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Outside the new Sarasota Wicked Cantina

"We have a problem," says Janice Dolan with a laugh.

"We like food," says her husband, Mike Dolan.

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Inside the bar at the new Wicked Cantina

Hardly a problem. More like good news for us. The Dolans are planning to open the second location of their restaurant Wicked Cantina on Sarasota's North Trail on Wednesday, Nov. 8. The couple opened the first Wicked Cantina on Bradenton Beach almost three years ago, serving Tex-Mex favorites and tequila-heavy cocktails to sandy-footed Anna Maria Islanders and tourists.

The new 157-seat location has required work. The Dolans purchased the space that most recently housed El Pescador Italian Ristorante (and, before that, seemingly dozens of other restaurants) last November. In May, they began demolition, raising the ceiling, tearing down walls and overhauling both the kitchen and the decor.

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A pick of Wicked Cantina quesos

The new menu will ape the Bradenton Beach location's, with offerings that cover breakfast, lunch and dinner. That means tacos, burritos, enchiladas, fajitas, nachos and salads, plus migas, a fried egg sandwich and even a couple omelettes. The bar menu includes a range of margaritas (I've heard the "stingray" margarita with muddled jalapeño is killer), plus craft cocktails, local beers and snacks. (Peep the queso mixed with chorizo.)

Mike and Janice both grew up in Southern California. They met in high school geometry class, and have been married for 37 years. They lived and worked in California, then Austin, Texas, and moved to Southwest Florida a few years ago when their son began going to IMG Academy. They call themselves retired, but they grew antsy after landing on the Suncoast. "I wanted something to do," Mike says. Janice says, "We like a project."

The Dolans developed the original Wicked Cantina by drawing on their own favorites from restaurants in Texas and California, as well as time-tested family recipes. The salsa that comes to your table with warm chips as soon as you sit down is the same salsa they made at home for their kids for decades. They also worked with a chef from San Antonio to round out the menu.

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Wicked Cantina's huevos rancheros

The prices range from $6.95 for breakfast tacos up to $15.95 for shrimp and steak fajitas. Not dirt cheap, but a good value. "You get a lot of food for your money," Janice says. She and Mike won't be hands-on at the new location. General manager Jake Baker has worked at the original location; he'll now oversee both restaurants. Ian Norman will manage the day-to-day at the Sarasota spot.

The Dolans considered a few different options for location No. 2, including Lakewood Ranch and St. Pete Beach, but settled on the North Trail because of its proximity to downtown Sarasota and the growth creeping up U.S. 41. The Reserve, the new coffee and book shop, opened earlier this year across the street, while new condo units and retail space are planned for at least one other nearby parcel. In-the-works roundabouts will also slow traffic, making the area more approachable. "This whole street is changing," says Janice. With Wicked Cantina, for the better.

The new Wicked Cantina is located at 1603 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, and will be open 7:30 a.m.-midnight daily. For more info, call (941) 706-2395 or visit the restaurant's website.

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