Boca Sarasota is officially open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch, and when we're in search of something tasty and filling, we turn to the Boca flatbread: it's topped with apricot chutney, fresh greens, Manchego and Midnight Moon cheeses, charred red onions and local heirloom cherry tomatoes. Delicious and flavorful.
There are few earthly sights more comforting than that plain white box heading your way at Cortez's Star Fish Co. Newbies may complain about having to stand in line to order and the cash-only transactions, but aficionados know the extra effort here is well worth it, because those white boxes contain one of the rarest local delights: perfectly cooked, supremely un-fussed-with fish straight off the boat that caught it. A "hearty" grilled grouper meal ($16.95) is better than most seafood dishes at restaurants twice as expensive, and the view of bobbing boats and hungry pelicans is all the ambiance you'll ever need.
The orzo and kale salad with grilled shrimp at Apollonia Grill is one of the best salads in town. Chef Edie has a true knack for fresh flavors; think chilled orzo with tender, chopped kale, Greek seasonings, feta, fresh cucumbers, tomatoes and succulent, extra-large grilled shrimp. You almost forget it's a salad. ($9.99, plus $5.50 for shrimp)
If you're having happy hour at Selva Grill, do not, we repeat, do not, miss the pan con pato—baguette bread sliders stuffed with shredded duck confit dripping in its own rich gravy and topped with criolla onion. At $6, it's a total steal.
Trust us, you want to order the perfectly executed Korean-style pork belly tacos at Shore Diner. They're crispy yet juicy, and just fatty enough. They're served with pickled cucumber, radish, hoisin sauce and togarashi mayo; if you're trying to be good, ask for them in lettuce leaves instead of flour tortillas. $12, and you'll probably need a second order.