The Best Restaurants in Sarasota, Florida (and nearby)!
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An hour south of Tampa, Florida you’ll find Sarasota, the home to many unbelievable white sand beaches and a number of terrific dining establishments, especially when it comes to seafood! After living in Sarasota for a little while and then moving back in 2021, we always enjoy finding new favorite places to eat so we decided to compile a list of the best restaurants in Sarasota and surrounding areas. So stop and enjoy all the delicious dining options this amazing area has to offer!
The Best Restaurants in Sarasota for Breakfast & Brunch
Maple Street Biscuit Company
Maple Street Biscuit Company actually has a few locations but it started in Jacksonville, Florida and it’s so popular I had to put it on the list! Maple Street Biscuit Company has fresh biscuits made every day and house-made jams and jellies, paired with a number of great menu items. We decided to start with some of their cinnamon biscuits glazed with frosting which tasted like a cinnamon bun in biscuit form!
For our biscuit sandwiches, we decided to get the Sticky Maple which is made with fried chicken, pecan wood smoked bacon, and topped with maple syrup in between their famous flaky biscuit. The second biscuit sandwich we ordered was the Sticky Goat which is made with fried chicken, fried goat cheese, and house-made pepper jelly. Both were so yummy!
Location: 8491 Cooper Creek Blvd # 107, University Park // MAP
Hours: 7am-2pm daily
We’ve become huge fans of Der Dutchman for their inexpensive, yet wide variety buffet full of all the breakfast comfort foods. It’s also the perfect place for a large family gathering which is why we typically visit them once a year with Logan’s family while they are in Sarasota during the winter. If you don’t have time to go to their breakfast buffet you can order off the regular menu at lunch and dinner time.
Aside from the breakfast buffet, let’s talk about donuts… you need to try the orange frosted cake donut. Two words: LIFE CHANGING! Especially if you love orange-flavored anything. But be aware they are seasonal so you might only be able to get them in the winter months. Regardless, the rest of their donuts are melt in your mouth good too.
Location: 3713 Bahia Vista St, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: Restaurant & Bakery: November–April, Monday–Thursday: 6am–8pm Friday–Saturday: 6am–9pm
Summer Hours: May – October, Monday–Saturday: 7am–8pm, Closed Sunday
The Blue Dolphin Cafe
The Blue Dolphin Cafe is a small breakfast and lunch spot located on St. Armand’s Circle which makes it super convenient if you happen to be relaxing at Lido Beach that day. Some of the food was on par with any regular breakfast spot but the prices and customizable menu make it unique and the location makes it one of the best restaurants in Sarasota for breakfast. While their french toast was yummy, I think I’ll be going for the waffle piled high with fresh fruit next time! A few recommendations I have for Blue Dolphin Cafe are the two egg breakfast, smoked salmon platter, or the fresh fruit waffle (it just looks so good!).
Address: 470 John Ringling Blvd, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: 7am-2pm daily
The Donut Experiment
While it may be a short distance away from Sarasota, this colorful and eccentric shop is well worth the drive to Anna Maria Island. At The Donut Experiment, you can customize your own hot, cake donut dipped in the icing of your choice and finished off with a terrific topping! I’m pretty picky about donuts, it might be because they’re one of my favorite things, but if you enjoy cake donuts I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised here not to mention the experience is fun too!
Our creations from left to right: TOP- Coconut Flaked chocolate glazed, Reese’s Pieces Chocolate glazed, Salted Caramel. BOTTOM- Oreo Crumble Chocolate glazed, Fruity Pebbles strawberry glazed, Reese’s Puff with peanut butter drizzle chocolate glazed.
Location: 210c Pine Ave, Anna Maria // MAP
Hours: 7am-1pm daily
Five-O Donut Co.
So, I know I know, another donut place. But Five-O Donuts is the best of the best! These soft and fluffy yeast and cake donuts can be found in a variety of traditional flavors like chocolate glazed, blueberry, and sprinkle. But where it’s really at is their specialty donuts.
Normally I’m not a big fan of donuts that have a lot of extra sweet things added on top but Five-O does it perfectly. They are sweet but not so heavy and sweet that you’ll be left in a sugar buzz all day. The cookie monster donut is my personal favorite. It has oreo crumbles and cookie dough bites on top. But the strawberry cheesecake, muddy buddy, and Peanut Butter Butterfinger.
Location: 2241 Ringling Blvd, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: Monday-Friday 7am-1pm, Saturday & Sunday 8am-1pm (closes when sold out)
Toasted Mango Cafe
Go crazy for mango everything at this choice for one of the best restaurants in Sarasota! But hey, even if you’re not a fan of mangos, Toasted Mango has a variety of lunch entrees and breakfast is served all day. The wait can be long, but the food here is fresh and nothing less than terrific. I personally have enjoyed the Toasted Mango waffle, Eggs Benedict, and their smoothies are also delicious.
