Best Lunches

Where to Eat Lunch in Manatee County

World-class barbecue, seafood and more await in Sarasota's neighbor to the north.

By Cooper Levey-Baker October 26, 2018 Published in the November 2018 issue of Sarasota Magazine

Hickory Hollow’s pulled pork

Image: Fred Lopez


Gettin' Piggy With It

Hickory Hollow

A giant metal pig stands guard outside Hickory Hollow, a fitting mascot for a restaurant that specializes in eastern North Carolina-style barbecue. But the restaurant’s secret star is the catfish, rolled in cornmeal and fried until it’s ultra-crispy. Don’t miss the super sides or the cobbler of the day, either. 

For the lunchtime do-it-yourselfers

Rice Bowl Asian House

This bustling east Bradenton eatery offers DIY rice bowls that let you pick a flavoring (Kung Pao, Szechuan, etc.), a protein (tofu, chicken, shrimp or beef) and a rice (white, brown or fried). The service is lightning-quick, too, which lets you get in and out before you burn up your lunch hour. 

Breakfast for lunch? Try it!

Sage Biscuit Café

Yes, the biscuits here do have a slight sage flavor to them, and yes, they do taste perfect when matched with the restaurant’s jalapeño bacon and a fried green tomato as part of one of its exceptional Benedicts. Not in the mood for brunch? Go for the beer-braised beef sandwich, enlivened with horseradish cream. 

When you just gotta smell the salt air

Tide Tables

We love Cortez’s Star Fish, but that long line can make it a difficult destination at lunch, so we often opt to visit its sister restaurant, Tide Tables, where you can enjoy a meal right on the Intracoastal and get back to work on time. The grouper basket and sandwich are incredible, and the fish tacos are a winner, too. 

It’s all about the view

The Waterfront Restaurant & Craft Bar

If you can sneak away to Anna Maria Island for a few hours, steer your car to this cute hangout on the Gulf, where you’ll find a pleasant pick of salads, plus entrées like fried oysters, carnitas tacos and a simple, perfect BLT. Check out the craft cocktail menu, too.

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