Dear Readers,

Pink hearts, chocolate covered strawberries, and freshly farmed roses are among us. Valentine's Day is the ultimate day to celebrate love, and what could you possibly love more than a good meal? While Gainesville isn’t always the most romantic spot, I have compiled some select charming places that had me falling in love. Let me take some of the pressure off of finding that perfect date night spot with a comprehensive list of different cuisines, prices, and ideas to make February 14th a night to remember. 

Without further ado, I present a love letter to food:

1. Ember Wood Fire Grill

Baano Golawala

Most conventionally, we have our traditional steak dinner. A tried and true way to impress your date and show off your masterful cutting skills. While most people turn to Mark’s Prime Steakhouse, a staple choice, I decided to dig deeper by visiting Gainesville’s Ember Wood Fire Grill. I opted for the lamb chops done medium, and they were cooked to absolute perfection. I believe the picture speaks volumes on the juiciness and flavor of the meat. On the other hand, their appetizers left me a little underwhelmed and disappointed. That being said, the staff and the ambience made for an excellent date night.     

2. Dragonfly Sushi

Jenny Kim

As a sushi enthusiast, I was not expecting to be so impressed by Dragonfly sushi, but alas, they rolled their way into my top 5 restaurants of Gainesville. I was love bombed by "The Bomb" roll,  a spicy tempura shrimp delight that left my mouth watering for more. Up next, was the absolutely smokin' hot "Smoky Dragon" roll that featured salmon, krab, and avocado, drizzled in eel sauce. Finally my love erupted at the "Volcano" roll of baked salmon goodness topped with pickled jalapeños and spicy sauce. 

3. Amelia's

Baano Golawala

If you are looking for some fine Italian cuisine, Amelia's is certainly Gainesville's most authentic spot. Their Crostini NY spinach and artichoke dip is made with love, and is the ideal way to start the night. The pasta selection transported me back to Rome, where I was met with perfectly cooked linguini and a creamy vodka sauce like none other. Furthermore, their delicately sautéed chicken in a hearty white wine sauce made for the showstopper of the night. The ambience and service further adds to the experience, making this one of the most popular places in Gainesville to celebrate St. Valentine. If you plan to go here, be sure to make reservations in advance!

4. Hass Kitchen

Baano Golawala

If you want your Valentine's Day date to stand out, substitute the traditional fancy dinner for a wholesome brunch. Hass Kitchen has delicious breakfast items, with most featuring their key ingredient: avocado. Their rustic decor and outdoor seating is perfect for a sunny morning, and their menu contains so much variety. The "Waffle Chaat" had the most unique combination of flavors including an avocado stuffed waffle with tamarind sauce, tzatziki, and a poached egg, all working seamlessly to create one of the most delicious breakfasts I have had. I also really enjoyed their version of one of my favorite meals, "Shakshuka" or marinara eggs. Start the day off filled with love at Hass.  

5. Bonus

As a college student I understand that eating out is not always budget friendly, so I decided to add some more economical options that will still manage to blow your boo away.  

Home Cooked Meals:

Baano Golawala

Believe it or not this delicious piece of steak was cooked in Beaty Towers. Yes, a literal dorm room. With perfectly seared fat, sautéed garlic cloves, and the most fragrant rosemary leaves, this is easily one of the best home cooked meals I have ever had. If you really want to show your love this Valentine's Day, put on an apron and get to seasoning. At least for a foodie like me, nothing says "I love you" like a home cooked meal. Just be sure not to burn it!

Picnic Date:

Baano Golawala

Here at UF, we love to say we live in the "swamp," but how often do we take advantage of being in a swamp? Paynes Prairie has some of the most beautiful sunsets in Gainesville, and is a completely public and preserved park. For the outdoors lover, I simply cannot imagine a better date than a hike through one of the park's stunning trails to a planned picnic overlooking the sunset. My roommate and I love to take our Publix popcorn chicken and picnic blanket to the prairie, and take in the Earth's most gorgeous hues.


Whether you’re spending Valentine’s Day with a significant other, family member, best friend, or yourself, there’s love in the air. And to that point I ask, what’s a more warm, fuzzy feeling in your stomach than some delicious food?


Your favorite foodie,