Sparks Magazine Online

Date Night With Sparks

Written by Jess Bautista & Alexandria Ng


For young adults who are living in a college town and in a time where traditional dinner dating isn’t as appreciated, it’s essential to know where to munch if you decide to take your potential boyfriend or girlfriend out on a date.

Sparks Magazine put together a list of the best Gainesville date restaurants with the help of 19-year-old University of Florida student Megan Mizusawa, modeling at the top four best spots to eat with your boo.

Crane Ramen

Mizusawa eating at Crane Ramen, rocking Simply Vera by Vera Wang's grey tweed dress. Photo courtesy of Ronan Galvez.

Mizusawa eating at Crane Ramen, rocking Simply Vera by Vera Wang’s grey tweed dress. Photo courtesy of Ronan Galvez.

As the only ramen restaurant in the area, Crane Ramen exudes a modern New York City vibe with its clean interior design and layout. This ramen bar, where you can watch as chefs prepare your meal, offers fast service with a short, but sweet menu of a variety of different ramen bowls as well as East Asian-inspired appetizers and add-ons.

The wait staff here is also very knowledgeable and passionate when it comes to explaining the differences between each type of broth and recommending dishes that would fit your taste. I personally enjoy starting with the tender pork belly steamed buns and following up with a spicy, hot bowl of tonkotsu ramen composed of thick pork bone broth, two dishes that hold high rankings among customer favorites on a good day.

Shoyu Tsukemen, consisting of spicy pulled pork, shiitake pickle, kimchi and pickled watermelon radish. Available at Crane Ramen - 16 Southwest 1st Avenue, Gainesville, FL 32601. Photo courtesy of Crane Ramen's official Facebook.

Shoyu Tsukemen, consisting of spicy pulled pork, shiitake pickle, kimchi and pickled watermelon radish. Available at Crane Ramen – 16 Southwest 1st Avenue, Gainesville, FL 32601. Photo courtesy of Crane Ramen’s official Facebook.

Note that Crane encourages you to slurp up your noodles for the best possible ramen experience. What better opportunity is there to break the ice with your date and show him/her your food connoisseur skills than with the way you expertly hold your chopsticks and enjoy your noodles.

“I thought the tonkotsu was alright because I think the soup was a little heavy and a little too salty, but the environment is really cool,” University of Florida freshman computer science and aerospace engineering major Christian Madali said. “It’s very authentic Asian. Their placemats had manga on it teaching you how to eat your soup and the decorations reminded me of Japan. I would recommend going there for the atmosphere, but picking a lighter soup.”

Dragonfly Sushi

Mizusawa strutting to Dragonfly, wearing Rachel Roy's black pleated dress with cream bows. Photo courtesy of Ronan Galvez.

Mizusawa strutting to Dragonfly, wearing Rachel Roy’s black pleated dress with cream bows. Photo courtesy of Ronan Galvez.

The go-to place if you and your date are craving some fresh sushi and a variety of other authentic Japanese cuisine. Treat your date to delicious, innovative Japanese food at this modern and trendy sit-down in the heart of downtown Gainesville.

“We are craftsmen, we are artisans, we are a family,”general manager Dave Piasecki said. “We want to push Japanese food beyond sushi and we want to show that sushi is just a small part of Japanese culture and that we have so much more to offer.”

Some exceptional items include the amazing variety of specialty rolls, like the mango tango, along with old favorites such as the ever-scrumptious spider roll. Their fresh seafood entrees are also worth mentioning. The tiger shrimp tempura with matcha salt fails to disappoint.

The crunch rolls are the most famed dishes at Dragonfly. Available at 201 SE 2nd Ave #104, Gainesville, FL 32601. Photo courtesy of Dragonfly Gainesville's official Facebook.

The crunch rolls are the most famed dishes at Dragonfly. Available at 201 SE 2nd Ave #104, Gainesville, FL 32601. Photo courtesy of Dragonfly Gainesville’s official Facebook.

Dragonfly’s lively, yet chic atmosphere and superb food will start your night out right. Besides the wonderful quality of the food and the environment, the wait staff is also very polite and friendly and make great recommendations of the menu that did not disappoint.

“The food was really fancy but in really small portions, so as a college student, I didn’t think it was worth it, but if your parents come up and pay for you, then it’s worth it,” University of Florida information systems and operations management major Daniel Ko said. “But you can see the owner walking around the restaurant and he talks to you, so it just shows that he really cares about his restaurant and that he’s personally involved and invests his time into it.”

Andaz Indian Restaurant & Bar

Waiting at Andaz's bar, Mizusawa is donning an Xtaren black and white polka dot dress, a geometric print bespoke coat and gold earrings. Photos courtesy of Ronan Galvez.

