Pricing Key: $ Inexpensive  $$ Moderate  $$$ Expensive

1592 Wood Fired Kitchen & Cocktails

1592 is a destination for solid Greek food, but owners Edward Zaki, Mila Aguiar and Alexandre Gosselin have also expanded the menu, adding flavors from Turkey, Syria, Portugal and Italy. The restaurant offers one of the best lunch deals in town, two generous courses for just $14. 1592 Main St., Sarasota, (941) 365-2234, avlionmain.com. $$

Bitia’s Taqueria

You can get one of the best lunches in Sarasota for $4-$5, which is all you need to order a pair of pupusas at Bitia’s, a small Salvadoran restaurant in a 17th Street strip mall. 3436 17th St., Sarasota, (941) 366-8081. $

Blu Kouzina

By focusing on simple, satisfying ingredients of the highest quality possible and presenting them with a minimum of fuss, Blu Kouzina has mastered dishes like stuffed grape leaves, beef kabobs and grilled prawns. 25 N. Boulevard of Presidents, St. Armands Circle, Sarasota, (941) 388-2619. $$$

Brick’s Smoked Meats

Brick’s specializes in Texas-style smoked meats, and the brisket, which takes 18 hours to make, is the star of the menu. Tacos, a great burger and an excellent brunch round out the options. 1528 State St., Sarasota, (941) 323-1942, brickssmokedmeats.com. $$

La Brisa Tacos Y Mariscos

This North U.S. 301 standby excels at carnitas—pork shoulder braised at long length with a smattering of fragrant spices and cooked down until the strands of meat crisp up around the edges. 1156 N. Washington Blvd., Sarasota, (941) 552-8868. $

Brooklyn Bagels & Deli

Whether you prefer poppy seed, sesame seed, garlic, onion or everything, you’ll find it here, at the small bagel shop and restaurant that serves what are far and away the closest approximation of New York City bagels you’ll find in the area. The exterior is dense, crunchy and chewy, while the insides are soft and puffy. 6970 Beneva Road, Sarasota, (941) 993-1577, brooklynbagelsanddeli.com. $$

Circo

Offering creative spins on classic tacos, Circo serves tortillas packed with Buffalo chicken, “Nashville hot” tofu, Korean pork, Mongolian beef and more. 1435 Second St., Sarasota, (941) 253-0978, circosrq.com. $$

Eggs-Traordinary Cafe

This small cafe offers 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. 2282 N. Tamiami Trail, Nokomis, (941) 966-6652; 3981 Cattlemen Road, Sarasota, (941) 346-6931; eggstraordinarycafe.com. $

First Watch

First Watch has grown from a Manatee County-based chain into the nation’s largest breakfast-lunch operation, and 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. 1395 Main St., Sarasota, (941) 954-1395; many other locations around the region; firstwatch.com. $

Fushipoké

A fast-casual poke spot where you can either build your own bowl or let owner Tyler Fushikoshi and his staff guide you. An “aloha” bowl costs $12.15 and packs in salmon, edamame, onions, togarashi and ponzu. Potential add-ins include mushrooms, avocado, pickled daikon and a whole lot more. 128 N. Orange Ave., Sarasota, (941) 330-1795, fushipoke.com. $

Gecko’s Grill & Pub

The fresh potato chips topped with blue cheese, bacon, onions and balsamic are the stuff of local legend, and the huge salads and the bison burger are also classics. 1900 Hillview St., Sarasota, (941) 953-2929; Gecko’s has five other area locations; geckosgrill.com. $$

Gentile Bros.

