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Image: Chad Spencer

A pool hall situated across Old Main from the Manatee County courthouse, amid a flurry of ampersand-heavy law firms and cheekily named bail bondsmen, Council’s is best known for its cheeseburgers, which run $4.25 to $5.50. They are flawless—simple, thin, well-done patties outfitted with lettuce, tomato, onion, cheese and a toasted bun—and they hop off the Council’s grill in no time. Served on a small spread of white napkins, these burgers are juicy, fatty, crusty, salty. They are everything.

Now open for dinner again, Mozzarella Fella boasts one of the best eggplant Parms around. Layers of eggplant, breaded and fried, are filled with the restaurant's housemade mozzarella cheese and topped with a perfectly acidic tomato sauce. Leftovers the next day--it's a generous serving--are just as good. 

The Table Creekside is serving Thanksgiving dinner this year, and we were lucky to get a sneak peek last week. Of note: the Pilgrim Carving Feast, which takes traditional holiday fare up a notch thanks to organic stuffed, roasted turkey; chanterelle, wood ear, truffle, and chestnut stuffing; turkey fixin’ sous vide; California root vegetable confit; and foie gras giblet reduction. You'll leave stuffed and happy.

In need of something a little lighter? Head to Simon's Coffee House and order the lemonade ($7.69), which is made from apples and lemons pressed over ice--and that's it.  It's sweet, cold, refreshing and good for you, not to mention 100 percent delicious.

Don't miss the pancakes at the Breakfast House, which marry a lovely, tight griddled skin to a creamy interior pocked with air holes and bearing subtle toasted notes. The package is enlivened by butter and genuine maple syrup, and trust us: the ’cakes taste even better when eaten as part of “Uncle Harry’s hearty breakfast,” a belly-busting $9.99 sampler that includes the pancakes plus eggs, grits, potatoes, bacon and sausage. Yum.

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The Table Creekside

$$$ New American, Seafood 5365 S. Tamiami Trail

High-level creativity is the hallmark of The Table.