Best local places to eat

For this week's list of Fest 10 goodness we're branching beyond the music and discussing the important topic of food. You've got your schedule ready and you know who you're going to see when, it's time to add some delicious local food to that itinerary. We've put together a list of some really great places to eat in the fair city of Gainesville along with some of our pro-tips. We've even included a handy, dandy map to help you out.

What'd we miss? What's your favorite place to dine in Gainesville? Share your personal recommendations in the comments.

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Boca Fiesta

232 SE 1st St.
Gainesville, FL 32601
(352) 336-8226
Hours: Sun 12-11pm; Mon-Thu 4pm-2am; Fri-Sat 11-2am

Ever since their opening in 2009, Boca Fiesta has been a staple in the Fest scene. Whether it's hosting events (a screening of Let Them Know: The Story of Youth Brigade and BYO Records) or bands playing in the back porch area, the "mouth party" is the place to gobble up some of Florida's best Mexican food, drink some cheap Caribbean beers and mingle with other Fest-goers. For you first timers and non-coastal residents, I recommend trying the Gator Bites (they're delicious) or possibly the "weird meat of the month" which I hear is either quail or pheasant, but definitely a small bird, if available. For you non-carnivores, Boca Fiesta offers up veggie friendly version of most of their menu. The TVP Burrito comes highly recommended. Vegan options are also available. —Justin Dickman Image


101 SE 2nd Pl
Ste 114/115
Gainesville, FL 32601
(352) 378-2777
Hours: Mon-Fri 9 am - 4 pm

B.F.D., the latest offering from the team behind Boca Fiesta and Cart Attack, is a weekday breakfast and lunch hot spot tucked inside the Sun Center, across the plaza from Boca Fiesta. No, inside. Keep looking, you can find it. If you can't find it, B.F.D. will deliver (even to the Holiday Inn!) while it's open, which is only between 9-4 on weekdays. If you are getting into Gainesville early, or leaving Gainesville on Monday, you'd be a fool to miss out on their three-cheese grilled cheese (ask for a fourth cheese), burgers on fresh-baked buns topped with home-made pickles, or pop-tarts made from scratch. Treat yo self. Pro-tip: Follow the @bocafiesta twitter to see if B.F.D. will be open at all during Fest weekend. Sources are saying maybe! —Megan Kay Image

El Indio

407 NW 13th St
Gainesville, FL 32601
(352) 377-5828

Tacos, burritos, nachos and more. Located just North of University Ave on 13th Street, El Indio is a Gainesville staple. Known for cheap delicious Tex-Mex for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the menu is simple yet extensive. Many of the ingredients are made in house including the hot sauce, guacamole, refried beans and even the chips. The carne asada (steak) burrito shouldn’t be missed, make it double wrapped and "Super" (ranchero sauce and cheese on top) for the full belly effect. Vegetarians don’t fret! There are also plenty of veggie options including their famous tempeh burrito. Open ‘til 10pm! —Mike Cohen Image

Five Star Pizza

600 NW 75th St
Gainesville, FL 32607
(352) 333-7979

Five Star Pizza. Has anyone ever had this pizza while sober? As far as I can remember it's good-ish. It's sold by the slice or by the pie. What can go wrong? You will burn your mouth and douse it with a cheap beer of your choice. It's also conveniently located by the Double Down (neé Common Grounds). Why is this convenient? Well, thanks to poor planning on your part (and a desire to visit more than one venue in a day) you'll be waiting for hours in line outside of that particular venue. Having sustinance of some sort during this wait is key to avoiding a mid-day hangover or a dreaded return of sobriety. Plus once you've made it inside, you'd rather gnaw on a vegan dog treat than leave again so stock up while you're in line, beardos. Recommendation: It's pizza by the slice. Nuff said. —Justin August Image


University Ave at NW 2nd St
Gainesville, FL 32601
(352) 371-2000
Hours: Tue 11 am - 4 pm; Wed-Fri 11 am - 2:30 am

Flaco's is a Cuban bakery and café conveniently located on the corner of University Ave and 2nd Street NW. It's a favorite haunt among locals and Fest goers alike for a good reason-- they serve up some extremely tasty and budget-friendly Cuban food. Pressed sandwiches are their specialty but they also serve rice bowls, arepas, homemade empanadas and pastries. Recently they started offering tacos and burritos in the back room after 10PM (cash only). I haven't been able to try them yet, but word is the burritos are huge and cheap. If you need a pick-me-up they serve "Miami style" espresso drinks. Beer and wine are also available. There are a few vegan and vegetarian options. My personal favorite is the Donna's Turnstile sandwich (swiss cheese, mayo, mustard, pickles and lentils pressed on sweet bread). Add a little Sriracha and you're good to go. The Cuban Gator (shredded beef and pork, dressed like a Cuban) is a favorite among my meat-eating friends. Flaco's is open late, 'til 2:30AM on Friday and Saturday, so it's a great stop to soak up the booze after the shows. —Matt Finch Image

