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The last time I tried 4 Rivers BBQ for lunch, the line was out the door. I'm not big on waiting in line for anything, especially lunch. There are just too many good places to eat quicker, faster, and just as tasty. So I was pleased when I walked into this popular 'Que shop and was able to step right up and place my order. Alright, so I felt a little out of place as I craned my neck upwards looking at a lunch menu that was 10 feet off the ground with a yellow background. 'Geez," I thought to myself. I could stand here for 20 minutes looking up at all these choices. Looking straight ahead, three 4 Rivers servers were standing in front of me with blank faces, serving tongs at the ready, waiting to hear my lunch selection. Yes I was intimidated. I wasn't about to hold the lunch line up. "Let me have the Quarter Bird and a side of collard greens please," I said in a knowing manner like I was a 4 Rivers regular. Two pieces of chicken (three with the wing) and two sides for $6.99 sounded like a decent lunch time deal. Shuffling down the line, I spied stuffed jalapeno peppers. OMG! What a pleasant surprise. I ordered a serving of that too.
You know how sometimes things just don't work for you, though, GLOBers? I've come to expect BBQ meat to be fall-off-the-bone cooked and ready to enjoy. Maybe it was because it was shortly after the lunch hour. Or perhaps this bird was at the end of the cooking line and didn't get the attention the other cluckers received. When I tried to separate the wing from the chicken breast, I couldn't pull it apart. Reaching for my handy, black plasticware my knife, I was still unsuccessful at cutting the tendons holding the parts together. So I did what any good ole southern boy would do: I grabbed each part with both hands, and twisted and pulled the wing off the breast. It would have made a good image, this larger than most carnivores wrestling a second and third joint piece of chicken. I won, I guess. I must have been a sight with sloppy BBQ covered hands biting off the almost done chicken. Being the fifth of six children, I know better than to complain. I would hear "Shut up and eat" as often as "Pass the gravy." As I reached for the still connected drumstick, I noticed a puddle of red liquid collecting on my plate. That was it for me. I enjoyed the jalapeno peppers even though most of the flavor and heat had been baked out of the pepper pods. The collard greens were excellent, really crunchy, flavorful, and delicious with generous pieces of 'cue meat nestled among the greens.
The criticism I hear most about my restaurant reviews is that I am too easy on the restaurants, but I get the pressure of preparing a meal for customers as fast as possible. Being an old newspaper guy, I appreciate the ability to work under pressure, but sometimes things just don't come out as planned. Who would know it would be my luck to get the almost cooked white meat. I'm going back to 4 Rivers Smokehouse. Next time I will be clear I want my 'cue cooked to the bone.
I couldn't resist walking by the 4 Rivers bakery on the way out. Wow! Yum! You don't know how good I felt ignoring my palette as I dashed outside before my sweet tooth won the inner battle of self-denial.
- GLOB Master
Perhaps it was the fancy logo or the immaculate website that led me to believe that 4 Rivers Smokehouse was to be a more formal dine-in barbeque option than the average. Honestly, it was my friends' raves even before the Texas-style smokehouse opened here that peaked my interest long before the franchise landed in Gainesville. What I finally encountered on arrival to the highly touted barbeque eatery was beyond the typical experience -- I was not disappointed.
If you haven't had the good fortune to visit a 4 Rivers Smokehouse, whether in Gainesville or in the other four locations across Florida -- Winter Park, Winter Garden, Longwood, or Jacksonville --you have not seen a restaurant at the threshold of success and expansion.
The location of the Gainesville 4 Rivers, at 3562 SW 35th Blvd. in Butler Plaza, adds to the pleasurable occasion of dining there. I would even say that the pleasure of the experience is almost undermined by calling it "going out to eat." That just doesn't sound special enough.
I was particularly happy it was the fast-casual, go-through-the-line-and-pay-at-the-register approach to dining because, when you think of the stick-to-your-ribs, down and dirty home-style barbeque cooked in your backyard that you grew up with, was there a server and a nice dining room? Heaping helpings and outdoor/rustic seating? That's what I thought.
Joining me on this dining venture was none other than the Gainesville Lunch Out Blog GLOB Master himself, Mike Sanford. "I've done this food thing for a long time; I don't want to wait in this line," he said. I understood his feeling: The line was spilling outside and wrapping around the outdoor sidewalk. I assured Mike that taking in the full experience — long line and all — would be well worth it, as it would give us time to browse the unfamiliar menu and learn first hand the level of craving this establishment was creating in its hungry audience.
Being the "professional eaters" that we are, it only felt right to order a variety of dishes, namely the Texas Destroyer, the Smokehouse Sliders, and the Six Shooter. The side dishes looked too appetizing to pass up, so we added mac and cheese, fried okra, Texas cornbread, collards and— after being offered to try them first —smoked jalapenos to our trays. The entire 4 Rivers crew was accommodating throughout, checking on us at the long, crowded, rustic wooden tables spanning the length of the dining area. We wondered if our eyes were bigger than our stomachs (image at top of this feature).
The sliders proved perfect portions of each of the meats: chicken, pulled pork, and brisket. Needing no other topping than the smattering of 4 Rivers sauce, the chicken was tender and refreshingly different; the pulled pork smoky and hearty; and the brisket chewy and thick. The sliders were winners for both myself and Mike, although he thought the smoked jalapenos stuffed with cream cheese and encased in a blanket of crispy bacon sealed the deal and certainly the spice.
