Noshing 101: A Sense-sational Tour of Sarasota Cuisine

This is another piece I wrote for the Sarasota and Her Islands Visitor and Convention Bureau.

You hear it before you see it; that first crack of the leg as it snaps easily in your hands. You pull, and the pinky-white flesh appears like a breathtaking scene unfolding. You lower the tender meat into the silky yellow pool of butter below and bring it to your lips. The flavors of the luscious stone crab fill your mouth, satisfying your crustacean cravings.

Welcome to just one of the hundreds of culinary experiences Sarasota has to offer. From the sophisticated bistros of downtown to the waterside eateries on the islands, to the alluring charms of the best grills and bars of Venice, there is plenty to satisfy the senses of even the most discriminating foodie.

European influences run rampant with no less than 15 restaurants within a 10-mile radius serving award-winning continental cuisine inspired by an owner or chef from the Old World. While Roessler’s Restaurant offers bouillabaisse, veal and wiener schnitzel, 62 Bistro serves French fare. El Patio Latino Restaurant serves a mix of Spanish/Peruvian cuisine; Mattison’s Forty-One offers a complete tapas menu of continental favorites. Mozaic Restaurant features seafood and fowl with a Mediterranean flair, and Selva Grille specializes in Latin cuisine served ceviche style. For Italian, there’s Caraguilos, for Indian, Gateway.

Derek’s Culinary Casual is a Zagat-rated eatery whose chef, Derek Barnes, is also the owner. And both Michael’s On East and Vernona at the Ritz-Carlton downtown are AAA Four-Diamond award-winning restaurants.

For good old-fashioned Americana, there’s Hob Nob Drive-In and Kroaky’s Karaoke. For upscale meals prepared with locally grown ingredients, try Libby’s Café and Bar downtown.

Cross the bridge to Longboat Key and nibble on a veritable globe of flavors at Pattigeorge’s Restaurant that ranges from Asian to Italian, Caribbean and Latin American.  Maison Blanche boasts Chef Jose Martinez, a two-time Florida Golden Spoon Award winner for 2009 and 2010. Euphemia Haye Restaurant & The Haye Loft’s crisp roast duck is worth checking out, as is breakfast at Harry’s Continental Kitchens. Dry Dock Waterfront Grill is known for its tender and tasty grouper sandwich.

After a day of scouring the shops and boutiques in St. Armand’s Circle, relax café style and watch the world go by. Café L’Europe is a circle mainstay, featuring brandied duckling, Dover sole meuniere and Chateaubriand served table side. Hemingway’s interior evokes images of Old Florida. For seafood, check out the Lido Beach Grille after a quick drink and appetizer at Lynches Pub & Grub. For dessert, stop by ScoopDaddy’s, Inc. for gourmet ice cream…

Banner image by Schweiz.


*Some of the information in this older article may be outdated.

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