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In Gainesville, a pub crawl down memory lane

Published October 15, 2006

GAINESVILLE - The people who run the huge university in this college town wish it weren't so, but the fact is, Gainesville is a great place to get your drink on.

More than a few of my college memories are tied to this bar or that, the fruity concoctions here and the $2 pitchers there, and the people I enjoyed them with.

But that was seven years ago. Could I return to the scene of happy days and do it all again?

I knew my head might throb the next day, but only a Gainesville pub crawl would answer that question.

Or so I rationalized. Truth is, I just figured it would be fun.

My husband, Mike, and two friends limited ourselves to downtown, which is within walking distance of the bed and breakfast where we stayed.

C'mon, crawl along with us.


Emiliano's, 7 SE First Ave.,

(352) 375-7381

We started our evening at this Latin-fusion restaurant, knowing a bottle of wine would provide a classy beginning. Emiliano's serves hot and cold tapas, and it has an outdoor patio that is great for people-watching. There's live music on Mondays and Wednesdays.

We split a $33 bottle of 2002 Clos dels Codols, Montsant, a Spanish red that was full, smooth, potent.

Had we started just a bit earlier, we would have paid even less. Every day from 4 to 6 p.m., they serve Spanish and South American wines for half the regular price - plus two-for-one sangria and mimosas.


The Top, 30 N Main St., (352) 337-1188

It had been hours since lunch, and the wine was running through our bloodstream. We needed food and good drink.

We found it at this funky restaurant and bar. Children's art lines the walls, and knickknacks surround the cozy booths.

The menu is eclectic gourmet, with plenty of vegetarian options. Liquor spiked more than a few dishes.

Most important, this place serves one of the best mojitos I have ever had. Strong but not overwhelming, with the right mix of mint, lime and sweetness.

Some of us ordered a second.


Durty Nelly's, 208 W University Ave., (352) 374-9567

It has been seven years since I hung out here, but as soon as I walked in, I felt at home.

Durty Nelly's was always one of my favorite spots. It's not flashy or fancy. Just a great Irish pub, with a pool table in the back and a small stage for live music in the front.

Guinness lovers say Nelly's serves one of the best dark pints around. Even my grandma raves over the black and tans. But me, I love the hard cider. Sweet like apple juice, but so much stronger.

As I finished my pint, I thought, "Maybe grad school isn't such a bad idea."

Nelly's offers live music most nights, and drink specials every night.


Lillian's Music Store, 112 SE First St., (352) 372-1010

When I was a student, I walked by this place many times on my way to Fat Tuesday.

It had a reputation as the place the "adults" went, meaning professors and visiting alumni. But I'm an alum now, so in we went.

Lillian's is known for its live music, but this is a football town. So all eyes were tuned to the televisions showing the Gator game.

I sipped a bottle of Woodchuck cider and noticed the crowd was younger than I expected. I detected a New Orleans vibe.

I was happy, and not just because the Gators were on their way to a win.

Was this my sixth drink? Seventh?


Market Street Pub, 120 SW First Ave., (352) 377-2927

We walked into the main bar area, and I saw three guys singing karaoke. This is not the jazz-soaked Market Street I remember.

A couple of pale girls in fishnets, knee-high black leather boots and skimpy black skirts hung out near the dance floor.

Saturday is Goth Night. And we were definitely not dressed for the occasion.

No jazz for us, but good people-watching while I drank my last beer.

Postcript: We walked, didn't crawl, back to the B&B. Maybe we hold our drinks better now that we have our degrees.

[Last modified October 18, 2006, 10:05:46]

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