Providing we are not rain soaked from Tropical Depression 9, I've compiled a list of Labor Day eats to enjoy all over the Suncoast. In Southwest Florida, we get to break the "no white after Labor Day" rule, wear our white jeans in March and drink margaritas by the pool in January--but still, shorter days are coming, and the unofficial end of the summer season deserves a fun--and tasty--little send-off.
So here's the eating schedule I'll be following:
If it's not raining, head to Siesta Beach with Publix subs or Piccolo's sandwiches to beat the weekend crowds. And while you're at Piccolo, pick up some homemade sausages to make up a batch of sausage and peppers, another summer must-do, and add in a loaf of Piccolo's authentic Italian bread. After you eat, grab an ice cream cone in the village at Big Olaf.
Head to Tony's Chicago Beef in Gulf Gate. Summer holidays call for hot dogs, and the ones at Tony's offer a good excuse to take down one or two before heading to Mr. Beery's for a summer ale. On your way home, stop at Yoder's for a blueberry pie to bring home--it's the quintessential summer dessert. And if you skipped out on the hot dog fix at Tony's, stop at the Yoder's produce stand while you're there and buy a pack of jumbo hot dogs, some corn on the cob to grill and some sweet potatoes to fry up.
Hit the downtown farmers market for end-of-season watermelon and peaches--and maybe some yummy cookies at Sift Bakehouse to go with an afternoon glass of lemonade. Then, for lunch, it's burgers on the dock at New Pass Bait Shop for lunch. Stick your feet in water and treat yourself to a double burger with extra chopped onions.
For dinner, head to Stottlemyer's on Fruitville, east of the Interstate, for ribs, smoked or fried chicken and a mix of sides. They also have a big takeout selection if you want to head home for a nighttime swim and/or make a pitcher of homemade sangria.
It's lobster rolls at the Lido Beach Concession Stand for lunch (pro tip: get there early), then, when the sun gets too strong, head over to Kilwin's to play tourist and have a cone. If you plan to stay on St. Armands Circle, head to Shore Diner for a late afternoon cocktail and pork belly tacos before an early pre-sunset walk around the bayfront. Then finish the night with summer cocktails at Jack Dusty at The Ritz and one of the restaurant's sinfully good desserts.
Grill up those sausages from Piccolo for lunch and make a batch of red bliss potato salad to go with (another nod to all things summer). If you have an ice cream machine, consider making up a batch of peach ice cream to go on top of any leftover blueberry pie
Stay in and make a salmon Cobb salad, or wedge salad with sliced sirloin, and sip on fresh muddled strawberry and basil mojitos. And no whining. While we may head back to work Tuesday, thoughts of endless summer still dance in our heads. After all, it's still too early for pumpkin recipes, so we'll keep thoughts of our beach lifestyle going strong.