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Sarasota's Best New Restaurants

The past year has a big one for new restaurants in Sarasota and Manatee counties. Here are the ones that stand out.

By Lauren Jackson

Every year, Sarasota's culinary scene grows with new and exciting offerings, but over the past year, it has soared to new heights with fancy food, epic sandwiches and overall good vibes. Check out our list of the best new restaurants in the region.

Bar Hana.

Bar Hana

1289 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota, (941) 536-9717,

Brought to you by the owners of Kojo, located right next door, comes Bar Hana. This tiki-inspired bar and restaurant features juicy cocktails paired with pan-Asian bites with a Polynesian influence. The interior has a hip feel, with a sleek, black-tiled bar anchoring the space, contrasted by natural tones from rattan-lined walls. Try the "Scarlett Macaw" cocktail made with cachaça, apertivo, vanilla and pineapple for an instant escape to a tropical island.

Chana masala at Turmeric.

Chana masala at Turmeric.

Image: Chad Spencer


1001 Cocoanut Ave., Sarasota, (941) 212-2622,

Located on the corner 10th Street and Cocoanut Avenue in the old Starlite Room space, Turmeric revitalizes the Indian food scene in Sarasota. Warm aromatic spices permeate the dining room with hints of cinnamon, clove and cardamom hanging in the air as dishes pass through the dining room. Start your meal with a mocktail from the restaurant's extensive list or grab something with higher octane if you’re in the mood for a little more fun. We love the sham savera for dinner, made with paneer (house-made cheese) dumplings in a warm tomato sauce.

The spacious bar at Rocco's Tacos.

Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar

243 N. Cattleman Road, Sarasota, (941) 477-8226,

With all the hype surrounding Rocco’s Tacos opening, we were worried the new restaurant at University Town Center might not live up to the hoopla. But we were pleased to be proven wrong as we sampled a menu which showcases well-worn favorites like tacos, burritos, enchiladas and quesadillas. Be sure to order at least one taco, made with a fresh corn tortilla that will surprise even the harshest critic. And with more than 300 tequilas to choose from, you’re sure to find an exceptional cocktail to start the night off right.

Wood-fired pizza at Malmosto.

Wood-fired pizza at Malmosto.


2085 Siesta Drive, #3, Sarasota, (941) 706-1460,

At Malmosto, come for the wine but stay for the food. The wine shop offers plenty of options to take home, but if you leave too soon, you’ll miss out on Andrea Bozzolo’s masterful cuisine, all made in an imported oven. While his pizza and wine are a match made in heaven, we also love the short ribs, or anything from the salumi list. Fall in love with an unexpected glass of wine that will keep you coming back again and again.

Cozy vibes at Oscura.

Cozy vibes at Oscura.


816 Manatee Ave., Bradenton, (941) 201-4950,

Part live music venue, part event space and part café, Oscura offers a taste of everything, depending on the experience you’re looking for. While the concept isn’t brand new, the space in historic downtown Bradenton is. Check out Oscura’s calendar of events for a lively punk show, but don’t forget to return the following day for a taste of its simple yet inspired menu. Ricotta toast is topped with homemade jam and pistachio brittle and chicken salad gets a makeover with salsa macha (a Mexican chili crisp), fried shallots and pickled cucumbers.

Raw scallops at Meliora.

Raw scallops at Meliora.


1920 Hillview St., Sarasota, (941) 444-7692,

The much-anticipated Meliora opened in March of last year on Hillview Street in Southside Village, and all year adventurous foodies have crowded the restaurant to sample chef Drew Adams’ inventive cuisine. For an immersive experience, snag a seat at the chef’s table in the back and watch the team churn out beautiful dishes for hungry diners.

Chicken shawarma at Florence and the Spice Boys.

Chicken shawarma at Florence and the Spice Boys.

Florence and the Spice Boys

4990 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, (941) 405-3890

Modern Middle Eastern fare finds a seat at the table at Florence and the Spice Boys, which opened in December in The Landings shopping plaza. The décor matches the food—bright and colorful—and we recommend tucking into the chicken shawarma for a flavorful bite that ticks all the boxes.

Mac and cheese at Fork & Hen.

Fork & Hen

2801 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, (941) 960-1212,

"Southern eclectic with our own special spin” is how Fork & Hen co-owner Mark Traugutt describes his North Trail restaurant. Fried chicken served in a myriad of preparations dominates the menu and leaves diners feeling satisfied every time. For a creative twist on a familiar Southern dish, order the birria and grits and thank us later.

Dolsot bibimbap at Korê.

Dolsot bibimbap at Korê.

Korê Steakhouse

1561 Lakefront Dr., Sarasota, (941) 928-5673,

Play chef for the night at Korean steakhouse Korê, which opened in Waterside Place last year. Giggle with your guests as you prepare your meat selections tableside (with the happy guidance of your server, if needed). Whatever you do, don’t sleep on the dolsot bibimbap, a classic Korean dish overflowing with beef, vegetables, rice and a fried egg. Oh-so good.

Hero sandwiches at Faicco's.

Hero sandwiches at Faicco's.


3590 Webber St., Sarasota, (941) 960-1395

A 122-year-old New York institution, Faicco’s set its sights on expansion with Sarasota as its chosen location. Gargantuan sandwiches, called “heroes,” are the star of the show here, with mountains of meat and cheese piled between bread. The only difficulty is finishing the whole thing.

Pastrami sandwich at Meshugana Deli.

Pastrami sandwich at Meshugana Deli.

Meshugana Deli

4001 Clark Road, Sarasota, (917) 336-7574,

What started as a takeout-only spot has flourished and turned into a permanent full-service restaurant on Clark Road. Jewish food fans can rejoice at Meshugana Deli by enjoying loads of black-and-white cookies, potato knishes and even noodle kugel are available at this newly beloved establishment. But it’s the pastrami sandwich that steals the show.

Fish and chips at Kiwi Style Fish and Chips.

Fish and chips at Kiwi Style Fish and Chips.

Kiwi Style Fish and Chips

3608 E. Bay Dr., Holmes Beach, Bradenton, (941) 704-5040,

Sometimes simplicity is best—and at Kiwi Style Fish and Chips on Anna Maria Island, the team has perfected the art of, simple, unadorned, delicious fish and chips. With close proximity to Holmes Beach, it’s an ideal stop after playing in the Gulf.

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