Year in Review

The Top 10 Most-Read Stories We Published 2023

It was a banger of a year for restaurant roundups, top-tier real estate listings and more.

By Megan McDonald December 26, 2023

It is a truth universally acknowledged that our readers love stories about food and real estate—particularly when we're rounding up a list of the Sarasota-Manatee region's best restaurants or reporting on a celebrity home sale (looking at you, Mick Jagger). You also clicked on stories about Sarasota's water quality, the (thankfully brief) return of red tide in February, a $25 million listing on Holmes Beach and more. Let's revisit them.

Best New Restaurants

The past year has a big one for new restaurants in Sarasota and Manatee counties. From hot pot to a new spot for elevated Mexican food, food editor Lauren Jackson created a definitive list of the ones that stand out.

Best Restaurants 2023

There’s never been a better time to eat out in Sarasota. No longer a sleepy beach community known for fish shacks and a handful of fancier options, Sarasota is in the middle of a culinary renaissance. Residents and visitors now have access to global cuisines ranging from Peru to Portugal, India to Israel, and everywhere in between. But there’s still no shortage of places where you can find a great grouper sandwich or  a satisfying plate of shrimp and  grits, either. Here’s our list of the city’s 40 best restaurants. 

Image: Judy Burns

Red Tide Is Back

Back in February, roughly 100 square miles of Florida’s Gulf Coast waters were painted with red tide. The harmful algal bloom spanned the northern end of Longboat Key all the way down to Boca Grande, according to a satellite analysis done by Dr. Dave Tomasko, executive director of the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program. We're just glad it's gone now.

Image: Chad Spencer

The New Owen's Fish Camp Is Open in Lakewood Ranch

A new Owen's was cause for celebration. The menu at the new location is 80 percent to 85 percent the same as the Owen’s downtown, according to the Caragiulo family, but there are some new touches, mostly with meat. You’ll find a grilled hanger steak, for example, as well as ribs cooked in root beer, a brisket sandwich and chicken and dumplings. Still, the emphasis is on seafood. You can read our full review right here.

Check Out the Most Expensive Listing in Manatee County Right Now

If you can find a pot of gold, this home is worth one. But beware of leprechauns, because with its $25 million price tag, you’ll need a lot of the stuff. Owners Angela and Rick Mikles, who built the three-level, 11,548 square-foot under-roof compound after tearing down the previous 2,500 square-foot ’90s beach house in 2019, say they want to sell to simplify their lives and “recover from construction fatigue. The listing was removed in September 2023 after the price was reduced to $22.5 million in May 2023. Want to ogle more mega-money home sales? See our list of the top residential sales in 2023 right here.

Sarasota Has a Poop Problem

We know, gross. Back in January, the Suncoast Waterkeeper released water sample reports from seven sites throughout Sarasota County’s bays. The report at the end of January showed a general decline in enterococci colony-forming units (in laymen’s terms, that means poop). Less poop in our waters? That’s great news! Right? Not so fast. Dr. Abbey Tyrna, executive director and Waterkeeper of Suncoast WaterKeeper, told us that these low numbers are not indicative of less fecal matter in our bays. “They do not necessarily indicate cleaner water,” Tyrna said. “One thing that we need to pay attention to is when we take the samples so that we can analyze the results and correlate them with salinity.” It's always good to be informed...right?

What’s Going on at the Corner of University Parkway and U.S. 301 in Sarasota?

The answer is UNFI, an acronym for United Natural Foods, Inc. The new development at this busy corner span more than 1 million square feet and replace UNFI's aging facility at 6272 McIntosh Road. The new address is 8380 21st St. E., Sarasota, even though the address is technically in Manatee County, not Sarasota. If you’re unfamiliar with UNFI, you’re familiar with the company’s clients. The grocer wholesaler distributes natural food products to retail chains spanning more than 30,000 locations across the U.S. and Canada, including Whole Foods Market.

Mick Jagger’s Florida Home Is For Sale

Apparently Jagger couldn't get no satisfaction—at least, not long-term—at his Lakewood Ranch estate. Jagger, his wife Melanie Hamrick and their young son were too busy out of state to keep their 5,700-square-foot Lakewood Ranch home, which they invested $300,000 into making their own. The home was listed for $3,499,000 in June and eventually sold for $3.25 million—cash—in August.

Here’s What’s Coming to the Corner of North Tamiami Trail and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way

Thanks to the Ringling College of Art and Design’s Catalyst for Creativity fundraising campaign, it’s Ringling’s new Signature Academic Building. The vacant lot was formerly home to some metal sculptures and, before that, a Shell gas station. Now, thanks to the college’s Catalyst for Creativity fundraising campaign, it’s slated to be home to Ringling’s new Signature Academic Building. Spanning more than 100,000 square feet, the new four-story building will house the campus welcome center and house the Richard and Barbara Basch Gallery’s collection of more than 300 pieces. It will also be the new home of the school’s computer animation, entertainment design, game art, and virtual reality development departments, with more than 6,200 square feet of event space and 25 labs and academic spaces.

Peek Inside a Terra Ceia ‘Barndominium’

“Barndominiums” have been done before, but not in Terra Ceia.

It is what it sounds like: a barn converted into a home. And since one was featured on Chip and Joanna Gaines’ show Fixer Upper, their popularity has grown. But Jamie Zeigler didn’t start with an existing barn. She designed one from the ground up—and acted as architect, general contractor (she doesn’t have a license, but she hired the subs) and project manager on her three-bedroom, two-bathroom “barndo” perched on five lush acres. She says barndominiums are all the rage in Texas and Georgia, and people will spend millions on them—especially since steel has doubled in price since the pandemic. Hers sold for $1.1 million in June. Will we see more barndominiums pop up in the future? Only time will tell.

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