Discover great food with our guide to the best restaurants in Gainesville, Florida. You’ll find everything from burger joints to wineries!
Don’t for a second think that, because Gainesville is a college town, all you will find to eat is fast food. In fact, you will find quite the opposite. Gainesville is a foodie destination, with incredible eateries and restaurants that cater to all food preferences. Below we list some of our favorite restaurants in Gainesville.
Our very first meal in Gainesville was a memorable one. We had dinner at The Top which is considered one of the best places to eat in Gainesville. It’s in the heart of downtown, with a laid back atmosphere and amazing food. Get there as they open because it does get packed!
We had a plantain chip appetizer and a triple cheese burger that had us drooling. The Top is known for its burgers and it is easy to see why. The burger was juicy and the smoked Gouda complimented it well. We also had two desserts because we couldn’t decide on just one! Both the chocolate cheesecake and peanut butter cake were fantastic.
Pro Tip: If you’re looking for vegan restaurants in Gainesville, most of the places listed here have plenty of vegan options.
Serving only the freshest seafood, Blue Gill Quality Foods will leave you wanting more. They have a great selection of food inspired by southern style cooking and made from the best local ingredients. For an appetizer we had the smoked fish dip which we thought had the perfect amount of smokiness. We also liked that the chips were homemade. For our main meal we had fried shrimp with collards and cornbread. The shrimp had a nice crunch to them and the cornbread was nice and fluffy.
Without a doubt, the best sushi in Gainesville can be found at Dragonfly Sushi. The restaurant itself is really nice, with both indoor and outdoor seating and a bar perfect for socializing. The food though… we’d go back to Gainesville for the wontons alone! They were crispy and when you bit into them the flavorful just exploded in your mouth. They were amazing!!
We also had a Black Dragon Roll and Spider Roll, both of which were delicious. We completed our meal with Tempura Fried Cheesecake and ice cream. Each spoonful tasted like heaven!
We will say it is a bit difficult to choose who has the best pizza in Gainesville because restaurants around town make their pizzas in different styles. We did do our best to sample a few pizzerias though, and you can read the following post to see who we thought were the best pizza places in Gainesville.
To indulge our sweet tooth, we found two places to get great ice cream in Gainesville! For traditional ice cream we recommend Sweet Dreams Homemade Ice Cream. Their ice creams are made with the highest quality ingredients and they have a ton of different flavors. They also make their own waffle cones. We chose the Bailey’s Irish ice cream and it did not disappoint. The creamy and decadent flavor had our taste buds doing a happy dance!
For something a little different, try Mr. Cool. Here, they make Thai-style rolled ice cream. If you haven’t tried rolled ice cream yet, you are definitely missing out! Not only is it fun to watch them make it, but the flavors combinations are endless. They have a menu you can choose from, or you can create your own. We chose the Monkey Business (of course!) which had a vanilla ice cream base along with fresh bananas and Nutella.
Just outside of Gainesville is Island Grove Wine Company. At 200 acres, they have the largest organic blueberry farm in the state and specialize in blueberry wines. From start to finish, everything is done on property; from fermentation to bottling. Even their labels are designed in-house!
Visitors can tour the winery itself or stop by their tasting house. We thought the tasting house was really nice; there were comfy chairs to relax and a small shop to buy wine related trinkets. We headed straight to the counter though and started our wine tasting. We sampled a few of their berry wines and loved the smooth textures and sweet flavors.
We must note that Island Grove also has much more than just wines. Visitors can also sample and purchase various local honeys, salad dressings, salsas, and amazing oils & vinegars.
We may not be beer drinkers, but we can recognize a great brewery when we see one. Swamp Head Brewery is a fun place to chill and hang out with friends. They’re also all about Florida, which we love. When you stop in for drinks, see if a tour of their facility is available. They’re a lot of fun and include a beer in one of their limited edition tour pint glasses.
In conclusion, there is no shortage of great restaurants in Gainesville, Florida. You can even take a food tour in Gainesville to get to know more of the local eateries! With so many great options, we hope that this post with our favorite restaurants will inspire you to pay this foodie city a visit. Trust us, you won’t go home disappointed!
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**A big thank you to Visit Gainesville for suggesting such great establishments. Although they covered most of the cost of our meals, as always, all opinions are our own.**