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The Best Farmers Market Eats

Along with ready-to-eat options, our region's bustling farmers markets offer some appealing places to enjoy a quick lunch or snack, from outdoor tables to the Phillippi market’s beautiful park with water views.

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

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The downtown Sarasota farmers market.

Image: Chad Spencer

Sarasota Farmers Market

7 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays year-round | Lemon Avenue, between First Street and State Street, Sarasota

It’s impossible to miss the sizzle of the grill at the Alpine Steakhouse booth, where meat masters are cooking sausages and crafting Cuban sandwiches, tuna sliders and eggy burritos. Customize an egg sandwich by adding smoked pork jowl, a rare delight.

Fill up your basket with fresh Gulf goodies at the Maggie’s Seafood stand, but don’t go hungry in the meantime. The shop also slaps together bright, colorful shrimp and grouper tacos and a creamy lobster roll.

Annalida’s Gourmet Foods specializes in straightforward handhelds like burgers and hot dogs, but we’re suckers for the stand’s egg sandwiches and wraps, particularly once they add a generous dollop of rust-red chorizo and we drizzle on some hot sauce. Delish.

Phillippi Farmhouse Market

9 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesdays, October-April | 5500 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota

Only those with heroic self-control can visit this weekly market without making a pit stop at the combination farmhouse truck and pizza oven that cranks out Polpo Pizza Co.’s exceptional pies. The “bee sting” pizza gets its spice from Calabrese salumi and its sweetness from local honey drizzled on top. A masterpiece.

One of Sarasota’s longest-running food trucks, Baja Boys offers a mix of Tex-Mex items. The fish tacos are lovely, as are the super-stuffed burritos.

BrewBurgers has two sit-down restaurant locations in Venice, but their grill gurus travel to the Phillippi market on Wednesdays to let us sample their goods. The stand’s thin patties are cooked right to temp and accented with all the fixings you’d expect. Some of the best around.

Venice Farmers Market

8 a.m.-1 p..m. Saturdays January-April; 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays May-December | 200 block of Tampa Avenue W., Venice

You never know what to expect from Craig Chasky, who mans the Chef Chasky’s tent. He puts together new dishes each week that highlight whatever’s freshest at the market. One recent hit: macaroni and cheese made with cheese sourced from the market and spiced with ground coffee from Venetian Coffee Roasters.

David Mota of Mota’s Munchies is known for putting on a show while he cooks. As his hands chop ingredients for his guacamole, tamales and shrimp tacos, he chats up visitors and trades stories. You’ll feel like a regular on your first visit.

Butcher’s Gourmet can help you check off all the meat on your shopping list, with its pick of ribeyes, bison, pork and more, but the stand also cooks a mean lunch, with New England specialties like lobster rolls, haddock sandwiches and clam chowder.

Bradenton Farmer’s Market

9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays, October-May | Old Main Street, Bradenton

The Split-Fire Grill satisfies Bradenton browsers with a menu that includes street food favorites like pulled pork sandwiches, tacos and wings, as well as a market sandwich that highlights products sold by fellow vendors.

Central Sarasota Farmers Market

8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays, October-June | 4454 Beneva Road, Sarasota

Follow the smoke to Solid Slab BBQ, an expanding brisket and pulled pork purveyor whose bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers have already become the stuff of local legend. Don’t miss the cast-iron cornbread, which offers a bit of sweetness to counteract the heavier flavors on the rest of your Styrofoam tray.

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