Friday, August 15, 2008

Louis' Lunch

Exploring Gainesville, one might believe that it has little history, at least in a culinary sense. It seems as though sometime around the mid-70's, some enterprising young fellows looked around, realized there were no restaurants, and finally opened a few.

And that's where Louis' Lunch comes in. Opened shortly before the Great Depression, a family business for about 80 years, this is a piece of Gainesville history. And it's also incredibly easy to miss. From Main Street and University, go South on Main Street, take a Left onto 5th Avenue, and Louis Lunch will be to your left on the corner of 2nd street and 5th Avenue.

In Gainesville's downtown before downtown eventually shifted and left it behind, it is now buried amongst houses. Normally a place such as this would go out of business. But they're doing something right, and that's keeping the locals coming.

It looks it's age. Don't expect a spotless stainless steel and white tiled floor sort of place. This is a burger joint. The burger goes down on an old flat top, and the fries are fried in a pot. This is old school, and it's awesome because of that.

Friendly. We went during a very slow time, but I can't imagine they would be any less friendly while it was busy. You go up to the counter to order and they let you know when the food is done. Pretty simple stuff.

About what you would expect. Shakes, fries, a wide variety of burgers, onion rings, and other assorted goodies.

Delicious. The fries are not seasoned heavily, so if you enjoy them salty you might want to put some on yourself. They however are fresh, hot, and enjoyable.

The burgers are fried in such a way that the edges are crispy while the interior is still juicy. It makes for a delicious burger, with plenty of onion, lettuce, tomato, and mustard. This seriously is exactly what you want from a fast food burger. It's sloppy, a little greasy, but phenomenal.

The shake was very good, though not exceptional.

Incredibly cheap. Cost is not an issue here. Bring cash though.


Go. This is part of Gainesville's history, one that relies on customers to stick around. Try it and realize why it's been around for so long.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Jones

After hearing so much about this place, I was dying to try it. But I just did not have the time. With it being on the east side of Gainesville, and only being open until 3; things never worked out.

Until Shirley and I had a day off a few days ago. So, we decided we'd have lunch at this little place.


Nestled between a laundromat and a pawn shop, I'm sure it could be better. However, the inside of the shop has great art, and the place is arranged to make for a warm and inviting dining experience. The place screams having a nice breakfast and reading the paper in the morning.


Friendly, on the ball, and knowledgeable. The staff are all very helpful and made us feel welcome.


I'll be honest, looking at the menu I was very disappointed that we had gone here for lunch instead of breakfast. The breakfast menu looks amazing! In addition to several original dishes, they have basic stuff that is "bare" and has a very low base price, which you then add accompaniments onto for an additional price. Kind of a neat concept, though I can see it being a bit frustrating for some. I'm sure the wait staff would be helpful enough to make it not a bother.

The lunch menu is your basic sandwich fare. They offer almost everything with a vegan or vegetarian option and use tempeh from Jose's Tempeh Shop. I prefer Artie's stuff, but no biggie. I ordered their tempeh reuben and Shirley ordered the tempeh samsara, which was described as the tempeh reuben on a salad.


The tempeh reuben was very good. The sauerkraut was very tasty, the tempeh was prepared well, and the bread (from Gainesville's own 2nd Street Bakery) was very good. An incredibly solid reuben. I had rice and beans as a side, and my only complaint was that it was about room temperature.

Shirley's general opinion of the tempeh samsara seemed to be that it should probably remain a sandwich. It tasted pretty good but the sandwich probably would have been better.

We had a frozen blueberry and honey mousse for dessert, and I have to say it was absolutely fantastic. Probably the highlight of the meal.

Very reasonable. Both the lunch and breakfasts can be enjoyed for under 8 dollars a person.

I would very much like to come back here for breakfast as that seems to be the highlight of the Jones. The lunch is still worth a visit though, so don't fret if you can't make it for the breakfast. A reasonably priced, tasty, and vegetarian friendly option in east side Gainesville.

So, Shirley and I decided to go back to the Jones for some breakfast sooner or later, and felt it would be appropriate to put up the results of our trip for everyone. The verdict? Excellent. Gainesville has a hip, comfortable, and delicious breakfast spot in The Jones.

I ordered the Smoked Salmon Omelet, an omelet folded with red onions, dill cream cheese and smoked salmon. It was accompanied by homefries and some toast. The omelet was absolutely delicious, and the homefries were well-seasoned.

Shirley ordered The Jones Rancheros (don't kill me if I remembered this wrong!), which was very good. Definitely good for someone looking for a unique breakfast.

The Jones is open 7 days a week from 7am-3pm. Check it out.

Pho Hanoi

So there's a new pho place in town, looking to muscle in on Saigon Legend's monopoly on Vietnamese food in Gainesville. This one is on 34th street, just south of Archer Road, across from the Kangaroo. I'm a sucker for pho (pronounced fuh) of all types, and Vietnamese food is always tasty.

To the review...

Unfortunately, Pho Hanoi is in a strip mall. Restaurant owners can't really help this though, so while it's not the most scenic location you can't hold this against them. They have done a nice job on the interior, with a nice paint job and tasteful decorations. The seating is... cramped. But in a way, I think it fits. If you've never tried it, pho is an excellent hangover cure and generally good pick me up. Filing in, taking your seat next to someone else and eating seems a good part of the experience.

So-so. Friendly enough, but a bit forgetful. We received our spring rolls after the pho had been brought out and only after reminding the waiter we had ordered them. It was also only one person covering the restaurant for a little while, so it's certainly forgivable. I'm sure as this place comes into it's own and the employees gain more experience, it will improve.

One very negative point was that Shirley's pho was accompanied by a dirty soup spoon. We're talking several splotches of dried food. This is the kinda thing that can really kill a restaurant for me, so I hope that this was just a very rare mistake.

I'll be honest and say I mostly came here for the pho. Everything else was secondary. But the quick glance at the rest of the menu showed a lot of names that are familiar to me from Saigon Legend, so I assume they are standard Vietnamese entrees. pho Hanoi offers some different choices than Saigon Legend in it's phos. They offer beef, beef tendon, tripe, chicken, and tofu as options. They also have bowls that have a combination of the beef, tendons, and tripe.

I ordered the pho with just the beef, while Shirley ordered the beef & tripe pho. The first thing that struck me upon seeing the dish was that it was not a clear broth as I am used to, you could easily tell the beef broth by it's color. It also had a stronger smell of anise than the pho at Saigon Legend. The accompaniments were the usual lime and bean sprouts, along with culantro and thai basil. This is the first time I've had thai basil in my pho, and I have to say I'm glad they include it. It's delicious.

The beef was sliced perfectly thin for the soup, and the broth was incredibly flavorful. I absolutely loved it. Shirley's pho with the tripe was very good too, and the tripe was very flavorful.

Expect a bowl of pho to run you around 7$. It's a pretty huge soup, so trust me that this is a pretty cheap meal for what you get.


This is a promising new restaurant that offers what is currently the best pho in town. The service could stand to improve, but the quality of the food and the good prices would keep me coming back even if the service stayed the same.