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Reggae Shack Cafe

  • Veg-friendly Veg-friendly
    ( 28 reviews )
Contact 352-377-5464

619 W University Ave, Gainesville, Florida, USA, 32601

Serves meat, vegan options available. All foods imported fresh from Jamaica; about 11 vegan dishes on menu; large portions and special (green) plates for vegans; try the veggie stew peas and curried hearts of palm. Restaurant is about Jamaican life, culture and flavor. Open Mon-Sun 11:00am-10:00pm.

Category: Vegan-friendly, Take-out, Jamaican, Non-veg

Reviews (28)

First Review by rainfall2008

so good! - Edit

We ordered off the vegetarian menu and it was some of the best food we've got out. I had the curry seitan and my husband had Escoviech tofu, they both were marvelous! The plates are huge and filling and well priced. If we lived in Gainesville this would be our jam. Sadly we'll probably only come once a year.

Pros: choices, price, tasty

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My favorite in Gainesville. - Edit

The curry tempeh is it for me. I can't say that I have tried too many other items on the vegan menu because it is that good. The service has always been fast and friendly! The prices are very reasonable. I had a mango smoothie one time and it was wonderful. Just be sure to ask for the vegan version. I travel from Ocala on a regular basis just to get my fix.

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Awesome Jamaican with great vegan selections - Edit

I always hit Reggae Shack when in Gainesville. They have tons of vegan selections on the menu including sandwiches, entrees and smoothies. My favorite menu item is the tofu escovitch!! The tofu is fried and served with a spicy and tangy sauce over rice with peas and steamed cabbage. The steamed cabbage is soo good (I really need to figure out how to make it). The smoothies are great for tempering the spicy dishes but are huge so we always share one between two people. Portions are huge and you can easily share one dish and a smoothie and be satisfied.

Pros: Jamaican vegan selections, Huge portions

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This was one of the best restaurants I've ever been too. Amazing cultural food with tons of vegan options! Any meat menu item had a non-vegan counterpart. I got the Mackee bruschetta and the brown stewed tofu with the festival and it was SPECTACULAR to say the least. Huge portions so you definitely don't leave hungry no matter how big your appetite is. The vegan coconut cake for dessert was honestly the best cake I've ever had. Moist, delicious, and beautiful! Pretty inexpensive considering the amount of food you get, a great atmosphere, and our waitress was extremely nice, helpful, and all around awesome. YOU NEED TO GO!

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YUM! - Edit

This place is great- we also love Southern Charm (same owners). The portions are enormous and amazing I always have lunch for the following day! There are so many vegan options to choose from. It would be impossible for me to pick a favorite here, but the heaping pile of cabbage and rice that accompanies most dishes never disappoints! Oh yeah, the festivals are definitely a requirement.

Pros: Always delicious, Great service, Very friendly

Cons: very popular- can be tough to get in

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Great food! - Edit

We ordered tofu sandwiches--the brown tofu stew and tofu with jerk sauce. They were both delicious. Quick, friendly service.

My only complaint is the super loud music. It was hard to hear.

Hope we get to go back and try something else next time! Well worth the detour from 75.

Pros: Delicious food, Friendly wait staff

Cons: Loud music

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Mixed Review - Edit

Stopped by this place (we were traveling via I-75) based on the rave reviews on Happy Cow, Yelp, and Urbanspoon. The experience was so-so. While it was true that the Callaloo Bruschetta appetizer was delicious, I was disappointed with the Curry Seitan. It was not a curry dish, in my humble opinion, and it was much too sweet. Also, the Seitan was very dense. My spouse ordered the Vegan Steak and there was little difference in the sauce accompanying it and the curry sauce coating my dish. The Vegan Seitan was just as dense. We ordered some Festivals. They tasted like deep fried Jiffy Cornbread hush puppies - too sweet. Granted, if you like Jiffy products, you'll appreciate the Festivals. Overall, our meals were palatable; they just didn't measure up to the reviews. :(

Pros: Easy to find, Good portion sizes, Callaloo Bruschetta is delicious

Cons: Seitan too dense, Dishes too sweet

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There's a party in my mouth and everyone's invited - Edit

I was beyond happy with this place. Friendly wait staff, fun decor, and some of the best food I've ever had in my life! I got the curried tofu, which came with cabbage, sweet plantains, and rice and peas. I couldn't even finish the plate, so I didn't get to try the 2 vegan cakes they had on the menu. If I lived in Gainesville I'd probably eat here every day. Please go to this restaurant.

Pros: Colorful decor, Incredible food, The food, seriously, amazing.

