Florida Gators: Top 10 Restaurants in Gainesville on Gameday

by Dustin Schutte
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On gameday, the Gators gotta eat. That doesn’t just apply to the football team taking the field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturdays. Fans visiting Gainesville are hoping to find some of the best gameday grub while in town to cheer on the football team. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered.

We talked with Nick de la Torre and Corey Bender of On3’s Gators Online to get an idea of some of the best places to eat while in Gainesville for a gameday in “The Swamp.” We’ve found that there’s a little something for everyone.

Original American Kitchen (OAK)

  • Location: 15 SE 1st Ave.
  • Distance to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium: 1.5 miles
  • Saturday Hours: 11AM – 11PM
  • Gotta Try: Filet Tip Tacos
  • Website

Whether you’re in the mood for a few appetizers, a delicious sandwich or a full-blown southern-style meal, Original American Kitchen has it. Chicken wings, grilled cheese and tomato soup, shrimp and grits and the OAK chicken sandwich are among the most popular menu items.

“The food here is really good but they’ve also got really cool cocktails from the bar.”

Nick de la Torre, Gators Online

Our suggestion? The filet tip tacos. You’ll get an order of three filet mignon tip tacos, served with a spicy cilantro sauce, pickled onion, cotija cheese and avocado. The naked chicken wings are another great option.

Photo by Dustin Schutte/Outsider

Cry Baby’s

  • Location: 1 W. University Ave.
  • Distance to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium: 1.5 miles
  • Saturday Hours: 4PM – 12AM
  • Gotta Try: HOT Chicken Sandwich
  • Website

Burgers and other sandwiches are always gameday staples. It’s pretty hard to go wrong with those choices. And Cry Baby’s provides Gator fans with those great options.

The burgers get rave reviews, especially from students and locals. We’d recommend the HOT chicken sandwich, especially if you’re a fan of spice. Cry Baby’s is also known as a great spot to meet up with friends and enjoy a few drinks, making it a great gameday spot before Florida hits the field.

Mojo Hogtown Bar-B-Que

  • Location: 12 SE 2nd Ave.
  • Distance to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium: 1.5 miles
  • Saturday Hours: 11AM – 11PM
  • Gotta Try: Three-Meat Combo
  • Website

If you’re not tailgating, Mojo Hogtown might be the next-best option, especially if you’re a barbeque and whiskey lover. Mojo is known for its vast selection of whiskeys, with hundreds of bottles behind the bar. You can order a custom cocktail or try a new whiskey neat. You’ll have no shortage of options, that’s for sure.

“Mojo has a great whiskey and bourbon menu, which is why people go here. The barbeque is also some of the best in town.”

Nick de la Torre, Gators Online

On the food side, what pairs better with great whiskey than great barbeque? Start off with Mojo’s famous onion rings as an appetizer before diving into the main course. If you’re a lover of smoked meats, order the three-meat combination. Selections include pulled pork, brisket, St. Louis spareribs, pit-smoked chicken, smoked turkey and more. You’ll also get two sides with that order — leaving you pretty full when walk through the exit door.

The Swamp Restaurant

  • Location: 1104 SW 2nd Ave.
  • Distance to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium: 0.8 miles
  • Saturday Hours: 12PM – 10PM
  • Gotta Try: Crispy Cauliflower Bites
  • Website

The Swamp Restaurant might be the most popular place on this list. It’s become a pilgrimage of sorts for Gator fans, especially those who are UF alums. It’s defined as “quintessential” Gainesville. Plus, the name ties in perfectly with your trip to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on gameday.

“It’s been a Gainesville staple for a long time. They’ve moved, but The Swamp Restaurant copied and pasted from the old location. You’ll walk in and immediately have that nostalgia feeling.”

Nick de la Torre, Gators Online

A limited gameday menu awaits patrons on Saturday, mostly consisting of burgers, wraps, sandwiches and salads. If you’re adding an appetizer to the mix, we’re recommending the crispy cauliflower bites, which are coated in sweet chili sauce, tossed with pepperoncini rings and topped with cilantro and sesame seed.

Peach Valley Cafe

  • Location: 3275 SW 34th St.
  • Distance to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium: 3.4 miles
  • Saturday Hours: 7AM – 2:30PM
  • Gotta Try: Fresh Apple Fritters
  • Website

For those early kickoffs, hit Peach Valley Cafe for a great breakfast option. It’s a little further from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, so it’s definitely a spot to hit well before the scheduled start time on Saturdays.

The fresh apple fritters get the nod of approval at Peach Valley Cafe. Granny Smith apples are battered and cooked until golden brown, then are tossed in a cinnamon-sugar mixture right at your table. It’s also served with a strawberry yogurt for dipping. Is your mouth watering yet?

Piesanos Stone Fired Pizza

  • Location: 1250 W University Ave. (3 locations)
  • Distance to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium: 0.7 miles
  • Saturday Hours: 11AM – 12AM
  • Gotta Try: The Captain Calzone
  • Website

If pizza is your preferred gameday food option, Piesanos is the best spot. Not only does it offer quality pies and calzones, but it’s also conveniently located within a mile walk of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Be sure to try “The Captain” calzone, filled with spicy Italian sausage, meatballs, pepperoni and three different cheeses.

In addition to a solid menu, Piesanos has a great beer selection with domestic and craft beers on tap. The key to this spot is to arrive early — or expect a wait. While there’s a lot of seating at this location, it fills up fast because of its proximity to “The Swamp.” If you’re in the mood for pizza but aren’t ready to head to campus, there are two other locations in Gainesville.