I'd heard remarkable things about the brisket that took 18 years to perfect, so the Texas Destroyer with smoked brisket, onion rings, jalapenos and melted provolone cheese was what I was most anxious to try. After an extra dollop of 4R sauce, I eagerly took a very big bite to experience every flavor at once. Although I am not typically a brisket eater, this proved to be a smoky change from the kind my mom makes, it had some different flavers that melding in a welcome way. The Six Shooter was a feat in itself, composed of cheese grits topped with pulled pork, pickles, southern slaw, jalapenos — starting to see a trend — and of course that 4R sauce that Mr. Rivers himself concocted. This proved to be the most interesting array of ingredients - the tender, juicy pulled pork combined with the cole slaw, thick grits and heat from the jalapenos to create a tantalizing sensation on my taste buds.
With all the sides, from the cake-like cornbread to the crisp fried okra and the pot licker-immersed collards, we were satiated, perhaps a tad too much in fact, as I could barely roll off my stool. I couldn't let the barbeque defeat me just yet, as no 4 Rivers experience is complete without a trip to the Sweet Shop where Mike and I ventured to the S'more Brownie, Double Chocolate Cake, and a Gainesville specialty orange and blue cake surrounded by orange and blue sprinkles. One bite of the rich Gator cake, moist mousse-filled chocolate cake, and marshmallow-topped thick brownie — I'm a sucker for a good brownie — and the 4Rivers extravaganza was complete.
Although the amazing array and combinations of food left this foodie in awe, it was the friendly and accommodating service and the warmth radiating from owner and chef John Rivers that really distinguished this already one-of-a-kind smokehouse from other places in Gainesville and, dare I say, across Florida. It's this personal touch from 4Rivers staffers like Cara Smith that sealed the deal for so many loyal customers, myself now included.
The Pluses and Minuses of 4 Rivers Smokehouse
4 Rivers Smokehouse + indicators: Stuffed jalapeno peppers, brisket sandwich.
4 Rivers Smokehouse- indicators: Popularity could create long lunch lines.
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The Pluses and Minuses of Hook Fish & Chicken
Hook Fish & Chicken + indicators :
Hook Fish & Chicken - indicators:
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I'm a workin' guy. I am up every morning Mon.-Fri. between 4:30 and 6:00 getting the Gainesville Lunch Out Blog's Daily GLOB ready to publish by 8:15 am. So when I walked into the David's Real Pit BBQ on NE 23rd Ave. and saw they had a Working Person's Special of a BBQ sandwich, your choice of side item and a 16 oz. refillable drink for $6.00, that was one of the easier no-brainer decisions I have made in quite some time. This is David's BBQ. The pork sandwich is juicy, flavorful pulled and chopped pork stacked mountain high on some very tasty, perfectly toasted, thick-sliced Texas toast. I couldn't resist trying the fried okra. GLOBers . The okra wasn't the best fried okra ever made and then I proceeded to eat every bit of this southern taste treat. "You know, I prefer my okra just boiled and served slimy or it is sublime with tomatoes over rice,' I said to no one special reaching for the last nugget of okra goodness. David's dining room filled up for lunch, and the David's staffers demonstrated that this wasn't their first BBQ rodeo and kept the trays of smoke protein specialties moving out to waiting customers in a very fine fashion. I'm going back to David's Real Pit BBQ! Well, maybe not today, but certainly the next time I'm looking for BBQ pork goodness . . .
A Gainesville Lunch out Blog feature story about David's BBQ can be found on the NW 39th Ave David's ReaL Pit BBQ page.
Jim Bruce works David's Real Pit BBQ, and he has a story to share with you. David has been cooking up, serving, and presenting happy customers some of Gaineville's best BBQ for over nine years. Jim has also been a vegetarian for over 12 years. Talk about being a'stranger in a strange land.' I was thinking of Leon Russell and the Mad Dogs and Englishmen as Jim explained to me how it wasn't that bad being a vegetarian in a kitchen full of fat, gristle, and meat.
"I'm used to it. It really doesn't bother me that much any more," Jim said. "I have become the great explainer as to why we need to keep buying meatless patties for customers. It's a good sandwich." I am here to testify that David's is a good place for professional eaters. No need to say, "Upsize that would ya?" The fried potatoes could be the best in town. Big, fat, home style cut potato planks that let you know right away that you're eating potato. The David's veggie burger is cut from the same checkerboard BBQ table cloth. A giant wedge of tomato, half inch slices of albino white onions that dramatically contrast with the greenest designer lettuce you can find, and the biggest dill pickle slices this side of the Claussen pickle farm. Add a little mayonnaise and ketchup on top of a crispy crunchy, spicy veggie burger that includes some spicy red pepper flakes in it, and you have yourself a taste explosion of BIG flavors happening in your mouth.