Waiting at Andaz’s bar, Mizusawa is donning an Xtaren black and white polka dot dress, a geometric print bespoke coat and gold earrings. Photos courtesy of Ronan Galvez.

Definitely a place to dine in if you and your date are opting for something a bit more on the fancy side (and you’ve got some money to blow).

Serving great Indian cuisine full of fresh and amazing flavors, the food is also nicely plated for you Instagram foodies who always need to update your social media with pictures to satisfy your followers. Although Andaz serves many authentic Indian dishes, such as chicken korma, they also have many vegan and vegetarian friendly options such as the daal makhani, a dish with lentils and kidney beans.

Vegetable Biryani is a featured dish at Andaz, which is regarded as one of the best Indian restaurants in Gainesville - 12 W University Ave, Gainesville, FL 32601. Photo courtesy of Andaz Indian Restaurant & Bar's official Facebook.

Vegetable Biryani is a featured dish at Andaz, which is regarded as one of the best Indian restaurants in Gainesville – 12 W University Ave, Gainesville, FL 32601. Photo courtesy of Andaz Indian Restaurant & Bar’s official Facebook.

Always order the naan, fluffy flatbread, to go with your entrée as it’s a great companion to dip into saucy dishes, like the chicken tikka masala. If you want to get the most out of your money, you can always dine in during buffet hours, where you have both the options of serving yourself at the buffet table or ordering off their menu which comes fresh straight out of the kitchen.

This restaurant holds a posh, but cozy atmosphere with its stylish interior and warm lighting. With an open and clean floor plan, you can see right into the kitchen and the bar from your table.

“The food was pretty good and they did a good job setting the environment for a nicer restaurant, especially the decor and the music,” University of Florida alumni Jonathan Yuen said. “The selection of food was kind of small, but the chicken tikka masala was good, as was the tandoori chicken and the naan, which they brought out fresh. Nothing was particularly spicy either.”

Mochi Frozen Yogurt

Enjoying the sun, Mizusawa is enjoying a cup of frozen yogurt by Mochi while wearing Forever 21's green print cap sleeved dress with the bow and magenta fringe earrings. Photo courtesy of Ronan Galvez.

Enjoying the sun, Mizusawa is enjoying a cup of frozen yogurt by Mochi while wearing Forever 21’s green print cap sleeved dress with the bow and magenta fringe earrings. Photo courtesy of Ronan Galvez.

You’ll definitely feel a sprightly, cutesy atmosphere within Mochi’s retro-futuristic interior composed of sweet shades of pink-to-red and plump, white furniture attachments. Enjoy it while satisfying you and your date’s sweet tooth with some frozen yogurt at Mochi. This casual date spot offers self-serve frozen yogurt with delectable flavors and a variety of fresh toppings.

You and your date can get artsy with your frozen yogurt using the colorful toppings that range from fruits and granola to chocolate bits and mini-mochi pieces. Take your desserts to the next level with the do-it-yourself yogurt and toppings bar and make it exactly how you want it to be.

If all of the available flavors look delicious to you, you can always ask the staff for small sample cups and get a taste of each before deciding on which you would like to fill your personal yogurt cup with. Don’t forget to visit Mochi on your birthday as well, as you can get up to six ounces of frozen yogurt and toppings for free.

Mochi Frozen Yogurt offers assorted cold desserts, large variety of toppings with calories that are as low as the prices. There are three Gainesville locations: 1638 W University Ave, Gainesville, FL 32603 3841 SW Archer Rd, Gainesville, FL 32608 202 SE 2nd Ave, Gainesville, FL 32601 Photo courtesy of Eric Heikkinen.

Mochi Frozen Yogurt offers assorted cold desserts, large variety of toppings with calories that are as low as the prices.
There are three Gainesville locations:
1638 W University Ave, Gainesville, FL 32603
3841 SW Archer Rd, Gainesville, FL 32608
202 SE 2nd Ave, Gainesville, FL 32601
Photo courtesy of Eric Heikkinen.

Whether it’s a date, a casual hangout day with friends, or your parents are in town, this frozen yogurt shop is enjoyable for all ages. It’s sure to be a Instagram-worthy and creative experience that will leave all of your friends asking where you went to experience such a colorful and fun dessert.

“The atmosphere is really cute and chill and I like the setup of the interior including the furniture and the menu signs,” University of Florida psychology major Rebekah Kim said. “The staff was also very nice and hospitable and always smiling.”


Stylized by Sparks Magazine fashion director Kevin Huynh.

*Feature image courtesy of Dragonfly Sushi’s official Facebook.