Avenue’s Recommendations: The Best Valentine’s Day Spots in Gainesville


Love is in the air – and Gainesville is no exception.

This Valentine’s Day, the staff at Avenue curated a list of ideal hangout spots around Gainesville to celebrate the holiday properly. Whether you’re meeting up with a last-minute Tinder match or celebrating a birthday, each of the Avenue staff’s date picks will put a smile on your face.

Chun Ching Market and Zeezenia International Market: a romantic world tour

By Makiya Seminera

For Gainesville home cooks, an intimate home-cooked dinner for two is sure to impress your valentine. But the real way to dazzle your date doesn’t come from fancy kitchen equipment or Michelin-starred plating — it comes from premium ingredients available at some of Gainesville’s best markets.

Chun Ching Market, a haven for a variety of Asian goods, is located at 418 NW Eighth Ave. Whether you’re planning to indulge in a do-it-yourself hot pot or butcher a whole squid for a crispy calamari appetizer, Chun Ching has the ingredients you need to make a memorable meal. As you stroll through the market’s vast tea aisle, you and your date can carefully choose a flavor of tea that will pair best with the night’s entree.

Couples can end their grocery shopping marathon at Zeezenia International Market to find authentic Middle Eastern ingredients to elevate any dish. Filled with vegetarian ingredients like vine leaves and fava beans, plus a wide selection of locally raised halal meats, Zeezenia, located at 2325 SW 13th St, is an essential food stop. After a day of shopping, grumbling stomachs can find refuge at Zeezenia Kitchen, a seating area at the back of the market that serves Middle Eastern classics like kefta and hummus.

After visiting each of Gainesville’s top markets, gather your ingredients and get ready to cook one of the best Valentine’s Day meals ever.

Arashi Yama: modern style sushi

By Eileen Calub

Located in Magnolia Parke, Arashi Yama Sushi & Hibachi Lounge is the perfect place to spend a romantic evening with your Valentine’s date.

Opened in December, the restaurant’s modern interior and relaxed atmosphere immediately set the mood for an enjoyable evening. Once seated, you can fill your table with colorful and creatively arranged sushi platters. Salmon, yellowtail and eel introduce a mix of flavors that dance across the tongue.

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If sushi isn’t your thing, there are plenty of soup and stir-fry options to warm the soul during the chilly February weather. Arashi Yama also offers hibachi. Accompany your meal with a lychee mojito, one of the restaurant’s most popular cocktails, to liven up your meal.

To complete the culinary experience, choose one of three delicious desserts: coconut and pineapple ice cream, mochi ice cream or green tea cheesecake. On Valentine’s Day, the restaurant will also offer a limited amount of Godiva chocolates on a first-come, first-served basis. You won’t regret choosing Arashi Yama, where you and your date can enjoy food that’s pleasing to the eye and the stomach.

Arashi Yama is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Valentine’s Day.

The Standard Rooftop Pool and Piesano’s Stone-Fired Pizza: Dine with a View

By Jared Teitel

A night under the stars is nowhere more perfect than on the rooftop of one of Gainesville’s luxury student apartments, The Standard. The apartment building on the corner of West University Avenue houses two rooftop swimming pools and Jacuzzis with access for residents and friends to. Warm fire pits provide a romantic atmosphere of sweet roasted marshmallows worthy of a Valentine’s Day treat.

Piesano’s Stone Fired Pizza, a polished Italian restaurant, is a short walk from the Standard. There’s no better way to enjoy a pool party than indulging in a take-out meal of a meatball and ricotta pizza or an Italian sausage calzone. Oh, and don’t forget the complementary oil-dripping Piesano rolls that go with it!

For football fans, a high-rise swim in a cozy residential complex with a Monday night game projected on the built-in mega-screen is a must with your Valentine’s date. If watching the game isn’t your style, you can also take in the bright scenery of the Midtown Strip from the pool deck looking below.

Arcade Bar: Late Night Entertainment for Valentine’s Day

By Alexis Carson

Drinks and pinball are the perfect way to spend the night with that special someone. The Arcade Bar’s convenient location in the heart of Gainesville’s nightlife offers just that. Ideal for couples 21 and up, the three-story building offers different types of entertainment to impress your valentine. Featuring classic games such as Skeeball, Arcade Basketball and Pac-Man.

Losers must buy drinks!

You can go up to the bar and the dance floor to dance the night away. Cutouts of famous celebrities decorate the walls, including Kid Rock, Prince and Carrie Fisher dressed as Princess Leia.

As the night wears on, couples can shift their conversations to the living rooms, which look like secluded cabins located next to the dance floor and vintage arcade games.

Liquid Ginger, Hear Again Records and The Hyppo: A Pleasant Walk Through Downtown Gainesville

By Aurora Jiménez Castro

Sushi is a great date, with a simple roll of sushi being fresh and light enough to leave room for dessert. Downtown Gainesville is home to Gainesville’s sushi mecca: Liquid Ginger. The local spot is a classic, casual no-frills sushi spot, serving a range of meals from top notch miso soup to huge sushi boats.

Located in the heart of downtown, Liquid Ginger is the perfect place for an early dinner. Less than a block away is your after-dinner treat: Hear Again Records. Wall-to-wall vinyl, old and new, fills the storefront. It’s the perfect place to browse and get lost with a date, with endless conversation starters and music for everyone. It’s a great place to bond and possibly nab a last-minute gift for your Valentine.

Finally, you can end your evening with dessert at The Hyppo, a gourmet popsicle shop, about two blocks from Hear Again. The small popsicle bar offers flavors ranging from classics like strawberry to unconventional flavors like Mexican hot chocolate. Downtown Gainesville is the perfect vessel for grabbing food, shopping, and enjoying the cool Valentine’s Day weather.

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