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HC UFL’s Favorite Ethnic Restaurants in Gainesville

As a UF student, I’m sure you’ve eaten enough Panda Express, Papa John’s, Wendy’s and Pollo Tropical to last you a lifetime. On-campus fast food restaurants are the ultimate go-to for a student who’s rushing to eat because they forgot to schedule lunch (a.k.a. me). Instead of ordering another TropiChop or chicken nugget meal, expand your horizons by forgoing the food court for one of the handful of ethnic food restaurants that Gainesville has to offer. I’ve teamed up with my fellow Her Campus UFL members to compile a list of the seven ethnic food restaurants in Gainesville we can’t live without.

1) La Tienda

Favorite of: Cayela Cuevas and Veronica Quesenberry

If you’re craving delicious authentic Mexican food that costs less than $10, La Tienda is the perfect place for you. This easy-to-miss restaurant is located on SW 13th street. Aside from the delicious food and generous portion sizes, this restaurant stands out because it’s half-restaurant and half-general-store. The atmosphere is spacious with indoor and outdoor seating and walls splashed with colorful Mexican murals. Menu items include tender carne asada, crispy carnitas, and platters of steak, chicken or pork; as well as a list of vegetarian options, too. There are even fridges stocked with classic Hispanic sodas like Cola Champagne and Jarritos. The portion sizes and price are so hard to beat, which makes this place the perfect spot for your next taco Tuesday.

2) Taste Pho & Noodle House

Favorite of: Darcy Schild and Celine Besman

Located in downtown Gainesville on 34th St., Taste Pho & Noodle House’s menu is filled with different variations of flavorful soups, steaming noodle bowls, rice platters and stir-fry. Our favorite part? The “make-your-own” option that applies to most of their dishes, which allows you to create a meal that you’ll absolutely love. Taste is a great option for vegans and vegetarians, as their friendly staff is willing to swap any ingredient on the menu for something that meets your preference. Not only is their food amazing but so are their milk teas and milkshakes. The average price for a meal at Taste ranges between $8-$12.  

3) The Spot

Favorite of: Celine Besman and Cayela Cuevas

There aren’t a ton of Mediterranean food options in Gainesville, but The Spot is an option that truly stands out. It’s located on W. University in Midtown next to St. Augustine Catholic Church. Their menu features options like mouthwatering gyros, juicy burgers, crisp salads and authentic Greek platters. The Spot is both vegetarian-friendly and budget-friendly with an accommodating menu and a price point of under $10. Consider The Spot the perfect place to get a refreshing lunch on a spring afternoon. Pro tip: Your Greek food will taste even better when you eat it beneath the palm trees at the Plaza of the Americas.

4) Reggae Shack Café

Favorite of: Celine Besman and Cayela Cuevas

If you’ve ever walked through downtown Gainesville, I’m almost positive you’ve smelled the tantalizing aroma of Reggae Shack Café. This Jamaican restaurant has a few trademarks: having their doors wide open, playing reggae music and wafting the scent of Jamaican patties through Gainesville. This restaurant is the perfect destination for someone who wants a trip to the Caribbean but can’t afford to get there. Their menu features food native to the Caribbean such as ackee, breadfruit, spicy curry goat and melt-in-your-mouth oxtail. Not only does their menu cater to meat lovers, but it also boasts seafood and vegetarian sections, which makes RSC perfect for those with dietary restrictions. The meals at Reggae Shack Café range from $7-$13, making it the cheapest getaway to the islands from Gainesville.

5) Flaco’s

Favorite of: Taylor Thayer and Cayela Cuevas

Flaco’s is a small Cuban cuisine stand located on W. University in the same plaza as Relish, Pita Pit and Designer Greens. This tiny sandwich stand might not look like much from the outside, but their carry-out food will leave you wanting more. With comforting menu items like the classic Cuban sandwich, panini-pressed ham and cheese or mojo marinated pork, you’re sure to find something to satisfy your cravings. If sandwiches aren’t your thing, don’t stress. Flaco’s also features bowls, empanadas and arepas, all of which come in vegetarian options. This stand is the perfect place for a pick-me-up after your three-hour Study Edge review session. Bonus: They have Cuban pastries, which means that dinner and dessert are all yours for under $10.

6) Andaz Indian Restaurant & Bar

Favorite of: Sophia Ahmed

Andaz Indian Restaurant & Bar has the most authentic Indian cuisine that Gainesville has to offer. With a master chef who’s from North India, this hidden gem is located just down the street from Reggae Shack Café in downtown Gainesville. The atmosphere of the restaurant is warm and inviting, complete with traditional Indian décor. Their menu boasts classic Indian dishes such as veggie samosas, vegan aloo gobi and spicy chicken tandoori. The prices range from $5 to $15, which fits perfectly in the collegiette’s budget.

7) Bangkok Square

Favorite of: Darcy Schild and Sara Preston

HC UFL’s last recommendation for ethnic food in Gainesville is just as unique and tasty as the previous favorites. Bangkok Square is a family owned restaurant that is dedicated to serving authentic Thai food to hungry college kids. Located on Archer Road, Bangkok Square is a cozy place to pick up a delicious bowl of Pad Thai. Their menu has tons of options that include crispy spring rolls, crab and cream cheese rangoons, soups and an array of noodle and fried rice combinations. Their tofu is HC-UFL-approved, as is their dessert menu which features lychee, Thai donuts, sticky rice with Thai custard and coconut ice cream. With a price point of between $8-$15, Bangkok Square earns our spot as one of our favorites.

We hope this list inspires you to expand your foodie horizons during your time at UF. Just in case this list left you wanting more, be sure to check out ethnic grocery stores like La Aurora and India Bazaar that are also located in Gainesville. Happy eating!

Cayela is a junior at the University of Florida studying Journalism and costume design. She has a passion for street style, sewing and empowering others. She loves to write fun, well-researched articles with a focus on social justice. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter @cayecuev
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