But as it happens, my boyfriend is currently living in Gainesville, and welp, I miss him. So this past weekend I went to visit him with no real expectations of University of Florida's hometown.
While Gainesville is a pretty typical college town (but a blue bastion amidst a sea of red, Scott informs me), I was pleasantly surprised to find the food options are most definitely above average -- and delightfully affordable too. Since NYC is my college town, my only experience with REAL college towns comes from visiting friends at University of Maryland, and College Park is not exactly a culinary haven if you know what I mean (despite having the ONE Tasti D at the time that existed outside of New York City...how?).
Anyway, here's how I gorged myself to drown out my Trump-inflicted sorrow this weekend.
I arrived Thursday night in Jacksonville, about an hour and a half away from Gainesville, around dinnertime, so on our way to his apartment, Scott suggested we grab some carryout and take it back home with us. Yes and please. He told me Mi Apá had really great Cuban food, which sounded pretty good to me. Mi Apá was in a lot of ways a fast food joint -- you go up to the counter and order -- but the food was way better than that. My Cuban sandwich was the salty, melty Cuban sandwich of my dreams. The only downside was they forgot our empanadas...which I'm betting would have been delish too.
Before I arrived, Scott did some serious research into breakfast options, knowing I'm a real basic bitch about brunch. He selected a couple bakery options for Saturday morning. Amanda's Baker Baker is actually a wholesale shop now, so we went to a nearby farmer's market in search of their pastries...and struck out. The shop itself is in walking distance from his apartment though, so we decided to check if by some chance, they might be open. Lucky us...they were! The owner told us they're only open for "pop-ups," and have recently transitioned into being mostly wholesale. But if you're lucky and you see they're open, I highly recommend stopping by for the triple berry danish...or really anything that have to offer. Commence sugar coma.
As it turned out, Saturday was probably the coldest, grayest, most wintery day Gainesville will see this year. (THANKS, WEATHER GODS...I REALLY WANTED TO PACK MY BIKINI.) It more or less felt like Baltimore does right about now...in other words, ramen weather. Scott had been to Crane Ramen once before and remembered it being really good. We decided hot noodles and kimchi brussels sprouts would be a perfect lunch.
Before I arrived, Scott had picked out the Top for dinner one night. We considered skipping it in lieu of something else, but I'm glad we didn't. After we went to see a play Saturday evening, we went to the Top afterward. I was surprised to see many hipsters among the Floridians, and the place was packed with an hour-and-a-half wait. While we waited, we had a drink at the heated outdoor bar. I had a perfect key lime martini, which is pretty hard to get around here. So I'll hand it to Florida -- one point in their favor for key lime errthang. Roasted garlic clove and goat cheese dip, fried pickles, bucatini, and ahi tuna over black bean corn cakes made for a phenomenal dinner. I also had a drink with Earl Grey tea-flavored scotch in it, marking the first time in history that I've enjoyed a scotch cocktail. We were super stuffed but we still had more eating to do.
Gainesville is home to Midnight Cookies, a late-night cookie delivery service (something I can get behind). Although these pictures don't do the cookies justice, I would say Midnight outdoes Insomnia Cookies (of NYC and now Baltimore too). The menu is prolific to say the least. Above you see the following flavors: dirt (oreo with chocolate pudding), chocolate chip, Reese's chocolate peanut butter, cookies and cream, snickerdoodle, peanut butter, sugar cookie, and birthday cake. No, we did not eat them all in one sitting.
After a long morning run on Sunday and a walk through a nature preserve to look at birds and gators (as one does), we had a late brunch at Peach Valley Cafe, which is kind of an upscale diner. I had an amazing fried chicken and waffles with blueberry butter (when in the south, amirite). It was the perfect mix of savory and sweet and held me over through the afternoon and my flight home (I am not crediting the disgusting airport pizza for that). Peach Valley also had a bomb-ass iced caramel coffee.
So Floridians, which place should we sample on my next visit? Here's hoping Ivanka's dad won't have me eating my feelings then!