Feasting on a Budget: Mouthwatering Latin Food in Gainesville
Don’t be deceived by all the corporate restaurant chains on the west side of Gainesville: there are plenty of local hidden gems serving up decadent Latin food that deserve recognition. I’ve compiled a list of the top three places to dine for Latin food in Gainesville at an affordable price.
In these trying college times, most of us are broke and surviving off the generosity off Publix BOGO’s and ramen, but good Latin food doesn’t always have to break the bank.
Latin Food in Gainesville Pick #1: El Indio
For under $5 you can buy a filling dish of rice and refried beans at El Indio. Their fish tacos are also delicious if decked with cabbage, cheese and a slightly spicy sauce.
Fortunately, the latin food in Gainesville also boasts plenty of vegetarian options such as El Indio’s quesadilla with tempeh. These quesadillas are no joke and it’s worth paying a little more than Taco Bell’s cheese quesadilla, especially when you’re drunk. Plus you get sour cream, cheese, guacamole, beans, rice—basically the whole shebang.
They restaurant also serves papas fritas and hamburguesas for cheap. Their fries come in a small or large size, and for under $2 you get a lot of hot, delicious and maybe not nutritious fries. They’re arguably some of the best fries at a local restaurant in town for the price.
Latin Food in Gainesville Pick #2: La Tienda
This place is a personal favorite of mine. There’s tons of dishes to choose from for an affordable price.
Forget about Chili’s $20 dinner for two. For twenty dollars at La Tienda, you can expect a table filled with food. Most of the dishes are under $8 and there’s tons of side dishes like rice, chips, salsa, guacamole and curly fries. I highly recommend the guacamole and curly fries, which are on par with Checkers fries.
Start off the meal right by ordering the chips and salsa with guacamole. That guac is some of the best in town, next to Boca Fiesta’s DIY guacamole. Order a side of curly fries, which undoubtedly feeds two or more.
The entrees, such as the steak quesadilla, really get your belly growling for more. Loaded with gooey cheese and steak… it’s out of this quesadilla world. Their chimichanga comes loaded with goodness: sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and your choice of meat with a side of rice and refried beans.
The coolest thing about this place is that there’s an authentic Spanish store in the back of the restaurant. After finishing your meal with your gut poking out, wobble to the back and check out their selection of butchered meats, herbs & spices, and the wide range of Spanish candies.
Latin Food in Gainesville Pick #3: Mi Apa
This place is a fan favorite for anyone who enjoys different types of rice and black beans with a tender meat as the entrée. It’s something about their ropa vieja (shredded beef) that really gets people excited about splurging for $8.
Their side dishes are also affordable, and I encourage any Mi Apa newbies to try out their plantains; they’re sweet, big and delicious.
Like La Tienda, Mi Apa’s side dishes are of the highest quality and there’s tons to choose from. I recommend the ham croquettes, yellow rice and black beans. Mix in the black beans and yellow rice with ropa vieja and you’ve got a dish fit for a Latin king.
Something about their minced breaded ham rolls (croquettes)—which are way better than the store-bought ones—really gets me in the mood for this restaurant. It’s on the pricier end, but if you’re looking for a good Hispanic sandwich, like the Cuban sandwich or the ham croquette sandwich, then I encourage you to check this place out.
Latin Food in Gainesville Pick #4: Flaco’s Cuban Bakery & Coffee
Flaco’s Cuban Bakery & Coffee is another delicious pick, especially when it’s late at night downtown and I really want a $6 burrito. Their tacos are also legendary with the avocado garlic sauce. So do yourself (and your stomach) a favor next time, skip the Taco Bell and try one of these finer establishments to satisfy your cravings. Don’t get me wrong, there are other restaurants in town for tasty Latin food in Gainesville but these are the joints that shouldn’t be missed.