As usual lately, this post is long overdue. Thanks to the combination of a helpful reader e-mail and a brief pause in school-related deadlines, I wanted to weigh in with some quick updates on the food scene in and around Gainesville. As usual, please e-mail me with suggestions of new places to try.
TooJay's: While I don't normally write about the opening of new chain restaurants in town, TooJay's Gourmet is worth making an exception for. TooJay's opened a few weeks ago in Butler Plaza close to the intersection of Archer and 34th in the old Rafferty's location. I've long complained about the lack of a really good deli/sandwich shop in Gainesville (Hogan's doesn't do the trick for us). My first introduction to TooJay's was when I lived in Orlando. If you like deli style fare (and baked goodies), then TJ's will likely be up your alley. Big menu and good sized portions at reasonable prices (much of the menu is under ten bucks). Apparently, we're not the only ones who are TJ's fans, as there have been lines nearly out the door on our two visits. We endured the lines twice and bailed a third time.
Bev's Better Burgers: Maybe a month or so ago on a Saturday we checked out Bev's Better Burgers up in Alachua on the suggestion of a reader. Bev's is a classic greasy burger joint that does walk-up business and drive-thru. The weather was nice that day so we decided to walk-up and eat at one of the old picnic tables out front. I ordered a cheeseburger and onion rings and Traci went with a hamburger and fries. We both enjoyed the greasy goodness. If I had to rank Bev's against other independent fast-food burger joints, I'd put Bev's ahead of Ralph's Burger House in Chiefland, but behind Mac's Drive Thru in Gainesville. Traci says she would take Five Guys over all of them (see, we're becoming shills for the chains). For pure nostalgia, I still think Louis' Lunch is worth a visit.
Ti Amo!: As part of an early Valentine's present, we decided to check out Ti Amo, a relatively new upscale Mediterranean-styled restaurant located downtown (because nothing goes together like a nice meal and then seeing Old Crow Medicine Show). Ti Amo! shares the same owner as Mildred's and New Deal Cafe (the group's committment to local ingredients is laudable). I continue to think New Deal is one of the best values in town. As for Ti Amo, the unique twist to the restaurant is its interesting mix of tasting plates (think tapas style). Full sized entrees are also available. Ti Amo is set in a beautiful location and overall we had a good meal (the roasted Georgia quail with stuffing was knockout). We felt like we had escaped to a big city for a while. A good date or special occasion place.
On a side note, does anyone really think David's has some of the best barbecue in town? After a lackluster meal there when we first moved here two years ago, we gave David's another try recently - same result. Mediocre food. The best thing about David's maybe the radio jingle ("Everybody loves David's barbecue.."). On the other hand, a recent return visit to Adam's Ribs was a good experience.
That's all for now. Thanks for reading.