The Best Part of Waking Up

A Guide to the Region's Best Breakfast Spots

Whatever breakfast means to you, our area is rich with options. From humble diners to culinary temples, local eateries serve a stunning variety of morning meals.

By Cooper Levey-Baker and Lauren Jackson Published in the January-February 2023 issue of Sarasota Magazine

For some folks, breakfast is nothing more than a gulp of coffee and a quick bite of fruit before they run out the door. For others, it’s a plate of eggs and potatoes that energizes them for the day ahead, or a spread of pastries and jams, enjoyed while perusing Instagram, because they’ve got nowhere special to be.

Whatever breakfast means to you, our area is rich with options. From humble diners to culinary temples, local eateries serve a stunning variety of morning meals. Here are the best places to start your day.

Anita’s Restaurant

This family diner seats dozens inside a roomy A-frame structure decorated with hot rod renderings and Route 66 memorabilia. The “Morning Beat” sandwich contains bacon, egg, avocado and a fried green tomato. Doused in hot sauce, it’s an excellent treat, as are the well-caramelized hash browns that take up the rest of the plate. The flaky biscuits are terrific, too. 441 S. Tamiami Trail, Nokomis, (941) 485-3859

Blú Island Bistro

Tucked next to a small motel along a curve of U.S. 41 on Venice Island, Blú Island Bistro is easy to miss but hard to forget. It does the expected uncommonly well. The buttermilk pancakes, for example, follow a recipe that’s been used for decades, producing succulent cakes that are crispy outside and moist inside, forming a flavorful union with butter and warm syrup dispensed from glass thimbles. 625 Tamiami Trail S., Venice, (941) 485-8200, bluislandbistro.com

Eggs Benedict at Blue Dolphin Cafe

Eggs Benedict at Blue Dolphin Cafe

Image: Chad Spencer

Blue Dolphin Café

With one location on stylish St. Armands Circle and another on Longboat Key, Blue Dolphin feels like a welcoming neighborhood joint. The menu runs the a.m. gamut from corned beef hash to huevos rancheros and Belgian waffles, with a very worthy eggs Benedict playing a starring role. The Dolphin is a perfect place for kicking back with coffee and the paper or your phone. 470 John Ringling Blvd., St. Armands Circle, Sarasota, (941) 388-3566; 5370 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Suite 101, Longboat Key, (941) 383-3787; bluedolphincafe.com

The Breakfast Cottage

Vintage charm gets a tropical twist at The Breakfast Cottage, a lively yellow hotspot in Nokomis. It couldn’t be more inviting, with an eclectic mix of restored furniture and beachy accessories in hues of orange, yellow, pink and purple. The place to be is the front porch, shaded by a massive oak tree decked out in orchids and air plants. The menu is equally inviting: sumptuous, fluffy omelets; buttery biscuits swimming in sausage gravy; pancakes plain or topped with tropical fruit; and a lush assortment of eggs Benedicts. 2301 N. Tamiami Trail, Nokomis, (941) 313-9529, thebreakfastcottage.com

“The Original Plus” at The Breakfast House.

The Breakfast House

We may be exaggerating—but not by much—when we say that The Breakfast House has revolutionized the art of the pancake. At too many restaurants, a pancake seems like an afterthought—a fat, spongy disc of dough with little discernible flavor, topped with caramel-colored corn syrup masquerading as maple. Breakfast House’s pancake, though, marries a lovely, tight griddled skin to a creamy interior pocked with air holes and bearing subtle toasted notes. The package is enlivened by butter and genuine maple syrup. The ’cakes taste even better when eaten as part of “Uncle Harry’s Hearty Breakfast,” a belly-busting sampler of eggs, grits, potatoes and corned beef hash. 1817 Fruitville Road, Sarasota, (941) 366-6860, sarasotabreakfasthouse.com

Burgundy Square Café

Always a favorite, downtown Venice’s Burgundy Square Café has a neighborly vibe, with tables of friends clustered together chatting about last night’s antics over egg platters and coffee. The “Garden Scramble” mixes together eggs, spinach, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms and cheese, with a pile of crispy-skinned home fries on the side. Other favorites include an eggs Benedict made with Maine lobster, scallops and Gulf shrimp, and billowy, crispy-skinned pancakes. On pleasant mornings, snag a seat at one of the outdoor tables in the Burgundy Square arcade to watch tourists mosey up and down Miami Avenue. 227 Miami Ave. W., Venice, (941) 451-8261, burgundysquarecafe.website

Espresso cake at Buttermilk Handcrafted Food.