Location: 430 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota // MAP (additional location on Midnight Pass)
Hours: 8am-2pm daily
If you’re looking for a great spot for brunch Station 400 has great breakfast and lunch options. Not only do they have an expansive menu for their brunch but also for their mimosas! I recommend the Blood Orange Hibiscus Mimosa. I ordered the crabby patty which had a lump crabcake, sauteed spinach, red peppers, spicy aioli sauce, and topped with a fried egg and a side of hash browns.
Logan decided to go the lunch route and ordered the grilled cheese that came with chicken and spicy aioli and a side of gouda mac & cheese. Want a bit of sweet and savory for your breakfast? Substitute your toast in a breakfast entree for one of their specialty pancakes like the blackberry lemon curd or cinnamon roll.
Location: 400 N Lemon Ave, Sarasota // MAP
The Best Fast Food Restaurants in Sarasota
Alright, before you ask, PDQ stands for “People Dedicated to Quality.” Kind of cheesy sure, but their food is great. PDQ blurs the lines between fast food and fast-casual and has many locations all over Florida, including a few in the Sarasota area.
The owners wanted to create a fast-food restaurant that had quality ingredients you can feel good about feeding to your family. All sauces are made from scratch and every chicken tender is hand-breaded. No freezing and cooking later and you can taste the difference. You can even find a list of their partners on their website so you know where they are getting their items from.
I think my favorite thing to order at PDQ is the Honey Butter Chicken Sandwich which comes with waffle fries and a drink. You can also upgrade your drink to a milkshake! Logan and I like to share their peanut butter shake. If you’re looking for something a bit lighter, their salads are great too!
P.S. Don’t mind that I went through the drive-thru and took this photo of my food while sitting in the back of a rental car before heading back to the beach, those seagulls are vicious mmk?
Location: 5164 S Tamiami Trail, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: 11am-9pm daily
Everywhere I live or travel to I’m always on the look for good food trucks and I was excited to find one relatively close to where we live! Fire Tacos has a number of yummy dishes including burritos, chimichangas, and of course a variety of tacos. We can’t seem to make it time to get their birria tacos but really enjoyed the chicken, shrimp, carne asada, and al pastor. In addition to tacos, we ordered some elote in a cup which was perfect for sharing!
Location: 886 S Packinghouse Rd, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: Monday-Friday 10am-6pm, Saturday 10am-4pm, Closed Sundays
Gyro’s & Seafood Express
One of the most quirky fast-food restaurants in Sarasota is Gyros & Seafood Express. When you pull up to the menu or pop inside to order you’ll notice menu items like Philly cheesesteaks, burgers, shrimp scampi, and gyros. I will say, this place has some mixed reviews on some of their menu items but if you stick to the gyros you’ll get a decent, inexpensive meal! I also ordered the fried shrimp and they were pretty good for the price too!
Location: 918 N Washington Blvd, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 10am-12am, Friday & Saturday 10am-2am
Poppo’s Taqueria is a fast-casual restaurant that has tacos inspired by Mexican cuisine and street food from San Francisco’s Mission District. Everything is made to order (kind of like chipotle) with fresh ingredients like ancho chicken, carnitas, Morita steak, tempeh, and a variety of vegetables. Even the tortillas are hand-pressed! If you like soda be sure to try one of their craft sodas or get a kombucha!
Location: 4990 S Tamiami Trail, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: 11am-8pm daily
Another fast food or fast-casual restaurant we like in Sarasota is Tijuana Flats which has Tex-Mex type dishes and a wall of hot sauce perfect for those who want to add a little spice to their meal. We typically order the Tijuana Trio to share which has chips, salsa, queso, and guacamole aka the best of the best. Every time we eat here I always kick myself that we don’t split an entree because I eat my weight in chips but the entree portions are pretty massive. My favorites are the Chicken Taquitos which are perfect for sharing and the Burrito Bowl. I’ve ordered the burrito bowl with chicken and vegetarian (just beans) before and it’s great both ways!
Location: 3404 Clark Rd, Sarasota // MAP (Multiple locations in Sarasota)
Hours: Sunday 11am-9pm, Monday-Saturday 11am-10pm
READ MORE: Travel Guide: Sarasota Attractions
The Best Casual Restaurants in Sarasota
This is by far one of our favorite local restaurants to visit and no, not just for their daiquiris! Daiquiri Deck has an amazing happy hour and a large variety of fresh seafood but there are also many menu items for those who aren’t a fan of seafood. There are many locations around Sarasota which also makes this hotspot convenient. If you’re wanting to visit a novelty restaurant, Daiquiri Deck is worth it!
We’ve honestly never had anything bad here so it’s hard to pick a favorite item. We definitely love their fresh catch of the day items (especially the blackened grouper), any selection of their oysters, the lobster fondue, and the cajun creole pasta! As for drinks you say? Our favorite daiquiris have been the banana slider, mango-lada, and voodoo love shake.
