An hour south from Tampa, Florida you’ll find Sarasota; the home to many unbelievable white sand beaches and some of the most terrific local dining we have ever had! We always enjoy finding new favorites whenever we visit.
Recently we took our friends with us for a much needed vacation to show them why Sarasota will always be a favorite travel spot for us. While there, we found quite a few new dining establishments that we will most definitely be returning to, while also revisiting frequented favorites.
We decided to compile a list of the best local restaurants we’ve found in the Sarasota area for others to reference on their next trip to Florida!
Der Dutchman: We’ve become huge fans of Der Dutchman for their inexpensive, yet wide variety breakfast buffet. It’s also the perfect place for a larger family or gathering.
Recommendations: Okay aside from the breakfast buffet, let’s talk about donuts… you need to try the orange frosted cake donut. Two words: life changing!
Hours: Restaurant & Bakery: Nov–Apr, Mon–Thurs: 6am–8pm Fri–Sat: 6am–9pm
Summer Hours: May – Oct, Mon–Sat: 7am–8pm, Closed Sunday
The Blue Dolphin Cafe: A cute, eco-friendly breakfast and lunch spot located on St. Armand’s Circle. Some of the food was on par to any regular breakfast spot but the prices and customizable menu make it unique.
Recommendations: Two egg breakfast, smoked salmon platter, or the french toast.
Hours: Sun-Sat: 7am-2pm
The Bearded Clam: A recent dinner spot for us. We enjoyed our visit at this hole in the wall restaurant due to its terrific weekly dinner specials and waterfront location.
Recommendations: Wednesday night all you can eat crab legs… need we say more?!
Hours: Sun-Sat 11am-12am
Daiquiri Deck: This is by far one of our favorite local restaurants to visit and no not just for their daiquiris! It has an amazing happy hour and a large variety of fresh seafood but there is also many menu items for those who aren’t a fan of seafood (Logan even loves their pizza). There are many locations around Sarasota which also makes this hotspot convenient.
Recommendations: We’ve honestly never had anything bad here so it’s hard to pick a favorite item. We definitely love their fresh catch of the day items (especially the blackened grouper), any selection of their oysters, the lobster fondue, and the cajun creole pasta!
As for drinks you say? Our favorite daiquiris have been the banana slider, mango-lada, monkey berry, and many more!
Hours: Sun-Sat 11am-2am
J.R.’s Old Packinghouse Cafe: Another hole in the wall favorite, the Old Packinghouse has live music 6 days a week and cuban style food.
Recommendations: Cuban Sandwich, Basa Sandwich or Fillet, any selection of appetizers
Hours: Mon-Thurs 11am-10pm, Fri & Sat 11am-11pm, Closed Sundays
Yoder’s: Similar to Der Dutchman (mentioned above in the breakfast section) we have enjoyed visiting Yoder’s a few times but especially for their Peanut Butter Pie. At Yoder’s you’ll find a terrific casual spot with Amish comfort food.
Recommendations: Famous Fried Chicken, Chicken & Dumplings, and the Peanut Butter Pie
Hours: Mon-Thurs: 6am-8pm, Fri & Sat: 6am-9pm, Closed Sundays
Gilligan’s Island Grill: Conveniently located near Siesta Key Beach, Gilligan’s is a fun Tiki bar with live music, and great food!
Recommendations: Gilligan’s Fish Tacos, Grouper Sandwich, Big Crispy
Hours: Sun-Sat: 11am-2am
Barnacle Bill’s Seafood: Voted the “Best of the Best Seafood” in Sarasota for 15 straight years and we can see why! After one visit, Barnacle Bills quickly rose to the top of our favorites list. Give yourself plenty of time to look at all of the menu options while enjoying a brew from their also rather large drink menu. Barnacle Bills also offers free valet parking if you are having trouble finding a close spot.
Recommendations: Seafood Strudel, Baby Gulf Shrimp Pasta
Hours: Mon-Thurs: 11:30am-9pm, Fri & Sat: 11:30am-10pm, Sun: 4pm-9pm
Crab & Fin: A favorite open air lunch spot of ours on St. Armand’s Circle. Make sure to get there early as it tends to get busy during prime lunch time and dinner times. We suggest visiting for lunch as dinner is much more pricey.
Recommendations: Baked Brie Almondine, Baby Gulf Shrimp Pasta, Chicken Nachos, Fish Tacos
Hours: Mon-Thurs 11:30am-10pm, Fri & Sat 11:30am-10:30pm, Closed Sundays
Kilwins: Kilwins has quickly started spreading across the U.S. since we have been visiting Sarasota together, now there is even a location in the St. Louis area (thank goodness)! It is a nice place to stop and get a sweet treat.
Recommendations: Salted Carmel Ice Cream, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Fudge, and any of the Chocolate Covered Krispies (can you tell we love dessert?).
Hours: Sun-Thurs: 8am – 11pm, Fri & Sat: 8am – 11:30pm
The Donut Experiment: While it may be a short distance away from Sarasota, this colorful and eccentric shop is well worth the drive to Anna Maria Island. Here you can create your own hot cake donut dipped in the icing of your choice and finished off with a terrific topping!
Our creations from left to right: TOP- Coconut Flaked chocolate glazed, Reese’s Pieces chocolate glazed, Salted Caramel. BOTTOM- Oreo Crumble Chocolate glazed, Fruity Pebbles strawberry glazed, Reese’s Puff with peanut butter drizzle chocolate glazed.
Hours: Sun-Mon: 7am-1pm
Detwiler Market: If you are in Sarasota for an extended stay or just a short time you have to check out the local Detwiler Market. Similar to a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, you will be soon impressed by the variety of items at this popular local grocer. In addition, we highly recommend buying fresh produce, homemade cheeses, and their bakery goods.
Recommendations: Fresh seafood, amazing selection of cheeses, baked monster cookies, and produce. We can’t say enough about all of their produce, but we could go on for days about their strawberries!
Hours: Mon-Sat 8am-7pm (vary by location), Closed Sundays
Yuengling Brewery Tour: 45-60 min free tour of America’s Oldest Brewery that produces a cool, crisp beer that is only available in some southern and east coast states. The Yuengling Brewery is located in Tampa.
Tour times: Mon-Fri: 10am, 11:30am, & 1pm, Sat: 10:30am & 12pm
FYI: you must wear closed toed shoes during the tour for safety purposes.
Drum Circle Distilling: While we unfortunately ran out of time on our trip we wanted to let you know about this conveniently close distillery. Here you’ll be able to have a 50-60 minute free tour of Siesta Key Rum. Not to mention you will also be given free samples and the option of buying a bottle of your favorite flavor. Be sure to schedule your tour on their website and arrive early to check in!
Tour times: Tues, Wed, Sat: 12:30pm, 2pm, & 3:30pm