Espresso cake at Buttermilk Handcrafted Food.

Buttermilk Handcrafted Food

Buttermilk avoids the “restaurant” tag, because it’s not really a full-service establishment. Instead, it’s a charming gathering place with carefully thought-out biscuits, grits and toasts, pastries and pies that leave you shivering with delight, plus robust coffees that are a pleasure to linger over. Part Southern comfort, part heartland throwback, the baked goods at Buttermilk include layered, buttery biscuits slathered with salty gravy, cinnamon rolls the size of basketballs and dense, sweet pies. Order pie for breakfast? No judgment here. 5520 Palmer Blvd., Sarasota, (941) 487-8948

Café Evergreen

Sometimes you just want a healthy bite to start the day. Enter Café Evergreen, which is located in a cheery, sunlight-filled, Mediterranean-style building on the South Trail. The menu bills itself as “healthy food and drinks for a healthy life,” and breakfast options include smoothies, juices, wheatgrass and blue algae shots, and a variety of egg-based dishes like omelets and Benedicts. If the weather permits, enjoy your meal outside in the Southwest Florida sunshine and get some extra vitamin D. You’ll leave full and feeling good. 801 S. Tamiami Trail S., Nokomis, (941) 412-4334, cafeevergreen.net

C’est La Vie!

For more than two decades, C’est La Vie! has delivered a cup of joie de vivre to Main Street diners in the mood for crêpes, quiches, croissants, sandwiches and salads. The crêpes, made of eggy, stretchy dough, pack in savory ingredients like bacon, cheese, mushrooms, potatoes and eggs, and just gazing at the pastry cases filled with fresh-baked French concoctions can bring on a sugar and butter rush. 1553 Main St., Sarasota, (941) 906-9575, cestlaviesarasota.com

Cortez Café

Searching out ultra-affordable, no-frills diner standards, regulars pile into this laid-back dive on Cortez Road, just east of the heart of the historic fishing village of Cortez and a hop, skip and a jump from the bridge that takes you out to Anna Maria Island. Pancakes so big they spill over the edge of your plate, chunky sausage gravy, hash browns with just the right amount of grease—what’s not to love? Cortez Café is a perfect pit stop before heading out to the island or out on the boat for the day. 12108 Cortez Road W., Cortez, (941) 792-0030

Croissant & Co.

Most mornings, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a seat at this downtown Venice boulangerie, pâtisserie and restaurant. Credit the mountain of pastries and sweets behind the counter up front, as well as a menu loaded with quiches, sandwiches and salads. The torsades are moist and delicious, the Danishes glisten and the cream toppings will have you licking your fingers. Every seat might be taken, but don’t lose heart: Grab a bagful of sugary treats and devour them on the pavement out front. 323 W. Venice Ave., Venice, (941) 480-1700, croissantandcovenice.com

Der Dutchman

The little Amish-Mennonite community of Pinecraft is beloved by locals and visitors for its many restaurants serving hearty comfort food. There’s no better place to sample that than at Der Dutchman, which serves strips of crispy bacon, magnificent hash browns and big, doughy biscuits. You’ll see plenty of beards and bonnets here, of course, but along with Pinecraft neighbors, the eatery also attracts working-class people filling up before a day spent repairing roofs and pouring concrete. 3713 Bahia Vista St., Sarasota, (941) 955-8007, dhgroup.com

Eggs-Traordinary Café

This café’s two locations offer crazy-affordable breakfast food from sunup until 3 p.m. every day of the week, cranking out primarily egg-heavy plates. Winners include the rich corned beef hash, topped with a couple eggs, and the “classic Benny,” a traditional eggs Benedict upgraded with applewood-smoked pork. The decor is old-school touristy Florida, with colorful images of the sun, the ocean, seagulls, shells, seahorses and lizards, and the service is equally cheery—and quick. 2282 N. Tamiami Trail, Nokomis, (941) 966-6652; 3981 Cattlemen Road, Sarasota, (941) 346-6931; eggstraordinarycafe.com

“Pork Green Chile Hash” at First Watch.

“Pork Green Chile Hash” at First Watch.

