Amid Gainesville’s restaurant scene are culinary delights that may have flown under the radar of even those who have lived in town for decades.
If you’re looking to spice up your dining habits, consider these five places.
Tucked away inside Brenau University’s East Campus off Chestnut Street, lies a restaurant that makes all its bread from scratch and offers a menu of artisanal sandwiches, burgers, salads and fried sides. Hop’s Kitchen is a hidden gem worth a visit. We recommend trying the restaurant’s fully dressed chicken sandwich, which includes buttermilk fried chicken, topped with sriracha mayonnaise, housemade habanero hot sauce, pickled green tomatoes and arugula.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday-Friday
JAG’s Cafe and Catering
Behind a Citgo gas station off McEver Road, Angela and John Garrett work as a team, serving up flavors of New Orleans. Jag’s Cafe and Catering opened in January 2020 and has continued to grace Gainesville with its crawfish, crab legs, fried baby back ribs, jambalaya, gumbo and other flavor-packed menu items. One of the restaurant’s staples is the catfish lafitte made with catfish, crawfish and rice. Before presenting the dish, Angela smothers the entrée with her own special crawfish au gratin.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday
Two former missionaries, Julia Still and Myles Willman, opened Harvest Kitchen in 2020 to introduce people to the slow-paced nature of Spanish cuisine. Customers are encouraged to try multiple small dishes — also known as tapas — and hang out for an hour or two. Some of the restaurant’s Spanish-inspired creations include croquettes, a fried spherical food filled with your choice of meat, cheese or vegetables; gambas pil pil, a dish with pan seared shrimp, shaved garlic and paprika; and patatas bravas, a plate of fried potatoes served with a special sauce and garlic aioli.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday
Green’s Grocery deli
In the back of Green’s Grocery is a prime spot for subs, brisket, steak and other mouth-watering delicacies. The deli keeps weekly sandwich specials — including the hot Italian sub served on Wednesdays — which has gained a devoted following to its Italian roll packed with mortadella, hot capicola, Genoa salami, fresh mozzarella, marinated tomatoes and shredded lettuce.
Hours: Sandwiches served 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
If you haven’t already explored the cuisine along Atlanta Highway in Gainesville, you’re missing out. On either side of the road, starting at its northern end off Browns Bridge Road, you’ll find La Mejor de Michoacán, a one-stop shop for frozen treats; El Carreton Mexican Taqueria, which has been serving street-style tacos since 1994; Mama Ruth’s Kitchen, a homestyle country kitchen; La Esperanza Bakery, a traditional Mexican baked goods shop; Atlanta Highway Seafood Market, a hub for fresh fish dishes; and many others.
Where: Atlanta Highway, Gainesville