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Gainesville’s Best ‘Hole-in-the-Wall’ Restaurants

We are creatures of habit: same styles, same hobbies, same mannerisms and yes, same restaurants. I love Satchel’s and The Top as much as the next girl, but I get bored of the same routines. Unique and remote restaurants make for ideal date spots, girls’ nights out or quick study breaks. When I want to switch up meals, these hole-in-the-wall restaurants are delicious (and cheap) game changers.

El Indio

Maybe you have been studying all week for that exam you have to nail on Friday. Maybe you just got over a terrible cold. Or maybe it’s your cheat day, and you know exactly what that calls for. I am quite familiar with the random craving for Mexican food that may ensue in these situations all too well. As a frequent patron of the typical Mexican hotspots, I’m quite familiar with Boca Fiesta, La Tienda and Chuy’s, but even the praised trinity — Chipotle, Moe’s, and Tijuana Flats — gets old, so why not expand your Mexican food radar? El Indio is as good as any, and it conveniently has a drive-thru option for those on the go. El Indio is located on 13th Street. It has a “quick order, quick eat” system with tables only offered outside. The prices are very reasonable, and there is an abundance of food options with an array of different tacos, quesadillas, burritos, enchiladas, etc. For those who are dragged to Mexican restaurants and are not the biggest fans, El Indio offers burgers and breakfast combos as well.

Bagels Unlimited

Hands down, breakfast is my favorite. However, waiting in long lines to be seated can ruin the mood and make even the nicest people hangry. Bagels Unlimited is a quaint, family-owned breakfast diner. Their servings are plentiful, and the prices are affordable. It is located next to Metro Diner on Southwest 34th Street, another quality breakfast spot notorious for lengthy waits. My personal favorite dish is the “Hearty”: a giant pile of home fries or hash browns topped with eggs and cheese — doesn’t get much better than that! Bagels Unlimited serves all the classic breakfast foods and delivers through DoorDash. Although there are only a few tables since it’s a small restaurant, the service is fast, and the staff is friendly. Next time you want to switch up your morning routine, try this hidden gem.

The Gelato Company

Downtown Gainesville is known for its great food and scenery. When you think of downtown, you may think of Big Lou’s or Dragonfly. I like to think of one of the freshest quick bites in Gainesville. The Gelato Company is a tiny café that serves soups, salads, sandwiches, paninis, crêpes and yes, gelato. When you order a sandwich/panini — I recommend it with chicken — you are also given the choice of two filling sides. With the purchase of a drink, you also receive a free small gelato. This hole-in-the-wall lives up to its name, as the gelato is as rich as you would hope. While The Gelato Company is an “order at the counter” type of establishment, they still value the experience of their customers and offer live piano music on certain evenings.

Mac’s Drive Thru 

This Gainesville staple, unknown to many college students, is located on Northwest 10th Avenue. I thought drive-thru burger places only existed in my dreams until I stumbled upon Mac’s. Cheap food mixed with quality is hard to come by in fast food, yet Mac’s does just that. If you are looking for a fast burger and crispy fries, Mac’s is your next pit stop. 

Gainesville is a food lover’s dream. There are endless options and new finds waiting to be savored. Next time you want to try something new, consider one of these worthy dives.

If you know of a way to make a living binge-watching The Office or New Girl for the 9th time, or holding a record for most tacos eaten in a minute, please let me know, in the meantime I'll be here.
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