Sarasota Restaurant News from Chef Judi Gallagher

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Chef Judi gets the scoop on what’s happening with Sarasota restaurants this month.

Happy Homecoming >> Mara Routh, Sarasota’s elite caterer, has returned to Café Europe after a few years with Michael’s On East. Mara was recently seen at the Florida Wine & Balloon Festival passing out delicious bites on edible spoons. I have no doubt the Café Europe team is celebrating the return of this nationally acclaimed caterer. Cheers, Mara!

Café L’Europe, 431 St. Armands Circle, (941) 388-4415

Open Markets >> While some local produce stands and farmer’s markets, including Phillippi Farmhouse Market, close for the summer, the downtown Farmer’s Market remains open all year long. You can check out the summer flavors at Pop Craft Pops, the fresh shrimp for grilling at Maggie’s Seafood, and venture over for some pre-made empanadas from Peperonata Fresh Pasta. Also open year-round: Old Miakka Farmer’s Market, which features fresh raw goat dairy products, local honey and much more.

Maggie’s Seafood, (941) 473-3997
Pop Craft Pops, (941) 706-3231
Peperonata Fresh Pasta, (941) 870-2729
Old Miakka Farmer’s Market, 1620 Myakka Road, (941) 322-1014.

Viva, Cuba! >> J.R.’s Old Packinghouse Cafe, the quintessential dive with great food and pass-the-hat music, has upped its game with even more Cuban dishes, like mojo pork and yellow rice, guava empanadas and a rice pudding that only J.R.’s Cuban auntie could make feel so creamy and good. BTW, $5 pitchers and burgers on Monday nights, with some open-mic tunes onstage. There ain’t nothin’ like a good dive!

J.R.’s Old Packinghouse Café, 987 S. Packinghouse Road, (941) 371-9358

Doughnuts: The new cupcakes >> First we had the cupcake wars, then the lollicakes and whoopie pies, and now it’s the year of the doughnut. Nicola’s out of Tampa even makes a doughnut wedding cake. We’re waiting for an enterprising Sarasotan to come up with a similar product. Meanwhile, our new favorite local doughnuts are at downtown’s charming Star Keeper Café; we like to sip some tea with an order of their warm mini-doughnuts (and holes)—an order is just $3.

Nicola’s Donut Shop, (813) 932-1303
Star Keeper, 1734 Bamboo Lane, (941) 955-9434

For more news, click here to read Chef Judi’s “Foodie’s Notebook” blog.