First Watch

First Watch has grown from a small Manatee County-based chain into the nation’s largest breakfast-lunch operation, with hundreds of locations in dozens of states. It’s easy to see why. The company’s outposts serve fresh, affordable, straightforward breakfasts from kitchens that don’t use heat lamps or deep fryers, and the food is often delivered at breakneck speed. The formula attracts everyone from the dressed-up post-church crowd at six-tops to entrepreneurs working on laptops. 1395 Main St., Sarasota, (941) 954-1395; plus many other area locations; firstwatch.com

Fresh Start Café

The global touches on the menu of this downtown café truly set it apart. Israeli burekas—pastries stuffed with hard-boiled egg, tomato and pepper—are unlike any other breakfast in town. But even Italian dishes like Fresh Start’s frittatas are winners. The “El Caliente” frittata isn’t very “caliente,” but the cilantro and jalapeños add depth to the eggs and a dollop of sour cream and salsa bring freshness. Opt for dining outside. The brick patio is alongside a well-traveled downtown road, but somehow the space always feels quiet and relaxed, and the breezes can’t be beat. 630 S. Orange Ave., Sarasota, (941) 373-1242, freshstartcafesrq.com

Green Zebra

This vegan-friendly breakfast and lunch spot is popular with the wellness crowd for its juices, raw dishes and wheatgrass shots, but even those adamantly opposed to exercise can find something to enjoy here. Try one of the Zebra’s Benedicts, wraps or sandwiches, or the ever-popular avocado toast, dressed with honey and chili flakes. 476 John Ringling Blvd., St. Armands Circle, Sarasota, (941) 388-2848; 1377 Main St., Sarasota, (941) 312-6707; greenzebracafe.com

Gulf Drive Café

The Gulf Drive Café sits right on a gorgeous spread of Anna Maria Island beach. We like to eat outside, on a patio next to the sand or underneath the tiki roof. The menu includes classics like omelets, pancakes and waffles, but we’re suckers for the corned beef hash, served with three perfectly cooked eggs and a side of thick, sticky oatmeal swirled with brown sugar. 900 Gulf Drive N., Bradenton Beach, (941) 778-1919, gulfdrivetiki.com

Harry’s Continental Kitchens

Harry’s serves a mix of traditional and innovative breakfasts every morning of the week. A humble omelet comes out bursting with bright reds and greens, and even the potatoes on the side have been artfully arranged. If you’re seeking something substantial, try the shrimp and grits. Tender crustaceans circle a mound of rich, sticky, cheesy corn, and it’s all surrounded by a puddle of a powerful garlicky reduction. Enjoy it with a Bloody Mary that comes with a slice of bacon. The tall red glass is layered with olives and pickled greens. This counts as a serving of vegetables, right? 5600 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key, (941) 383-0777, harryskitchen.com

Jersey Girl Bagels

Arguably the best bagels in the area, Jersey Girl bagels are hot, fresh and chewy, with a shiny exterior. Owner Kim Fischman works nonstop with her team to provide authentic New Jersey-style bagels in traditional flavors like poppy seed, sesame seed and everything. There are also specialty flavors like Asiago, French toast and rainbow, which will delight even the most discerning palate. 5275 University Parkway, #103, Bradenton, (941) 388-8910, jerseygirlbagels.net

Keke’s Breakfast Cafe

Keke’s boasts multiple locations in the area, with a huge menu that includes omelets, waffles, panini, BLTs, clubs, salads, burgers and wraps. Don’t sleep on the breakfast sandwich, one of the area’s best. The egg yolk bursts when you bite into it, drenching the bread, and the crispy bacon provides a crunchy counterpoint to all that yolk. Also great: the granola crunch pancakes, made from dough laced with crunchy granola and then topped with banana slices. 5405 University Parkway, Unit 104, University Park, (941) 388-8953; 3456 Clark Road, Sarasota, (941) 444-9487; 11633 State Road 70 E., Bradenton, (941) 739-6555; 1121 Cortez Road W., Bradenton, (941) 345-4463; kekes.com

Le Petit Jardin Café

Le Petit Jardin Café is a cozy and intimate destination, the kind of place where you can sip coffee and plow through a novel well after the server has rung up your check and you won’t feel hurried in the slightest. The menu complements the restaurant’s immense Impressionist mural of a French street market scene, with a selection of Gallic morning stars like crêpes and croissants. On one morning, two women each ordered their favorite, the Delacroix crêpe, pumped up with ham, eggs, Swiss cheese and an addictive champagne mustard sauce. “Do you want more champagne mustard sauce?” the restaurant’s lone server asked. “I always want more,” one said, laughing. 1500 E. Venice Ave., Unit 401, Venice, (941) 244-3231, lepetitjardincafe.com

Blueberry pancakes at Lovely Square.

