7 Best Restaurants in Sarasota, The Tampa Bay Area

Bijou Garden Café

$$$$ Fodor's choice

This 1920s-era gas-station-turned-restaurant has been enlarged and is decorated to evoke a European café—think French windows and doors, sparkling glassware, bouquets of fresh flowers, and the soft glow of candlelight. Lunches feature inspired soups, salads, or sandwiches, such as the pesto chicken salad croissant; dinners emphasize local produce and sustainable seafood.

1287 1st St., Sarasota, FL, 34236, USA
941-366–8111
Known For
  • Contemporary takes on traditional dishes
  • Chef-created seasonal menus
  • Pre- or post-show dining
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: No lunch. Closed Sun. and Mon.

Boca

$$$

One of four locations, this regional chain fits right into downtown's hopping dining and shopping scene. The menu is as locally inspired as it gets—from the catch of the day courtesy of local fishing boats to the fresh herbs that literally grow on the walls here. The zucchini fries are a crowd-pleaser as an appetizer, and the Florida pink shrimp and grits is a spicy entrée that can only be done right in the coastal South. For drinks, you'll find everything from locally made kombucha and fresh-pressed juices to local craft beers and signature cocktails.

Michael's on East

$$$$

Not only do the lounge and piano bar, with their extensive wines and vintage cocktails, lure the after-theater set, but inspired cuisine and superior service also entice. Dinner fare ranges from pompano sautéed with Gulf shrimp, tomatoes, and fresh herbs to pan-roasted chicken breast with anise-scented sweet potato puree. There's also an ever-evolving menu of creative desserts. Inside its Midtown Plaza shopping center location, you'll find a decor similar to New York's better bistros of the 1930s and '40s, but there is plenty of veranda seating for enjoying Sarasota's balmy weather.

1212 East Ave. S, Sarasota, FL, 34239, USA
941-366–0007
Known For
  • Large menu of seafood and meat dishes
  • Extensive wine list
  • Supper club atmosphere with piano bar
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Closed Sun.

Recommended Fodor's Video

Owen's Fish Camp

$$

Amid the shade of banyan trees in the hip Burns Court district, a 1923 cottage has been converted into a casual restaurant that serves quintessentially Southern fare (though the menu is not geographically limited). Dishes emphasize locally caught seafood, with everything from a shrimp-and-oyster po'boy with bacon to chicken-fried lobster tail. Takeaway "jars" offered include smoked fish spread with saltines, fried pickles, and boiled peanuts. Note: there can often be a wait, so get here early because you can't reserve a table.

516 Burns Ct., Sarasota, FL, 34236, USA
941-951–6936
Known For
  • Fresh oysters
  • Charming setting
  • No reservations and occasionally long waits
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: No lunch, Reservations not accepted

Shore

$$$

If you're a sucker for midcentury modern flair, the aesthetic alone at this partially open-air St. Armand's Circle spot is a draw. But the food, whether you're in the mood for the St. Louis "Jenga" ribs or roasted cauliflower and quinoa, is the true enticement, especially when paired with the right local brew served on tap. This place is upstairs from a trendy (and surprisingly pricey) clothing boutique of the same name and owners, so keep that in mind while you navigate the busy surroundings in search of a meal. Bonus: this place gets extra points for the retractable roof in its back dining area.

The Old Salty Dog

$$$

A menu of steamer and raw-bar options supplements such much-enjoyed favorites as quarter-pound hot dogs, fish-and-chips, wings, and burgers—and early birds can catch breakfast here, too. With views of New Pass between Longboat and Lido keys, this is a popular stop for locals and visitors en route from Mote Aquarium and the adjoining bay-front park. The open-air dining area is comfortable even in summer, thanks to a pleasant breeze. Its bar is shaped from the hull of an old boat. There are two additional branches on Siesta Key and Venice Island.

1601 Ken Thompson Pkwy., Sarasota, FL, 34236, USA
941-388–4311
Known For
  • Oysters and raw bar
  • Hot dogs, burgers, and sandwiches
  • Outdoor dining and sunset views
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Reservations not accepted

Yoder's

$$

Lines for meals stretch well beyond the hostess podium at this family restaurant in the heart of Sarasota's Amish community. Although pies—key lime, egg custard, banana cream, peanut butter, strawberry rhubarb, and others—are the main event, other dishes are tasty, too, including such daily specials as goulash, chicken and dumplings, and pulled smoked pork. For breakfast, choose from French toast stuffed with cream cheese (or Oreos) or a hearty stack of pancakes. Sandwiches include Manhattans (roast beef, turkey, or meat loaf on homemade bread with mashed potatoes and gravy). The place is often crowded, but there's plenty of waitstaff to keep tables clean and cleared, so the flow is steady. The decor retains its Old Florida efficiency appearance.