Cons: Styrofoam to-go containers

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Jamaican me crazy! - Edit

I saw a billboard with the sign for this place. I did not find it through my happy cow app because for some reason when I'm in G-ville the locator only pulls up the same (only) one restaurant (a to go place). Anywho, it is in a good location and easy to find. I was surprised and pleased that I was greeted, seated, and given a first timer's menu presentation by a nice young man who assured me of my vegan concerns. Great service- I felt like I had 3 servers. They were busy but my food came out in a reasonable time. My appetizer was the Callaloo Bruschetta- freakin amazing. Don't hesitate if you like bruschetta, seriously. I ordered sweet green tea which was free refills thankfully because it was soo good I drank 3. (Yes, I know but I was starving & thirsty from a long day at school). For dinner I had the Escoviech Tofu. It was a hard choice since it all looked yummy but the tangy, sweet and spicy crispy tofu description got me. I swear I was so happy from the first bite. Generous portions and the flavors were just so genuine. I was surprised how much I enjoyed the plantains. I got a good African beer also. I have ventured out of my box since becoming vegan almost a year ago and am so excited to try new things. The other great thing is that this place is for everyone...herbi, omni, and carnivores. Great for me because I can bring my hubs next time. I brought him home Coco bread and my kids the festivals. Festivals FTW! I didn't really want to share they were so great. Reminded me of a krispy kreme type of goodness, but different. I was bummed, however that they did not have the 2 vegan desserts I was looking forward to (carrot cake and coconut cake). I bet they would've been awesome too...maybe next time. On a random note, they had Mrs. Meyers soap in the ladies room- bonus points :)

Pros: yummmmm, selection, location

Cons: out of vegan dessert

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soooo gooooood - Edit

The coconut festivals are AMAZING! their curry sauce was sweet and good, their seitan had a good texture. Our waitress was super nice & helpful. They also have vegan cake!!!!(coconut & carrot)

Pros: many veggi options, great service, vegan cake!

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first visit and going back - Edit

I live in Gainesville and font know any I didn't go sooner. My bf and I got the seitan sandwich and the callaloo with tempeh. The portions were huge and the sauces were lovely. Never have had Jamaican, being vegan relay limiting me before, but not at the shack, recommend it to vegans who able some sinfully delicious food.

Pros: huge portions, tasty, keep the vegan food away from animal foo

Cons: callaloo was a little oily

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Awesome!!!! - Edit

Fantastic selection of vegan dishes!!!
They all are great!!!
Smoothies are all amazing!!!
I love stopping here when I'm in Gainesville. It's worth the trip to get off the interstate on head into town.

Pros: Great vegan selection!!!, Staff are always wonderful!!, Vegan deserts too!

Cons: Only con. It's not 100% vegan., Can't rate it "5 cows"

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Delicious And Authentic - Edit

I have eaten here 3 times now and each time has been amazing. Their food is spicy and authentically Jamaican. They also have a great selection for vegans. I recommend the Callaloo Bruschetta, Tofu Escovietch and the Jerk Veggie Burger (VERY spicy).

Pros: Unique, Good Prices

Cons: Can Be Busy On Weekends

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Fantastic!. - Edit

We found this place while driving home from vacation. I spied a billboard that said "carribean and vegan food." Seriously? I don't think I've ever seen vegan food advertised on a billboard.
The staff were very friendly. The menu states that all vegetarian dishes are vegan.
We had pepper steak (seitan) and jerk tofu. The menu has a warning about the jerk, and our waiter warned us too.
It was ridiculously hot, but good. The seitan was the perfect texture and the sauce was incredible. I wanted to lick the plate.
The sides - rice and beans, cabbage, plantains - complimented the dishes perfectly.
Everyone was so friendly - we were still talking about the experience days later.
I wish I could give it 5 stars - maximum rating for non - veg restaurant is 4.

Pros: friendly, delicious and healthy, good music

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Worth the Drive - Edit

We saw this place on Happy Cow, but weren't going to go so far from the highway for a veg-friendly place. The night before we were burned by a veg-friendly that had taken most of the veg off the menu. But then we saw their billboard on the highway, and it said vegan, so we decided to try it, because when do you ever see billboards for vegan anything?
It was maybe fifteen minutes from the highway, but easy to find and well worth the drive.
I ordered three entrees because I couldn't decide - calaloo, tofu escoveitch and curried palm hearts. They were all delicious, as were the cabbage and plantain sides and even the rice. The food was salty, but not unbalanced. It was heavily spiced (though not very spicy, to me, though I like spice a lot) and well-spiced. The salt was high to balance and complement the spice. I'm not a salt person, but it was delicious and well-done.
The best thing, to me, was the staff. Everyone was happy, and they seemed to enjoy being at work. They were kind to each other - really kind and caring - and to everyone who walked in, from regulars to delivery men to first-time customers like me. It seems like the kind of place where drama and pettiness are not tolerated. I know that's a strange call to make, but it was really striking to me. When I left, the server who took my order (we took it to go) shook my hand and asked my name and everyone around wished me a good day - not canned, or like they had to, just like they were happy to pass along their good cheer. It was so nice to see in a college town where the kids are often "too cool" for niceties.
They had no gluten-free vegan desserts, but they did have vegan desserts and said that they sometimes have raw cheesecake.
Definitely try this place! LOTS of vegan options, knowledge of gluten-free, very tasty!
I think this place would have five cows if Happy Cow allowed five cow ratings for non-veg places.

Pros: FOOD, atmosphere, staff

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Tasty Tasty! - Edit

Everything I tasted was wonderful. A quick warning, the Jerk anything is really spicy if you're not up for that kind of thing.

