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Gainesville’s Best Restaurants: A Guide to Deliciousness Awaiting You 

Gainesville’s Best Restaurants: A Guide to Deliciousness Awaiting You 

Let’s take a look at some of Gainesville’s best restaurants and finest eateries! 

Nestled among the rolling hills of North Central Florida, Gainesville is an ideal destination for those looking to explore the beauty of the Sunshine State. Although best known for its prestigious university, Gainesville is also home to some truly delicious restaurants.

From wood-fired grills to delectable Southern cuisine, there’s something for everyone in this culinary paradise.


Satchel’s Pizza

Satchel’s Pizza serves up handmade pizza pies with unique toppings like artichoke hearts & broccoli or roasted garlic & ricotta cheese. There are also vegetarian options, such as tempeh, vegan cheese, and pineapple. Calzones are also popular.

In addition to their pizzas, Satchel’s Pizza offers salads & sandwiches. The Satch salad with sunflower seeds, apples, Romano cheese, and nuts is one of my favorite salads ever! Don’t skip looking at the dessert options — Satchell’s has a clever way of displaying them through a retro ViewMaster. 

Want to try something unique? Order the cane sugar homemade 6-soda flight.


Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grille

This restaurant has been serving fresh seafood since 1975. From jambalaya and chicken Jolie Blonde to Bourbon Street Salmon and Shrimp Étouffée, there’s something for everyone here.

Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grille has an appealing menu, exciting decor, and drool-worthy desserts. Plan accordingly. 

The Andouille Crusted Grouper is pretty spectacular, but I mainly chose Louisiana Fondeaux (warm shrimp and crawfish dip) and a bowl of Gumbo… a creature of habit.

Fun Fact: There are multiple Harry’s locations around Florida, such as Lakeland and St. Augustine

Photo from Harry’s IG page.

Dragonfly Sushi & Sake Co.

You’re in for a real treat when you visit Dragonfly Sushi, arguably one of Gainesville’s best restaurants. Whether you come for the great adult libations menu, the enticing Japanese tapas dishes, and expertly crafted sushi, it’s all good at this modernly decorated eatery. 

Oh, and did I mention that they have a full saké bar?

My favorite dishes include Hamachi Crudo, California Roll, and Short Rib Miso Ramen, which makes my mouth water just thinking about how tasty it was. It was my first time eating ramen, and to this date, the best.


Embers Wood Grill

Embers Wood Grill has been a local favorite since it opened its doors in 2005. The restaurant specializes in wood-fire grilling, with all their dishes cooked over a real wood fire that adds a unique smoky flavor to every bite.

The menu features classic American fares such as burgers, 100% USDA prime beef steaks, fall-off-the-bone ribs, and vegetarian options like wood-grilled veggies. Though romantic and fancy, you’ll also find some Florida classics on the menu, like Florida gator tail.

Embers also offers an impressive selection of craft beers and wines from around the world.

Save room for the Belgian chocolate torte for dessert.

Photo from Embers Wood Fired Grill’s FB page.

Salty Dog Saloon

If you’re in the mood for drinks, head over to Salty Dog Saloon, where they serve up cold beer and cocktails in a fun atmosphere perfect for groups or flying solo. The menu includes everything from cold draft beer to tropical daiquiris.

Salty Dog also showcases live music every weekend. 

The Top

The Top is the place for all-American comfort food—burgers, fries, shakes, and more! Their signature burger is made from grass-fed beef cooked to perfection on an open-flame grill with caramelized onions for extra flavor. Beef can be replaced with fried or grilled chicken breast, black bean, or beyond burger. 

Photo from The Top’s IG page.

You can also build your own burger or try one of their specialty burgers, such as the Good Morning Burger (bacon and sunny-side-up egg) or the Widow Maker Burger with a chili-espresso rub, fried onions, and white cheddar.

The Top also has plenty of sides to choose from, including beer-battered french fries, onion rings and sweet potato fries. I’m all about the appetizers – Kimchi cauliflower and garlic & goat cheese, baked and served with toasted ciabatta.

This restaurant is closed on Mondays and has a late-night menu every night until 1 AM.

