow bubbles into traditional margaritas, sidling up to the bar to watch the game or hanging out at a table to watch the table.
For 35 years, downtown Gainesville's Wine and Cheese Gallery has held court in a quaint white wood house that INsite Gainesville writer Jennifer Coleman calls "reminiscent of a classic French bistro.? Owners Bunky Mastin and Wade Tyler curate a larder with more than 3,000 varieties of wine, an international selection of cheeses, rich chocolates, and gourmet lunch items served on the charming patio bistro or inside at Panache, the shop?s restaurant.
Panache's chefs pull from the Gallery?s stock to harmoniously blend flavors in sandwiches such as The Normandy, which combines brie, apples, and cinnamon on french bread and is garnished with a miniature beret, and the turkey and havarti, which is balanced by an Adriatic fig spread. Patrons can also nibble on the quiche du jour or hide their faces from exes in soups that vary depending on the whims of the chef, with one recent creation involving sage matzo balls in the affairs of a ginger-chicken broth.
Open until 2 a.m. seven days a week, Flashbacks Lounge caters to caffeine fixes at all times of the day with local brews from Sweetwater Organic Coffee and Tree City Roasters. In addition to coffee and espresso drinks, the staff serves a variety of spirits in a laid-back, relaxing environment devoid of intrusive noise or loud music. Guest can also gather on the outdoor patio to sip beverages in the fresh air.
A steady wave of live music erupts from both floors of the establishment, whether it be DJ Robzilla mixing beats in the lounge or Mama Trish plucking acoustic melodies on the patio. Meanwhile, open-mic poetry nights give versatile versesmiths a respectful audience to recite sonnets about hygiene found on truck stop hand dryers.