Guests enjoy waterfront dining at Shore on Longboat Key

Guests enjoy waterfront dining at Shore on Longboat Key

Image: Jenny Acheson

Even if you’re not one of the lucky residents of Longbeach Village, you can still explore the community by foot, bike or boat, or simply dine at one of our region’s best restaurants. Whatever you do, take it slow. With its multiple docks, canals, pedestrian-friendly streets and seashell alleyways, a day in Longbeach Village demands a “hammock-under-the-palm fronds” attitude.

What to Do

If you want to make it a beach day, start out at Whitney Beach, directly across Gulf of Mexico Drive from Longbeach Village. A recent renourishment project there has expanded an already uncrowded beach. Parking is free in the tiny parking lot by the beach or at Whitney Plaza across the street.

If the beach isn’t in your plans or you’ve had enough sun and sand, you can explore the Village’s charming streets and waterfront by foot or bike. (Parking is limited in this residential community, so park at Whitney Plaza.)

If you’re coming by boat, dock at the restaurants Mar Vista or Shore.

Where To Eat

Shore

This restaurant is a standout piece of architecture. But will this impressive space make you feel like you have to ditch the flip-flops? No way. Its midcentury-modern design creates a coastal vibe with concrete breeze blocks and polished teak wood details. The menu is a gourmet fish lover's happy place. Get the 100-percent lump crab cake, tuna tartar or Thai curry mussels to start, and follow up with the branzino or black grouper. There’s still a burger and mac ‘n’ cheese for land food lovers. With 450 feet of waterfront, Shore juts over Sarasota Bay, with terraces and tiered tables, offering a water view for all. Grab a cocktail, sit around one of the long rectangular fire pits, and check out the dock where some diners arrive by boat.

Whitney’s

Whitney’s restaurant, a shady oasis that opened in 2020, has been designed with island living in mind. Rinse off the sand thanks to one of its handy outdoor showers. Then take a seat indoors or out in this bright and cheery time capsule that used to be a 1950s gas station and still resembles one, with nostalgic Americana details. While it’s more local to opt for fresh snapper, fish tacos or a blackened grouper sandwich, no one will blame you for going with the burger in this old-school, yet elevated diner ambiance.

Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant & Pub

A revamp between 2016 and 2019 brought this old neighborhood gem to the next level. Head to the back, beneath huge buttonwood trees, hung with lights and staghorn fern. Diners paddle up by kayak or tie up their boats, and the seating area connects to a small beach on Sarasota Bay, where kids can dig into the shore while their parents sip Pinot Grigio and mango daiquiris nearby. The company was founded by Ed Chiles, the son of former Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles. Ed is on a mission to highlight the bounty of the Gulf and the region’s heritage foods, using fresh, locally sourced ingredients, and the menu reflects that.

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