The Best Restaurants in Sarasota, Florida (and nearby)!
An hour south of Tampa, Florida you’ll find Sarasota, the home to many unbelievable white sand beaches and a number of terrific restaurants, especially when it comes to seafood! After living in Sarasota for a little while during Logan’s residency rotations 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, Bradenton, and other surrounding areas. So stop and enjoy all the delicious local 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.
We love the Sticky Maple which is made with fried chicken, pecan wood smoked bacon, and topped with maple syrup in between their famous flaky biscuit. Another favorite of ours is the Sticky Goat which is made with fried chicken, fried goat cheese, and house-made pepper jelly.
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! I love these donuts so much I always ask when they’ll be back and the last I heard, March is their current start time. But they’re always changing the season for them so if you do find them, send me a message, and be excited that you found a unicorn! Regardless, the rest of the 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
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 and Eggs Benedict. 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. One of my favorites is the crabby patty which has a lump crabcake, sauteed spinach, red peppers, spicy aioli sauce and topped with a fried egg and a side of hash browns.
The last time we were there 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
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 brunch but were blown away by the freshness of the ingredients. Every single thing we ordered was fabulous but my favorite was the crab cake eggs benedict. We are definitely interested in returning for lunch or dinner sometime soon.
Location: 465 John Ringling Blvd #200, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: Sunday 10am-10pm, Monday-Thursday 11am-10pm, Friday & Saturday 11am-11pm
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 or the Spicy Chicken Sandwich which I think tastes better than the spicy chicken sandwich from another well-known chicken chain. 😉 You can also upgrade your drink to a milkshake if you wish! Logan and I like to share their peanut butter shake from time to time. If you’re looking for something a bit lighter, their salads are great too!
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 enjoy the chicken, shrimp, carne asada, and al pastor. In addition to tacos, we ordered some of what they have on the menu as “corn in a cup” which is basically elote but off the cob. It is 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 more 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’ve 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-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 Taquitos which are perfect for sharing and the Burrito Bowl. I’ve ordered the burrito bowl with grilled shrimp, chicken, and vegetarian (just beans) before and it’s great all ways!
Location: 3404 Clark Rd, Sarasota // MAP (Multiple locations in Sarasota)
Hours: Sunday 11am-9pm, Monday-Saturday 11am-10pm
Alright so Floridians might either roll their eyes or be completely psyched about this addition but I couldn’t NOT include getting a Publix sub sandwich aka “pub-sub” in this Sarasota restaurant guide because it’s a Florida staple! Of course, you can get a veggie, turkey, ham, or whatever your choice of lunch meat is for your pub-sub but you can also get a fried chicken tender sandwich with buffalo sauce which always hits the spot. I love getting a pub-sub and a Publix lemonade and taking it with me to the beach!
Morton’s Gourmet Market
Another grocery store deli option is Morton’s Gourmet Market which has been a Sarasota staple since 1969. While they are primarily a gourmet grocery store, they have great grab-and-go options for lunch like sandwiches, salads, and other sides but also a case with deli options like pasta salad, chicken salad, paninis, pizza, and more. Morton’s is another place that I enjoy going to for lunch items to take to the beach.
Location: 1924 S Osprey Ave, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: Sunday 10am-7pm, Monday-Saturday 8am-8pm
Kim’s Oriental Food & Gifts
Okay, ONE MORE grocery store recommendation that’s great for grabbing a quick lunch is Kim’s Oriental Food & Gifts. This is my go-to spot to grab homemade kimchi and other ingredients Logan and I use for cooking but on Saturdays, they serve delicious Korean comfort foods like Japchae and mandu in either vegan or pork options.
Location: 2212 Gulf Gate Dr, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: 10am-5pm daily, closed Sundays
READ MORE: Travel Guide: Sarasota Attractions
The Best Casual Restaurants in Sarasota
This is by far one of our favorite touristy local restaurants to visit and no, not just for their daiquiris! Daiquiri Deck has an amazing happy hour and a large variety of 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
Atmosphere is a small, authentic Italian restaurant that has fabulous pizza, daily specials, and delicious Italian desserts. Let me start by saying, I loved Atmosphere so much that after my first visit I told everyone I knew about it. On this visit, we arrived about 10 minutes prior to opening and saw a short line had already formed which is when Logan and I promptly decided to join the queue because we weren’t about to miss out on whatever was in store for us.
