I am so excited to say that I will be off to Gainesville this weekend to watch the University of Florida Gators battle the University of Miami Hurricanes in the Swamp. I am not posting to talk sports, rivalries or predicted scores. I am here to talk about what else - food!
I had four great years at UF, and some of my fondest memories were food related. That is not a joke. Gainesville - packed with students, scholars and professors from around the world - has an incredible restaurant and food scene. Not to mention, that it is very affordable, attracting young, hip chefs from all over the country to set up shop there. Living downtown for my last two college years was great because I had access to the local farmer's market, several boutique coffee shops, and more importantly, some really memorable restaurants.
There are fantastic restaurants for whatever cuisine or meal you are in the mood for. Want a killer brunch? Go to Ivey's for their banana bread french toast and house spiced coffee. If you are in the mood for some thoroughly modern American cuisine, you can always ensure a great meal at Mildred's as well as their more casual, less expensive outpost, New Deal Cafe. If you want pizza, there are obviously an abundance of great places, but home-grown institutions like Leonardo's and Satchel's make it a truly rewarding experience. I could go on and on about the many fantastic restaurants that Gainesville has to offer, but I will simply end by mentioning what I consider the best (non-traditional) sushi restaurant that I have ever been to: Dragonfly.
To locals, Dragonfly is an institution of it's own. The words roll of your tongue as it wags thinking about the Crispy Crunch Roll or Dragonfly short ribs. I went there all four years while I was in Gainesville and have gone back every time that I have returned. It has expanded to multiple locations and trendier decor, but the food has always remained impeccable. I encourage, rather insist, that the next time you are in Gainesville you try Dragonfly. Oh, and you can thank me later.
That being said, it has been a while since I was there last, and I am sure that a number of great restaurants have popped up since. If you have any suggestions or "must try's," I would love to hear about them. With so much to do in such a short while, restaurant exploring may be limited. However, I can't wait to head back to my very favorite southern (northern) town.