Authentic Philadelphia Cheesesteaks & Hoagies A shrine to all things Philadelphia. Don’t forget how to properly order a cheesesteak. A traditional one should come slathered in Cheez Whiz and ordered “wit,” which translates as “with onions.” 7523 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, (941) 926-0441, gentilesteaks.com. $

Guerrero’s Bakery & Restaurant

This combination restaurant and bodega offers solid Mexican fare, plus an enormous selection of Mexican breads and sweets. 3557 Webber St., Sarasota, (941) 923-4459. $

India Café

The menu here includes a range of dishes from across the Indian subcontinent, with a long list of curry and biryani options, plus breads like naan and paratha, soups, and snacks like samosas and pakoras. 1987 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota, (941) 552-9293, healthycafeflorida.com. $

JPan

We like specialty rolls like the “King Cajun,” made with spicy crawfish meat, and the “K-Pop,” topped with Korean seasonings, but don’t hesitate to leave it up to the chef and split a sushi platter with some friends. Killer ramen, too. 239 N. Cattlemen Road, Sarasota, (941) 960-3997; 3800 S. Tamiami Trail, #3, Sarasota, (941) 954-5726; jpanrestaurant.com. $$

JR’s Old Packinghouse Cafe

The OPC (as it’s known) serves great bar grub. Don’t miss the Cuban specials, or the baked garlic wings. 987 S. Packinghouse Road, Sarasota, (941) 371-9358, packinghousecafe.com. $

Libby’s Neighborhood Brasserie

The food here is mostly classic French, with expertly constructed salads, satisfying roasted meats and succulent steaks, priced so that you can order regularly. 1917 S. Osprey Ave., Sarasota, (941) 487-7300; 8445 Lorraine Road, Lakewood Ranch, (941) 357-1570; tableseide.com. $$

Lila

More than any other restaurant in recent years, Lila has changed the face of Sarasota dining. It was Lila’s Ryan Boeve and Arthur Lopes who pushed vegetables to the forefront of Sarasota menus. The restaurant’s zingy Burmese bowl will leave you slurping up the dregs of its curry-coconut broth, while the macro bowl’s tahini-turmeric dressing is the stuff of work desk daydreams. 1576 Main St., Sarasota, (941) 296-1042, lilasrq.com. $$

Maple Street Biscuit Company

This regional chain pulls in customers with a Southern-centric menu heavy on biscuit sandwiches and platters. A well-made biscuit is one of life’s great pleasures, and here they’re terrific: soft and flaky. 8491 Cooper Creek Blvd., No. 107, Sarasota, (941) 358-5200, maplestreetbiscuits.com. $

Mattison’s City Grille

This hopping al fresco eatery offers everything from brick oven pizza to rack of lamb. 1 N. Lemon Ave., Sarasota, (941) 330-0440; Mattison’s operates a similar restaurant, Mattison’s Riverwalk Grille, at 101 Riverfront Blvd., #120, Bradenton, (941) 896-9660; mattisons.com. $$

Mélange

You never know what will take your breath away at Mélange. At one recent dinner, it was the soup—a delicate, otherworldly concoction that combined a flan made with Dry Sack sherry, a tangle of blue crab bits and pebbles of ginger “caviar,” with a hazelnut crumpet on the side. Sipping it was a revelation. 1568 Main St., Sarasota, (941) 953-7111, melangesarasota.com. $$$

Poppo’s Taqueria

A locally owned mini-chain that started in Anna Maria, Poppo’s serves fast casual burritos and tacos, with a plethora of ingredients and toppings you won’t find at most taquerias. 212C Pine Ave., Anna Maria, (941) 254-7941; several other locations around the area; poppostaqueria.com. $

Reyna’s Taqueria

This fast-casual restaurant replicates the recipes of the owners’ mother, known as “Doña Reyna” in the town of Matamoros, southeast of Mexico City. You’ll find topnotch tacos, sopes, quesadillas, tortas and tamales. 935 N. Beneva Road, Sarasota, (941) 260-8343, reynastaqueria.com. $

Screaming Goat Taqueria

This Gulf Gate shop has one of the best lunch deals around: three tacos, plus an order of chips and salsa, for $10. It helps that the tacos are great, in large part thanks to the collision of global flavors you’ll find at the restaurant’s colorful condiment bar. 6606 Superior Ave., Sarasota, (941) 210-3992, screaming-goat.com. $

