March 25, 2015

Sarasota is known for its beaches, its arts and culture and its wealth, for sure–but it’s also a fantastic place to find a really good meal, and people love to talk about food. So today I thought I’d share my current favorite restaurants (along with a couple of honorable mentions) in case you’re planning a visit and looking for someplace great to eat.

Owen’s Fish Camp. Located in an adorable space in Burns Court, next to Burns Court Cinemas, Owen’s Fish Camp is one part kitsch and one part delicious food. You’ll probably have to wait for a table, so grab a drink and enjoy it in the “back yard” (where there’s often live music); then, once you’re seated, start with the smoked fish spread and take your pick from any of the entrees on the seafood-heavy menu–they’re all good. (My favorites are the lobster Cobb salad, the crispy fish sandwich with salty fries and the shrimp and grits.)

Piccolo’s Italian Deli. My friend and colleague introduced me to this family-run Italian spot and I’m so glad, because the food is fantastic–especially the sandwiches. Any of the parms–chicken, meatball or eggplant–are amazing, but the other sandwiches are equally good, served on fresh-baked bread and stuffed with toppings.

Indigenous. This is, hands-down, my favorite restaurant in town. The chef has been nominated for multiple James Beard awards, but the food isn’t incredibly fancy–it’s just good, with a decidedly local, seasonal spin. Last time I was there, I got the evening’s special–red snapper–and I still think about it; for picky eaters like R., there’s also a delicious burger that comes with potatoes sautéed in duck fat. Yum. (Bonus: the location, in downtown’s Towles Court, is adorable.)

Station 400. There’s a weird dearth of breakfast places in Sarasota, but Station 400 makes up for that with its delicious selection of pancakes, eggs and waffles. The ricotta pancakes with lemon curd and blackberries are a must, but if you’re gluten-free or trying to watch your carbs, the omelets are awesome, as well. (That top photo is from this place, in fact.)

Tide Tables. Another thing there’s a dearth of here–despite the city being Gulf of Mexico-adjacent–is good waterfront dining, which is why the half hour-ish trip up Longboat Key to this place–especially during golden hour–is 100 percent worth it. It serves some of the freshest seafood around (some of which you’ll see being cleaned on docks nearby), and is totally casual and charming. Just pick whatever looks good to you and get a tropical drink or frothy beer to go with it; you can’t go wrong here.

Honorable mentions: Starfish Company (get the grouper sandwich and fall in love with the water views), Pino’s (get the spaghetti carbonara and don’t think twice about the calories–also, be prepared for a slightly, ahem, older crowd), The Table Creekside (beautiful location and delicious, beautifully presented food and cocktails), Polpo Pizza Co. (the truck is worth seeking out–trust me; order the Bee Sting) and Brick’s BBQ (at the downtown farmer’s market on Saturdays–best brisket around).

Hope this helps if you’re planning a visit here! Locals, did I miss anyone?

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