Location: 1250 Stickney Point Rd, Siesta Key // MAP (A few other locations available)
Hours: Sunday-Saturday 11am-10pm
Origin Craft Beer & Pizza
If you are looking for a new late night local pizza joint then try Origin Craft Beer & Pizza which has three locations in Sarasota. We really like their wings in the “trifecta” sauce and their strombolli is terrific! But of course, their pizzas are my favorite menu item. The Palmer Sting is which is a vegetarian pizza with a garlic olive oil base, goat cheese, spinach, arugula, sun-dried tomato on cauliflower crust. Now I’m pretty picky about cauliflower crust and this one is the best of the best! You won’t even know it’s made from cauliflower.
Location: 1837 Hillview St, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11am-1am, Friday & Saturday 11am-2am
J.R.’s Old Packinghouse Cafe
Another hole-in-the-wall favorite, J.R.’s Old Packinghouse has live music 6 days a week that will make you tap your feet. This fun, informal restaurant offers a blend of southern style and Cuban style food. Looking for something more basic? They’ve been named “best burger in Sarasota” so that’s something to talk about too! Fan favorites include the Cuban or Basa Sandwiches, fillet, or any selection of appetizers.
Location: 987 S Packinghouse Rd, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: Monday-Thursday 11am-9pm, Friday & Saturday 11am-10pm, Closed Sundays
Libby’s Neighborhood Brasserie
Libby’s Neighborhood Brasserie is one of my favorite places to eat in Sarasota for lunch. They have great lunch specials and a wonderful happy hour that lasts all day on Mondays & Tuesdays and from 2pm-6pm on Wednesdays-Fridays. One of my favorites to order for lunch is the half sandwich and soup or salad. In addition to sandwiches they also have pastas and other mains like steak, ribs, fish, and chicken.
Location: 1917 S Osprey Ave, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11am-9pm, Friday & Saturday 11am-10pm
Similar to Der Dutchman, we have enjoyed visiting Yoder’s Restaurant a few times for dinner but especially for their dessert and the famous Peanut Butter Pie. In fact, Logan’s grandma loved this pie so much over the years she coaxed the ingredients out of them and perfected it herself. HAHA! At this best restaurant in Sarasota, you’ll find a terrific casual spot with Amish comfort food like their famous fried chicken, chicken and dumplings, and of course, don’t leave without getting a slab of the peanut butter pie.
Location: 3434 Bahia Vista St, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: Monday-Thursday: 6am-8pm, Friday & Saturday: 6am-9pm, Closed Sundays
Located a little north of Sarasota, Starfish Company started as a wholesale fish market then opened as a small, dockside restaurant serving the locally fresh caught fish that is still sold in their market daily. The entree items are prepared simply – fried, grilled, blackened, or sauteed. I love the blacked Red Snapper or Grouper (Florida favorites) with a side of cheese grits or fries. Make sure you save room for a slice of their perfectly tart Key Lime Pie!
Note that Starfish Company is cash only but there is an ATM at the restaurant if you need to get some cash.
Location: 12306 46th Ave W, Cortez // MAP
Hours: Sunday & Monday 11:30am-3pm, Tuesday-Saturday 11:30am-8pm
Tikka Indian Cuisine
Tikka Indian Cuisine is located just south of Sarasota in Venice, but don’t let a short drive away stop you from dining here. It’s absolutely worth the short trek! Tikka Indian Cuisine features a wide variety of authentic Indian cuisine that is full of delicious flavors and spices. When we first arrived we were served complimentary papadam with a variety of chutneys including mint, tamarind, and onion.
For entrees, we ordered the Tandoori Chicken which is chicken marinated in yogurt, spices, and herbs then cooked in a tandoor oven and served on a bed of onions and peppers with Tikka sauce on the side. The chicken was so tender and tasty! We also ordered the Chicken Korma which is a mild, creamy almond and cashew flavored with nutmeg, coriander, and cumin and served with basmati rice. Of course, we also had to order some naan on the side to enjoy with our curry.
For dessert, our waitress recommended getting the gulab jamun pie which is a combination of two different desserts gulab jamun, a mild-based solid dessert dipped in rose water and sugar that originated from Iran but has since become a widely popular dessert in India. The second part of the dessert is made with pie crust and filled with custard.
Location: 525A U.S. 41 Bypass N, Venice // MAP
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 11am-8:30pm, Closed Mondays
Gilligan’s Island Grill
Conveniently located near Siesta Key Beach, Gilligan’s is a fun Tiki bar with live music and great food! It’s honestly the restaurant ambiance you probably think of when picturing a place to dine near the beaches of Florida. The world-famous fries are everything you dreamed of as a child and offer a variety of curly, crinkle, and regular fries. To be honest, I’ve considered just ordering the fries to-go because sometimes you just want it all. But I also really liked their fish tacos with a mango salsa verde and coconut shrimp.
Location: 5253 Ocean Blvd, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: 11am-2am daily
You might be wondering why we’re adding yet another tiki bar restaurant to this list of the best restaurants in Sarasota and I’ll tell you, it’s because of the clam chowder. Captain Curt’s is well-known for its world-famous clam chowder and live music. Like Gilligan’s Island Grill, it is also located near Siesta Key Beach making it a great place to grab lunch or dinner after a day at the beach. In addition to their clam chowder, I recommend getting the Gulf Grouper Filets or Mahi Mahi fish tacos.
