Phillippi creek tuna salad zhrinj

Don't be put off by the neon-green taco shell that encases Phillippi Creek Oyster Bar's new ahi tuna salad: inside you'll find perfectly pink ahi tuna, fresh tomato, guacamole, crunchy coleslaw, queso fresco and orange vinaigrette, all topped with a drizzle of spicy aioli. Fresh, filling and--at $9.95--a total steal. 

Not just the area’s best taco spot—one of our best restaurants, period—can be found inside Bradenton’s Red Barn Flea Market. Maria’s draws crowds of bargain-hunting shoppers who line up for exquisite tacos, gorditas, tostadas, sopes and more, dishes that all succeed thanks to the restaurant’s genius with meat. The tacos al pastor, in particular, are life-affirming. Get four for $6. The meat is succulent, rich and well-spiced, and it comes served on freshly made corn tortillas. The ensemble is punched up with a touch of lime juice, cilantro and raw onion. Finger-licking good. 

Happy to be reminded that Rico’s still has serious pizza chops. We recently popped into the North Trail location to snag a pie—pepperoni, sausage, onion and extra cheese—and it didn’t disappoint. The thin, chewy crust has just enough buttery flavor to hold up to the toppings. Fold a slice and stuff it in your face.

At Cafe in the Park, the food is only part of the draw. The rest comes from the restaurant’s sunny, cheery ambiance and service and its prime location inside Sarasota’s Payne Park. The small patio is balanced between a huge expanse of green space and the park’s sprawling circus-themed playground, letting you easily keep track of the kiddos and focus on lunch at the same time. The $8.75 “Zoë” sandwich is a stunner—blending prosciutto, goat cheese, pine nuts and local honey. 

The “Seoul Kitchen” chicken lettuce cups at Libby's Cafe + Bar are comprised of spicy-sweet shredded meat topped with kimchi and crushed peanut, wrapped in cool, crunchy butter lettuce. In other words, the perfect appetizer. $12.

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Editor’s Pick

Libby's Cafe + Bar

$$ New American 1917 S. Osprey Ave.

Libby’s Cafe + Bar has a fashionable, big-city energy and is always bustling.

Editor’s Pick

Phillippi Creek Oyster Bar

$$ Seafood 5353 S. Tamiami Trail

Come by land or sea to this casual waterfront eatery and enjoy fresh seafood, burgers and sandwiches.

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