They are -- relatively speaking, of course. I hope both of these places thrive. By the way, I was (and am still) a regular lurker on the LA board and your expertise on the Chinese food scene in SoCal makes me hungry, homesick and jealous! I wish I had taken the initiative to explore the SGV food scene there as aggressively as you have while I was living there! What the heck brings you to Gainesville?
I'm surprised nobody has replied to your question yet. Here are a few of my suggestions:
For pizza, either Blue Highway (on Hwy 441 in Micanopy) or Satchel's (on NW 23rd Avenue). Blue Highway has slightly fancier pizzas (their clam pizza is great) in a roadhouse atmosphere. Satchel's is a Gainesville institution -- funky atmosphere, live music, a fun kitschy gift shop to linger in while waiting for your table. (Be warned: Satchel's takes only cash.)
For Mexican, there's La Tienda Latina on SW 13th Street (aka Hwy 441) -- Mexican by Mexicans, for Mexicans (as well as for grateful employees of the UF teaching hospital up the road.) . Not much in the way of atmosphere (if you've ever been to a working-class taqueria in rural Mexico, it looks like that.) Terrific food, though.
In the shopping center on the SW corner of University and SW 34th Street are Millie's and New Deal Cafe, which are both owned by the same people. Millie's is a casual salad/sandwich/quiche place, nice for lunch. New Deal Cafe is a sit-down place with a slightly larger menu, although there's significant overlap between the two places.
In the same shopping center is Mi Apa, a very casual and pretty solid Cuban place, as well as Sweet Dreams, which features homemade ice cream in a rotating inventory of flavors (such as honey-lavender and chocolate-chili)
I posted here http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/859637 about a couple of solid new Chinese places (Hong Kong Deli and Gator Suyaki --yes, I know that's a really dumb name for a restaurant!)
For fancier eats, there's Sabore in the Tioga Town Center on Newberry (Latin-themed small plates) and Embers on SW 34th Street and SW 35th Place (a steakhouse featuring prime meats). Full disclosure: I've only ever eaten appetizers at these places, but I ate enough of them to get a feel for the competence of their kitchens.
Enjoy your visit!
I'm a longtime CH lurker finally moved to post: A couple of credible, authentic Chinese restaurants have finally opened in Gainesville! As I've been suffering from extreme dim sum/congee withdrawal symptoms since moving here four years ago, I REALLY want these places to succeed.
1. Hong Kong Deli, 1236 NW 21st Avenue, Gainesville, 352-505-0454. This place is pretty much take-out only -- their seating area is a work in progress, to put it diplomatically. But the food is the real deal -- the "deli" part of the menu has everything you'd expect in a classic Cantonese deli: roast duck, Cantonese-style barbeque pork, crisp-skinned roast pork, various chicken preps. They also have a dim sum and noodle menu, along with stir-fried dishes that vary by the day.
It's a seriously bare-bones operation (the only people working there full-time are a young husband-and-wife team -- he's not Chinese but he knows what he's doing).
So far, I've tasted their roast duck, roast pork, and barbeque pork, and found them all up to my picky standards. (I'm a proud Chinese-American with family in the restaurant biz.) Don't be put off by the lack of ambiance in the place -- just get your food and go, you won't be sorry.
Raw grade: A-/B+
2. Gator Suyaki, 3830 SW 13th St, Gainesville, 352-377- 4773. The thoroughly dumb name is misleading . While the place does offer a typical Gainesville "Pan-Asian" restaurant mix of fusion sushi, egg rolls, and rice bowls, it also has an a second, all-Chinese menu that wouldn't look out of place in a big city with a serious Chinatown.
The one time I went, most of the diners were Chinese (UF grad student types), which was a good sign. We had a cold meat platter (a very limited assortment compared to Los Angeles/ Vancouver/San Francisco restaurants, and not as fresh-tasting as I would have liked), braised eggplant with pork, and a fried fish preparation with red chilies. All were authentic,competently executed, and unlike most Chinese around here, not dumbed-down for non-Chinese palates. (Neither is the Chinese menu as a whole, which contains several preparations featuring kidneys, jellyfish, and other "exotic" ingredients.)
Absolute grade: B
Make no mistake, neither of these places can match the standards of the best places in Hong Kong, Vancouver, or even Los Angeles. (But I think Hong Kong Deli, given the youth and drive of its cooks, may be able to in a few years.) But it's pretty darned heartening to have places like this in town at last.