Location: 1200 Old Stickney Point Rd, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: Sunday-Wednesday 11am-12am, Thursday 11am-10pm, Friday & Saturday 11am-11pm
Ever since we moved back to the U.S. from Japan we’ve been searching for Japanese restaurants that offer more authentic Japanese food everywhere we travel. Surprisingly it’s difficult to find unless you’re in states like New York or California. But Kiyoshi’s Sushi is one of the closest we’ve found as far as authenticity and quality goes. They do have some menu items that are more “Americanized” but we can’t wait to go back soon.
The tempura is perfectly battered and crisp and the sushi rolls are phenomenal, but what we were most excited about was the Nigiri Sushi, specifically the Maguro or Tuna. We’ve tried nigiri at a number of other restaurants in the states but it just isn’t the same as it is in Japan, but Kiyoshi’s Sushi was pretty darn close!
Location: 6550 Gateway Ave, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday 5:30pm-9pm, Friday & Saturday 5:30pm-9:30pm, Closed Sunday & Monday
Star Thai & Sushi
Star Thai & Sushi is another restaurant we love in Sarasota because it is always delicious and has a large menu of Thai and Japanese dishes as well as an ample sushi menu. I personally like the Japanese Tempura, Tuna Tataki, or anything off the curry menu. The restaurant is huge by Sarasota standards, but be sure to call ahead to make your wait time shorter. They’re especially busy on nights they have live music.
Location: 240 Avenida Madera, Siesta Key // MAP
Hours: 12pm-11pm daily, closed Tuesdays
If you’re looking for delicious Vietnamese food Pho Cali is the place to go anytime I’m not in Sarasota I have cravings for this restaurant. The expansive menu caters to many dietary or food restrictions and it’s a great place to try something new. This restaurant is ALWAYS bumping and it’s for a good reason, but we’ve never found it hard to get a table or had to wait too long. I have a number of favorites here but my top choices so far are the Tom Yum Soup (which is traditionally a Thai dish), Coconut Lemongrass Chicken, and ordering a Vietnamese Ice Coffee to-go.
Location: 1578 Main St, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: Monday-Thursday 11am-9pm, Friday & Saturday 11am-9:30pm (closed 4-5pm), Closed Sundays
Screaming Goat Taqueria
Screaming Goat Taqueria is a laid-back Latin Street Food restaurant near Siesta Key that has a variety of tacos and many vegan and vegetarian options. Logan and I got six different tacos to try for varieties sake and every single one knocked it out of the park with flavor, texture, and combination. We ordered the Curried Sweet Potato (vegan), Masa Dusted Cauliflower (vegetarian), Pork Cochinita Pibil, Pollo Asado, Beef Barbacoa, and Braised Beef. All of their tacos are priced al la carte, but they do offer lunch specials daily. If you aren’t in the mood for tacos they also have burritos, salads, and a number of delicious sides.
Location: 6606 Superior Ave, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: 11am-8pm daily, Closed Sundays
Bohemios Tapas Bar
One of our most recent favorite places to eat in Sarasota is Bohemios Tapas Bar. The meaning of the name Bohemios is the practice of an unconventional lifestyle, often in the company of like-minded people with few permanent ties often involving musical, artistic, literary, or spiritual pursuits. So once you enter the doors you are sure to lose your worries and enjoy the hospitality of this tapas bar.
Although Bohemios specializes in tapas, a variety of small plates in Spanish cuisine, they serve a number of entrees perfect for sharing after some tapas as well as a wide selection of beer and wine. I highly recommend getting the house sangria (ordering the pitcher is the best bargain!) or allow Ronaldo, the owner, to recommend a wine pairing. On our first visit, we couldn’t decide what to order because we wanted to try a little of everything.
Lucky for us, we found out that they have a few tapas platters that come with an array of different tapas. We ordered the Bohemios Tapas Mix which is perfect for two people to share as a meal or as an appetizer for a larger party. It comes with tequeños, empanadas, fried calamari, Mediterranean bruschetta, smoked salmon bruschetta, a variety of meats and cheeses with two sauces for dipping.
On weekends depending on the season you can also enjoy live music as well as dancing which typically starts after 8pm so be sure to get there early to secure a seat!
Location: 3246 Clark Rd, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: Monday-Thursday 4pm-10pm, Friday & Saturday 4pm-12am, Closed Sundays
After shopping downstairs at their clothing store, you should definitely head upstairs to enjoy a meal at the Shore restaurant. We’ve only been there for a late lunch but were blown away by the freshness of the ingredients. Every single thing we ordered was fabulous from the small plates to the main dishes. On Sundays, they have brunch – which we’ve never been to but it looks FANTASTIC so I’m definitely adding that to my to-do list. I suggest the Shrimp & Mango Ceviche, Maryland Lump Crab Cake, and the Miso Marinated Black Grouper.
