Where should we go for dinner?

By Facebook Fans Photography by Matt McCourtney & Bill Speer December 1, 2010

We all know visitors come here for the Big Three: sunshine, beaches and culture. But we also know what they love most after they arrive: the restaurants! No matter how much our visitors enjoy fishing, museum-hopping or just staring out at the sea, the question that dominates their day is, “Where should we go to dinner?”

We asked readers, visitors to our website and our fans on Facebook to tell us where they take their visitors to dine and what they love to order there. Here’s a sampling of their scrumptious replies.

We take our visitors to the Columbia on St. Armands. It’s like no other restaurant in town. I get the gazpacho and have them load it up with veggies tableside. A mojito or two and some Cuban bread—what can beat that? Always go for an outside table if possible; its location on the circle makes it a great people-watching spot. Out-of-towners always love it.—Michael S. Evers

We head to Tropical Thai in downtown Sarasota. What we order: the coconut soup with mixed vegetables and tofu and the pineapple curry with chicken. The food is always consistent and good.

—Earl Stout III

At the Casey Key Fish House, all the fish is awesome; we often order the ahi tuna or almond-crusted snapper.—Angela Frost Watton

Our favorite place to take visitors is Siesta Key Oyster Bar, for the fish tacos and tangerine margaritas.

—Lisa Gooch

We like to drive to Council’s in downtown Bradenton for a cheeseburger—and then another cheeseburger.

—David Reid and Neil Lodo

We love the outdoor deck at Salty Dog on City Island for a fried hot dog, chicken wings and fried macaroni and cheese. They have the best spicy Bloody Marys, too.—Becky Walsh

Make ours Duffy’s Tavern on Anna Maria Island for the coldest beer this side of heaven and a cheeseburger all the way.—Melissa Williams

Phillippi Creek Village is where all our guests go. It’s special because of the setting on the water, the friendly staff and service, consistently good food and a family-friendly atmosphere. We eat the grouper, Crunchy Creek shrimp, the gumbo, the Creek burger and the creative and delicious chef’s specials.—Lainie Van Winkle

After a day of beaching or boating, Owen’s Fish Camp serves up the fresh fish your guests expect, with a Southern twist that will surprise them. Wear flip-flops to this old Florida cottage and fit in with the locals. Don’t miss the fried green tomato salad and spicy collards; more best bets are always listed on the daily board. Little-known fact: You can bring your own wine.

—Minta Getzen

At Euphemia Haye on Longboat Key, the duck is to die for.—Marsha French Marcus

Mar Vista in the historic Village is one of the few remaining original structures on Longboat Key. We sit out under the trees overlooking the water. It’s so Old Florida. There’s even a dock for boaters. I like the scallops Mar Vista, the crabcakes and the grouper quesadillas, but everything I’ve had there is fabulous, and there’s enough variety to satisfy everyone in a large group.—Darcy Wilson

Take them to Yoder’s for fried chicken and pie.

Mark Mlynski

At Pattigeorge’s on Longboat Key, our visitors go for the view and the light bites—the lettuce cups, tuna tacos, brussel sprout hash; or for the hungrier, the miso-glazed sea bass and tuna steak. And Michael’s On East has the best steak for carnivores.

—Carolyn Michel

The Bijou, of course—for the fabulous au gratin potatoes [pommes gratin Dauphinois], and the great Summer in the City lunch, which includes caramelized shallot, goat cheese and ham soup, salmon and roasted asparagus so perfect you don’t even need the citrus sauce.—Jami Sluga

We take people to Pacific Rim; I get the Mexican roll with a side of pineapple rice.—Christine Watton