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December 9, 2015 – Chicken Salad Chick has opened adjacent to Earth Fare in the University Towne Center on SW 34th St. Specializing in 15 different kinds of chicken salad, including Cranberry Kelly and Jalapeno Holly. There are also four different deli sandwiches available, including a pimento Cheese for $5.95. Chicken Salad Chick has four Specials including soup and a half of sandwich for $6.95. Gainesville Chicken Salad Chick owner is Mark Singletary. His daughter introduced him to the Chicken Salad Chick and, "after a good bit of conversation, I decided that buying a Chicken Salad Chick franchise and opening a restaurant in Gainesville was exactly the way I wanted to spend the rest of my life." His daughter and her husband, Lauryn and Cope Smith, thought it was a good idea too, and they are now CSC Gainesville business partners.
November 23, 2015 - Hand pattied burgers, fresh ingredients, house smoked BBQ, and craft beers are the hallmarks of BurgerQue next to Bagel & Noodles near the corner of University Avenue and 13th St. Touting 11 hamburgers, eight BBQ sandwiches, "little burgers," and hot dogs, this lunch stop also serves wings, salads, wraps, malts and shakes, and breakfast all day according to the BurgerQue Ft. Myers menu. FOLLOW THIS LINK for more BurgerQue information.
A Perfect Pie, which first opened recently on Waldo Rd., closed that pickup and delivery stand in NE Gainesville and relocated to the Oaks Mall. According to A Perfect Pie owner, Charles Germond, APP is ready to show off his secret family recipe for fresh pizza dough and unique Italian pizza sauce. "This is the best NY Style pizza you will find in Gainesville," says D.M., restaurant manager. The complete Perfect Pie menu is available at the Mall and includes several Italian entrees, salads, subs, and wings. FOLLOW THIS LINK for more A Perfect Pie information.
Nonember 18, 2015 - Candy's Latin Restaurant is one of several Latin food stops that have appeared in this strip shopping center over the years. According to the Candy's menu, Latin American food is servied "like your mom and grandma do it." Featuring 12 entrees, (Flatos Especiales), including a stir fried beef and ground beef arepas, Candy's also has five seafood entrees (Mariscos) that include shrimp, tilapia, snapper, and mojarra. Candy's serves beer, wine, natural juices, and milk shakes (Batidos). You will also find empanadas, soft shell tacos, and eight different kinds of arepas. The 12 side orders include both red beans and black beans, plaintains, and yucca. This Latin lunch stop opens at noon. FOLLOW THIS LINK for more Candy's information.
November 9, 2015 – The opening of The Sweet Tea lunch stop in the Sweetwater Branch Inn on East University Avenue almost slipped under the radar of the GLOB's worldwide offices. Open Mon-Fri from 11 am-2 pm, according to the Sweetwater Branch website, "The Sweet Tea is located in the Historic McKenzie House on the property of Sweetwater Branch Inn. Our menu features a New Century Southern Cuisine which includes complimentary boiled peanuts, soups, fresh salads, delicious sandwiches and main dishes, bottomless specialty iced tea, house made sodas and one-of-a-kind desserts." Some menu examples include Cracker Crumb Breaded & Butterfly Fried Shrimp, Country Tomato and Corn Custard Pie, Drunken Blueberry BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich. The Sweet Tea deserves your noon day meal consideration. FOLLOW THIS LINK for more The Sweet Tea information.
November 2, 2015 – Two new restaurants opened recently in Midtown. One restaurant has taken an alternative approach to lunch and eating healthy, and another is serving up fast-fired pizza in a matter of minutes:
The 3 Natives Acai & Juice Bar, a Florida-based franchise with only 2 other locations so far (Juno and Tequesta), touts an appreciation for lifestyle and protecting the environment. According to their website, "Our organic, cold-pressed juices are always sold in glass bottles, not plastic, and are never watered down or supplemented with sugar, preservatives, or other additives. The Acai Bowls are made with organic acai and granola and topped with the freshest organic fruit that we aim to source locally when available. Acai also offers an assortment of wraps and salads for customers who appreciate fast, healthy food for lunch." According to the Mayo Clinic website, "Acai berries are widely touted as a so-called superfood, with proponents claiming that they are helpful for a variety of health concerns, including arthritis, weight loss, high cholesterol, erectile dysfunction, skin appearance, detoxification, and general health."
A few blocks west and located directly in front of the Burrito Brothers Taco Company, the new Dough Religion spews out 8-inch signature pizzas faster than you can spell f-a-s-t f-i-r-e-d p-i-z-z-a, including The Maize--mozzarella, ham, corn, garlic, ricotta, and kalamata olives, and The Veggie--tomato sauce, mozzarella, mushroom, red onion, zucchini, and hummus. You can also create your own 8-inch pizza for $7.95 out of four different sauces and a straw basket full of toppings including broccolini, capers, and grilled chicken. Dough Religion also has a build-your-own salad bar and Signature Caesar and Pizzeria Salads. For dessert you can try the Sweet Pie Nutella and Banana Pizza. Dough Religion is sharing its Gainesville space with ooZoo bar, which serves craft beer and cocktails and gourmet sandwiches.
October 12, 2015 - From being featured on Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives to winning top restaurant awards year after year, Jacksonville's Metro Diner is where the locals eat. Now Gainesville locals can also order Metro Diner award-winning lunch, breakfast, and dinner entrees at SW 34th St. and SW 20th Ave. Serving a different Daily Special every day for breakfast and lunch. FOLLOW THIS LINK for the Metro Diners Daily Specials.