Location: 465 John Ringling Blvd #200, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: Sunday 10am-10pm, Monday-Thursday 11am-10pm, Friday & Saturday 11am-11pm
Owen’s Fish Camp
If you’ve ever been to Sarasota you’ve probably heard of Owen’s Fish Camp. It is a well-established and well-known seafood restaurant near the downtown Sarasota area that features many Southern classics, fresh seafood, and a fabulous craft beer and wine collection. They don’t take reservations so no matter when you go, it’s going to be busy so be prepared to wait – but it will be worth it! But if you want to try to beat the crowds I suggest going right before they open at 4pm on a weekday and eating an early dinner.
For starters get the Oysters Rockefeller, Maryland Spiced Peel ‘n Eat Shrimp, and/or the Mini Lobster Rolls which are SO delicious. For mains, the pan-fried lump crab cakes are some of the best we’ve ever had and they always have such a nice selection of fresh-caught fish including scamp grouper and red snapper which comes with two of their specialty sides like cheesy grits, succotash, and spicy collard greens.
Location: 516 Burns Ct #7030, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 4pm-9:30pm, Friday & Saturday 4pm-10:30pm
Phillippi Creek Oyster Bar
Holy buckets of seafood! Phillippi Creek is a casual oyster bar and seafood restaurant but also boasts a great waterfront view (perfect for sunset!). Phillippi Creek is also one of the best Sarasota restaurants to accommodate larger parties and definitely has you covered when it comes to their large menu. I personally like their crab cakes, au gratin dishes (the baby Maine lobster tails were delicious), but don’t forget to ask about their specials like the Seafood Boat that is big enough for 2-3 people and comes with crab, lobster, shrimp, mussels, and a variety of other sides.
Location: 5353 S Tamiami Trail, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11am-10pm, Friday & Saturday 11am-10:30pm
One night we were craving pizza and decided to check out Francesco’s which is a local New York-style Pizzeria and Italian restaurant serving pizza and pasta entrees. But after we arrived we saw the pasta entrees that others had ordered so we decided to go that route instead and were not disappointed! At Francesco’s, they pride themselves on providing their patrons with fresh ingredients cooked to order never reheating dishes so be prepared that you might wait a little extra time to be served your food, but I have no doubt you’ll see it was worth it.
We really enjoyed the Tortellini Pana Prosciutto which is cheese tortellini sauteed with prosciutto ham & peas in a creamy Alfredo sauce. We also liked the Bowtie Special which was bowtie pasta sauteed in a pink sauce with portobello mushrooms and onion. Since we didn’t get pizza, I guess this just means we’ll have to go back to try it next time at Francesco’s!
Location: 3662 Webber St, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: Monday-Wednesday 4pm-9:30pm, Thursday-Saturday 4pm-10pm, Closed Sundays
Venezia Italian Restaurant
While many Italian restaurants can be overrated, Venezia offers homemade Italian fare like gnocchi, pizza, a large selection of wine, and other pasta dishes. I’ve ordered a number of different menu items from here but my favorites are probably the Homemade Gnocchi, Chicken Parmesan, or their pizzas. On a nice evening, ask to sit outside and watch as St. Armand’s Circle comes alive while enjoying a glass of wine.
Location: 373 St Armands Cir, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: 11am-10pm daily
The Sandbar Restaurant
The Sandbar Restaurant is a bit of a drive from Sarasota, but it has one-of-a-kind beachfront dining with a gorgeous view of Anna Maria Island. This is perfect for a romantic dinner or a casual lunch spot while on the beach. One of my favorite menu items, the Silver Queen Salad, has sadly been removed, but they do have other menu items I love that still remain like the Crispy Brussel Sprouts, Blackened Fish Tacos, and Sautéed Crab Cakes. I also recommend ordering the Blackberry Lemonade from their drink menu. It’s super refreshing!
Location: 100 Spring Ave, Anna Maria // MAP
Hours: Sunday: 10am-9pm, Monday-Thursday: 11:30am-9pm, Firday & Saturday: 11:30am-10pm
Tommy Bahama Restaurant
Another restaurant conveniently located at St. Armands Circle is Tommy Bahama. While Tommy Bahama has a few locations, it still offers excellent dining and sweeping sunset views. We frequently go for drinks, apps, and honestly, for their bread (no shame!). I really enjoy their Happy Hour which is daily from 3pm-6pm and recommend the Coconut Shrimp, Seared Scallop Sliders, and any of their well-crafted cocktails. After dinner stroll over to Lido Key Beach which is within walking distance from the restaurant and enjoy a cotton candy sunset.
Location: 300 John Ringling Blvd, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 11am-9pm, Friday & Saturday: 11am-10pm
One of the most unique places to eat in Sarasota is CMX CinéBistro! At CMX CinéBistro Siesta Key you can enjoy a full-service chef-crafted meal and handcrafted cocktail at your seat while watching a movie! Upon your arrival at CMX CinéBistro, you’ll purchase or show your pre-ordered tickets then be shown to your seat and given a menu to select drinks, dinner, and dessert. All of the menu items will come out during the previews of the movie so you can enjoy your meal while watching. After eating you can move your tray and kick back on the comfy reclining seats.