Once they opened, we were warmly greeted by the owners, Jay and Antonio, who are truly the kindest people. Since it was our first time, Jay took extra care to explain the menu and even ask us more about ourselves. We went back and forth on what we wanted to order because everything looked wonderful and ultimately settled on the Four Cheese and Calabria Spicy pizzas.
Although both use seemingly simple ingredients, it is the quality of the ingredients that makes a difference. Not to mention, you can tell that Antonio puts his heart and soul into everything he makes. With all of this together, they’ve created the best pizza in Sarasota. A claim I stand by considering, I haven’t stopped thinking about it and would go back every week if I could.
Location: 935 N Beneva Rd unit 409, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: Sunday, Wednesday & Thursday 5pm-9pm, Friday & Saturday 4pm-10pm, Closed Mondays & Tuesdays
Origin Craft Beer & Pizza
If you are looking for a late-night local pizza joint then try Origin Craft Beer & Pizza which has a few locations in Sarasota. We really like their wings in the “trifecta” sauce and their stromboli is terrific! But of course, their pizzas are my favorite menu item and they have some truly unique ones. A favorite of mine is the Palmer Sting is which is a vegetarian pizza with a garlic olive oil base, goat cheese, spinach, arugula, and sun-dried tomato on a 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” before 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. I also recently had the Sante Fe Salad when I stopped by for lunch and it was terrific! Although it’s a place I usually go for lunch, it’s also a great dinner spot with more filling options 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 that 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 and 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 you first arrive you’ll be served complimentary papadam with a variety of chutneys including mint, tamarind, and onion.
For entrees, we love 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 is so tender and tasty! We also usually order a curry dish to share and the Chicken Korma is one of our favorites. It is a mild, creamy almond and cashew curry with nutmeg, coriander, and cumin and served with basmati rice. If you want more heat, they’re always happy to make it spicier if you ask when ordering (I do this a lot!). Of course, we also have to order some naan on the side to enjoy with our curry. My favorites are the traditional and garlic naan.
If you have room for dessert, try the gulab jamun pie which is a combination of two different desserts. Gulab jamun is a mild-based solid dessert dipped in rose water and sugar that originated in 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
L&L Hawaiian BBQ
L&L Hawaiian BBQ is a popular franchise that opened a location in Sarasota and we’re thrilled about it! L&L serves up a traditional Hawaiian plate lunch with a ton of different protein options including barbecue chicken, chicken katsu (fried chicken), kalua pork, and more (but those are our favorites!). Don’t forget to get a scoop of Mac Salad for a side too!
Location: 5445 Fruitville Rd, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: 11am-8pm daily, closed Tuesdays
Gilligan’s Island Grill
Conveniently located near Siesta Key Beach, Gilligan’s is a fun Floridian-style restaurant and 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. Don’t miss the World-Famous Fries which are everything you dreamed of. They have 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 Florida-style 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 quality fish 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 dang good!
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 Thai 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 like sushi, allow me to introduce you to poke, that is if you haven’t had poke yet! Poke is a Hawaiian dish that now is typically raw fish with a variety of toppings on a bowl of rice. FushiPoke is a great place to get a fresh, delicious poke bowl in Sarasota. If you haven’t had poke before, FushiPoke makes it easy! Their menu has a build-your-own bowl option where you can pick your base, protein, and other toppings or you can get one of their favorite combinations if you don’t want to make as many decisions.
I personally like doing the build-your-own with half rice and half soba noodle salad, fresh Hawaiian tuna, and some spicy mayo and their traditional sauce with as many toppings as my bowl can handle. Gimme allllllll the furikake, cucumber kimchi, pickled daikon, seaweed salad, and tempura flakes.
If you don’t want tuna or salmon for your poke bowl you can also get kalua pork, grilled chicken, grilled shrimp, or sesame tofu (vegan). But they also have ramen, steam buns, and other menu items to choose from.
Location: 128 N Orange Ave, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: 11am-8:30pm daily
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
One of Sarasota’s newer restaurants is Kore Steakhouse, a terrific place to enjoy Korean BBQ. When you first walk in you’ll be seated at a table with a built-in BBQ grill and enjoy samples of yummy banchan, Korean side dishes like kimchi, pickled radish, Korean egg salad, cucumbers, and more. Don’t worry if you run out, you can always order larger portions of your favorites for only $2 each.
