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9 Local Hispanic Restaurants You Need to Check Out

September 15 marked the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, and my favorite way to celebrate is by indulging myself with the wonderful cuisine offered by Hispanic countries. Considering Gainesville is a small college town, you may not think there would be much Hispanic influence, but, much to my delightful surprise, Gainesville is filled with Hispanic culture. Located all throughout Gainesville, you can find delicious eats that’ll fill you up with happiness. Here are eight local Hispanic restaurants and one supermarket to create your own Hispanic meals.

La Tienda

La Tienda, located at 2204 SW 13th St., is a local favorite loved by all. Without question, their popularity stems from their large menu filled with delectable meals. There’s something for everyone here, whether it be quesadillas, enchiladas, fajitas, tacos, tortas, burritos, platos Fuertes or delicious vegetarian options. You can also find a Mexican store in the back where you can buy products such as bread, candy, fresh meats and piñatas.

Tinker

I’ve watched Tinker grow their business as they moved from their food truck to a restaurant located downtown at 502 S. Main St. You can enjoy incredible Venezuelan food at Tinker with a diverse menu including arepas, burgers, hot dogs, pepitos, empanadas and pastelitos. Their newest addition is their colorful drink menu, which includes milkshakes, frozen limeades, margaritas and mojitos. This unique restaurant is a must during your time in Gainesville.

Tamal

A signature dish from Mexico is the tamal. If you aren’t familiar with what a tamal is, it’s a corn masa dough with a savory or sweet filling wrapped up in corn husks like a present. You’ll definitely want to try one at Tamal, located at 439 S. Main St., where they offer chicken, pork, vegetarian and vegan options. Their menu is constantly changing, so check out their Facebook posts for the most recent updates. 

La Cocina De Abuela

The things I would do to have a meal de mi abuela right now. Nothing warms my heart more than enjoying my abuela’s specialty sopa de tortilla and her tasty agua de limon. La Cocina de Abuela — grandmother’s kitchen — strives to bring everyone that warm feeling. This Colombian restaurant, located on 125 NW 23rd Ave., serves sandwiches, pulled pork, curry chicken stew and desserts.

Nopal by Cintron

Nopal is as they describe it: “Nacho average Mexican.” Looking through their Instagram feed has my mouth watering. You can find a variety of Mexican meals at 5112 NW 34th Blvd including burritos, fajitas, churrasco, tortas, tacos and enchiladas. They also offer many specials including a lunch special, taco Tuesday and a steak night on Thursday (perfect for date night!). For brunch lovers, you can enjoy a delicious selection of food over the weekend along with bottomless mimosas. 

La Aurora Latin Market

Looking for a local bodega? La Aurora, located at 3721 W. University Ave., is an ethnic food market where you can take home your favorite Hispanic ingredients. In addition to Latin products, you can find Caribbean and African foods. This store was established in 1999 by Aurora Ynigo when she couldn’t find her favorite Latin foods and decided to open her own store and bless the community.

Latin Food Blessings

One of my all time favorite cuisines will forever be Peruvian food. I can’t wait until the day I can travel to Peru to climb the incredible Machu Picchu in the Andes Mountains and eat the delightful food. But until then, I will satisfy my cravings by eating at Latin Food Blessings, located at 7249 NW Fourth Blvd. If you have never tried Peruvian food, what are you waiting for? Drive over to Latin Food Blessings and try the Lomo Saltado or Mixto. You can thank me later.

Flaco’s Cuban Bakery

The legendary Flaco’s, located at 200 W. University Ave., will always have me coming back for more. You have to try the Pork Arepa. They offer arepas, bowls, sandwiches, tacos in the back and last, but certainly not least, pastries. This affordable bakery is open until 2:30 a.m., which makes it the perfect spot to hit after a night out downtown.

Las Margaritas

Recommended to me by a local Gainesville resident who has lived here her whole life, Las Margaritas, located at 4405 NW 39th Ave., is a must try. You can enjoy indoor and outdoor seating while being surrounded by brightly painted decor. It’ll truly feel like a celebration here. They serve mouth-watering Mexican food and tasty margaritas that’ll surely quench your thirst.

There you have it. Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with your friends, family, partners or just yourself at any of these restaurants. Support your local Hispanic stores and enjoy some of my favorite foods. You’ll certainly be coming back for more!

Racheal Jones is a senior at the University of Florida studying Sociology. She's completed research on family violence and is currently working on a new research project. She loves Marvel movies, sapphic fantasy novels and Taylor Swift. Outside of school, she's learning how to roller skate, take care of her plants and rock climb.
Claudia is a third year Applied Physiology and Kinesiology major at the University of Florida. She's from Boca Raton, FL, but is a proud latina with roots in Mexico. She is a passionate woman looking to use her voice to inform readers on a wide range of topics from social disparities to personal college experiences from the perspective of a woman. When she isn't in class or volunteering, you can probably find her rollerblading somewhere outside or eating Ben & Jerry's ice cream while binge watching Friends for the 100th time. With her experience in writing for Her Campus UFL, Claudia hopes to one day bring this skill into her dream career as a physician to spread awareness about health disparities she encounters in the clinic.
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