Find Their Favorites

1   Bijou Cafe

1287 First St.,


(941) 366-8111

2   Casey Key Fish House

801 Blackburn Point Road,


(941) 966-1901

3   Chart House

201 Gulf of Mexico Drive,

Longboat Key

(941) 383-5593

4   Clayton’s Siesta Grille

1256 Old Stickney Point Road,


(941) 349-2800

5   Columbia Restaurant

411 St. Armands Circle,


(941) 388-3987

6   Council’s

536 12th St. W.,


(941) 746-8350

7   Dry Dock Waterfront Grille

412 Gulf of Mexico Drive,

Longboat Key

(941) 383-0102

8   Duffy’s Tavern

5808 Marina Drive,

Holmes Beach

(941) 778-2501

9   El Greco

1592 Main St.,


(941) 365-2234

10 Euphemia Haye

5540 Gulf of Mexico Drive,

Longboat Key

(941) 383-3633

11 Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant and Pub

760 Broadway St. N.,

Longboat Key

(941) 383-2391

12 Marina Jack

2 Marina Plaza,


(941) 365-4232

13 MartiniVille

5337 Gulf Drive # 500,

Holmes Beach

(941) 447-9663

14 Michael’s On East

1212 S East Ave.,


(941) 366-0007

15 The Old Salty Dog

1601 Ken Thompson Parkway,


(941) 388-4311

5023 Ocean Blvd.,

Siesta Key

(941) 349-0158

16 Owen’s Fish Camp

516 Burns Lane,


(941) 951-6936

17 Pacific Rim

1859 Hillview St.,


(941) 330-8071

18 Pattigeorge’s

4120 Gulf of Mexico Drive,

Longboat Key

(941) 383-5111

19 Phillippi Creek Village Restaurant and Oyster Bar

5353 S. Tamiami Trail,


(941) 925-4444

20 The Sandbar

100 Spring Ave.,

Anna Maria

(941) 778-0444

21 Siesta Key Oyster Bar

5238 Ocean Blvd.,

Siesta Key

(941) 346-5443

22 Sun House Restaurant and Bar

111 Gulf Drive S.,

Bradenton Beach

(941) 782-1122

23 Two Senoritas

1355 Main St., Sarasota

(941) 366-1618

24 Tropical Thai

1420 Main St.,


(941) 364-5775

25 Vernona, Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota

1111 Ritz-Carlton Drive,


(941) 309-2000

26 Yoders

3434 Bahia Vista St.,


(941) 955-7771


We always take out-of-towners to Marina Jack’s patio. In my opinion, it is the most beautiful spot in the city. We usually get sandwiches and salads, and the frozen rumrunners are a must!—Vicki Riley

Take them to the new MartiniVille in Holmes Beach. Start with the Choco-bloc martini, then have the Caesar salad and poo nang shrimp. Then go out to the tiki bar and have another martini for dessert.—Marsha Bard

I take visitors to El Greco on Main Street. The kabobs and Greek salad are so tasty, and you can eat inside or out.—Glenda Kiesewetter

Vernona at the Ritz-Carlton has the finest meals and ambiance in town. Anything you order is wonderful; if I had to pick one thing it might be the Colorado double lamb chops.—Phil DuHamel

My husband and I always take visitors to Two Senoritas on Main Street. It’s great food in a fun atmosphere, and afterwards, we stroll around the shops. It gives our guests a chance to see our beautiful downtown.—Jaylene Keefer

The Chart House on Longboat Key is such an excellent representation of Sarasota, with most seats enjoying an unparalleled view high over the Gulf. They have a large selection of fresh fish, including wonderful macadamia-crusted mahi mahi, and a salad bar with unlimited caviar—my favorite.—Jim Goethe

Every night the staff of the Sun House on Bradenton Beach gives everyone a complimentary “Green Flash” drink, and a guest is chosen to bang the gong at the moment of sunset. Then the entire room breaks into a chorus of You Are My Sunshine, followed by a toast to the end of the day. You have to try two of their long-time favorites: Grassy Key grouper and the berry basket, with fresh berries in a homemade edible florist’s basket and topped with Gran Marnier sabayon, whipped cream and a sprig of mint.—Chris Fielder

I take every one of my visitors to The Sandbar on Anna Maria Island. The sunsets are stunning, and shorts, or even bathing suits, are not only accepted but expected. They have the best escargot and shrimp Anna. And the grouper sandwich is outstanding. I’ve had it grilled, blackened and fried. Then comes the fun of everyone at your table debating about the exact time that the sun will set so you’ll win the bottle of champagne. And there’s live music on the deck. It’s the perfect example of why I chose to live on the Gulf of Mexico.—Lisa Thomas

Everyone we take to Dry Dock on Longboat Key loves the grouper and Key lime pie.—Caroline Tanner

Go to Clayton’s and get any of the pizzas—they’re all delicious.

—Mical Johnson

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