Thursday, April 23, 2009

Food: UF Plaza Restaurants' Lunch Review-a-rama

There's a piece of extremely high-value real estate right across from the UF campus - the UF Plaza strip mall. The peculiar thing about the UF Plaza is that only a dozen or so vehicles can fit inside the strip mall's parking lot at a time. Due to the limited parking space, the tenants consist mainly of restaurants that cater to the student lunch crowd that walks in from campus. Here's some of the eateries you'll find there:

The Copper Monkey Restaurant & Pub

These guys are supposedly famous for their burgers, although I think the New Deal Cafe still serves up better ones. It's essentially a laid-back sports bar serving average sports bar-type food, sort of like "Gator City Sports Grill" downstairs (except that The Copper Monkey doesn't turn into a thumping club at nighttime).

My burger and fries were good, a little greasy, but not really remarkable. For those inclined there was, however, an ample selection of beer, including Guinness on tap (w00t!). The place is cozy, for lack of a better term, so I can see why it's lasted so long in the fickle restaurant market. I imagine it'd be a great place to unwind after class.

Rating: 2/4 stars

Relish Big Tasty Burgers

This is a relatively new fast food place that adjoins the Pita Pit on the bottom floor (they seem to share the same parent company, too, though I couldn't find any link to them on the Pita Pit site). The shtick here is that you can put all sorts of junk on your burger, like hummus.

In terms of value, I think Relish is the clear winner out of all the restaurants on the plaza. The burgers are cooked fresh (no steam trays or microwaving to my knowledge), a big step up from the Godawful patties they foist on you at McDonald's and Burger King. A half-pound burger with drink and side item will set you back around $7, which isn't too bad.

Rating: 2/4 stars

Designer Greens

An example of a nascent franchise arrangement (the first Designer Greens is located in UCF). You choose the ingredients you want on your salad, and they toss it for you. There are plenty of interesting options, including Granny Smith apples, artichokes, and goat cheese. The $7 "full" salad lets you choose five ingredients to top a spring mix or romaine base.

I think the salads are a little overpriced, but the portions are fairly large, at least. It's a lot cheaper to just make your own salad, of course, but the ability to constantly mix and match ingredients and dressings (like chipotle lime or strawberry vinaigrette) is convenient and helps to avoid boredom if you're on a diet. One caveat - like with most restaurant salads, you should order dressing on the side unless you like your greens soaking in oil.

Rating: 2/4 stars


At 12:26 PM, Blogger susan mcpeek said...

Are gift cards availble?


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