Looking for a scenic waterfront view served up with your grouper sandwich, or perhaps a menu offering Southern delicacies like alligator bites and fried green tomatoes? Our area abounds with restaurants with oodles of Old Florida charm. Here’s a select sample.
A tourist mecca at the entrance of the Venice Fishing Pier, with a hopping tiki bar, frequent live entertainment and classic grouper sandwiches. Flip-flops welcome.
Locals and well-heeled snowbirds alike flock to this tiki hut and casual indoor restaurant on the Intracoastal Waterway. The nautical-themed bar serves pub bites and rum-rich mango daiquiris. On the regular menu you’ll find upscale specialties like almond-crusted snapper and a rich seafood bouillabaisse.
Nestled on the banks of the Myakka River and brandishing a “Back Woods Smokehouse” menu, this is Old Florida at its most authentic. Sample the smoked-fried frog legs and fried gator bites or perhaps the iron-seared catfish. Live banjo players most days on the outdoor stage.
Pelicans swoop through the salt air at this popular outdoor eatery, whose menu stars grouper sandwiches and slaw, Caribbean fish tacos and a fully loaded Salty Dog (a battered, deep-fried quarter-pound hot dog—we dare you). Three locations: on Siesta Key, on Sarasota’s City Island (near Mote Aquarium) and in Venice.
Enjoy alligator bites and gator chowder among more traditional Southern fare at this wonderfully eccentric restaurant on the Braden River. The original owner was an amateur taxidermist—enough said. Call before you go; they’re closing sometime in late summer for renovations.
Upstairs, feast on fresh seafood while gazing out over Sarasota Bay and downtown Sarasota in the lovely dining room. Downstairs, the dockside Blue Sunshine Patio is perfect for casual fare and cocktails and has live music nightly.
Located in a 100-plus-year-old cottage in picturesque Longboat Village, Mar Vista boasts a relaxing outdoor patio with a magnificent view of Sarasota Bay.
This popular dockside dive in the fishing village of Cortez sources most of its seafood from A.P. Bell Fish Company next door, and the staff treats Bell’s Gulf catches with the care they deserve. No fancy recipes, no fancy presentation, no problem.