Although they have an a la carte menu, I recommend trying one of their tasting menus for your first time so you can enjoy a little of everything. When we first went we enjoyed the Chef’s Choice menu which came with green onion salad, cheese corn, and Korean fried chicken for starters followed by pork collar, chicken breast, galbi, NY strip, and bulgogi. If you like seafood I also recommend the marinated shrimp. Now that we’ve been to Kore a few times we typically order off the al la carte menu to pick our favorites!
Location: 1561 Lakefront Dr #111, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: Monday-Friday 11:30am-2:15pm, 5pm-9:15pm, Saturday & Sunday 12pm-9:45pm
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’ve 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
Almazónica Cervecería & Peruvian Eatery
Almazónica Cervecería & Peruvian Eatery is a unique restaurant in Sarasota that is also a small batch cerveceria where each beer is carefully developed to pair perfectly with the chef-driven Peruvian dishes. Speaking of, Chef Santa Maria is the founder of Darwin Brewing Co. and Selva Grill, two of our other favorite local spots in Sarasota!
We first visited Almazónica Cervecería & Peruvian Eatery around happy hour and we honestly ate so many delicious starters that we didn’t have room for main entrees! The oven-roasted pork taco and tempura asparagus taco were both terrific, the plantain chips and guacamole were definitely a favorite (I could eat my weight in the plantain chips!), and the wings were perfectly tender with a sweet and savory sauce that had a bit of spice.
Of course, they have many different kinds of ceviche on their menu which is great for sharing but on their happy hour menu, you can get the shrimp ceviche which has orange and lime juices to make it a bit sweeter.
Location: 4141 S Tamiami Trail Suite #16, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 4pm-10pm, Closed Sunday & Monday
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, and au gratin dishes (the little Maine lobster tails were delicious), but don’t forget to ask about their specials like the Seafood Boat which 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
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
READ MORE: Fun Things to Do on Anna Maria Island
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’ve gone 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.
TIP: Make sure you arrive 30 minutes before showtime so you can order your food!
Location: 3501 S Tamiami Trail Suite 1100, Sarasota // MAP
Brick’s Smoked Meats
Since living in a few cities known for some of the best barbecue in the country we’ve had a hard time finding good barbecue in Florida. In fact, there’s even a running joke that the further north you head in Florida the more southern the barbecue gets. While Brick’s Smoked Meats doesn’t completely compare to BBQ from Kansas City, Memphis, or Texas, it is pretty dang tasty and the closest we’ve found so far!
For starters, I highly recommend the smoked wings which are absolutely delicious and covered perfectly in their house barbecue sauce. As for entrees, the prime brisket and pulled pork entrees are two of the most popular options but if you aren’t wanting traditional barbecue then the bacon burnt end tacos or the southern fried catfish are great alternatives!
Location: 1528 State St, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11am-10pm, Friday 11am-11pm, Saturday 10am-11pm
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.
Sage had been on our list to visit for quite some time before we ever went and my only disappointment is that I didn’t go much sooner. When you first arrive you’ll notice that the restaurant is located in a historic building downtown. This building was the original location for the Sarasota Times and was designed in 1925 by Dwight James Baum, the same architect who designed the Ringling Mansion.
The inside is equally impressive and I can say with confidence that it is easily one of the most beautiful restaurants in Sarasota. Award-winning chef, Christopher Covelli, is the mastermind behind all of the dishes at Sage where the menu changes seasonally providing guests with the best quality ingredients paired in unique ways.
Of course, we had to try a variety of menu items on our first visit from starters to main dishes to desserts, and not one bite was left over. Since the menu does change seasonally you most likely won’t experience the same thing twice but every dish we’ve had at Sage has left us impressed. In addition, they have a fabulous wine selection for those who are interested.
During our first experience at Sage, we shared a few starters. The first was the Heirloom Tomato Napoleon which had layers of perfectly ripe heirloom tomato, puff pastry, basil pesto, goat cheese mousse, and balsamic. Then we ordered the lobster bisque with fresh seafood which was a mellow and creamy soup with delicious chunks of seafood. The last starter was my favorite from this menu, the zucchini blossoms which were stuffed with mirepoix (a mixture of aromatic chopped vegetables and spices) over a curry honey yogurt. It was bursting with flavor and absolutely delicious.
