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Restaurants in Gainesville

Yes, the University of Florida and Santa Fe College are based in Gainesville, Florida, but that doesn’t mean that Gainesville is strictly a drinking town. There are plenty of really great Gainesville restaurants serving up everything from French bistro cuisine to dim sum. Whether you’re there on Game Day or one of the 130,000 or so residents, we can help you find your next great meal with our guide to the best Gainesville restaurants.

Where to Go After a Football Game

Sure, you may have spent the day tailgating, but chances are you consumed more beer than food and should probably eat something. Don’t just throw any old thing down your gullet. Instead, try one of these places, none of which require you to dress in anything beyond your Gator gear:

 

  • Leonardo’s 706: This California-Mediterranean hot spot has been serving the local community since 1976. The 706 rolls are particularly good at sopping up any alcohol in your system.

  • Mojo Hogtown Barbecue: This is probably the best barbecue in town, with a wood-burning smoker that cooks everything from wings to brisket and legendary giant onion rings. The food, whiskey, and craft beer can be enjoyed outside on a dog-friendly patio. The best part? Mojo is great for large groups.

  • Loosey’s Downtown: Just down the way from the stadium is this popular joint known for its beer selection and wings (get the hot buffalo garlic). On the weekends, live music keeps toes tapping.

The Swamp Restaurant: Sure, it’s packed on game days, but it IS right across from the stadium. Plus, it serves up tasty bites (fried gator, ahi tuna tacos), and it has an outdoor deck that’s delightful on a nice evening.

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Best Overall Restaurant: Dragonfly

Dragonfly has been around for years, but it’s still one of the best spots in Gainesville, both for sushi and for Japanese food. Order off the customer-favorite menu to get a taste of what’s popular, such as the miso black cod or the overstuffed Bomb Roll with tuna and tempura shrimp. Or try something from Chef Jeff Allen’s curated menu, perhaps the aji nigiri (horse mackerel) or the wagyu carpaccio. If you love to eat in season, you’ll be happy you went with the seasonal omakase menu, both for food and cocktails. No matter what you go with, don’t forget the tempura fried ice cream.

Best Italian: Manuel’s Vintage Room

When you’re in the mood for really good Italian, head to Manuel’s—but make sure you get a reservation first. This tiny 12-table restaurant is frequently packed with people enjoying lobster ravioli in a truffle cream sauce, housemade gnocchi in a fontina cream sauce, and breaded pork Milanese. The menu is classically Italian, save for a few dishes, including the vintage duck in a blackberry porcini mushroom sauce and the pasta purses stuffed with poached pear and ricotta and swirled with an herbed brown-butter cream sauce.

Best Pizza: Satchel’s

This just may be the quirkiest restaurant in all of Florida. After all, at Satchel’s, you can eat in an old mint-green van, under a plane, in a greenhouse, or next to a wall of stained-glass windows with psychedelic shapes and colors. Even with all of this, the pizza is the star. It features creative toppings, housemade sauces, and allergy-friendly subs, such as dairy-free cheese. Just know that it can take 45 minutes to get your pie if it’s super busy, but there’s enough local art and repurposed items to keep your attention.

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Best Ramen: Crane Ramen

With its trendy decor, locally sourced meats and veggies, and housemade broths (stocks bubble 24 hours a day), Crane Ramen feels like a top ramen house in a major city. Start with some of the steamed buns or the kimchi brussel sprouts, then work your mouth over to one of seven varieties of ramen. They come with everything you need, but feel free to customize yours by adding extra toppings, such as a six-minute egg.

Best Dim Sum: Yummy House  

If you’re looking for authentic dim sum, check out Yummy House. But don’t miss the dim sum service as it only runs from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The food on the carts, including steamed dumplings and sticky rice with shrimp, tends to run out, so make sure you get there on the earlier side. If you don’t, you’ll still find great Chinese dishes, including clay pots and lotus-root veggie options.

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Best Beer List: World of Beer


If you’re a novice beer drinker, you’ll love World of Beer just as much as a die-hard beer lover. That’s because World of Beer has more than 50 beer options served up in bottle and draft form. The beers hail from all over the world, from Germany to Mexico to the Czech Republic.

Best Graduation Dinner: Embers Wood Grill

Graduating seniors and their parents love this upscale surf ’n’ turf spot. It’s a classic white-tablecloth joint serving up Gulf of Mexico blue-crab bisque, grilled caesar salads, organic chicken, and USDA Prime beef cooked over a pecan-, hickory-, and cherry-wood grill.

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