Other locations

  • 5200 NW 43rd St.
  • 5757 SW 75th St., Suite 101
Photo by Dustin Schutte/Outsider

Flying Biscuit Cafe

  • Location: 4150 NW 16th Blvd.
  • Distance to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium: 4 miles
  • Saturday Hours: 7:30AM – 3PM
  • Gotta Try: Southern Style Eggs Benedict
  • Website

Want to dine like a Heisman Trophy winner on gameday? There’s no better spot that Flying Biscuit Cafe, especially if the Gators have a noon or early-afternoon kickoff time. The Flying Biscuit Cafe specializes in breakfast and brunch foods and was a favorite of former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow.

“There’s a lot of really good stuff on the menu, but I always get the southern style eggs benedict. … This also used to be one of Tim Tebow’s favorite places. He was always there.”

Nick de la Torre, Gators Online

There aren’t any bad options on the menu, but the southern-style eggs benedict should be on your radar. Two biscuits topped with pimento cheese, crispy bacon, eggs over-medium, hollandaise sauce and fresh basil. Plus, you can order a mimosa flight (four mimosas for $11.50) to start gameday off on the right foot!

Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grille

  • Location: 110 SE 1st St.
  • Distance to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium: 1.5 miles
  • Saturday Hours: 11AM – 10PM
  • Gotta Try: Crispy Calamari
  • Website

Admittedly, this might be a better stop for a post-game meal. But if you’re looking to keep things light before the big game, Harry’s certainly has some options for you. Make sure you’re in the mood for a little spice, because this Gainesville spot has a Cajun kick to its menu.

You can’t go wrong by ordering the crispy calamari from the appetizer menu. The shrimp and grits is a popular item for many locals, as is the blackened redfish. Harry’s also has a tremendous selection of signature cocktails — and if it’s on the menu, we’d recommend “The Back Porch,” which includes a mixture of whiskey, sweet tea, mint and triple sec. It’s a refreshing, southern-style cocktail that pairs perfectly with just about any entree you order.

Adam’s Rib Co.

  • Location: 2109 NW 13th St. (2 locations)
  • Distance to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium: 2.1 miles
  • Saturday Hours: 11AM – 9PM
  • Gotta Try: Adam’s Delight
  • Website

The name says it all. Adam’s Rib Co. is known for — you guessed it — ribs. One of Gainesville’s most popular barbeque places, this joint “has been serving award-winning BBQ for 16 years.” Obviously, we’re going to recommend the ribs, but go for Adam’s Delight. You’ll get a half-slab of ribs with two sides and an order of banana pudding for dessert. It’s an incredible combo.

Not into ribs? Give the smoked turkey a shot. It’s some of the best you’ll ever eat. While the 2109 NW 13th St. location is the closest to the stadium, there’s also an Adam’s Rib Co. 2 Go location. So, if you’re looking to tailgate but don’t want to cook, Adam’s is a great option. Especially since there are “tailgator” options, one of which includes a full-slab of ribs, whole chicken, a pound of pork, five large sides and 12 pieces of garlic toast.

2 Go location

  • 5141 NW 43rd St. Suite 106

Munecas Downtown Taco Garden

  • Location: 104 SE 1st Ave.
  • Distance to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium: 1.7 miles
  • Saturday Hours: 11AM – 10PM
  • Gotta Try: Volcano Tempeh Taco
  • Website

If you’re looking for something a little different — or perhaps a grab-and-go option — Munecas is right up your alley. Munecas provides a fun twist on tacos and is located near Bo Diddley Community Plaza. It allows you the option to sit in a more open area to enjoy your meal, or it’s easily transportable while walking around downtown.

Tacos, “quesaditas,” burritos and salads are all on the menu. It’s also become quite popular for the wine-a-rita offerings. Grab a taco or burrito and a wine-a-rita and enjoy the pre-game festivities in downtown Gainesville.

Honorable Mentions

Dragonfly Sushi & Sake Company (201 SE 2nd Ave Suite 104)

For those staying in town a little longer than just gameday, Dragonfly has become known as a great “date night” spot in downtown Gainesville. Sushi isn’t everyone’s cup of tea (especially on gameday), but it has a great atmosphere and can be a great place to enjoy good food, good drinks and good company.

Spurrier’s Gridiron Grille (4860 Steve Spurrier Way)

Looking for a complete gameday experience? Spurrier’s allows fans to eat at the restaurant owned by a Florida legend. Plus, there’s a great chance you run into the “Head Ball Coach” himself while dining. Spurrier’s offers a memorabilia area, as well, so you’re basically eating in a college football history museum. The rooftop bar — appropriately named Visors — is also a great place to enjoy a few cocktails.

Embers Wood Grill (3545 SW 34th Suite A)

Steak lovers, this is your spot. Embers has the best steak in town, especially the 14 oz ribeye. We’d also recommend ordering the crispy Florida gator tail if you’re looking for a great appetizer. Embers also offers great cocktails and an award-winning wine list. Be aware, though, this dinner option comes with a high price tag.

Photo by Dustin Schutte/Outsider

Cilantro Tacos (12921 SW 1st Rd. Suite 103)

Another great taco spot. This place is a little further out from campus, so it didn’t make our primary gameday list. Still, if you’re hovering around the outskirts, Cilantro Tacos is a great place if you love fresh food. It might sound simple, but the chips and salsa get great reviews here.

Maple Street Biscuit Co. (3904 SW Archer Rd.)

Yes, Maple Street Biscuit Co. is a chain, but sometimes that’s OK. Grab some breakfast or brunch on gameday and you may not have eat again until dinner time. The biscuits are massive and plenty of southern-fried options occupy the menu. Though it’s known for the biscuits, Maple Street offers a great chicken and waffles options, so don’t shy away from the BAM! Yo-Yo.

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