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Thanksgiving Dinner at Duff's Buffet

 
My favorite meal was Thanksgiving dinner at Duff's Buffet in Bradenton. It's the kind of place where bikers bring their mothers for a holiday meal. I skip the turkey and load up on meatloaf--it's the best in town. And the candied yams are perfection. Pumpkin pie for dessert. The pieces are small but you can have as many as you want. —Robert Plunket, senior editor 

The Meatball at Baker & Wife

I had lots of memorable meals at area restaurants this year, but the dish I crave above all others is the meatball with spaghetti squash in a light tomato sauce at Baker & Wife. Nothing fancy, not too heavy, with just the right meld of flavors. More, please. —Ilene Denton, senior editor

Bougiourdi at Blu Kouzina

This classic Greek dish—pepper stuffed with spicy feta cheese—is served in a sizzling-hot cast iron dish. Make sure to sop up all the flavors with their fresh homemade bread. —Susan Burns, senior editor

Lobster Carbonara at The Table Creekside

There are times (and there were many of them this year) when we all need some comfort food, and lots of local spots can indulge us. But my ultimate comfort dish this year came in the form of lobster carbonara from The Table Creekside—it's like the fanciest mac 'n' cheese you'll ever have. The chef forgoes carbonara's typical carb—spaghetti—instead opting for gemelli, an S-shaped pasta strand that's twisted into a spiral to become the perfect vehicle for sopping up that creamy, dreamy sauce. It's finished with melty Gruyere and cheddar cheeses, peas, house-made pancetta and 1 1/4 lbs. of coldwater lobster. Take half home for the best leftovers ever. —Megan McDonald, digital editor

Filet Mignon at The Capital Grille

A dinner at The Capital Grille at University Town Center is a special occasion, not a weekly treat, at least for the budget-minded. But the filet mignon I tasted there one evening (for $30) was worth the splurge…fork tender, dry-aged to perfection for days, and accompanied by warm bread I scarfed down in record time. The upscale ambiance and the excellent service combined to make it a memorable meal. —Kay Kipling, executive editor

Hook to Fork at Indigenous

Looking in the rearview at 2017, it's the new experiences that stand out: that first bite into a warm, crunchy-but-gooey Five-O croissant doughnut, or my first platter of ultra-tender smoked brisket at Brick's. But my favorite meal? That occurred at an old Sarasota standby. For years, whenever someone has asked me for a restaurant recommendation, I've suggested Indigenous, with one simple tip: Whatever the fish special is, order that. I followed my own advice during a birthday dinner date with my wife earlier this year and, as always, I melted with pleasure. A small moment that meant everything. —Cooper Levey-Baker, associate editor

Fish and Chips at Pub 32

“Yes, it’s a calorie bomb, but the traditional fish and chips at this 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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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

Indigenous

$$$$ New American 239 S. Links Ave.

Miracles emerge from the minuscule kitchen in the downtown cottage that houses Indigenous.

Editor’s Pick

The Capital Grille

$$$$ Steakhouse 180 University Town Center Drive

Capital Grille lives up to its own high standards at the UTC mall in Sarasota.

The Table Creekside Closed

$$$ New American, Seafood 5365 S. Tamiami Trail

High-level creativity is the hallmark of The Table.

Editor’s Pick

Blu Kouzina

$$$ Greek, Mediterranean 25 N. Boulevard of the Presidents

For a St. Armands Circle experience that feels a bit like vacationing on the Greek isles, take a seat at an outdoor café table or in the blue-and-white inter...

Baker & Wife

$$ New American 2157 Siesta Drive

A comfortable American bistro-gastro pub with a likable full bar that's garnered a loyal following since opening last spring.