Some menu options change seasonally or are even created to go with a movie theme but everything we’ve had at CMX CinéBistro has been delicious. Our favorite entree has been the Crispy Chicken Bowl which had fried chicken bites in a red chili caramel sauce, pickled daikon, sliced jalapenos, and coconut jasmine rice garnished with sesame seeds, green onions, and cilantro. For desserts, the tropical cheesecake is delicious!
Tip: Make sure you arrive 30 minutes before showtime so you can order your food!
Location: 3501 S Tamiami Trail Suite 1100, Sarasota // MAP
The Best Restaurants in Sarasota for Fine Dining
Before I get started on the best restaurants in Sarasota for fine dining let me clarify that many of these you could also dine at casually for lunch or dinner too. But if you’re looking for a place that has a more romantic vibe, these can fit the bill.
Kojo is new to our favorite Sarasota restaurants and also relatively new to Sarasota and we are definitely adding it to the date night rotation. We first went to Kojo to celebrate Logan’s birthday and they brought out some complimentary champagne as well as a birthday card which I thought was a nice touch. But the food and service at Kojo were outstanding. We first ordered two of their specialty cocktails, the Midori Sour and the award-winning Mezcalero. Both were refreshing and crafted well.
After, we ordered the Karaage (Japanese fried chicken) Bao and the Spicy Tuna Roll per the recommendation of our waitress – both were delicious! Then we decided to go a bit “off-menu: and order omakase. Omakase is a Japanese phrase that means “I’ll leave it up to you.”
Since Logan and I both love sushi (and since it was his birthday) we thought this would be a great way to let the sushi chef decide. As I said, omakase is not technically on the menu at Kojo, so if you try to order this way you may be presented with some confusion from your waitstaff member. But if you’re wanting to splurge a bit and try a little of everything off the sushi menu you can ask them to give you a variety of nigiri and sashimi.
In our order, we got Big Eye Tuna sashimi, Torched Salmon Nigiri, Bluefin Toro Nigiri, Madai Nigiri, and Hamachi Sashimi to finish. Each plate had two pieces of either sashimi or nigiri sushi which were perfect for both of us to have a tasting. Now I wouldn’t say that we are sushi connoisseurs but since we’ve spent a lot of time in Japan we know good, authentic Japanese sushi when we find it. As I said in my earlier review of Kiyoshi Sushi, it can be really hard to find in the United States because many sushi restaurants focus on “Americanized” sushi rolls and don’t have high-quality fish. But Kojo hit the mark in terms of flavor and freshness.
Nigiri is one of the traditional ways of eating sushi in Japan and it typically is made up of rice, a dash of wasabi, and a piece of thinly sliced fish or other seafood. Kojo took nigiri sushi and added a few extra elements for taste but they weren’t overpowering and you could still taste the delicate flavors of the fish. Although we enjoyed all of our sushi, our favorites were the torched salmon nigiri, madai nigiri (a special), and the bigeye tuna.
We were left feeling really full but decided to make the most out of this dining experience and order dessert too! While many of the dessert items were appealing, we decided to get kakigori (Japanese shave ice) which came with coconut milk, strawberry and yuzu puree, strawberry sorbet, and topped with crispy feuilletine (crepes).
In Japan, kakigori is enjoyed during the summer and is typically made with very finely shaved ice. While the shave ice at Kojo wasn’t as finely shaved as others we’ve had in Japan or in Hawaii, the texture was still terrific and the flavors of strawberry and coconut were decadent together. Next time we’re at Kojo we’re definitely trying the matcha donut holes!
Location: 1289 N Palm Ave, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: Sunday 11am-11pm, Monday-Thursday 5pm-11pm, Friday 5pm-12am, Saturday 11am-12am
Crab & Fin
Crab & Fin is another favorite seafood restaurant in Sarasota. It’s an open-air lunch and dinner spot on St. Armand’s Circle (there’s also dining space inside if you’d prefer that too). They are well-known for their raw bar of carefully selected fresh oysters, clams, crab, and caviar so if you’re a fan of fresh seafood you’ll definitely want to add Crab & Fin to your list.
Make sure to get there early as it tends to get busy during prime lunchtime and dinner times. I always love ordering the Baked Brie Almondine as a starter to share and the Baby Gulf Shrimp Pasta which has a light lemony sauce but be sure to check out their menu because their dishes tend to rotate by season.
Location: 420 St. Armands Cir, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: Sunday 11am-9pm, Monday-Thursday 11:30am-9pm, Friday & Saturday 11:30am-10pm
Michael’s on East
We first went to Michael’s on East during Savor Sarasota Restaurant Week and were so impressed we are already planning to go back many times. Michael’s on East has been in Sarasota since 1987 and offers fine dining in a 1940s supper club atmosphere making it perfect for a romantic dinner or business meal.
Throughout the years, Michael’s on East has won a number of awards including 28 consecutive AAA Four-Diamond Awards, and was one of only ten restaurants in the nation to be inducted into the 2009 Nation’s Restaurant News Fine Dining Hall of Fame (think the Oscars of the restaurant industry). It’s safe to say that your experience at Michael’s is sure to be one of the best.
