Small But Mighty

Local Writer Larry Hoffman's Little Sarasota Dining Book Is in Bookstores Now

Hoffman is an area expert on all things local dining, and he wants you to be, too.

By Lauren Jackson January 19, 2024

Little Sarasota Dining Book author Larry Hoffman.

Little Sarasota Dining Book author Larry Hoffman.

The 2024 edition of the Little Sarasota Dining Book has been released and is on bookshelves at area bookstores now. In it, author and dineSarasota creator Larry Hoffman highlights hundreds of restaurants with excerpts from area writers (including this reporter) and recipes from local chefs.

Hoffman, 64, moved to Sarasota in 2002 from Chicago.

“I retired early from my government relations business in Illinois,” Hoffman says. “I had a little bit of a graphic design background and wanted to start a website at a time when the Internet was really getting going. I bought a copy of Adobe Dreamweaver and started just to have something to do, but also to give locally owned and operated restaurants a way to increase their visibility. Most restaurants back then didn’t have their own websites—it wasn’t technically or financially feasible. That was pre-Facebook.”

That website is dineSarasota, which Hoffman describes as a “locally-driven Sarasota restaurant and food website.” Through his work with dineSarasota, the Little Sarasota Dining Book was born.

“I always wanted to do a book," Hoffman says. "I took a few years to build the dineSarasota brand, and the first book was published in 2006. This is the 15th edition. At first, it was 100 percent advertisement-supported. We’d print 20,000 copies and give them out at restaurants by dropping a stack here and there."

After a few years, Hoffman decided he no longer wanted to sell advertising to support the book and reformatted it into what shoppers see today. It's self-published and sells for $14.95 at local retailers, including both Barnes & Noble locations and Bookstore1 in downtown Sarasota.

“They put my books at great locations in the store," Hoffman says. "I like to think of it as an awesome impulse buy at the cash register."

Hoffman could talk for hours about Sarasota and how its dining scene has evolved since 2002.

“We never used to have the depth of global cuisine that we do now," he says. "For example, I love our Indian food, we have three New York-style delis in town, and we finally have great ramen. The most exciting thing about this 20-year journey is seeing the food community blossom."

Hoffman anticipates he’ll continue to publish the Little Sarasota Dining Book years into the future while simultaneously keeping readers updated in real-time on the dineSarasota website. Inevitably, as Hoffman says, “when you hit that print button, a fabulous new restaurant opens.”

The Little Sarasota Dining Book can be purchased at Bookstore1, both Sarasota Barnes & Noble locations or directly from Hoffman. To order your copy, click here.

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