Made in the Shade

Six Patios We Love

Take a seat on a pretty patio or deck and dig in.

By Cooper Levey-Baker January 25, 2018 Published in the February 2018 issue of Sarasota Magazine

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The patio at Indigenous

Image: Chad Spencer

Sun Garden Café

Sun-worshipping tourists and island dwellers alike wake up at this Siesta Key mainstay, which serves outstanding sweet potato pancakes, chicken and waffles and a variety of omelets on a charming, sun-dappled patio with bright tropical greenery and flowers. Show up early, because on in-season weekends, the outdoor tables go fast, and the space is so agreeable that diners sit tight for hours.

Station 400

Even on the steamiest summer mornings, the patio at this downtown brunch institution stays pleasant. A wide awning and well-placed trees keep things cool, creating a comfortable environment in which to enjoy superb bacon-and-salted-caramel pancakes, a truffle eggs Benedict and a killer fried green tomato BLT, while lazing away a morning over coffee and champagne. The restaurant has two other locations (one in Lakewood Ranch and one on the South Trail), but the setting here keeps us coming back.


Chef Steve Phelps pores over every detail of his dishes, with a commitment to sustainable sources and an antsy curiosity that astonishes and delights. But dinner at Indigenous is more fun than formal, thanks to the restaurant’s setting: a vintage Florida cottage with a relaxed front porch and side patio. Sit there on a starry night, as one wonderful dish after another materializes, and you’ll share both belly laughs and intimate whispers. Haute cuisine, but never uptight.


With its hip midcentury design, this upstairs hideaway offers a cool respite from the hustle and bustle of St. Armands Circle. The cozy front patio offers primo people watching; it’s the perfect place to imbibe creative cocktails and infused boozes. The roof that covers the back section retracts, creating an outdoor space on balmy afternoons and nights and adding a wash of sunlight or starlit sky to your meal of seafood and other dishes.

The Breakfast House

Dining in the small back lot at this Gillespie Park bungalow is like eating in a friend’s back yard, with trellises and drapes that block the gravel parking lot and provide a chummy, sheltered vibe. Waitresses hop between tables, refilling mugs of coffee and delivering plates of pancakes, while friends catch up on the craziness that went down the night before or make plans for an afternoon of lounging by pool. The pancakes are incredible. We’re suckers for the “island cakes,” loaded with coconut, grilled pineapple and macadamia nuts.

Social Eatery & Bar

When the party gets going on weekend nights, Social’s sprawling patio feels like nowhere else in Sarasota, with a great-looking crowd mingling in a sleek and modern urban setting. Enjoy custom-crafted drinks and an assortment of small plates (pizza, pork belly, a killer charcuterie board) on one of the soft-cushioned couches out back or sit down for a full-fledged meal on the nearby patio.

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