Part of what makes Spoon such a great organization is, of course, our dedication to food. In a small town like Gainesville, it's easy to get caught up in the run-of-the-mill chain restaurants. While we all love our TGI Fridays and Au Bon Pain, it's always a nice, authentic food experience when you can hit up a local mom-and-pop restaurant. 

Luckily, despite the small town vibes, Gainesville has done a lot with what it has. Not to mention, its target audience is broke, hungry college students who are always looking for new and different places to go. After testing out the local grub, we compiled together a list of restaurants you should not miss if you happen to be in the 'Ville. 


Jayna Goldstein

Satchel's earthy, hipster decor is the perfect backdrop for its Gainesville-renowned cuisine. The appeal isn't just in the cheese and dough — it's the package of quality ingredients, edgy (and free) bumper stickers, and all-natural atmosphere. 

3 Natives

Marina Burke

Authentic acaí bowls, tropical smoothies, and a beachy vibe, 3 Natives is the go-to restaurant for a filling meal. Add a variety of fresh fruit to the acaí blend or get all natural cold press sandwiches to cure that hangover from Wednesday night!


Leilani Barber

Maude's is famous for its coffee and, of course, its board games! This quaint coffeehouse is the perfect place to hit the books for finals or relax with your pals and play some games. Not to mention, the pastries are to die for! 


Leilani Barber

Perfect for your late night cravings, Cookiegazm delivers freshly baked cookies all over Gainesville. Brought to you warm and drizzled with nutella, these cookies are a college student staple, and the customers "always come first."


Jayna Goldstein

Who doesn't love a shop that specializes in popsicles? These pops come in all flavors and colors. Whether you're looking for a refreshing treat like watermelon or something more hearty like one of their mocha pops, Hyppo has something for everyone.


Jayna Goldstein

Fast, delicious, and healthy, Vale is your go-to for customizable food bowls. This hipster, earth-friendly restaurant is known for its unique and creative food combos. Chipotle mac, avocado toast, and fresh acaí bowls? Heck yes!

Costa Vida

Jayna Goldstein

Alright, so we have ONE chain restaurant on the list. But Costa Vida is a bit of an exception with its select locations and Gainesville luckily being one of them. Costa Vida is a Mexican grill with a sweet, tropical twist!

Mr. Cool

Maria Pinzon

Rolled ice cream with customizable topping options, Mr. Cool is not your average ice cream shop. You pick your flavor, add your toppings, and watch them make your one-of-a-kind creation. 


Gabriella Paul

Conveniently located in the pockets of Gainesville (including multiple health plazas and Shands Hospital), Opus Coffee is a true local coffeeshop. With a great atmosphere and even better coffee, Opus serves fine and fresh coffee from world renowned coffee importers. 

Designer Greens

Sara Marino

One of the healthiest options in Midtown, Designer Greens provides a variety of salads with completely fresh ingredients! It offers amazing pressed sandwiches, and, if you can't decide, you can have half a salad and half a sandwich to get the best of both worlds. 


Jayna Goldstein

A small restaurant that specializes in tea and other specialty drinks, Lollicup is a must-have in this town. Unfortunately, Gainesville is limited on its supply of bubble tea, but Lollicup has you covered! Stop in for a fun drink and a good time.


Jayna Goldstein

Pascal's, an initiative of the Christian Study Center of Gainesville, is the perfect place to go if you need to get some studying done or if you're in the mood for a morning pastry. With tons of seating space and chill vibes, as well as the best Chai tea in Gainesville, you won't be disappointed!

Karma Cream

Jayna Goldstein

Non-GMO, vegan, and organic, Karma Cream is the place to be if you have dietary restrictions. Luckily, this ice cream shop has made it possible to have healthy and delicious ice cream. And if ice cream isn't enough, you can also choose from sandwiches and baked goods.

Photo credit for Hyppo popsicle photo: Justin Snavely