Two Dives and a Really Good Bowl of Asian Noodle Soup

By Megan McDonald September 18, 2012

If that Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives guy, Guy Fieri, is reading this, then he needs to get back to Sarasota. I had a two-dives-in-one-week experience and it was everything I wanted: Great food, down-home service and that tacky dive environment that just makes you feel at ease.      

J.R.'s is the perfect dive for great food and song.


First stop: J.R.’s Old packinghouse Café. Haven’t been there? Well then you haven’t tried the best chicken pot pie in town, one of the best burgers in town and Cubans that can’t be beat. Add to that the Cuban pork with black beans and rice, grilled cheese with mushrooms and tomatoes and teriyaki chicken wings, and you have a good star

t to deep down satisfying goodness.

J.R.'s chicken pot pie is some of the best in town.


J.R. himself is a bit of a legend. A Johnson and Wales culinary school graduate, his family ran Chez Med on Siesta Key for years. J. R. has a heart of gold and gold metal spoon for whipping up his aunt’s recipe for guava empanadas, jambalaya and chocolate peanut-butter pie. Scratch cooking with a cold beer and some bluegrass music--what more do you need? 

Philippi Creek's fish tacos.


For a fish tale, I ventured over to Philippi Creek after hearing from some of our readers that the new fish tacos and tilapia black bean salad were incredible. Well, slap my uncle’s back: It is true and then some. While, truth be told, I haven’t been to the Creek in many a day, it was fun to sit by the water, shuck open some steamed oysters and enjoy what really were incredible new dishes. The fish tacos were loaded with fresh avocado and housed in a perfectly crisp batter--there was more fish than batter, and the batter was sweet and light, even with the dusting of feta cheese.

Salmon salad.

Tilapia-black bean salad.

Steak salad.


And those new salads--holy lettuce bowl! They make Cheesecake Factory salads look anemic. We tried the Cowboy Salad with tender sliced steak on a bed of chopped greens, asparagus, housemade dressing and yummy potato strings. Next up was the grilled salmon salad with mango glaze that practically sang to me. Honestly, you would think you were fine dining if it weren’t for the rolls of paper towels on the table and the old fishing shack décor (which only adds to the flavor). 


Lemongrass chicken noodle soup.

So, how did I finish up a good dive week like that? With a steaming bowl of lemongrass chicken noodle soup at Miss Saigon on Sunday. 


Now that is what I call diving into my food. Where is your favorite dive in town?


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