Gator Dawgs

1023 West University Ave
Gainesville, FL 32601-5113
(352) 378-4353

Sure, all the Tim Tebow paraphernalia wrapped around the establishment is disgusting to any self-respecting football fan, but Gator Dawgs bypasses their questionable decor with some of the best hot dogs I have ever tried. Of course, the selection process isn't easy. Gator Dawgs boast 30 different hot dog variates. Hot Dogs are also the perfect compliment to the Fest atmosphere. And by that mean I mean being drunk, hungover, or somewhere in between. Your chosen dog will feel like a godsend as you soak up the flavor that spilled onto your beard. The restaurant also have other things like burgers and chicken, but I choose to go with the namesake. And for any vegetarians or vegans, fear not Gator Dawgs can make any hot dog or hamburger for you as well. —Alex Eschbach Image

Karma Cream

1025 West University Ave
Gainesville, FL 32601-5113
(352) 505-6566
Hours: Mon-Sun 12 pm - 1 am

As a Gainesville Native, I cannot stress how much of an idiot you’d be to not visit this incredibly delicious, little shop right on University Avenue. Hands-down, the best iced coffee on this planet (with little coffee ice cubes inside!!!) and most famous for it’s plethora of all-organic, vegan ice cream selection. Not a vegan? Not to worry! You’ve got an entirely separate cooler full of AMAZING dairy-filled, creamy treats to make a sundae, ice cream sandwich, shake or beer float out of! Every Fest-er needs to get a least three cupcakes during their visit, as their variety changes daily! —Amelia Cline Image


1245 W University Ave
Gainesville, FL 32601
(352) 375-2007

Leonardo’s Pizza by the Slice has been a crucial element to my Fest diet during each of my pilgrimages to Gainesville. Located directly across from the Holiday Inn at 1245 West University Avenue, Leonardo’s could not be any more convenient. Though they offer a full menu of Italian fare, I have never ventured outside of their pizza. You can get a plain slice for $2.50 and specialty for under $4. A deep dish slice is perfect for drunk munchies. They also sell a variety of punk inspired shirts that parody classic designs from Jawbreaker and Bad Brains. —Eric Mace Image

Reggae Shack

619 West University Ave
Gainesville, FL 32601
(352) 377-5464
Hours: Mon-Sun 11 am - 10 pm

Having been to Gainesville several times I stand by the fact you will eat some of the best food in the U.S. there. However, in my opinion one place is in a league of it's own and that place is the Reggae Shack Cafe. It has a full menu of delicious Jamaican food and even includes a sizeable vegetarian/vegan menu for those of us who prefer to abstain from eating animals. My favorite dish hands down is the curry seitan with a side of festivals. Though I do recommend making more than one trip if possible and trying out the dutty fries if you can. No matter what you pick though, there is no bad choice at Reggae Shack. —Armando Olivas Image

Smoothie Boost

1221 W University Ave
Gainesville, FL 32607
(352) 375-5255

Fest AIDS, right? We've all been there. Who would think that three days of rampant, eating like an uninhibited 12 year old, drinking like a newly ordained 21 year old and tons of skin to skin contact with sweat dudes of questionable origin could have any negative side effect? It's a fucked up world we live and mother nature is a cold hearted bitch who will reap her vengeance on your physical negligence by packing your sinuses tighter than Common Grounds and making your asshole burn more than a west coaster's lungs in a smoke filled Gainesville Bar. However, like Ebenezer Scrooge, this is the story of assholes that may yet come to be and not that will, necessarily, come to be. That's where Smoothie Boost comes in. Located directly across the street from the Holiday Inn, this quiet, unassuming little shop has the ability to give you a quick shot of some essential fruits, vegetables and other vitamins that (for reasons unknown to me) do not exist in hamburgers and burritos. So, take 10 minutes grab a Strawberry D-lite and a shot of whetgrass and save your butthole from the wrath of Poseidon. —Richard Verducci Image

The Top

30 N Main St
Gainesville, FL 32601
(352) 337-1188
Hours: Tue-Sat 5 pm - 2 am; Sun 11 am - 11 pm

If you’re going to treat yourself to a good, sit-down style meal during The Fest, The Top is the place to eat. It’s located across the street from the Atlantic on Main Street, an easy walk from most Fest venues. It’s got a comfy atmosphere and arguably some of the best food in town. Menu options range from homemade pastas and stir-fries, to sandwiches and burgers. They also offer some tasty nightly specials. People freak out over their corn nuggets and sweet-potato fries. Vegetarian and vegan options abound. My personal favorite is the veggie Mastadon burger (homemade black bean patty, ancho-cherry barbecue sauce, fried onions, cheddar cheese and seitan bacon all served on a pretzel bun). Portions are huge and prices are fair. Most menu items can be had for just under ten bucks.

They offer a brunch on Sunday during Fest weekend. The breakfast burrito, vegan biscuits and gravy and the mushroom frittata are among some of the more tempting choices. Should you be trying to kick a hangover, or just not lose your buzz-- they have a full liquor bar (have Walt mix you up a killer bloody mary) and an extensive beer selection featuring lots of local brews.

Fun Facts:
*Fest mastermind Tony Wienbender's favorite meal at the Top is San Diego Chicken.
*You'll find member of Fest bands: Averkiou, Post Teens, Building the State, Jumpers, Rose Cross and Assholeparade working at the Top.
—Matt Finch