Blueberry pancakes at Lovely Square.

Lovely Square Restaurant

Open daily for breakfast and lunch, Lovely Square serves a big pick of Benedicts, croissant entrées, omelets, frittatas, crêpes, pancakes, French toasts and much, much more. Try the huevos rancheros, which is prepared by placing two sunny-side-up eggs on black beans and a corn tortilla, with crumbles of goat cheese on top and wedges of avocado on the side. 6559 Gateway Ave., Sarasota, (941) 724-2512, lovelysquareflorida.com

Cinnamon rolls at Mama G’s German Bakery and Coffeehouse.

Cinnamon rolls at Mama G’s German Bakery and Coffeehouse.

Mama G’s German Bakery & Coffeehouse

In an unassuming strip mall in north Sarasota, the freshest pastries are making their way to hundreds of hungry bellies. Cinnamon streusel, almond croissants and even a Cuban sandwich-inspired pastry are just a few highlights from the daily rotating menu. Pair them with a hot or iced latte for the perfect breakfast on the go. 8431 N. Tamiami Trail, #2015, Sarasota, (941) 355-9236, mamagscoffee.com

Maple Street Biscuit Company

The first Maple Street opened in Jacksonville in 2012 and has since migrated to Georgia, the Carolinas, Tennessee and Texas, pulling in customers with a Southern-centric menu heavy on biscuit sandwiches and platters. Enjoying a well-made biscuit is one of life’s great pleasures, and here they’re terrific: soft and flaky, with a bumpy, toasted exterior, and a sour-sweet flavor that is good on its own, but tastes even better when married to the shop’s ultra-crispy fried chicken. To sample what this place does best, order “The Sticky Maple,” which packs a hunk of that fried chicken and a pile of crunchy bacon into a biscuit that rests in a puddle of maple syrup. 8491 Cooper Creek Blvd., No. 107, Sarasota, (941) 358-5200, maplestreetbiscuits.com

Max’s Table

Located in quiet Osprey, this breakfast and lunch staple—named for the owners’ daughter’s initials—offers consistently delicious fare. The dining room is bright and cheerful and the food is top-notch, with options that run the gamut from healthy to traditional to nap-inducing. We particularly love the corned beef hash with over-easy eggs for a rich weekend brunch. 115 S. Tamiami Trail, Osprey, (941) 220-7463, maxstablesrq.com

The Oasis Café & Bakery

A pastel-hued mainstay of mid-Sarasota, this small café is a go-to spot for neighbors and businesspeople putting their heads together for a working meal. One past special piled together a crispy black bean cake, slices of avocado, a poached egg and Hollandaise for a one-of-a-kind Benedict. Oasis displays its popular fresh-baked goods in a glass case and on some tabletops right inside the front windows. The selection includes everything from buttermilk biscuits to muffins laced with ingredients like oatmeal and brown sugar. 3542 S. Osprey Ave., Sarasota, (941) 957-1214, theoasiscafeandbakery.com

The Old Salty Dog (City Island)

Overlook the blue-green waters of New Pass while enjoying our favorite Bloody Mary in town. Made traditionally or extra-spicy and garnished with loads of pickled peppers and a few cubes of cheese, this drink could double as a small meal. The breakfast menu covers all the bases, with favorites like biscuits and gravy or a Belgian waffle. Don’t forget to wave at passing boaters to make them jealous. (While there are other Salty Dog locations, the City Island restaurant is the only one that serves breakfast.) 1601 Ken Thompson Pkwy, Sarasota, (941) 388-4311, theoldsaltydog.com

The Original Egg

After the old Broken Egg chain split up, the lone remaining restaurant underwent a rebrand, becoming The Original Egg. What hasn’t changed? The food. The restaurant’s “colossal” pancakes and “eggseptional” platters still dominate the menu. We like “Kylee’s Peachy Waffle,” topped with peaches, pecans and cinnamon sugar. Or try the “Sheepherder Skillet,” a basic egg, potato and cheese concoction that tastes fantastic when doused in hot sauce. 4031 Clark Road, Sarasota, (941) 922-2868, theoriginalegg.com

Pop’s Sunset Grill

Can you imagine anything better than watching dolphins play first thing in the morning? Add a lobster Benedict and you have yourself a perfect start to the day. The expansive tiki-thatched restaurant recently launched a small breakfast menu with options like the ultimate egg sandwich and avocado toast to get you set for an idyllic day by the water. 112 Circuit Road, Nokomis, (941) 488-3177, popssunsetgrill.com