September 14, 2015 – Cheese Daddy has opened its second location at 3841 Archer Rd. next to Chipotle. Serving gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, Cheese Daddy owners also have plans to open a third Cheese Daddy on Tower Rd. in the near future. Cheese Daddy offers a variety of standardized sandwich melts on its menu, plus you have the option to create your own cheese sandwich delight. Sandwiches range from $5 to $8, and all sandwiches come with a small portion of tomato basil soup for dipping. Featured among the 10 different cheese melt sandwiches is a Grilled Cheese Doughnut -- a glazed doughnut paired with American cheese.
September 1, 2015 - Omi's Playa Azul is now open in the Sun Center in Downtown Gainesville. Omi Risco who until recently ran Omi's Kitchen in West Gainesville is now specializing in Cuban cuisine with Latin American lunches including sandwiches, soups, and a Cuban lunch buffet for $10.00. Omi's also serves five 'American' lunches for $9.50 including post roast & gravy, meatloaf and gravy, and beef brisket. Chef Risco asked me to let GLOBers know Omi's will be open Saturday night to view the Gator football game with a full Cuban buffet. Playa Azul translates to blue beach, and Omi's Playa Azul is planning for a very cool looking blue surface for their wall-to-wall bar.
August 3, 2015: Amy Tillman, the daughter of the creator of the nationally famous Sonny's BBQ chain, Sonny Tillman, has opened her own restaurant in Newberry called Hoss's Grill. One block off of Newberry's main road, Hoss's Grill serves lunch and dinner every day, with Daily Specials and regular menu entrees including hamburgers, fried chicken, chicken wings, and country fried steak. The HG serves breakfast on Sunday from opening until closing at 3 pm.
July 27, 3015 – After 32 years there are new managers, and owners serving breakfast and lunch on 207 NE 16th Ave, next to NE Park. New 16th Avenue Diner owner Keith McKinney has a new team of staff and managers ready to take over and welcome all the old Karol & Bill's customers back into one of the more friendly diner's in Hogtown. "We might tweak the menu here, and there," said the new manager. "The big difference is the staff will not be talking any politics or sharing opinions with the 16th Ave. Diner customers.". 16th Avenue Diner is open for breakfast and lunch starting at 7:00 Mon.-Sat.
July 22, 3015 – The Wing Stop franchise has opened a second wing shop in the old Buddha Belly/Tasty Buddha location just west of the corner of NW 16th Avenue and North Main St. Selling classic wings, boneless Wings, and chicken strips, the Wing Stop touts 11 different sauces, including Mango Habanero, Louisiana Rub, and Garlic Parmesan. Side orders of fries, beans, and coleslaw are available, and wings can be purchased in combos, family packs, and by the piece. The Wing Stops are open seven days a week from 11 am – 11 pm.
July 20, 2015 - BeQue Holic, a full-service Korean barbecue restaurant, opened Monday om 3812 Newberry Road in Royal Park Plaza in the former Stonewood Grill location. This building was recently home to Shila Korean BBQ. BeQue Holic does not serve lunch during the week. BeQue is open on Saturday and Sunday at noon and serves lunch from the dinner menu. Meals include the option of diners cooking their own meats on a grill in the center of the table. BeQue staff will also help with the cooking according to the restauarant manager. The dining tables include a downdraft system to remove annoying cooking smoke from customers environment. The menu includes three all-you-can-eat options ranging from $23.95 for five meats to $33.95 for 11 meats.
June 22, 2015 - Fork & Pasta is having their Grand Opening this week. Located at 1800 W. University Ave., Fork & Pasta offers homemade pasta and homemade sauces made daily. You choose a pasta, a sauce, and extras in a fast casual lunch line format much like Chipotle Grill. During the upcoming Grand Opening Week, the F&P is offering free sangria or cappuccino with every meal. F&P staffer, Cris Robles, suggests you give the sweet potato and goat cheese ravioli a try: "I had it for lunch the other day and, oh my gosh, the goat cheese was an amazing flavor." F&P has a pasta machine from Italy and also the F&P creates their own house made sauces, said manager Jennifer Kaiden. Fork & Pasta is open 7 days a week beginning at 10 am for lunch Mon-Fri. FOLLOW THIS LINK for more information.
June 11, 2015 - The Burrito Brothers Taco Company has opened a new restaurant approximately 2 blocks from the where the restaurant began business on NW 13th St. The brand new 2,000-square-foot taco stand is one one block North of University Ave. on the corner of NW 1st Avenue and NW 14th St. In the former Presbyterian Student Center at 1402 W. University Ave. "I thought this day would never get here. We started over there in 1977," Burrito brothers co-owner said Janet Akersson said pointing toward NW 13th St. "And you know what, I still have fond memories of the way we all worked together in that tiny space," Janet added. The burritos, tacos, and the famous Burrito Brothers Guacamole is still made fresh daily. 12 beer taps have been added along with a bar with two large big screen televisions. 12 Beer taps are available including Swamphead Cottonmouth, Wild Night, Big Nose, and Stumpknocker. First Magnitude's Siren 72 Pale Ale Draft, Cigar City's Hard Cider Hotter Than Helles, and Hornswaggle Irish Red
May 28, 2015 - A Perfect Pie is born. And Owner Charles Germond III is ready to show off his secret family recipe for fresh dough, and unique Italian pizza sauce. "This is the best NY Style pizza you will find in Gainesville," Says D.M. A Perfect Pie pizza stand manager. Open for two days this drive thru, walk-up window, red concrete block building is ready to serve you pizza, pasta, chicken wings, salads, hamburgers, French fries and appetizers fast, ready and hot. Located 2 blocks North of NE 16th Ave., A Perfect Pie is open late, MON-Wed 10am-1am, and THUR-SUN 10am-3am where you can have your pizza where you can walk up, drive thru, pick up, or have your pizza delivered.
