Or should I say, Gainesville a No-No?
No offense to any Gainesvillians who may be reading this, but I'm just not a party town kind of girl. Gainesville is the home of the University of Florida (Gators ring a bell?) and it's quite the party college town. I'm just not a fan of shoving my way through jam-packed clubs, avoiding the leering skeezy glares from too-old-to-still-be-in-college college boys, binge drinking, and too many girls with strange ideas of self-respect.
Luckily, I was hanging out with a friend there who isn't especially fond of that scene, and is actually quite involved in the more artsy performance scene of Gainesville. This made for an interesting evening. He ended up performing two different sets at two different venues, both of which were very entertaining. The first one was during Open Mic night at the Civic Media Center.
Later, there was another performance at the Laboratory. There were two members of Manheim Steamroller in attendance - a violinist and a cellist - as well as the viola professor from UF. What a pleasant surprise! Unfortunately, at this point in the evening, I was ready to fall over in my seat, I was so tired. Thus, I didn't make much effort to take decent pictures. Sorry.
It was lovely music, though. It didn't quite help with my sleepiness, but still lovely all the same.
The hilarious emcee
And then my friend was up next
Even though it was late and I was dragging, I admit that I perked up a little when I was told there'd be vegan comfort food available at Flaco's Cuban Bakery. I'm not sure if what I ordered has a name. I just explained what I was looking for and the girl behind the counter scooped up a bunch of stewed veggies, beans, and rice and plopped it all in a bowl. AND IT WAS GOOD. It's clear why this place is so popular with the after-hours club crowd.
I was pretty excited about the okra pieces. Okra is often absent from my diet.
My friend had a different-but-also-vegan bowl with tempeh.
The next morning, I ended up getting a late start due to a flat tire. It was inconvenient, yes, but as far as flat tires go, this could not have come at a better time. I discovered it right in front of my friend's house. He was able to inflate it enough with a bicycle pump and I drove it over to a nearby tires place AND it was repairable! So really, it was the luckiest flat tire I've ever had.
While waiting for the tire to be patched, we went to Reggae Shack for lunch. (And were seated right next to the Manheim Steamroller musicians from the night before!)
My first sweet tea since returning to the South (somehow I neglected to order one while in Georgia)
I loved all the vegan mentions around the menu
Our server highly recommended the brown stew tofu, so that's what I ordered
The sauce was slightly-sweet and included tomatoes, carrots, and plantains. And is there anything better than crispy tofu?
This was incredibly filling and I couldn't even eat it all (but I made sure to eat all the tofu because tofu is the best).
My friend ordered the vegan "steak" sandwich
I sampled a fry and seriously, those are the best fries I've had since my visit to Boise Fry Company. (Nothing compares to BFC, though, really).
In short: Reggae Shack is awesome. If you find yourself in Gainesville, go there.
My car was all set before we even received our check. I was happy to get back on the road and was eager to finish the last leg of the trip, especially after the two-hour delay. It was a beautiful, sunny day. I was very excited to see my friends.
view through my dirty windshield
So I'm officially back on the Florida Gulf Coast. It feels a little surreal. Honestly, this past week feels like a strange dream. Things are coming together, though, and I'm surrounded by wonderful, supportive friends. I feel pretty hopeful right now.
Since the South by Southeast road trip has come to an end, it's time to announce the randomly drawn winner of the Larabar giveaway. According to random.org, Comment #6 is the winner: Amanda Thomas! Please send your mailing address to HUNGRYVEGANTRAVELER [at!] GMAIL DOT COM.