A blessing of living in a college town is that there is no scarcity of nightlife. Gainesville bars aren’t just for college kids, however. Downtown Gainesville offers a selection of bars to suit all tastes and ages. You can find both carefully chosen selections of local brews or a wide-ranging list of 300 whiskeys, plus plenty of pool halls and pianos. Consider this Gainesville Bar Crawl the next time you’re looking for a relaxed night with friends, live music and good drinks.
Durty Nelly’s Irish Pub
Founded by Irish couple Gabriel and Shauna Dixon in the early 90s, Irish pub Durty Nelly’s is one of Gainesville’s favorite dive bars. Enjoy the genuine Irish vibes, friendly staff and authentic atmosphere. If you’re looking to stick with the Irish theme, order an Irish car bomb or a Jameson and ginger. As it says on the website, “There’s no place more welcoming in which to drink!”
208 W University Ave. Gainesville, FL 32601
If you’ve found yourself wondering why the corner of University and Main is packed on Friday nights, it’s because patrons are enjoying $10 all-you-can-drink Vain Fridays on the club side of Sweet Mel’s. On Mondays, order one of the award-winning burgers and sip complimentary bottomless beer. The bar advertises food, live music and dancing, and it doesn’t disappoint.
1 W University Ave. Gainesville, FL 32601
Gainesville House of Beer
Whether you’re partial to a stout, an IPA lover or a cider fan, there is something for you at the Gainesville House of Beer. More than 40 beers on draught and even more bottles make up one of the biggest beer selections in town. Check the website for the list of live beers, or let the staff of beer connoisseurs concoct you a drink catered to your personal taste.
19 W University Ave. Gainesville, FL 32601
Mojo hogtown bar-b-que
If you’re ever craving authentic BBQ, head down to Mojo’s for an array of barbecue styles with a personal touch. Enjoy craft brews and cocktails or take a shot out of their extensive whiskey menu. The word “Mojo” comes from the blues and means denoting a good luck feeling or vibe. They have applied that same good feeling and mixed it with some of the best barbecue and drinks in Gainesville.
12 SE 2nd Ave. Gainesville, FL 32601
Loosey’s Downtown is a Gainesville staple. Crawl over to Loosey’s to sample one, or more, of the 20 rotating taps that feature pours from local and national brewing companies. Every month, the bar features a special brew for the Beer of the Month. Let loose for Karaoke Saturdays or Open Mic Thursdays. Check the calendar for live music nights to hear some of Gainesville’s homegrown talent. Loosey’s loves to feature local artists.
120 SW 1st Ave. Gainesville, FL 32601
Tall Paul’s Brew House
Tall Paul’s crafts its own beers in-house using local inspiration and ingredients. Its nanobrewery, The Alligator Brewing Co., was added to the back of Tall Paul’s in 2007 and mimics the New England style pub. The Devil’s Millhopper IPA and the Tailgator Pale Ale are two picks that perfectly capture the flavors of Gainesville and are best appreciated in the relaxed, hip atmosphere.
10 SE 2nd Ave. Gainesville, FL 32601
Palomino Pool Hall
Take a right down Main and walk over to Palomino Pool Hall. Palomino’s recent merger with Boca Fiesta and The Backyard has created a truly unique bar compound nestled in the heart of downtown, right next to the Hippodrome Theatre. Palomino’s will be a favorite stop for all the billiards lovers out there, with 15 pool tables and plenty of dartboards plus full access to the Boca Fiesta menu — there is something for everyone. Loser buys the tacos!
19 SE 2nd Place Gainesville, FL 32601
FishHawk Tasting Room
The Ocala-based FishHawk Distillery has a tasting room and gift shop in downtown Gainesville. The tasting room offers an array of bottles from their most popular blueberry vodka to their twisted sun rum. This unique experience gives you a taste into some of the finest, local cocktail creations. FishHawk has also partnered with local bars and restaurants such as Mojo Hogtown Bar-B-Que, Whiskey House and The Bank. So, if you can’t make it to the tasting room, enjoy it around Gainesville.
21 SW 2nd Street Gainesville, Florida 32601
Rockeys Dueling Piano Bar
Our next stop is Rockeys Dueling Piano Bar. The self-proclaimed “best damn piano show in the country” is also Gainesville’s only. Thursday through Saturday, Rockeys’ pianos are fueled by audience requests. Reserve a table ahead of time and relax as you sing along to piano renditions of your favorite songs while enjoying reasonably priced beers, wines and cocktails.
112 S Main St. Gainesville, FL 32601
Original American Kitchen (OaK)
Happy hour at OAK is from 4-7 p.m., making it the perfect place to stop for drinks after work! OAK gives off big-city vibes balanced with a hearty dose of southern charm. Make a reservation for Trivia Night on Tuesdays, or stop by on Fridays for Bacon Happy Hour to enjoy some complementary bacon with your cocktail. Order the OAK Spiked Tea, made with Tito’s vodka, Milagro silver tequila, Broker’s gin, Captain Morgan spiced rum, Bulleit rye bourbon, mint, homemade sour, honey and a splash of sweet tea — it’s a fun twist on a classic Long Island.
15 SE 1st Ave. #3 Gainesville, FL 32601
Photography by Erica Brough