Photo from The Top’s IG page.

The Swamp

 Located on the University of Florida campus, The Swamp serves classic pub fare with a twist. Whether it’s their famous gator tails (with cajun aioli) or one of their signature sandwiches like the “Freshman 15 Burger”, you’ll find something delicious here.

My top picks are the Crispy Cauliflower Bites (with pepperoncini rings and white sesame seeds) and Southwest Bowl (blackened chicken). You can tell by the sheer number of vegetarian and vegan menu options that Gainesville attracts and has many of them frequenting the dining establishments.

The Swamp also boasts a full bar with an impressive selection of craft beers and cocktails that can be enjoyed indoors or on the patio. There are also special menus, like for game day, with all your bar eats favorites. And remember Sunday brunch from 10 AM to 3 PM.

And bless their heart, even Fido gets his own special dog menu at The Swamp, with beef, chicken, or salmon.

Photo from The Swamp’s IG page.

Liquid Ginger

The Philippines and Thailand are all under one roof! Start your meal with an order of steamed dumplings or egg rolls before diving into some pad thai or teriyaki chicken entrees.

Liquid Ginger also serves sushi (and sashimi) featuring classics like California rolls. Plus, they specialize in noodle dishes and unique creations, like the Dragonfire Roll made with spicy tuna inside out wrapped with avocado & eel sauce on top and clay pots! 

I visited Liquid Ginger on a Gainesville food tour a few years ago and was blown away by how good the Pad Thai was. We also sampled the spicy red curry, which was rich and yummy.


Miller’s Ale House

Miller’s Ale House is a popular spot for locals looking for good grub and cold beer in a casual atmosphere. The menu features shareable appetizers like chicken or pulled pork quesadillas and potstickers, as well as sandwiches, pasta dishes, and salads.

If you’re in the mood for something heartier, Miller’s Ale House offers steak dinners, seafood platters, and baby back ribs. They also have daily specials like Prime Rib Thursday, where you can get a 12 oz. cut prime rib dinner with two sides for only $15.99!

I go for a bowl of French onion soup while watching sporting events from the bar, or the Original Zingers, fresh, never frozen, buttermilk-drenched, boneless chicken tenders.

Photo from Miller’s Ale House IG page.

Peach Valley Cafe

Peach Valley Cafe is “all that and a bag of chips”. Be sure to try the sack of orchard-fresh apple fritters—fried hot, added to a brown bag of cinnamon sugar, and tossed for just the right mix of deliciousness.

The Kick Hash Breakfast is one of the specialties and a good, hearty breakfast option.

PVC signature breakfast potatoes are mixed with peppers, onions, and roast beef, then topped with two eggs cooked your way. Pick your bread (biscuit, toast, English muffin) to go along with your hash. I added a side of sausage gravy for mine. 


Flying Biscuit Cafe

Established in 1997 by two friends from Atlanta who wanted to share their love of Southern cooking with Gainesville residents, The Flying Biscuit Cafe has become a local institution thanks to its tasty breakfast offerings.

Tasty eats include biscuits smothered in sausage gravy, omelets stuffed with cheese & veggies, pancakes with fresh fruit compote, and more!

If you drop by later in the day, they also serve salads and sandwiches that are just as delicious. 

Photo from The Flying Biscuit website.

Hopdoddy Burger Bar

Hopdoddy Burger Bar has become famous among locals for its juicy burgers with Angus beef patties served on pretzel buns or brioche buns smothered in delicious sauces like chipotle mayo or cilantro pesto!

They offer classic burgers plus exciting variations such as the BBQ Bacon Cheddar Burger topped with bacon jam & melted cheddar cheese, plus BBQ sauce on both sides of the bun! I like that a lot.!

There are plenty of side options at Hopdoddy to pair your meal, such as tater tots dressed up with parmesan cheese & herbs or sweet potato fries dusted with sugar-cinnamon spice mix!   

Photo from Hopdoddy IG page.

Gators Den Sports Bar

Located on University Avenue near campus, Gators Den Sports Grill is the perfect spot for fans looking to catch a game while enjoying some delicious eats. The restaurant boasts 20 TVs showing sports from around the country and around the world so you won’t miss any action!