Project

Oat milk flows freely at Project, where the coffee is great and the food is even better. Cozy up with an iced vanilla latte and a mountainous Impossible sausage, egg and cheese biscuit while watching the crowd gather at this sunny downtown hangout. A favorite for working professionals, networkers and social butterflies, this spot offers an all-vegan menu that will win over everyone. 538 S. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota, projectcoffee.us

Rendez-Vous

Chef Joël Garcia opened Rendez-Vous in late 2015, baking up a mind-bending mix of savory loaves, morning-time sweets and after-dinner desserts. Garcia’s croissants are bigger and more thickly skinned than others, with a mahogany exterior wrapped around the pastry’s buttery inner layers. His baguette is a winner, too, with a skin that crepitates when you bite down and roughs up the roof of your mouth. Rendez-Vous also puts together some mean sandwiches with that bread. 5336 Clark Road, Sarasota, (941) 924-1234; 2117 Siesta Drive, Sarasota, (941) 552-9240; rendezvoussarasota.com

Sage Biscuit Café

The biscuits at this popular two-location Bradenton restaurant are scented with sage (of course), and they are exceptional, as are the restaurant’s handful of jazzed-up Benedicts. We consider the jalapeño, bacon and fried green tomato version an instant classic. 6656 Cortez Road W., Bradenton, (941) 792-3970; 1401 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton, (941) 405-4744; sagebiscuitbradenton.com

The Serving Spoon

Southside Village’s Serving Spoon has been dishing up hearty breakfast fare for decades. The interior includes a range of light-wood tables and booths, plus a long bar with seats that are perfect for individual diners. In addition to standards like pancakes, omelets and a very good Belgian waffle (crisp on the outside with a light and fluffy interior), you’ll also find hearty skillet combos, biscuits and gravy and fresh juices. Even if you’re a first-timer, the waitresses will make you feel like you’ve been coming here since forever. 1825 S. Osprey Ave., Sarasota, (941) 388-7235, theservingspoonsarasota.com

Simon’s Coffee House

Simon’s has earned a reputation for its healthy offerings, which undersells just how delicious the food is. You’ll find everyone here, from retirees and real estate mavens to tattooed hipsters with little kids. Breakfast options include a variety of egg platters, omelets and breakfast sandwiches, with an emphasis on vegetarian options. We’re typically guided by what’s new on the specials board, which lean toward culinary mashups with flavors that trot the globe. 5900 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, (941) 926-7151, simonstogo.com

Blueberry almond pancakes at Station 400.

Blueberry almond pancakes at Station 400.

Station 400

A popular destination for breakfast, lunch and brunch, Station 400 serves fluffy pancakes, rich egg platters, huge salads and excellent sandwiches. No meal is 
complete without a plate of French fries tossed with truffle oil and Parmigiano-Reggiano. 400 N. Lemon Ave., Sarasota, (941) 906-1400; 8215 Lakewood Main St., 
Suite P103, Lakewood Ranch, (941) 907-0648; station400.com

Pesto tomato toast at Summer Tap Juice Bar.

Pesto tomato toast at Summer Tap Juice Bar.

Summer Tap Juice Bar

Offering a bright and tropical start to the day, Summer Tap isn’t just serving up fresh-squeezed juice. The shop also has some of the most beautiful toasts you’ve ever laid eyes on. With plenty of plant-based options like peanut butter with berries or avocado with cucumber, it’s sure to become your best new way to start a healthy day. 411 S. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota, (941) 993-1449

Liege style waffles at Sun Garden Café.

Liege style waffles at Sun Garden Café.

Image: Chad Spencer

Sun Garden Café

This Siesta Key mainstay attracts both sun-blasted tourists and mainlanders making the trek out to the beach, offering a mix of egg-based standards, plus more unusual dishes like the iconic sweet potato pancakes—so smooth, so sweet, so fluffy that they can singlehandedly turn your week around. Waffles made with batter dotted with pecans and bacon are another fave. Outside, striped awnings protect customers from the sun on a wide stone patio bright with tropical flowers and an occasional visiting songbird. This may just be Siesta’s best place to wake up. 210 Avenida Madera, Siesta Key, Sarasota, (941) 346-7170, sungardencafe.com

