Euphemia Haye is famed for its formal gourmet fare. That’s downstairs. Upstairs, things are more laid-back with a “lite” menu, dynamic bar scene and live jazz. The pizza here, with a wickedly thin, crispy crust, is perfect for one and redefines the pizza paradigm with toppings that include spicy barbecue duck and shiitake mushrooms, shrimp, pesto and pine nuts, eggplant Parmesan and pepper steak. Open until midnight seven days. 5540 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key (941) 387-0495.
Sidewalk dining at Crab and Fin on St. Armands Circle combines the pleasures of people-watching, star-gazing and brasserie-style dining. Begin your moonlit feast with a refreshing glass of Pouilly-Fuissé and the simple bliss of fresh, briny oysters on the half shell. They’re not only the famous food of love, they’re also pure protein and perfect for your after-dinner power walk around the circle. Open until 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday. 420 St. Armands Circle, Sarasota (941) 388-3964.
Knick's Tavern & Grill is one of those funky neighborhood joints with sports on the telly, friendly chatter in the air and waiters who remember your name. Its meatloaf is celebrated—and usually gone by 9 p.m. Try the chicken wings instead. They’re called “giant” for good reason—the chickens they come from could crush Tokyo. For a spicy joy ride, try them chipotle-style. Open until 11 p.m. daily. 1818 S. Osprey Ave., Sarasota (941) 955-7761.
Smack in the middle of downtown Sarasota, Mattison’s City Grille is what sociologists call a gathering place. This bustling outdoor café features live music well into the night and plenty of opportunities to meet new friends. In case you do, the grilled petite filet mignon with roasted Portobello mushrooms can easily handle two appetites. Open until 11 p.m. Monday-Thursday; until midnight Saturday; until 10 p.m. Sunday. 1 N. Lemon Ave., Sarasota (941) 330-0440.
Scouting a location for a romantic night scene? Caragiulos is pre-dressed with vintage film posters and an ambiance straight out of La Dolce Vita. Share a roasted pear and gorgonzola focaccia; the sweet caramelized onions and pear contrast dramatically with the salty Gorgonzola and tart balsamic drizzle. Top it off with a glass or two of Domaine du Tariquet sauvignon blanc—and that’s a wrap. Open until 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; until 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. 69 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota (941) 951-0866.
There’s nothing blasé about Siesta Key’s intimate little Blasé Café. Along with fresh Gulf breezes, you’ll get art on the walls, live music most nights and a tempting late-night menu. Order a seafood crêpe, a dynamic creation of Gulf shrimp, corvina and crab meat served in a sherry cream reduction with a crisp Riesling or chardonnay chosen from the formidable wine list. Late-night menu usually until 1 a.m., 5263 Ocean Blvd., Sarasota (941) 349-9822.
Zoria is an arm-in-arm stroll from Hollywood 20 Cinemas in downtown Sarasota. Its late-night menu offers a mix of light and heavier fare. Feeling carnivorous? Feast on the hearty Kobe beef burger—famously juicy and topped with goat cheese. This is extreme beef, from pampered Wagyu cattle raised in Boise, Idaho. Originally from Japan, they’re celebrated for complex flavor, subtle sweetness and supreme tenderness. Late-night menu until midnight. 1991 Main St., Sarasota (941) 955-4457.
With a name like Polo Grill and Bar, you expect Brits in riding boots enjoying tea sandwiches. Not here. This Lakewood Ranch restaurant offers an innovative Asian tapas menu that includes chicken sliders with kimchi slaw, tuna tartar wonton tacos with wasabi caviar, and beef samosas drenched in fiery aji salsa. There’s no ranch, no cowboys—just gourmet grub and a wine list that stretches from Lakewood Ranch to Longboat Key. Open until 10 p.m. 10670 Boardwalk Loop, Lakewood Ranch (941) 782-0899.
5 One 6 Burns nestles beneath a banyan tree next to Burns Court Cinema. Pass on the popcorn if dinner is your second feature. The menu features creative Southern dishes straight out of a Tennessee Williams tale. Fill up on the fried chicken food critics have been raving about, along with collard greens, black-eyed peas, white gravy and cheese grits. Even Big Daddy would approve. Open until 10 p.m.; late-night menu on Saturday until 2 a.m. 516 Burns Lane, Sarasota (941) 906-1884.
At Ceviche, Peruvian-inspired small plates are the order of the day—and night. The ossetra al horno (spicy sautéed sturgeon served over potatoes) is rich and generous enough for two to share. (Locovores, take note: The sturgeon is raised at Mote Marine.) Finish the night with a bottle of Spain’s famed sparkling wine, Cava, at the rooftop bar overlooking starlit Sarasota Bay. Open until midnight Tuesday-Thursday; until 1 a.m. Saturday; until 10 p.m. Sunday. 1216 First St., Sarasota (941) 952-1036.