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Friday, May 24, 2024

Avenue recommendations: the best Valentine’s Day date spots in Gainesville

The Avenue staff handpicked their ideal date locations for Valentine’s Day

<p>A worker at Zeezenia International Market delivers Mediterranean food to a customer on Friday, Feb. 11.</p>

A worker at Zeezenia International Market delivers Mediterranean food to a customer on Friday, Feb. 11.

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

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

Chun Ching Market and Zeezenia International Market: A romantic trip around the globe

By Makiya Seminera

For Gainesville’s home cooks, an intimate homemade dinner for two is sure to impress your valentine. But the true way to dazzle your date doesn’t come from fancy cooking equipment or Michelin-star plating — it comes from the top-quality 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 plan 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. By strolling down the market’s extensive tea aisle, you and your date can carefully choose a tea flavor that will pair best with the night’s entrée. 

Couples can finish off their grocery shopping marathon at Zeezenia International Market to find authentic Middle Eastern ingredients to enhance any dish. Stocked with vegetarian ingredients like grape leaves and fava beans, as well as 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, growling 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 finest markets, gather your ingredients and prepare to cook one of the best Valentine’s Day meals ever.

Arashi Yama: Sushi with a modern flair

By Eileen Calub

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

Opened in December, the restaurant’s modern interior and relaxed atmosphere sets the mood immediately for an enjoyable night. Once you take a seat, you can fill your table with platters of colorful and creatively arranged sushi. Salmon, yellowtail and eel introduces a medley of flavors that dance on the tongue. 

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

To finish off the dining experience, choose between one of three scrumptious desserts: coconut pineapple ice cream, mochi ice cream or green tea cheesecake. On Valentine’s Day, the restaurant will also be giving away a limited quantity of Godiva chocolates on a first-come first-serve basis. You won’t regret choosing Arashi Yama, where you and your date can enjoy dishes that are 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: Dinner with a view

By Jared Teitel

A night under the stars is nowhere more perfect than upon the rooftop of one of Gainesville’s luxury student apartments, The Standard. The apartment building located at the corner of West University Avenue is home to two rooftop pools and jacuzzis with access provided to residents and friends of. Warm fire pits offer a romantic atmosphere of roasting sweet marshmallows fit for a Valentine’s Day treat. 

Piesano’s Stone Fired Pizza, a polite Italian restaurant, sits feet away from The Standard. No better way to enjoy a night out at the pool than indulging in a take-out meal of meatball and ricotta pizza pie or an Italian sausage calzone. Oh, and don’t forget the complementary oil-dripping Piesano’s rolls that go with it! 

For football fans, a high-rise swim at a cozy residential complex with a Monday-night game projected on the built-in megascreen is a must-do with your Valentine’s Day date. If watching the game isn’t your style, you can also admire the glowing landscape of Midtown’s strip from the pool deck that looks below. 

Arcade Bar: Late night Valentine’s Day fun

By Alexis Carson

Drinks and pin ball are the perfect way to spend the night with your special someone. Arcade Bar’s convenient location situated in the heart of Gainesville’s nightlife delivers just that. Ideal for couples 21 and up, the three-story building has all different types of entertainment to impress your valentine. With classic games such as skeeball, arcade basketball and Pac-Man.

Losers have to buy drinks!

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

As the night progresses, couples can move their conversations to the lounge areas, which look like secluded booths located next to the dance floor and the vintage arcade games.   

Liquid Ginger, Hear Again Records and The Hyppo: A pleasant stroll through downtown Gainesville

By Aurora Jiménez Castro

Sushi makes for a great date, a simple sushi roll being fresh and light enough to leave room for dessert. Downtown Gainesville holds the mecca of sushi in Gainesville: Liquid Ginger. The local spot is a no-frills classic and casual sushi spot, serving a range of meals from a first-rate miso soup to massive sushi boats.  

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

Finally, you can end your night with dessert at The Hyppo, a gourmet popsicle store, about two blocks away from Hear Again. The small popsicle bar has flavors ranging from the classics like strawberry to unconventional flavors like Mexican Hot Chocolate. Downtown Gainesville serves as the perfect vessel to grab food, shop and enjoy the cool weather this Valentine’s Day.

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