May 4, 2015 - Applebee's Grill & Bar has branced out with a second, new lunch stop heading West on Newberry Rd. just past Iintersate 75. With eight new menu entrees, and a completely new Bar Food Menu touting 19 new appetizxers, this big box lunch stop is serious about being your mid-day meal house. FOLLOW THIS LINK for more Applebee's information.
Wednesday, April 15, 2015 – Steamers has opened in the old Lunch Box building in downtown Gainesville. Many years back, Steamers was a popular walk-up lunch stop in Midtown close to th U.S. Post Office. The Steamers menu boasts "mid-western style sandwiches steamed, NOT grilled = less fat!" The Steamers menu lists 9 sandwiches including the SPICY TWISTER, a combination of beef, onions, green peppers, mushrooms, and jalapenos grilled with homemade habanero pepper sauce, served with lettuce and tomato. The Twister and Veggie Twister Are available in mild, medium and hot. The Steamer menu also includes fried rice with egg, onions, carrots, cabbage, peas, special seasonings and a protein including veggie and tempeh and scallops. Indonesian Curry rice dishes are available with steak, chicken, eggie tofu, and tempeh. Beer and soda are also available.Steamers is located on the corner of the Bo Diddey Plaza and is open for lunch every day. Plans are to expand to breakfast at a later date.
PEPPER ALERT: Reportedly "mild" Steamers heat is very hot, and "hot" is BLAZING hot!
Wednesday, April 8, 2015 - Now tooting five locations in North Florida the MoJo Q Holdings, LLC has opened MOJO Hogtown Bar-B-Que in the old livery warehouse building behind the Havana's Wine & Cigar Lounge on SEnd Second Ave. A lunch menu featuring BBQ has five different BBQ sandwiches, 9 different kinds of BBQ, 8 kinds of Southern platters, 9 Appetizers, 13 Homemade sides, soups, salads, and desserts. The MOJO Bar-B- Que bar span the entire western wall of Mojo's and the bar boasts 9 different Florida craft beers 12 cocktails, and a boatload of select whiskeys, 'typically aged in wooden casks.' You may buy wine by the glass or bottle. This smoked meats and whiskey bar is open for lunch seven days a week. FOLLOW THIS LINK for more information.
Thursday, April 2, 2015 - O.A.K. is celebrating their opening today with cocktail, beer, and food samples. According to their website, "Original American Kitchen", features gourmet comfort foods as well as old southern classics. Enjoy our locally sourced ingredients, GMO free dishes, full service bar, and 16 self-service taps for our patrons to enjoy." FOLLOW THIS LINK for more information.
Friday, March 27, 2015 – Sababa Israeli Cuisine has relocated from the midtown UF Hillel Center to the Sun Center in downtown Gainesville. The lunch stop boasts vegan, vegetarian, Kosher, and gluten-free fare for lunch and dinner. Sababa also serves a Sunday brunch of lox, bagels, challah and babaka French toast and shakshuka, which is eggs poached in homemade tomato sauce and served with pita bread and a salad. Sababa is open for lunch starting at 11 from Tuesday to Saturday and for Sunday brunch from 11 am – 8 pm.
Celebrations Catering has opened the Soul Shack serving home-cooked soul food from a walk-up window on NE Waldo Rd, "right around the corner from University Avenue." The menu features ox tails, fried and BBQ ribs, any chicken part you desire including wings, pork chop sandwiches, and a daily special. This is a lunch stop for that down home kinda girl we all know. Open Monday - Saturday from 11-8, the Soul Shack also has 10 side items that would make my momma smile with lunch-time glee.
February 17, 2015 – The space previously housing Kazbor's in The Magnolia Park complex across from David's Real Pit BBQ, and Northeast Grill is home to a new tenant touting craft beers and pub grub, including prize-winning chili. Crafty Bastards, a craft beer pub, serves appetizers--Fried Mac n' Cheese Bites, Onion Rings, Beer Cheese Dip w/Pretzels, Naked Wings, and Basket O'Bacon; garden and Caesar salads; and entrees--Shepherd's Pie, Banger n' Mash, Fish n' Chips, Johnsonville Bratwurst w/Fries, and Sliders w/Fries. Crafty Bastards also serves Margot's Impeccable Chili, which won the 2014 Gainesville Harley Davidson Chili Cook-off. With over 20 craft beers including First Magnitude and Swamp Head options, Crafty Bastard opens for lunch at 11 am. FOLLOW THIS LINK for more information.
