Category Archives: Reviews

Bagels Unlimited

With a great location catty corner from the University of Florida campus, Bagels Unlimited offers students a no-fuss stop for breakfast, or lunch, before or after class. If you’re running late though, you might want to skip it and pick something up at the Kangaroo across the street. My experiences there have all been good. Not excellent, but good. The service is slow, and it takes a while (10-15 minutes) for a server to even approach the table. I’m grumpy in the morning (and hungry and craving coffee), so the wait gets pretty annoying sometimes. The food also takes a longer than it should for a short-order breakfast joint, but they do a pretty good job in keeping your drink filled while you’re waiting. Essentially the service depends on how busy they are, and Saturday and Sunday mornings are prime time. I would recommend going during the week.

Despite the occasional slow service, everything else about Bagel’s Unlimited is pretty awesome. They offer outside seating and have a HUUUGE breakfast selection. With about 20 types of bagels, various spreads and cream cheeses, breakfast sandwiches, omlettes, knishes, pancakes, eggs, lunch sandwiches, salads, sides, and hearty breakfast combination plates (Whew…), so…yea….you are sure to find something to enjoy. I usually go for a sun dried tomato bagel (soo good) sandwich with bacon, an over easy egg and cheddar cheese. The hash browns are also excellent, and the portion is huge. Other favorites of mine include the coconut pancakes (sounds weird, but if you love coconut like I do, you will love these!), and the Mexican-inspired fiesta omelette, complete with tomatoes, onions, olives, peppers, mushrooms, salsa, sour cream and your choice of cheese.

One of my favorite things about Bagel’s Unlimited is their hot sauce selection. They have over 100 different kinds of hot sauce, lined up and displayed in a large shelf in the dining room. Before my meal comes, I scour the hot sauce shelf for the perfect one to complement my choice of breakfast.

The restaurant itself is much larger than it looks from the outside. From the outside it looks pretty rinky-dink, which I think adds to the overall small-town charm to the place. They have two separate seating areas inside and also offer outside patio seating. And although the service is slow at times, it’s always friendly. At the front register they have a big bowl of candy. I remember one time an employee (might have been the owner) picking me out some hidden candy from under the counter. “Now here’s the good stuff.” It’s the little things.

Price- $
Service- 2/5
Atmosphere- quirky diner

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Cafe C

If you’re looking for a quick, reasonably-priced lunch in a quirky environment, Cafe C could be the perfect weekday escape. My only complaint about this vibrant yet quaint little restaurant so far is that they’re not open on the weekends. Business hours only include weekday lunch: Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Imagine a less-fussy, locally-owned, offbeat version of Panera Bread and you have Cafe C. Cafe C offers a variety of soups, sandwiches and salads. Since my first visit, I have tried to make it to lunch there at least once a week, and try a different sandwich or salad each time. With 13 signature sandwiches on the menu, and about 15 salads, needless to say I haven’t tried them all.

Among my favorites are the “New Delhi Chicken Salad”, a curry chicken salad served over a bed of greens and fresh fruit with a tangy Asian-style dressing and the “Grace’s Garden Sandwich”, a huge sandwich made on your choice of bread, loaded with tons of fresh veggies and topped off with guacamole and hummus. The tuna salad is also quite delicious.

Cafe C is a casual, order at the counter restaurant. The service is always fast and friendly. My boyfriend and I are regular customers and we are always greeted with something like, “Hey! Good to see you again… how have you been?” It gives the place a homey feeling. We have even been offered free “dessert shots.” Yummm.

Cafe C usually runs a $5.99 lunch special that includes half of a sandwich of your choice and a side salad or cup of soup. If you order a full sandwich (which are very large), it comes with your choice of chips or the salad of the day (pasta salad, black bean salad etc.), and a drink. The sandwiches and salads range in price from about $7 to $10.

