The place: Gecko’s Grill & Pub, 4870 S. Tamiami Trail at The Landings, Sarasota; open seven days; (941) 923-8896.
The fare: Pub grub done very well.
The drill: We like the big horseshoe bar for both drinks and food. A seat there gives you a good view of the whole place, including most of the 15 television screens (which are tuned mainly to sports) and the bartenders are friendly pros who know how to treat customers right. There also are tables inside and on a patio where smoking is permitted. Gecko’s is a friendly neighborhood sort of place where families are welcome.
The bottom line: Drop in for a pint and a bite between 4 and 7 p.m. any day of the week and escape for less than $25 for two when you stick with the basics of bar cuisine. A big fresh, fat and juicy cheeseburger (mine was done punctiliously medium rare, as ordered) topped with a choice of cheeses (make mine Swiss) goes for $7.59, excellent fries included. Ten meaty Buffalo-style chicken wings with ranch or blue cheese dressing and celery sticks fetch the same price. Pair your wings with a side of yummy mini potato pancakes with sour cream for dipping ($1.99) and you have a satisfying light meal. Wash it all down with a pint of good beer (Stella Artois for me, Newcastle Brown Ale for Colette) at $2.50 a pop and you’re home and happy with barely a dent in your wallet.
An editor, writer and online publisher, John Bancroft has reviewed restaurants, books, movies and music for many magazines, Web sites and newspapers, most recently for the St. Petersburg Times.