February 9, 2015 - The People Dedicated to Quality chicken parts lunch stop known as PDQ is open on the corner of 34th St. and University Ave. With a mission of fresh-everything quality, PDQ does not have a freezer or microwave on its premises. All their food products are delivered and made fresh every day. With a complete focus on chicken, "PDQ is a fast casual restaurant specializing in fresh hand-battered chicken tenders, made-to-order sandwiches, daily cut fries, hand-spun milkshakes, and fresh salads. The original PDQ restaurant opened its doors across from Plant High School in Tampa, Florida. PDQ now has locations in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas."
January 26, 2015 - Toting Greek and American cuisine, The Spot restaurant located in the Robert's Stadium Club building adjacent to Cheese Daddy has opened. Wtih Greek sandwiches, platters, and salads including dishes such as Chicken Souviaki, Spanikopita, and Greek salad, The Spot also fearues Angus burgers, wings, speciality sandwiches, ands quesadillas. Open for lunch at 11 am every day. The Spot closes at 9 pm except on Friday and Saturday, when they are open until 3 am. FOLLOW THIS LINK for more information.
January 8, 2015 – Blaze Pizza, in the old Willy's Mexican lunch stop, touts blaze-fired cooked in a have-it-your- way process: You select artisanal toppings for a personal 11"-pizza, and the pizza is "fast fire'd" for 180 seconds (GLOB Content Editor Note: That quote is exact. Can ANYONE figure out what letters are missing in "fire'd"?). This Friday, from 11 am to 10:30 pm, Blaze Pizza celebrates its opening by offering you a free 11-inch pizza of your choice. Founded in Irvine, California, in August 2012, Blaze Pizza is a chain franchise with restaurants in 14 states and the District of Columbia, according to information provided by the company.
To paraphrase the Trailer Park Troubadours, it's not a restaurant until the wheels come off, and the Wholly BBQ food truck has now become a real restaurant by taking residence in the once empty drive through restaurant on SW 2nd Avenue across from the Jones B-Side. Serving all the BBQ standards such as pulled pork, ribs, and chicken, the Wholly BBQ also plans to put BBQ goat on the menu. We applaud Wholly BBQ owner, David Williams, for partnering with Gainesvile's Workforce Innovation to hire young adults in need of acquiring GED credits towards a high school degree.
December 7, 2014 – Panera Bread has opened a second big box lunch stop in front of the Hobby Lobby on Newberry Road near the Oaks Mall. With a varied menu of nine categories including Soups, Salads, Pasta, Panini, Sandwiches, and Flatbreads, PB has something for every GLOBer walking in the front door. Last Summer PB created a plan to eliminate all artificial ingredients and preservatives from the food menu by the end of 2016.
December 1, 2014 – Crane Ramen, Ramen Restaurant, between The Bull and Paramount Grill, in downtown Gainesville opens for lunch today amid great expectations from the designer ramen noodle fan base in North Florida. WRONG. We're not talking about the real cheap, and marginally tasty bag of dried squiggles you boiled up for dinner while you were a student. We're talking Japanese Ramen. Crane Ramen offers a limited menu of nine items, and five types of ramen. Crane Ramen is open Monday through Saturday for lunch from 11 am-3 pm and for dinner from 5-11 pm.
According to the Japan Food Blog, "Ramen soup is generally made from stock based on chicken or pork, combined with a variety of ingredients such as kombu (kelp), katsuobushi (skipjack tuna flakes), niboshi (dried baby sardines), beef bones, shiitake, and onions, and then flavored with the likes of salt, miso, or soy sauce. The resulting combination is generally divided into four categories: Shio ("salt") ramen soup is clear, Tonkotsu ("pork bone") ramen is usually cloudy white, shoyu ("soy sauce") ramen soup is made from chicken and various vegetables, and Miso ramen." FOLLOW THIS LINK for more ramen noodle information.
November 12, 2014 - Shila Korean BBQ, and the Volcanic Sushi & Saki Bar have been added to the Urban Glob list of Asian restaurants as the 52nd. and 53rd. restaurants serving Asian cuisine. Shila Korean BBQ cuisine opened last week with Saturday, and Sunday lunch only starting at 12:00. The lunch menu includes Spicy BBQ chicken, Spicy Pork Belly, Beef Bulgolgi (marinated beef), Baby Octopus, and Korean seafood pancakes. SKBBQ is open seven days a week for dinner 4:30 – midnight, except Sunday when they close at 10:00 pm.
Volcanic Sushsi and Saki Bar has opened in Haile Shopping Village next door to the Limerock Road café. Chef and owner Nestor Espartero was previously the Sushi Chef at Sabore and planned a 'silent opening ' to 'get things right.' The new sushi bar has several lunch specials including sushi combos, lunch bowls and the self titled 'raw bowl' with your choice of tuna or salmon sashimi, with avocado, cucumber, scallions, sesame seeds, and wakami salad over seasoned sushi rice for #11. Volcanic Sushsi is open for lunch at 11:00 with no lunch on Sunday.
October 20, 2014 - the Cairo Grill has opened in the old Buddha Belly location behind the Garden Gate Nursery on NW 43rd St. Touting a complete Egyptian menu the CG website says, "On our menu you will find many examples of the foods Egyptians eat daily, from kabobs, falafel and hummus, to kochary." Open every day for lunch with a 12:00 opening on Sunday the Cairo Grill offers vegan, gluten free menu entrees, and catering, as well as a full dessert menu.