My favorite part about the restaurant is the brightly colored walls and tables and interesting wall art. They also have an outdoor patio where you can sit and enjoy the weather. My visits to Cafe C have become my favorite part of Friday afternoon.

Do as their motto says and “Celebrate Lunch Today!”

Price: $
Service: 5/5
Atmosphere: business lunch meets eclectic and artsy

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Caribbean Queen

Located just on the out skirts of Downtown Gainesville, Caribbean Queen takes you to the deep parts of Saint. Elizabeth and Brown’s Town, Jamaica. The owner Valerie Phillips, is. a quaint Jamaican woman from Brown’s Town, Jamaica. She is more than welcoming. She greets you by dancing to Bob Marley blasting from a large speaker that sits right outside the front door. If you’re looking for a true Jamaican experience, make it your business to learn how to parallel park across the street and pick from an authentic Jamaican menu.

Caribbean Queen is small, only fitting about 20 people inside, 20 150 pounders that is. The small fit does not however take away from the restaurant. Inside, Caribbean Queen is decorated with a wide array of green and yellow memorabilia. Bob Marley boldly stands over the Jamaican Patty hot stand, pictures of a young Phillips on cruise lines as a beginning chef grace the wall over the only table inside, and Jamaican tailored stickers line the counter top.

Not only is the scenery welcoming, but so is the food. Because Phillips owns and operates Caribbean Queen, she takes your order and puts together the food right away. Her strong accent makes you want to add it as a side to your dish. The most popular dishes for people getting their feet wet at Caribbean Queen are the express dishes, which are little containers packed deep with food. Approximately two cups deep, you would believe that is a full entree. Phillips packs white rice under your choice of meat. The oxtails take you back to when you were younger and grandma had you following the smell around the house into the kitchen. The curry chicken, on the other hand, is packed with a wrestlers punch of Mmmm Mmmm Good flavor. The thyme and peas bring everything to its place right into your mouth.

Caribbean Queen is definitely not an #epicfail. From the moment you successfully parallel park, get past Buju Banton, and take a monstrous first bite, you’ll find yourself being very addicted. Jamaican crack. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Price: $
Service: 5/5
Atmosphere: Countryside Jamaica meets Gainesville. Hello mon.

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Burrito Bros. Taco Co.

Tucked away in the back of the Presbyterian Student Center sits Burrito Bros. a must have as a college student. Between classes sit outside in the casual enlarged patio that serves as the eating area. Nature can be a bit much, but nothing beats enjoying a great burrito outside in the good old Florida sun. Just minutes from campus at 1402 West University Ave. you can avoid stop and go traffic for a meal at any time.

The restaurant is run by Janet and Randy Akerson who bought the place from two guys in 1976. They are both still active in the every day management and operations.

With a Mexican influenced menu, you can customize any burrito made fresh to order. Not only can locals enjoy this long time establishment, but they also offer frozen burritos for shipping via FedEx. So after you’ve graduated and said your goodbyes to Titletown, just know that Burrito Bros. is only but a call and a FedEx trip away.

Burritos are served with a spicy tomato based red sauce that’s sure to give your beef or chicken burrito the kick it needs. All ingredients are made fresh, and they use fresh ingredients and produce. They have added three new menu items that are sure to become favorites among long-time patrons and newcomers. Recently added is the chicken burrito with chorizo, red rice and white Mexican cheese; pinto beans, chorizo, red rice and white Mexican cheese; and black beans, sweet potatoes and roasted corn salsa.

Next time you want to grab a quick bite to eat out in the warm sun, think of Burrito Bros. the convenient location across campus and casual atmosphere make this a perfect lunch spot.