Michael’s on East is also known for its exceptional service and hospitality, our waitress, who has been with Michael’s for many years, was incredibly knowledgeable about everything on the menu, the history of the restaurant, and is even a sommelier so she was able to recommend different wines to us. I personally loved the 2018 “Route 116” RouteStock Cellars Pinot Noir from Sonoma.
Since we visited Michael’s on East during Savor Sarasota we had a pre-fixe menu with different items to choose from for starters, entrees, and dessert. But some of the items we had are also on their regular dinner menu so you can try them too! In addition to their regular dinner menu, they also offer a monthly pre-fixe menu year-round that features different dishes inspired by cuisine around the world. So if you’re wanting a similar experience to what we had at Savor Sarasota or if you want to try something new, ask about that when you visit!
Logan and I decided to order different menu items off the Savor Sarasota menu so we could try a wider variety and we both agreed that everything was sublime. We first started with the blue crab, roasted tomato, and jalapeno bisque and the slow-roasted pork tacos al pastor.
For our entrees, we decided to get the New England baked cod with crispy cracker crumbs in a lemon caper butter sauce and the thyme and garlic confit leg of duck which had roasted pearl onions, cherry tomatoes, butternut squash, and rainbow swiss chard. Normally cod doesn’t have a lot of flavor but this was rich, buttery, and delicious and Logan and I both agreed the duck was exceptionally well prepared.
For desserts, we had the tres leches cake with strawberry sauce and dulce de leche drizzle and the flourless chocolate cake with fresh berries. All of their pastries are made fresh daily by their restaurant pastry chef which is something that is typically found in larger cities.
During your meal, you’ll have the opportunity to listen to the house pianist perform different songs which is a nice touch to an already romantic ambiance. Although the piano is being played, the restaurant remains quiet enough to have a conversation, and all of the seating, whether table or booth, is very comfortable. If you prefer to eat outside, they have a fabulous patio area covered in twinkly lights and greenery still giving that romantic setting.
You’ll never feel rushed at Michael’s on East so prepare to stay and enjoy the full dining experience. I recommend making a reservation at least a few days in advance.
Location: 1212 S East Ave, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday 5pm-10pm, Friday & Saturday 5pm-11pm
Complimentary valet available
If you’re looking for something a bit more eclectic in Sarasota, let me introduce you to méLange. The word mélange means “a mixture of items” and this is definitely something you’ll find at this unique restaurant. MéLange explores different flavors, textures, and foods from all different cuisines around the world creating a melody of flavors and cuisines.
Logan and I visited méLange during Savor Sarasota Restaurant Week which I briefly mentioned above in my review of Michael’s on East. During Savor Sarasota participating restaurants offer pre-fixe menus that typically come with a starter, entree, and dessert or house cocktail or wine.
Once again, Logan and I decided to combine forces and order different menu items so we could try a variety of dishes. But let’s be honest, is there even another way of ordering? For starters, I ordered the bruschetta which was made with house-grilled focaccia, heirloom tomatoes, panna cotta, cucumber basil, and balsamic.
The ingredients were incredibly fresh and I have to say, I think that this is one of the best bruschettas I’ve ever had. Logan ordered the rangoon which was filled with crab and cream cheese and had a guava habanero dipping sauce that I truly want to bottle and have at home.
For our entrees, Logan ordered the beef short ribs which is one of the most well-known dishes at méLange. The short ribs are served with a sake hoisin sauce, fennel puree, whipped potatoes, and crispy spinach adding to the decadence of this rich entree. If you are looking for fall of the bone, tender short ribs then you definitely need to order them from méLange.
For my entree, I ordered the wild sole which came with a yuzu beurre blanc (cream sauce), pineapple salsa, summer squash, and roasted chickpeas. The flavors of this dish were delicate but still had a ton of flavor. The pineapple salsa was a terrific way to bring out the flavors of the sole.
Since we knew we wanted to come back to visit Pangea Alchemy Lab, méLange’s cocktail bar we decided to order dessert for our third course. We ordered the vanilla lavender creme brulee which had a dash of orange liqueur and was topped with fresh berries and a wonton crisp. I recently have started making creme brulee at home because I guess you could say I’m a wannabe pastry chef and so now whenever I see it on a dessert menu I have to try it out. Both Logan and I love lavender-flavored anything and this dessert had the perfect amount without it being overpowering.
Logan ordered the flourless chocolate cake which came with an amaretto mousse, raspberries, and a smoky chocolate ice cream. Now let me tell you, I have tried A LOT of ice cream flavors. I mean, I even have a whole article on Japanese ice cream flavors that I tried while in Japan, but this chocolate ice cream was one of the most unique flavors I’ve had thus far.
You initially taste the smokiness of the ice cream, then it moves to the rich chocolate flavor, and gradually moves back to the smoky flavor. The best way I can describe it is if you let your chocolate ice cream hang out next to a campfire for a few hours. It was wildly interesting and delicious so if you happen to see it on their menu when you go, try it out!