Shakespeare’s

The caramelized onion and brie burger has been helping locals soak up the beer selection at Shakespeare’s for more than a decade. A nest of slowly cooked-down onions flavored with balsamic vinegar rests atop the meat and below an X of brie slices, and the whole thing is slid into a rosemary-scented bun and accented with lettuce, tomato and onion. 3550 S. Osprey Ave., Sarasota, (941) 364-5938, shakespearesenglishpub.com. $$

Simon’s Coffee House

Simon's has a strong reputation for its healthy breakfasts and lunches, which undersells just how delicious the food is. Options include a variety of egg platters, omelets, sandwiches, soups and salads, with an emphasis on vegetarian options. 5900 S. Tamiami Trail, Unit GHI, Sarasota, (941) 926-7151, simonstogo.com. $$

SoFresh

This Tampa-based “fresh-casual” chain makes wraps and bowls stocked with greens, quinoa, rice, zucchini noodles and cauliflower, with a range of vegetables, proteins, sauces and dressings to seal the deal. 11569 State Road 70 E., Unit 106, Bradenton, (941) 769-9550; 1455 Second St., Sarasota, (941) 803-5800; lovesofresh.com. $

Speaks Clam Bar

Speaks pays homage to Italian-American clam bars that specialize in raw and steamed shellfish and straightforward seafood pastas dressed with umami-rich tomato sauces. You can get raw clams, steamed clams or entrées like a hearty cioppino. 8764 E. State Road 70, Lakewood
Ranch, (941) 232-7646; 29 N. Boulevard of Presidents, St. Armands Circle, Sarasota, (941) 232-7633; speaksclambar.com. $$

Spice Station

Spice Station’s affordable Thai and Japanese fare makes it a place you can hit up once a week. 1438 Boulevard of the Arts, Sarasota, (941) 343-2894, spicestationsrq.com. $$

Ssam Bar

A terrific Korean outpost, Ssam Bar serves excellent bibimbaps and noodle soups with a plethora of banchan, small sides that enliven the main plates. 1303 N. Washington Blvd., Sarasota, (941) 312-6264. $$

State Street Eating House + Cocktails

The menu here is small, but focused, with top-shelf salads, a great burger and an assortment of tempting sides. 1533 State St., Sarasota, (941) 951-1533, statestreetsrq.com. $$

Sunnyside Cafe

Lunch and dinner here run Hungarian, while the breakfast menu features mostly American classics, with a pleasant upgrade here and there. The restaurant salts its own salmon, for example, and throws you a curveball with out-of-this-world savory chickpea pancakes. 4900 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, (941) 359-9500, sunnysidecafesrq.com. $

Tandoor Fine Indian Cuisine

No one in the area does Indian fare as well as Tandoor. We like pretty much everything simmering in the restaurant’s pots, but we go back for seconds for the dense, spinach-based saag bhaji; the braised butter chicken; and the pakora curry. 8453 Cooper Creek Blvd., Bradenton, (941) 926-3077; tandoorsarasota.net. $$

Wild Ginger Sushi & Asian Cuisine

A terrific lunch spot, Wild Ginger offers great combo meals. At dinner time, try the Malaysian dishes or the Chinese or Japanese classics. 1537 Main St., Sarasota, (941) 954-8880; wildgingersushisarasota.com. $$

Yoder’s

Famous for its homemade pies, Yoder’s also offers comfort food like meatloaf and country fried steak. 3434 Bahia Vista St., Sarasota, (941) 955-7771, yodersrestaurant.com. $

Yume Sushi

If simplicity and focus are your sushi ideals, no one in town can match Yume. We like to put ourselves in the hands of the restaurant’s talented chefs and order the chirashi combo platter. 1532 Main St., Sarasota, (941) 363-0604, yumerestaurant.com. $$

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