As for the food, you can expect plenty of pub favorites like wings, burgers and nachos, and specialty items like quesadillas and pizzas – all served up with generous portions of cold beer or wine.

Photo from Gators Den IG page.

Loosey’s Downtown

You’ll find elevated bar eats, like sandwiches, salads, wings, quesadillas, and more here! Loosey’s also has an extensive craft beer menu loaded with more than 30 different brews worldwide.

So, whether you’re looking for lunch or dinner (or just happy hour drinks!) Loosey’s Downtown has got you covered!

The juicy burgers get my vote of approval, with the house-made burger sauce and Havarti as a cheese option. I also add roasted mushrooms and grilled onions. This is burger perfection, served with really good fries or a cucumber salad.

If you aren’t feeling burgers, try the Fish & Chips or sinfully delicious Lobster Mac ‘n’ Cheese. Loosey’s is closed on Tuesdays.


The Dime

The Dime is another great Gainesville spot for drinks (often voted the best drinks in Gainesville), as well as delicious food. The signature jalapeño poppers or hand-crafted pizzas made with fresh ingredients are real crowd-pleasers. 

They also offer weekly specials, like dollar burgers and half-priced wings. Last I checked, Happy Hour was from 4-7 PM Monday through Saturday and 1-7 PM Sunday. Be sure to add “Gainesville’s intimate watering hole” to your visit.

Mojo Hogtown B-B-Que

Mojo Hogtown Bar-B-Que serves mouthwatering smoked meats, including ribs, brisket, chicken, and whiskey. Pet-friendly, craft cocktails, and family-friendly are other things they pride themselves on.

Disco Fries is a do-not-miss appetizer. Handcut fries topped with two kinds of cheese and then drenched in brisket debris gravy really check all the boxes for tasty, comforting, filling, and shareable.

Immerse yourself in a countrywide eating extravaganza featuring Kansas City burnt ends, Brunswick stew, North Carolina pork, Nashville hot chicken, St. Louis spareribs, Texas hot links, and Delta catfish. Impressive, eh?

But, the southern sides are my favorite part of Mojo’s menu, with mouthwatering items like collard greens, sweet potato mash, garlic cheddar grits, and don’t forget the corn muffins.

This establishment is sure to please any barbecue lover!


Paramount Grill

Paramount Grill has been serving up hearty meals in Gainesville since 1998. It continues to be one of the most popular fine-dining restaurants in town. 

Attractive menu items include burgers, paninis, salads for lunch, salmon, pork loin, and New York strip for dinner. Sunday brunch (from 10 — 2) adds tasty treats like almost-crusted French toast with blueberries and Good Morning burgers.

Try a bowl of sea salt ice cream or a slice of specialty cheesecake for dessert. And don’t forget to check out the extensive wine list!

Photo from Paramount Grill’s website.

Blue Gill Quality Foods

Last but not least is Blue Gill Quality Food & Spirits, a Gainesville icon. This unique restaurant offers delectable scratch-made dishes prepared using only fresh ingredients sourced from local vendors when possible. 

Rev your taste buds with the Blue Cheese Chips, perfect for sharing. For a lighter appetite, the Roasted Beet Salad is hard to beat. Try one of their signature dishes, such as Pork Rind Fried Chicken (with Mac & Cheese and smoked pork collards) or Beef Brisket (ancho poblano cheese gravy!) – both are sure to satisfy your comfort food cravings!

Wash it down with an expertly crafted cocktail (Cool as a Cucumber is my pick) or a glass of fine wine from their extensive drink menu.

Note: Blue Gill used to have a fantastic brunch, hence the picture below. 


Foodie’s Delight in Gainesville’s Best Restaurants

With its abundance of tantalizing eateries ranging from classic dive bars to fine dining establishments – Gainesville truly has a bit of everything for your dining delights. So, next time you’re in town, hit some of these amazing spots.

Read about more great Florida foodie spots:

Vero Beach

Daytona Beach

Fort Pierce

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