Is there anything more quintessentially Sarasota than a grouper sandwich on a perfect spring day? We don’t think so—so we made it our mission to find the best one in town. Here are the results, with help from our 5,800-plus Facebook fans and judges: food blogger Megan Greenberg, food writer Abby Weingarten and associate editor Hannah Wallace.
BEST OVERALL: Dry Dock Restaurant. Just what you want in a grouper sandwich: a thick, flaky grouper fillet, blackened and served on a soft roll with a side of French fries. The kicker, though? The intensely flavorful sweet chili cilantro sauce that came on the side. Don’t miss it.
MOST SOPHISTICATED: Phillippi Creek Oyster Bar. Yup, we were a little shocked ourselves, but this was by far the fanciest grouper sandwich of the bunch, served blackened and topped with Key lime mustard, avocado and fresh lettuce and tomato.
BEST TEXTURE: Walt’s Fish Market. There’s nothing worse than a paper-thin piece of fish on your sandwich, is there? Luckily, you won’t have to worry about that at Walt’s, where the friendly staff will serve you a fresh piece of fish that’s thick and flaky—just what you think of when you hear the words “grouper sandwich.”
BEST CLASSIC: Star Fish Company Market. This tiny Cortez restaurant has been in the national news lately, and there’s good reason for that: The grouper sandwich here was insanely fresh, simply grilled and served no-frills style in an unassuming white box.
BEST SEASONING: The Sandbar. We all raved about the blackening seasoning on The Sandbar’s grouper sandwich—it stood out from the first bite, but didn’t overpower the flavor of the fresh fish and was mild enough for kids to enjoy, too.Bonus? The view of the sparkling Gulf of Mexico as our backdrop.