SoMa Diner, 616 10th St. E., Bradenton, (941) 748-0002, somadiner.com. The cozy, modest building belies the astonishingly creative menu served inside. Sit surrounded by walls of colorful artwork for sale, or out on the deck under the oaks.
Bradenton city employees discussing blueprints over iced teas and lobster bisque; retiree regulars enjoying crab cakes with a glass of white wine.
Casual, competent and attentive service make the meal run like clockwork, and a single-course lunch can get you in and out in 30 minutes—though you’ll likely want to order more and settle in for an hour or so. Reservations are a good idea in season.
Call it “Asian-Southern fusion,” with standouts like fried green tomatoes ($7), Florida lobster fried rice ($10) and black tiger shrimp served either in Thai lettuce wraps ($8) or sautéed with creamy cheese grits on the side ($12). Big appetites meet their match in the “Truck Stop Deluxe” flatiron steak with potato cake and fried onions ($10), or the cheese-stuffed “Juicy Lucy” burger ($10). You’ll definitely need a side of the irresistibly aromatic truffle shoestring fries ($3 with a sandwich), to help sop up the juiciness.