For boaters in southwest Florida, the Intracoastal Waterway offers smooth waters and ample sightseeing. But there are also a number of waterfront restaurants where you can pick up takeout for a meal at sea—or dock your boat and enjoy excellent food in a beautiful atmosphere before setting sail again.
This guide to local spots where you can dine by boat, brought to you by Cannons Marina on Longboat Key, travels south on the Intracoastal Waterway from Anna Maria Island to Longboat Key, City Island, Siesta Key, Casey Key, and, finally, the Island of Venice. Hours and operations may have changed, so be sure to call before you go.
Anna Maria Island
The area’s northernmost barrier island borders Tampa Bay.
When the weather’s right, the Rod and Reel Pier at the northeastern tip of Anna Maria rewards boaters with edge-of-the-world views. Casual, Old Florida food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, including plenty of fried-fish favorites.
Fresh seafood meets Southern hospitality in an informal, easygoing atmosphere on Holmes Beach. The lively gathering spot is enhanced by attentive and gracious service.
Cortez Village, Marker 48
On the mainland just east of Anna Maria, Cortez Village is one of Florida’s oldest and last remaining working waterfronts.
Fresh seafood, as provided by neighboring professional fishermen, alongside carefully prepared chef’s favorites like chicken and andouille sausage gumbo and freshly smoked grouper spread.
Star Fish opened nearly 100 years ago as a wholesale fish market, and now the dockside restaurant is known for serving up delicious grouper sandwiches and other fresh catches (cash only).
Located right on the languid Manatee River, Whiskey Joe’s serves up Floribbean food and specialty cocktails that complement the waterfront views.
This 11-mile barrier island, with no direct bridge to the mainland, has dockside dining options at its northern and southern tips.
Head to Marker 39 to find a historic Old Florida pub and romantic alfresco dining under an old oak tree. Recently renovated, the elegant menu includes cioppino, Gulf bottarga, and grilled octopus.
At the south end of Longboat Key near the boathouse, Dry Dock has a famously fun, casual environment and a reputation for killer grouper sandwiches. Dockside patio and second-story dining available.
The second outpost of this popular St. Armands Circle restaurant opened on Longboat Key in October 2019, with Chef Dylan Elhajoui’s creative menu immediately earning rave reviews. The stunning views of Sarasota Bay (and the craft cocktails) don’t hurt, either.
Originally produced by nearby dredging, this manmade “island” now connects directly to the northern part of Lido Key and represents the southern border of New Pass, which flows between it and Longboat Key.
A local favorite for hamburgers and a chill hangout vibe, New Pass serves breakfast and lunch alongside the bait shop that’s been around since 1929.
An Old English pub with a southwest Florida twist, Old Salty Dog is famous in part for its eponymous quarter-pound, batter-dipped, deep-fried hot dog. (Of the three Salty Dog locations in the area, City Island’s is the only one accessible by boat.)
Right on the bay by Ringling Bridge, downtown’s Bayfront Park draws people from all over the area.
Located in the heart of downtown Sarasota, Marina Jack is a hub for live music, drinks, and dining on the dockside patio, plus an indoor lounge and second-floor dining room.
Even as you head south of the area’s hub, you’ll still find great waterfront options.
Head inland up the creek to Marker 72 to find this local favorite, with an expansive menu that features much more than just oysters.
Famous for its romantic setting and gourmet fare, Ophelia’s (by Marker 48) serves elevated Continental cuisine and boasts an award-winning wine list. A perfect spot for date nights, anniversaries, and other special occasions.
Just south of the Blackburn Point Road bridge at Marker 32, locals love Casey Key Fish House for its Old Florida seafood menu and fun tiki bar vibe.
This spacious destination at the southern coast of the Venice Inlet draws sports fans to its waterfront tavern and offers a sophisticated upstairs dining room. The menu offers an breadth of carefully crafted seafood dishes and other fare. Don’t miss the famous raw bar.
Family-owned for more than 64 years, Cannons Marina on Longboat Key is a full-service boat dealership, brokerage, and rental service. At Cannons, you’ll find unparalleled customer service and the area’s most exclusive selection of boats, motors, and accessories. Every brand is carefully selected for its unequaled performance, resale value, and the pure enjoyment it brings on the water. Contact us today at (941) 383-13311, or visit cannons.com.