For the main dishes, we decided to try the Agnolotti Pasta which was stuffed with Parmigiano Reggiano, Emmentaler, wild mushrooms, and swiss chard topped with a sunflower seed gremolata. It had great flavor and texture! The second entree we ordered was the Steamed Hake which is a white, flaky fish. It was steamed in a banana leaf and served with cilantro chutney, roasted tomatoes, and turmeric rice.
After all that we still decided to order dessert because we couldn’t pass it up! The warm berry cobbler consisted of raspberry, blackberry, and blueberry compote with a cinnamon oat streusel and a seasonal sorbet. We also are big fans of crème brûlée so we ordered that too. The flavors change frequently but this is a menu staple. We happened to get lavender crème brûlée which happens to be one of our favorites!
After your meal be sure to take the elevator or stairs to the rooftop bar where you can have a nice view of downtown Sarasota and get a mocktail or cocktail for buy one get one by showing your meal receipt.
Location: 1216 1st St, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday 5pm-10pm, Friday & Saturday 5pm-11pm, Closed Sunday and Monday
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, freshness, and traditional presentation with the added tropical flair of Florida with the flowers.
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’ve been back a few more times. Michael’s on East has been in Sarasota since 1987 and offers fine dining in a 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 first 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 is 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.
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 recommend 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, even though it is simple, I think that this is one of the best bruschettas I’ve ever had. Logan and I also like 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 entrees, we recommend 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.
Another entree we recommend is the wild sole which comes 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 on our first visit and save the nightcap for another day. 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 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.
We also ordered the flourless chocolate cake which might have been a seasonal special, but if it is on the menu, it comes 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
I mentioned Almazónica Cervecería & Peruvian Eatery earlier but another great Peruvian restaurant in Sarasota is Selva! Selva serves up delicious Latin American dishes with a special emphasis on the influences of Asian immigrants on Peruvian cuisine.
Of course, you have to start with some ceviche! If you are dining with a group I recommend getting a couple to share so you can try different ones to find your favorite. So far we’ve tried the Maya Shrimp Ceviche and Selva Wild Ceviche.
The Maya Shrimp Ceviche has shrimp marinated in orange juice, lime, and achiote then tossed with avocado, tomato, red onion & Cusco corn. I found it to be a bit too sweet for me but I did like the combination of sweet and sour with a bit of acid. The Selva Wild Ceviche is more traditional and has fresh seasonal white fish with lime, onion, cilantro, Cusco corn & roasted sweet potato garnish.
For entrees, we recommend the Malbec Braised Short Ribs which are slow-braised with a sweet demi-glace and served with Israeli curry couscous and roasted asparagus. Another dish I’ve enjoyed is the Salmon Chileno which has a jumbo lump crab and manchego topping and is served with jasmine rice and roasted bell pepper tamale then finished with mango beurre monte. The flavors are downright incredible! Although next time I am wanting to try the whole fried snapper!
Location: 1345 Main St, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 5pm-11pm, Friday & Saturday 5pm-1am
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 couscous and Pineapple Chipotle Salsa.
Ophelia’s on the Bay
Ophelia’s on the Bay is perhaps one of the most romantic restaurants in Sarasota. When you walk into the restaurant the first thing you’ll notice is the fabulous view of Little Sarasota Bay. To make your dining experience extra special, I recommend booking a table outside so you can sit by the water and enjoy the sunset as you eat your meal. If you’re lucky, you might even get to see some dolphins or manatees while you eat!
But besides the stunning ambiance, Ophelia’s on the Bay has a globally inspired menu featuring the fresh ingredients found in Florida and flown in from other notable places. A few starters I’d recommend are Crispy Rock Shrimp, Jumbo Lump Blue Crab Cakes, or the Baked Stuffed Bon Secour Oysters.
For an entree, I highly recommend the Yellowtail which is tun tataki seared extra rare with apricot, eel, and ginger infused yuzu ponzu sauces, wakame salad, cucumber kimchi, and Maine lobster tail fried jasmine rice. The flavors of this are honestly a party!
If you’re in the mood for a cocktail before, during, or after your meal my personal favorites are the Caramelized Banana Old Fashion or the Smokey Monk (a mezcal cocktail). In addition, I recommend saving room for dessert because Ophelia’s on the Bay has their own dedicated pastry chef and their key lime pie is DIVINE.
Location: 9105 Midnight Pass Rd, Sarasota // MAP
Hours: 5pm-10pm daily
READ MORE: The Best Sarasota Desserts
Which of these best restaurants in Sarasota would make the top of your list?