If you’re looking for diverse dining experiences, trending gastronomic delights and a broad spectrum of settings, head to downtown Gainesville. A flurry of new restaurants have opened within a block or two of the downtown square featuring an international array of choices to suit any palate.
“From Latin-Asian fusion to Southern barbecue, authentic Mexican to American fare, downtown Gainesville’s dining scene is bringing people in from around the region,” said Gainesville City Manager Bryan Lackey. “Some are locally owned new concepts and others are expansion locations of tried-and-true favorites. Without a doubt, people have discovered that Gainesville is the cool place to be.”
With much of the multi-use 60,000-square-foot Gainesville Renaissance Building on the east side of the square complete, Brenau University’s School of Psychology occupies the second floor. There will be six third-floor residential units. Ground-floor retail space is being leased; its first restaurant has become a local favorite.
Taqueria Tsunami opened in Renaissance last fall at the corner of Main and Spring streets. Serving lunch and dinner, it offers Latin-Asian fusion blending tastes of the Far East and South of the Border. It’s one of the restaurant group’s newest locations, with others in Athens, Marietta and Atlanta. (www.taqueriatsunami.com, 678 310-1149.)
Consuelo’s on Bradford, 112 Bradford Street. Lunch and dinner high-end cocktails and authentic Mexican food. (www.consuelogainesville.com, 470 703-0300.)
Hop Scotch, 107 Bradford St NW. Owned by the same folks who own Avocados next door, Hopscotch is an upscale/casual evening dining experience featuring dozens of tapas choices. A large selection of brews, plus an extensive cocktail menu. (www.hopscotchrestaurant.com, 770 532-0001.)
Kelley’s Tavern and Grill, 628 E.E. Butler Parkway. High-end sports bar, lunch and dinner, dine-in and outdoor seating. (www.kellystavernandgrill.com, 678 696-5233.)
Peyton’s Pie Company, inside Main Street Market on the square, wood-fired pizzas for take-out or online ordering, shares the common dining space with Sweet Magnolias and Cork-It wine bar. (www.peytonspie.com.)
Standard Service Restaurant & Taproom, 400 Jesse Jewell Parkway at the corner of Bradford and Academy was – over the past several decades – a gas station, then an attorney’s office before opening last summer for brunch, lunch, dinner and drinks. Outdoor dining, large garage doors, and self-serve beer with dozens of brews on tap. (www.standardservicega.com, 678 971-1025.)
Zen Ramen & Sushi Burrito, 115 Washington Street. Franchise concept serving ramen, burritos, poke bowls and tacos. (www.zenramensushiburrito.com, 678 696-5739.)
Familiar downtown favorites
Atlas Pizza, 104 Washington Street. Hand-made New-York style pizzas, sandwiches, salads; lunch and dinner. (www.atlaspizza.org, 770 531-1144.)
Avocados, 109 Bradford St SE. Lunch, dinner, Sunday brunch, sidewalk café. (www.avocadoseats.com, 770 532-0001.)
Chop Block Chop House, 110 Main St SW. Lunch and dinner, open late, plus Skybox Music Venue and Bar upstairs. (www.chophouseandclub.com, 470 252-5016.)
Cork It, Main Street Market. Wine bar, charcuterie and wine shop. (www.corkitgainesville.com.)
Inman Perk Coffee, 102 Washington St NW. Specialty hot and cold beverages, breakfast foods, sandwiches, desserts and pastries. (www.inmanperkcoffee.com, 678 971-8091.)
Luna’s, 200 Main St. SW. Fine dining for lunch and dinner, piano lounge, long-time Gainesville favorite. (www.lunas.com, 770 531-0848.)
Recess Gastropub, 118 Bradford St NE. Southern American cuisine with a twist for lunch and dinner. (www.recesspub.com, 678 450-0444.
Scott’s Downtown, 131 Bradford St NW. Dinner, fine dining plus bar and bistro menu. Recently celebrated 15 years in business. (www.scottsdowntown.com, 770 536-1111.)
Tap It Growlers, 110 Maple St. Rooftop bar, growlers, wine and beer sales. (www.tapitgrowler.square.site.)
Two Dog Restaurant, 317 Spring Street. Lunch, Sunday brunch, family dinner pickup. (www.2dogrestaurant.com, 770-287-8384.)
The newest Georgia location of Taco Mac in the New Holland area near I-985 and Jesse Jewell Parkway SE, opened last fall and has become a driver to bring other eateries to the northeast side of Gainesville. Known for its neighborhood atmosphere and its wide selection of beers, it quickly established itself with locals. (www.tacomac.com, 678 971-3627.)
“Taco Mac has been doing a brisk business and its popularity is attracting other restaurants to the New Holland area at Exit 24,” Lackey said.
On the horizon
A number of other restaurants have committed to making Gainesville home. Here’s a sampling of what to expect in the next six months.
Bourbon Brothers Restaurant and Music Hall, Academy Street and Jesse Jewell, next to the Smithgall Arts Center on Spring Street. Rooftop bar, concert hall and restaurant.
Buzzed Bull Creamery, 130 Bradford St NE. Regular and alcohol-infused ice creams, milk shakes.
Cotto, Spring and Bradford, Renaissance Building. Italian cuisine and pizza.
Kilwin’s Fudge and Ice Cream, 106 Spring Street SE, Suite 120. Fudge, chocolates, ice cream, confections.
North Georgia Barbecue, near Green Street and Washington Avenue.
Ohana, New Holland area. Polynesian-inspired cuisine.
Roll On In, Bradford Street. Asian fusion billed as fast casual with sushi burritos, bowls, nachos.
Soco Southern Coast, 1701 Browns Bridge Road, from the owners of Gainesville Seafood Market located in the former Denny’s. (www.socoseafood.com.)
“These are just a few of the restaurants that will be calling Gainesville home in the coming months,” Lynch said. “It’s an exciting time for Gainesville. As the hub for Northeast Georgia, we see even more growth in the coming years.”
Photo: by Alan Hope