Price: $

Service: 2/5

Atmosphere: casual

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Leonardo’s 706 (by the slice)

Gainesville isn’t lacking on pizza joints, but if you want a little more than the routine chains offer, and a more sophisticated atmosphere then Leonardo’s is the place to be. Since 1973, Leonardo’s has attracted people who wouldn’t mind a little culture with their meal. This place is draped in an artistic and classy atmosphere. It’s the perfect place for any occasion with California and Mediterranean cuisine its upscale menu that includes items such as traditional carbonara pasta, chicken gorgonzola, filet mignon and thin-crust pizzas with your choice of toppings. Despite having an extensive menu, they’re known for their pizza slices. Stop by for a traditional cheese slice or be brave and add a little flavor.

Don’t leave without trying the 706 rolls better known as the garlic knots! Don’t feel up on them either, this is highly possible given their deliciousness. Served with marinara sauce or a buttery garlic sauce. Wash it down with a cold glass of iced tea.

On Monday and Thursday nights you can enjoy jazz sets with Marty Liquori and his band. Leonardo’s also has wine tasting if you want to get-a-way and expand your taste buds. Great for a first date or afternoon lunch with the parents. On Sundays you can have brunch or dine from their international buffet form 10:30 a.m. until 3 p.m.

You can also dine at their sister restaurant, Bistro 1245, located right next to Leonardo’s. So be sure to check out either of these fine establishments for a splash of entertainment and fine cuisine.

Price: $$ – $$$

Service: 3/5

Atmosphere: eclectic and artsy

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Reggae Shack Cafe

When you’re craving some Jamaican spice look no further than Gainesville’s own Reggae Shack Cafe. Located a few blocks from historic downtown Gainesville, you’re sure to have your island needs satisfied. It opened in September 2003 serving up traditional and Jamaican inspired dishes. It’s nestled away at 619 West University Avenue and has been ranked one of the best places to eat in Gainesville by the Gainesville Sun in 2005.

The walls are adorned with tributes to famous Jamaican influences such as Bob Marley. Bright red, yellow and green accentuate the cozy restaurant giving off a warm and friendly atmosphere. Your greeted by a friendly wait staff, eager to introduce you to the island dishes they offer if you have the look of a first timer. The soulful music is sure to give of an authentic feel as you wait for your food. They recently celebrated their grand re-opening on August 6, 2009.

You’re sure to find something on there menu that catches your eye whether you are a frequent patron or just stopping by for the first time. As a newcomer, I advice you to try any one of there famous traditional Jamaican dishes. If you don’t have the time for a long lunch, I’d suggest the beef or chicken patty. It’s served up fresh and convenient to eat on the go. If you have a few minutes I’d look into trying their signature dish, oxtail, which is slowly cooked in a special blend of seasonings.

In addition to their expansion, the Cafe has also added new items to their menu such as sandwiches, Caribbean hot wings, callaloo and crab, and coconut strawberry as a new smoothie flavor.

So if you’re in town and would like to experience authentic Jamaican food coupled with culture and ambiance, then make sure to stop by Reggae Shack Cafe.

Price: $ – $$

Service: 4/5

Atmosphere: Authentic Carribean

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101 Downtown

When the occasion calls for a few drinks before or after the night gets started, 101 Downtown is great for kicking back with a cocktail. The restaurant and lounge was recently remodeled, making it the perfect place to unwind after a long day or have a couple drinks and some good conversation.

101 is most known for its specialty martinis. While they come at a hefty price (most are in the $10 range), the drinks pack a punch so you’ll get your money’s worth.

The Erotic Espresso martini, made with vodka, Kahlua, Bailey’s and espresso, is sweet as a Frappuccino and goes down just as easily. The Cosmopolitan is another favorite, strong and flavorful.

For something less sweet, the Dirty Girl is the restaurant’s standard dirty martini, served with vodka and three olives. Or, try The Great One, and the olives are served stuffed with blue cheese before taking a dive in your martini glass.

No matter what kind of drink you like, you can be sure that 101 Downtown probably has something to cater to it. (Key lime pie martini, anyone?) Come and stay for a few drinks, or longer if you’re willing to foot the bill.

Price: $$

Service: 3/5

Atmosphere: upscale yuppie

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