Titi’s Café located at 1232 West University Avenue may be the only place in town where you can grab a smoothie, eat delicious Vietnamese dishes, enjoy some really great gelato, listen to 80’s music, and sit on Jetsons-inspired patio furniture. This is a small eatery that offers a little bit of everything, or as Titi herself says, “everything that I like.” Luckily for all of us, Titi likes some pretty good stuff.
If she looks familiar, you may recognize her from Chopstix, the Pan-Asian local eatery that her family has owned for many moons. A little over six months ago, she ventured out on her own, opening her café next to the Holiday Inn on University Avenue and BillyBobz BBQ. Pretty ballsy if you ask me, considering the popular Bagels & Noodles is located just two doors away. But if you like that place (*coughcough* overrated *coughcough*), you should try this place out. Seriously, I don’t understand the obsession.
The smoothies are gluten free and vegan for those who are conscious of this. Some of the highlights include an Avocado Colada (avocado, banana, coconut milk, vanilla, and agave), the “Go Green” (spinach, green apple, cucumber, agave, and soy milk), and the “Mango Tango” (strawberry, banana, pineapple, mango). All of which are $5.75 for a small or $6.75 for a large, extras like bee pollen, goji berries, wheat grass, and protein powder can be added for $2 each. There are Boba Teas in various flavors like lychee, pineapple, and jasmine tea are available at $4 for a small and $5 for a large. Coffee, espressos, affogato (espresso with gelato), lattes, and frappuccinos are available. Try my favorite, the Vietnamese Iced Coffee (coffee with condensed milk).
But now we must talk about the food. The Banh Mi sandwiches here are solid, and make the ones at Pho Hanoi look like tubes of sadness. There is a variety to choose from, all are $5 or $6, and all come on tasty toasted baguettes. If you’re not familiar, a Banh Mi is a sandwich that usually contains cucumbers, pickled daikon carrots, cilantro, and jalapenos with a choice of protein. You can thank French colonization in Vietnam for its existence. Roasted lemon pepper chicken, shredded pork, pork skin, honey sausage, and roast duck are all options for your sandwiches. Don’t worry vegetarians, you can also choose from tofu, tempeh, or seitan as well. In the words of a trusted friend, “it’s the most refreshing sandwich you’ll ever eat.”
Like their neighbors, Titi’s also offers a breakfast menu too, albeit much smaller. It’s mostly croissants or baguettes with your choice of swiss cheese, pate, nutella, egg & swiss, or ham inside. But they also have a Gelato Belgian Waffle with fruit. Yes, a warm Belgian waffle…topped with gelato and fruit…give to me.
There’s also a handful of traditional Vietnamese dishes to choose from, including the ever-so-popular bowl of pho, and they do it very well. You have a choice of beef, chicken, meatballs, or veggies-only served “just like the way I grew up eating it” in Titi’s own words. If you’re in a hurry, you can pick up a Bahn Bao (pork or veggies with an egg and noodles in a bun) to go. You’ll also find a bone-in lemongrass chicken curry, and two dishes you won’t find next door; Thit Kho, which may be the most hearty bowl of soup in all of Gainesville, contains big chunks of fatty braised ham hock, two hard-boiled eggs, and peppery cilantro and onion goodness atop rice or rice noodles. Then there’s also my personal favorite, Bo Kho, a Vietnamese beef stew that contains big chunks of beef, tripe, and tendon cooked until they are ultra tender in a tomato and lemongrass base. All of which are about $8 a bowl, and I would recommend any of them.
But whatever you order, make sure you save room for the best gelato in town. Yeah I said it, better than the stuff you find at Gelato Company and with more variety too. All of Titi’s gelatos are specially made for them by an Italian family that appears to know what they’re doing. The ever-rotating lineup of flavors includes pistachio, coconut, hazelnut, coffee, mascarpone, and more. My personal favorite is the custard. It’s every bit the creamy, rich treat that you’d expect of gelato. Prices range from $4.25 for a small to $6.25 for a large and $4.75 for a cone. Seriously, you have to eat this gelato.
Parking is a bit of a pain, as the spots behind the building are limited. If you go on evenings, you can usually find parking along University Avenue. But if you’re on campus, it’s a short walk away. Titi’s is open Sunday through Thursday from 11 AM to midnight, and until 1 AM on Friday and Saturday. Check it out!