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There's nothing better than great pancakes, says 941CEO editor David Hackett.

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Pancakes from Blu Island Bistro

"Few things whet my appetite more than the thought of a plate of fluffy pancakes, topped with melted butter and hot real maple syrup. Unfortunately, most restaurants make me wish I had ordered a Greek omelet instead. That’s what made a recent breakfast at the Blu Island Bistro on Venice island so wonderful. The pancakes ($5.50 for a short stack) came out hot with a melt-in-your mouth texture, perfectly matched with a rasher of bacon and a mug of steaming coffee. As I devoured the stack, I wondered what made them so tasty, when similar orders at even restaurants I love are so disappointing. My wife said it was the fact that chef Alan Laskowski, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, insists on real buttermilk. I agreed, with a nod to the preparation that rendered the cakes slightly crispy on the outside and soft without being doughy on the inside. Whatever the trick, the result was the best pancakes I’ve ever had, and I’ll be back for more." —David Hackett, editor, 941CEO

Chopped Salad from Bravo Coastal Bar & Kitchen

"The chopped salad ($11) at the new Bravo Coastal Bar & Kitchen at Westfield Siesta Key has all my favorite things: tomatoes, grilled corn, cucumber, smoked gouda, marcona almonds, avocado, lemon vinaigrette and chile lime ranch. Plus, I like the friendly vibe there." —Ilene Denton, senior editor

Hủ Tiếu Mì (No. 56) from Phở Cali

"When I visit downtown Sarasota's Phở Cali, I'm generally faithful to trusty ol' No. 76 (the bún đặc biệt), but during a recent visit, I lit out for new territory, ventured up the menu a bit and landed on No. 56, hủ tiếu mì ($11.95). It's a soup, similar to phở, but made out of chicken, rather than beef, broth. It comes stuffed with an Anna Karenina-length list of ingredients: shrimp, squid, fish cakes, pork and chicken, plus flavorings like scallions, onions, cilantro, sprouts, limes and jalapeños, and your choice of egg noodles or rice noodles. The bubbling cauldron was enough to feed a village—or one hungry reporter, at least." —Cooper Levey-Baker, associate editor

Oatmeal Creme Pies from Retrobaked

 
"Move over, Little Debbie—the oatmeal creme pies that Retrobaked whips up in Village of the Arts are addictive and delicious. A generous dollop of creamy vanilla frosting is sandwiched between two super-soft, thin, made-from-scratch oatmeal cookies, and the result is a cookie sandwich that I swear tastes even better than the real thing. Everything at Retrobaked is gluten-free and vegan, but even if you're neither of those things, you'll love this treat." —Megan McDonald, digital editor

Bourbon Pecan Pie from Owen's Fish Camp

"No matter how full you are, save room for the bourbon pecan pie ($7.99) after your meal at Owen's Fish Camp in Burns Court. Served with fresh whipped cream, it's dense, syrupy and nutty without being too heavy, with a crust that holds up and added depth of flavor from the bourbon." —Susan Burns, editor, 941CEO

Fish and Chips from Pub 32

"Yes, it’s a calorie bomb, but the traditional fish and chips at Pub 32, the cozy Irish gastropub on the South Trail, are so sensational that we didn’t care. The Smithwick beer batter, crunchy but light, encases big, tender hunks of mild cod, and the curry dipping sauce adds creaminess and zing. Add in some of the best fries we’ve had in Sarasota and the price—a small order fed two of us, with a side of potato-cheese soup, for just $11—and you’ll see why this plate makes our hot list." —Pam Daniel, editorial director

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In this Article

Irish Pub 32

$$$ American, New American 8383 S. Tamiami Trail

"Irish playful" cuisine, including standard pub dishes like fish 'n' chips and bangers done right, as well as creative house-made creations like crispy curri...

Editor’s Pick

Owen's Fish Camp

$$ Seafood, Southern 516 Burns Lane

Located in a historic Burns Court cottage, Owen’s presents Southern-style cuisine with an emphasis on seafood.

Editor’s Pick

Retrobaked

$ Bakery 933 12th St. W.

It sounds counterintuitive, but this Village of the Arts bakery whips up gluten-free, vegan cupcakes and sweet treats (cookies, breads, brownies and more) th...

Editor’s Pick

Pho Cali

$$ Asian 1578 Main St.

Small, plain and humbly designed, as if ambiance were an afterthought, downtown’s Pho Cali is nevertheless a Vietnamese restaurant that superbly delivers in flavor and breadth of menu.

Bravo Coastal Kitchen & Bar

$$ American, Bakery, Seafood 3501 S. Tamiami Trail

Bravo is part of the Bravo Brio Restaurant Group, Inc., which operates both Bravo Cucina Italiana and its sister chain, Brio Tuscan Grille, which has a locat...

Blu Island Bistro

$$ Breakfast/Brunch, New American 625 S Tamiami Trail

The Culinary Institute of America-trained chef at work here gives a gourmet twist to omelets and other breakfast fare, plus specialty burgers and daily lunch specials.