Suncoast Café

Airport dining gets a bum rap, but a visit to Suncoast Café may change your mind. Situated in a cozy corner of the Venice Municipal Airport, the café serves filling breakfasts and lunches to regulars and the occasional tourist. Chef Tony DuBoulay, a native of Saint Lucia, has brought flavors of the Caribbean to menu items like a breakfast Cuban featuring slow-roasted pork and refried beans. Try a quesadilla with scrambled eggs, bacon, cheese and salsa or maybe the “Flight Attendant’s” omelet, boasting fresh tomato, spinach, green peppers, mushrooms and onions. You might become a frequent flier. 400 Airport Ave. W., Venice, (941) 484-0100, suncoastcafe.com

Sunnyside Café

This small café opened in 2014, taking over a previously cursed greasy spoon attached to an apartment complex. The new look features tall, wide windows that let in an ocean of light. While lunch and dinner run Hungarian, the breakfast menu features mostly American classics, with a pleasant upgrade here and there. The restaurant salts its own salmon, for example, and throws a curveball with out-of-this-world savory chickpea pancakes. If you’re looking for the finest breakfast on the north side of town, look no further. 4900 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, (941) 359-9500, sunnysidecafesrq.com

The Toasted Mango Café

The Mango’s devoted following snaps up healthy items, like smoothies, and more conventional breakfast items and sandwiches. Favorites include banana and granola pancakes and the avocado toast. 430 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, (941) 388-7728; 6621 Midnight Pass Road, Siesta Key, Sarasota, (941) 552-6485; toastedmangocafe.com

Upper Crust Café & Bakery

Both refined enough to be lit with glass chandeliers and casual enough for a Spandexed cyclist, this downtown Venice restaurant caters to everyone. Longtime customers duck past the pastry and dessert case up front and snag tables in the small dining room, asking for servers by name. The vibe is quiet and relaxed, with the rustle of newspaper pages, the murmur of conversation and the periodic whoosh of the espresso machine. The crab cake Benedict will kill any hunger pains you might have, heavy on the crab meat and doused in a mild but tasty Cajun Hollandaise. On your way out, don’t forget something sweet. 213 W. Venice Ave., Venice, (941) 244-0430, uppercrustvenice.com

Waffle House

People flock to the Waffle House for sustenance, companionship and a vanishing American experience. There’s no gluten-free option here, no fancy cheese or turkey bacon, just a collection of iconic diner items cooked in front of you and handed over immediately by solicitous servers. A highlight: hash browns, woven with ingredients like sautéed onions and jalapeños and seared on one of the restaurant’s big flattops. Another: the pecan waffle, a thin latticed disc of griddled dough studded with little nobs of nuts. A third: an endless cup of coffee, poured as black as midnight on a moonless night. 5737 Clark Road, Sarasota, (941) 921-6599; 2400 Cortez Road W., Bradenton, (941) 357-6352; 603 67th St. Circle E., Bradenton, (941) 747-6634; 1515 51st Ave. E., Ellenton, (941) 723-1177; wafflehouse.com

Waffle Stop

Dine with Elvis at this iconic Sarasota staple. In 1956, while on tour in Florida, Elvis enjoyed three eggs, three pieces of bacon, three pieces of toast, pan-fried potatoes and three glasses of milk here—a meal fit for a king. Overflowing with Elvis decor to celebrate its rich pop culture history, Waffle Stop is a must-visit for every fan. 660 S. Washington Blvd., Sarasota, (941) 952-0555

Wee Blew Inn

This old-school diner pops out plates of eggs, corned beef hash and home fries in three minutes or less. The servers are as fast as the cooks, pouring coffee warmups before your brown mug is even half-empty and calling you “honey” when you walk in. The emphasis on speed means there are few frills on the menu. You’ll find eggy basics, plus French toast, short stacks and biscuits, at prices that start at just a few bucks. Sit at the bar that runs the length of the kitchen to watch the cooks cook and listen to the steady clack-clack of the spatula on the flattop and the hiss of sizzling potatoes. 590 U.S. 41 Bypass, Venice, (941) 484-5616

Word of Mouth

Word of Mouth opened in Gulf Gate in 1996, well before the neighborhood grew into a foodie destination. Through all the changes, the restaurant has remained dedicated to simple, high-quality dishes served in generous portions. We dig the homemade pastries, the omelets and—our personal favorite—the towering breakfast sandwich of egg, cheese and either bacon or a sausage patty, which comes on an English muffin, a croissant or a buttermilk biscuit. Pick the biscuit, a delicate hunk of dough blessed with a crackling golden crust. 6604 Gateway Ave., Sarasota, (941) 925-2400; 1740 E. Venice Ave., Venice, (941) 218-6509; originalwordofmouth.com

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