August 25, 2014 – Grilled cheese sandwich lovers now have a convenient lunch stop for acquiring melted cheese in a toasted sandwich directly across the street from the St. Augustine Catholic Church. Founder and UF graduate, Andre Norman, thinks he has found the perfect model for melted fast food on the run happiness. Cheese Daddy offers a variety of sandwich melts on its menu, plus options to create your own cheese sandwich delight. Sandwiches range from $5 to $8, and all sandwiches come with a small portion of tomato basil soup for dipping. Featured among the grilled cheese melts is a Grilled Cheese Doughnut -- a glazed doughnut paired with American cheese--and 10 different cheese melt sandwiches. FOLLOW THIS LINK for more Cheese Daddy information.
August 16, 2014 - Piesano's Stone Fired Pizza has created a tri-fecta of pizza shops in Gainesville with today's opening in Midtown in the Holiday Inn on the corner of University Ave. and 13th Street. With an extensive menu of Italian and American cuisine, Piesano's website touts appetizers, baked breads, soup, salads, pizza, calzones, subs, burgers, entrées, specialty entrées, sides, a kids menu, and desserts. Oh, they also have veggie selections, gluten-free crust, and 30 different pizzas on their Gourmet Specialty Pizza Category. FOLLOW THIS LINK for a complete Piesano's menu.
July 21, 2014 - Square 1 Burgers and Bar has opened on SW 34th St. in the old Maui Tewriyaki building. Touting more than 20 burgers including veggie, turkey, buffalo, and lamb burgers in this Tampa bay based chain of popular restaurants. Square 1 is ranked in the Top 10% Worldwide on TripAdvisor, plus TBN.com readers recognize the Square 1 burger as tops in the hamburger category.
July 7, 2014 - Relish Big & Tasty Burgers has opened a third location in Royal Park Plaza at 3822 W. Newberry Rd. Suite D, close to the Coldstone Creamery in the old Coffee Culture location. Relish is celebrating the Grand Opening of their new Location Monday, July 7. Recognized as one of the better burger lunch stops Relish makes your burger to order with a plethora of choices including fried egg, and a boatload of sauces and toppings.
Po Boy's Seafood and Grill has replaced the Wharf Express at the University Towne Center on SW 34th St. Po Boy's opened in May keeping much of the Wharf's menu but adding some new items. According to the new menu, Po Boy's specializes in 'Famous' Po Boy sandwiches, seafood combo platters, seafood tacos, grouper, scallops and several signature seafood side item favorites.
May 12, 2014 – To quote GLOBer Alan Morrow, "Breakfast is a good meal any time of the day." If you agree with that statement and you are near the Publix on N. Main St. you will want to give serious lunch time consideration to the recently opened Daylight Donuts. This national chain is touting sausage rolls and bacon, ham, and cheese breakfast sandwiches for lunch outers. Plus Daylight Donut also serves fresh made kolaches, croissants, pastries, fancies, and specialties daily. Daylight D is open Mon-Sat, 6 am-6 pm and Sun 6 am-2 pm.
The Maui Grill has replaced Latin CORNER Fusion restaurant in midtown near the Holiday Inn. According to Justin, the Maui Grill lunch manager, the Maui Grill is different from Gainesville's sister Maui restaurants because the midtown location specializes in Hawaiian barbecue. "Where the other Maui restaurants specialize in teriyaki dishes, we also serve our meals ala carte where customers can choose their specific ingredients when ordering," Justin added. Maui Grill also serves a Maui Burger and a Maui hoagie sandwich. Vegetable Medley, Power veggies, French fries, plaintains, grilled onions, mushrooms, and pepper sides items are available.
March 14, 2014 - the nationally popular BurgerFi hamburger chain -- with over 100 restaitants in the country -- will open a 'gourmet' hamburger stand at 3518 SW Archer Road. Touting hamburgers, "with a focus on all-natural, free-range beef, no chemicals, and no additives. BurgerFi® has built a menu with specialty items like Kobe beef hot dogs, gourmet toppings, delectable desserts, craft beer & wine, and an overall focus on a healthier menu selection." An extensive menu that includes Natural Angus Beef, Veggie Burgers, Breakfast Burgers, you can also order your burger Green Style, which is any burger or dog in a crisp lettuce instead of a bun. BurgerFi has a menu category called the Secret Menu that lists eight designer burger and fries selections. Craft beer and wine choices are also available .
March 10, 2014 - The Formaggio family has just opened a Bistro and Wine Bar in Thornebrook Village Shopping Center near Thornebrook Chocolates that will make a lot of lunch outers very happy for a lot of reasons. Formaggio's Bistro and Wine Bar does have a lunch special for $7.95 that is your choice of one-half of six different sandwiches, and a cup of the Soup Du Jour. Cream of tomato soup is always available at Formaggio's. Offering a lunch menu of salads, sandwiches, and antipasto platters this Italian Bistro also has ample outdoor seating on the patio immediately outside Formaggios'.