Pros: Great food, Multiple Veg Choices, Jerk is really spicy!

Cons: Jerk is really spicy!

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I wanted to give it 5 stars - Edit

My husband and I are vegetarian. Whenever we go out of town, we make it a point to go through Gainesville on our way in or out just to have a meal at this place! OMG! The flavors and aromas are to LIVE for! We live 2 1/2 hours away but this little jewel is worth traveling for! LUV IT!! Staff is very friendly and service is great! They even searched through their stock until they found an unopened hot sauce that we wanted so we could buy it (even though they don't usually sell it). Try. U'll like! I wanted to give it 5 stars, but the max for NON Vegetarian restaurants is 4.

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Unique! Delicious! Sweet people! - Edit

Both times I've dined here have been the same; prompt seating, friendly and personable staff, amazing food (#1 Jerk Veggie Burger & #2 Vegan Steak Burger while my partner had #1 the Brown Stew Tofu then #2 the Brown Stew Tofu Burger) They arent using "Jerk" casually either. The owner actually came by our table to greet and ask about our experience. There is one negative to the situation...it's noticeably smokey in the dining room. It was like that both times.

Pros: Friendly service, Amazing menu, Fair portions

Cons: Smokey dining room

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I love jamacian food! - Edit

Too bad I don't live in Gainsville, if I did I would have to go here at least once a week! I can't say I've had alot of things on the menu but I have had the vegan steak, brown stew tofu and jerked tofu. Yes they say the jerked foods are insanely hot...I say yes but just barely tolerable, it's great. Everything I've had so far is amazing, the meals come with beans and rice, cabbage and some fried plantains. It all goes well together, I also usually get an order of dutty fries. I first thought they were covered in salt later I find out its sugar and it is unbelievably good, no condiments. I hope this place never moves!

Pros: many vegan options, amazing taste, real jamacian flavor

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Pass de duchy on de left hand side... - Edit

The first time I have ever seen the word VEGAN on a highway billboard in the US was the billboard on I-75 northbound for this restaurant. Even though it is not a vegan restaurant, the owners clearly understand what vegans want. Choice, taste, portions. Just like death eaters want. I had the vegan seitan steak sandwich, which was doused in a sweet, mildly spicy tomato based Jamaican sauce, whereas my hus had Jerk tofu, which came with rice and peas, and a side order of festival. The jerk is as hot and spicy as they warn you, so be prepared - it was f***ing ridiculously spicy. But both dishes were awesomely delicious. Prices were more than fair, and the service was great. Wort de trip, man...

Pros: Food, Price/Value, Service

Cons: It's in Gainesville, not near us!

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Consistently Delicious - Edit

This place serves great food. Nice atmosphere. Lots of vegan options. Perfect for lunch, a casual dinner or takeout. I can't stop eating the Curried Palm Hearts! So good!

Pros: large portions, Good sides, friendly staff

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Eat a festival right now. - Edit

They have an entire vegan section on the menu--you don't even have to skip over meaty dishes to find what you want. I had the Vegan Steak Sandwich (seitan), which came with fries ($9.50). It had good flavor without being too spicy (someone warned me that the Jerk Tofu was insanely hot, even if you like spice). I wasn't absolutely blown away with the sandwich, but it was good. We also ordered Festivals, which are "sweet tropical hush puppies." These are amazing and pretty good sized at $2 for 2 cakes. We actually went back the next day to get another order of Festivals. My friend had the Curry Palm Hearts ($8.25), which was amazingly delicious. I think I'd get that if we went back. It came with quite a bit of side offerings, so definitely a great price for what you're getting. They had vegan desserts, but we were too full to try any. This place just remodeled, and there is plenty of seating space now, and there are sweet reggae jams playing.

Pros: Festivals!, Good music

Cons: Sandwiches overpriced for what you get

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Delicious and filling! - Edit

I had the Veggie Mince Special, and it was excellent, and too big for me to finish (although not big enough for two, unless you want something small). All the meals come with rice, cabbage, and plantains. I don't like cabbage much, but this was good, and these were probably the best plantains I've had. My friend got the jerk tofu and it was very spicy, but really good if you can handle that much heat. He was told when he finished that next time he can ask for it "extra spicy". The 4 others I was with ordered non-vegan items, and they were all very happy. I got a slice of vegan carrot cake to go, and it was really good and well-spiced.

Pros: Great food, large portions, good selection

Cons: not super cheap

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just do it. - Edit

Everything is crazy good. The jerk tofu was too spicy to eat though, and I have never had anything too spicy. The veg mince meat is basically amazing.

Pros: service, super tastey, music

Cons: long wait, deadly jerk tofu

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great food, but be aware of spiciness - Edit

I had the vegan steak, which is seitan, and it is excellent! However, my friend had the jerk chicken and almost choked on its spiciness. They really pepper it up.
Don't try the vegan desserts: not a great selection.
Lots of good food for dinner though

Pros: excellent dinner, friendly staff, big portions

Cons: too spicy on some dishes, lack of great vegan desserts, not nice seating

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