A Latin Taste in Downtown: Emiliano’s Cafe

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For this week’s restaurant sampling, I picked the downtown Latin restaurant Emiliano’s Cafe. To be honest, I was under the impression that Emiliano’s Cafe served Italian food until I walked in. (I have no idea where I got that impression from.) Nonetheless, the Latin tastes on the menu were a pleasant surprise.

Located across the street from the seat of the Alachua County government, Emiliano’s Cafe is located right in downtown Gainesville. And the restaurant takes advantage of its nice location – there is seating both inside and outside the restaurant. Despite the crazy heat, we sat at one of the outside tables, and I think it was the right decision. There’s something about breathing in fresh air as you watch downtown passers-by go about their business that sitting indoors doesn’t quite match. Nonetheless, as we walked toward the outside seats I caught a glimpse of a cozy, classy restaurant, complete with an upright piano.

Looking over the menu, I saw a great variety of interesting dishes. I ultimately ordered churrasco, which is a kind of grilled Latin steak. It comes with chimichurri (I had to look that one up to make sure I spelled it right) served on it, and sides of plantains and your choice of either white rice and beans or yellow rice and beans. (I ordered white rice.) My friend ordered the Tuesday special – pork shanks. To be honest, when the order came and I saw her plate I became a little jealous.

But it didn’t last – the churrasco was fantastic. I don’t typically add sauces to anything I eat (that includes ketchup to fries. I know, weird.) but the chimichurri sauce definitely added something to the steak…something that made it deliciously amazing. The white rice and beans were also very good, but was more than I could handle – I ended up having quite a bit to take home.

The total for it all came out to just under $20…and I think the food was worth it. It’s a bit pricey for a typical weekday lunch considering I only ordered an entrée, a side and a coke with no ice. But if you’re looking for good food and have some time and a bit of extra change to spare, a trip to Emiliano’s Cafe may be something to consider.

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