Their menu does change seasonally in order to use the freshest ingredients from local farmers and environmentally conscious businesses so some of the menu items I’ve listed may change but regardless of what you order at méLange you’re bound to have a wonderful dining experience.
Location: 1568 Main St, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: Wednesday-Sunday 5:30pm-10pm, Closed Monday & Tuesday
At Duval’s, you’ll find some of the freshest local seafood that Sarasota has to offer! All of their fish, seafood, and other ingredients are sourced from local fishers and farmers. While Duval’s doesn’t have a large menu what they do have, they do very well. In fact, they have a number of accolades and awards to their name including Sarasota’s Best Seafood (6 years in a row), Best All-Around Restaurant (3 years in a row), and many more.
For starters, I recommend trying the Caribbean Crab & Shrimp Cakes which are filled with lump crab and tender shrimp and served with a spicy chipotle remoulade. Then for entrees, the seasonal fresh catch options are always a great choice. I personally love the fresh-caught grouper prepared blackened with pico de gallo. But if you want to splurge a bit more try the Duval’s Seafood Sampler which comes with a lobster tail, shrimp, and scallops grilled, over roasted potatoes, spinach, garlic, & onions.
Location: 1435 Main St, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11am-10pm, Friday & Saturday 11am-11pm
Connors Steak & Seafood
Connors Steak & Seafood specializes in aged steaks and fresh seafood in a beautiful setting with terrific service and is located just minutes from some of the best beaches in Sarasota. Although Connors is a great place to enjoy a romantic dinner it has a fabulous, affordable lunch menu that is offered daily until 4pm.
The Lobster Crab Bisque is really creamy and has rich chunks of lobster and crab. For lunch entrees, I recommend the Spicy Fish Tacos with grilled mahi mahi with pineapple chipotle salsa or the Prime Rib Sandwich with hand-carved slow-roasted prime rib and au jus. I also enjoyed the Grilled Rainbow Trout with cous cous and Pineapple Chipotle Salsa.
The Best Restaurants in Sarasota for Dessert
Kilwins has quickly started spreading across the U.S. and we are thankful for that! It is a nice place to stop and get a sweet treat, especially after a day on the beach or to escape the summer heat. I swear something about seeing the fudge being made in the window, alongside the heavenly smells of chocolate, drags you into the store and has you ordering and leaving with your treat before you even knew what hit you!
I am an ice cream gal, so I love many of their rotating flavors but Salted Caramel, Kilwin’s Tracks, Double Peanut Butter Pie, and Toasted Coconut are some of my favorites. If you’re a chocolate person I recommend the Peanut Butter Buckeyes if you can get your hands on them, they sell out quickly!
Location: 312 John Ringling Blvd, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 11am–11pm, Friday & Saturday: 11am–11:30pm
If you thought I was going to stop with the ice cream at Kilwin’s well… prepare yourself. Settimi’s Gelato, also located on St. Armand’s Circle is a place we always stop at while in Sarasota. Once I stopped there twice within four days. Although we’ve never had gelato in Italy, we love the creamy texture and sharp flavors of each gelato that they have to offer. If you aren’t sure what flavor to get don’t worry, they offer samples every day. But our favorites are the Stracciatella which is a milk-based gelato with Belgian chocolate, Nocciola – think Ferrero Rocher but in gelato form, and Cappuccino which has rich, Italian espresso and chocolate.
Location: 367 St Armands Cir, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: 10:30am-10:30pm daily
The Best Coffee Shops in Sarasota
Perq Coffee Bar
I first visited Perq Coffee Bar when Logan and I lived in Sarasota, it has a unique environment and is perfect for those wanting to relax with friends or work from somewhere other than home (which was the case for me). They bring in locally produced goods and have terrific hand-crafted lattes including specialty lattes like Matcha.
Address: 1821 Hillview St, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: Monday-Friday 8am-2pm, Saturday 8am-12pm, Closed Sundays
Breweries & Distilleries in (or near) Sarasota
Yuengling Brewery Tour
The Yuengling Brewery Tour is located in Tampa, Florida (about an hour from Sarasota) and is a 45-60 min free tour of America’s Oldest Brewery. They produce a cool, crisp beer that is only available in some southern and east coast states. Although it is a bit of a drive, it is a great activity for adults on a rainy day in Sarasota which does happen pretty often!
FYI: you must wear closed-toed shoes during the tour for safety purposes.
Location: 11111 N 30th St, Tampa // MAP
Tour Times: Monday-Friday: 10am, 11:30am, & 1pm, Saturday: 10:30am & 12pm
Drum Circle Distillery
Located in Sarasota, Drum Circle Distillery offers 50-60 minute free tours of Siesta Key Rum. Not to mention you will also be given free samples and the option of buying a bottle of your favorite flavor. Be sure to schedule your tour on their website and arrive early to check-in!
Location: 2212 Industrial Blvd, Sarasota // MAP
Tour Times: Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday: 12:30pm, 2pm, & 3:30pm
Cost: Tours are free but reservations are required
Which of these best restaurants in Sarasota would make the top of your list?