Swimming Upstream: Where to Snag the Best Salmon in Gainesville

salmon gainesville

After negotiating hundreds of miles of open water, fending off bears, strong currents, and (most)  fishing nets, the humble salmon finally meets you on your dinner plate.  These fish are known for their long-distance migrations to and from the ocean, but the migration we are most concerned about at Grub is from fork to mouth.  

Health benefits abound, this oily fish packs a protein punch worthy of Arnold Schwarzenegger and overflows with Omega-3 fatty acids that help preserve your brain and heart.  If the additional perks of ample Vitamins D and B12 don’t sway you, the powerful taste just might.

Salmon is known for being a “fishy” fish, but it is easily craved when properly prepared – nothing can beat the savory, well-seasoned, sometimes smoky flavors.  Not every restaurant does it right, but with the help of this guide, you’ll know exactly where to ‘swim upstream’ toward the best salmon dishes in town.

Leonardo’s 706

salmon gainesville

Quality is the priority at this Gainesville favorite, which also doubles as a hip jazz joint on Mondays and Thursdays.  That’s what I call music to my ears.

The regal King Salmon at Leonardo’s 706 sits upon a throne of cherubic angel hair pasta and is crowned by a decadent dijon dill cream sauce.

The slightly crispy outer layer yields to a perfectly cooked, medium-rare center that will impress any food fanatic, and the restaurant’s pervading artistic ambiance ensures one classy evening.

Ballyhoo Grill

salmon gainesville

On a personal note, it was none other than Ballyhoo’s Cedar Plank Salmon that sparked my love affair with the fish that lasts to this day.

Just off Newberry Road, displaying a larger-than-life Tim Tebow-turned-Danny Wuerffel statue out front, Ballyhoo is known for being a Florida Gator hub that specializes in all foods from under the sea.

Most notably, their famous salmon dish is imbued with a smoky perfection accomplished only by oak-grilling fresh fish, and the charred plank on which it is served further enhances the visual effect.


salmon gainesville

An unassuming downtown eatery, Sababa offers a variety of Israeli cuisine, encompassing the best of Mediterranean cooking.  One of their über kosher entrees is the Moroccan Fish, which transports you to the Middle East after the first bite.

This salmon is baked in tomato sauce with onions and green peppers, topped with cilantro, and prepared with passion.  

The generous accompaniments, including pita, traditional salads, and a fresh side of the day, balance out one of the most colorful and scrumptious meals you can have on a paper plate.

Paramount Grill

salmon gainesville

If you desire a phenomenally flaky fish that moonlights as a true work of art, then look no further than Paramount Grill.  

This haute cuisine option is worth every penny as the chefs prepare each order with the utmost delicacy, amounting to an extraordinary and creative exchange of flavors from fresh ingredients.  Plus, the aesthetic presentation can prompt memorable, Instagram-worthy pictures.

Each salmon dish from all three menus is differentiated from the others thoughtfully, but I highly recommend the Sunday Brunch specialty that comes beautifully blackened and served with a fried green tomato, a perfectly poached egg, roasted potatoes, avocado, chipotle aioli, and garnished with dill.  


salmon gainesville

Now, it’s time to really mix things up.  The last delectable dish on the list hails from Pan-Asian specialty restaurant Ichiban Sushi.  But you wouldn’t think I’d recommend just any salmon sushi on the block, now would you?

A best-seller on the menu, the Aji-San sushi roll allows for a tremendous gustatory experience. This dish has it all: smoked eel, tuna, krab, banana, avocado, cream cheese, tamago (basically a Japanese omelette) . . . and all of these goodies are wrapped in succulent cooked salmon, transcending typical sushi by leaps and bounds.

The construction of this salmon dish is an impressive and multifaceted accomplishment in itself, and the fact that the blend actually tastes incredible takes it to another level.


A versatile source of health benefits and happiness, salmon should be on any fish-eater’s radar. Refer to these restaurants for the best in town, and eat up!  It’s salmon season.


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