March 3, 2014, The Xpress Grille has opened in the restaurant that formerly housed Mamma Mia's Pizzaeria on NW 23rd Ave. close to N. Main St. With a menu of cold sandwiches, salads, soups, grilled sandwiches, hamburgers, burritos, Cuban sandwiches, and a spicy black bean veggie burger. the Xpress Grille also has an assortment of interesting side dishes including Paremsan Crispy Coated French Fries, and Sweet Potato Fries that can be ordered by the basket with bacon, melted cheese. 'Hot Baskets' are on the menu including baskets of chicken tenders, jumbo chicken wings, fried chicken bites, and a 1/2 pound Hot Basket of Fish & Chips. Currently the Xpress Grille is open for lunch every day at 11:00 am. Ecening closing times are still under consideration.
February 17, 2014, Thai cuisine fans can rejoice at the second Thai restaurant opening in the Urban GLOB in 2014. Bangkok Square recently opened on Archer Rd. near Interstate I-75. Offering both Thai, including Pad, Thai Japanese cuisine, sushi, shrimp tempura rolls or a combination plate. Bangkok Square also has an extensive sushi menu.
Matsu Sushi & Grill has changed their name to reflect the owners Identity. A'xin Sushi & Grill is still the popular Asian lunch stop in the Williston Plaza off od the corner of Willsiton Rd., and SW 34th St. Only the name has changed and continues with the same owner and chef according to the Matsu Sushi & Grill FaceBook Page, "Same Chef, Same Service, Same Place, With a NEW NAME~ We're still the same, Always fresh Fishes..."
January 21, 2014 - WhichWich? Superior Sandwiches has opened in Butler Plaza at 3524 Archer Rd. Whichwich? touts more than 50 customizable “wiches”, including the signature 'Wicked' loaded with five meats and three cheeses. Serving Sandwiches, bowls, and lettuce wraps Whichwich creates 10 sandwiches including a breakfast sandwich. According to the WhichWich website, "Which Wich is known for its revolutionary ordering system. Find the bag with the category you want, grab a red Sharpie®, and mark up the pre-printed menu on the sandwich bag. Select your sandwich, then choose the bread, cheese, spreads, and veggies. Your wich is prepared just the way you want it and delivered in your personalized sandwich bag. After you’ve enjoyed your wich, grab another red Sharpie, doodle on the back of your bag, and hang your masterpiece on the community wall. Wicked, right?"
The Pluses and Minuses of the BlueBird Wings:
BlueBird Wings + indicators:
BlueBird Wings - indicators:
Offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about BlueBird Wings. Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments. - THANKS!
The Pluses and Minuses of the Hooters
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Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about the California Chicken Grill. Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments. - THANKS!
By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor
It was a nasty weather Wednesday when Gainesville had a record-breaking deluge and the GLOB Master decided it was a good time to try the WZ EAT's Hot Shot chicken wings “for people who love FLAVOR!”
The WZ EAT's Midtown location seemed close enough to the Gainesville Lunch Out Blog’s world wide offices that a 30-minute wait wouldn’t be out of the question for what the WZ described as award-winning wings.
I must admit that the decision to order wings and fries was made very difficult by the wide array of choices this Food On The Run lunch spot creates, wraps in red, and delivers to your door.
Did you know the WZ EAT's has a complete menu of very tasty-sounding sandwiches including a Samurai Chicken Sandwich, a quarter pound Smokehouse Burger, and also sandwiches they call Flavor-Fuzed in either a chicken or hamburger presentation?
On top of those choices they also deliver fried shrimp, salads, and a great big boat load of side orders including Flavor Rub Fries, Onion Rings, Mozarella Stix, Fried Mushrooms, and more.
There is a complete WZ EAT's Menu at the restaurant web link below.
That plethora of lunch time goodies meant the creature-of-habit-driven GLOB Master couldn’t resist trying the WZ EAT's wings. Check out the menu -- they have 16 different varieties of wings categorized in the WZ EAT's HEAT INDEX by four levels of scovil impact:
1. A polite dose of spark
2. Get your engine going
3. If you like to really sweat
4. BURN with pleasure
I like a good heat in my wing sauce. That doesn’t mean I like to prove I can eat the hottest wings available. I opted for category four heat in my wings for this lunch. The WZ EAT’s Wedge Fries were an obvious choice for the potato-loving GLOB Master.
Okay, it did kind of feel like a culinary Christmas as I opened the bright red lunch package to find a bounty of very tasty looking chicken wings, fries, and soda. I’m thinking this experience must be how it felt when the Egyptian pharoahs ordered their food delivered to their temple.
The wings were very good. They could have been a little hotter for the GLOB Master. (That’s why I always order a little of the HOTTER sauce on the side, just in case.)
The delivery guy made good time and the French fries were hot, crisp, and very good.
This was an excellent alternative lunch idea. My 10 wings and fries were less than $10 bucks. Thinking about the upcoming football season and tailgating, having Wing Zone deliver a couple of bright red bag of first and second joint poultry delicacies to the party would make the GLOB Master look like a smart clucker.
The Pluses and Minuses of WZ EAT's Restaurant
WZ EAT's (+) indicators: Fast, quick service of a extensive menu.
WZ EAT's (-) Indicator's: These aren't the biggest wings sold in G'ville.
Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about the Wing Zone. Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments. - THANKS!