Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Florida >
Sep 2, 2006 02:59 PM

Anna Maria Island & between Venice-Fort Myers Rec's??

Will be traveling to the Gulf Coast of Florida for 2 upcoming weekends. Looking for rec's in Anna Maria Island or closeby (prefer open-air type on beach).

Also looking for something casual between Venice & Fort Myers for lunch (also open-air beachfront).

Thanks much!!!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. By all means check out the Beach Bistro in Anna Maria if you want a high-end meal on the beach. Also, Star Fish Co. in nearby Cortez is a great spot for a grouper sandwich on the dock.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Nick

      I happen to like Cortez Kitchen a little better then Star Fish.
      I heard that the Grouper Sandwich on the Pier is also excellent.
      Beach Bistro is fabulous, but expensive so we keep it for special occasions. OK, I have one for you... Its called "Sign of the Mermaid" on Anna Maria. Make reservations. Its in a house, and excellent, with a very big variety of food. Tel 941-778-9399. Its located 9707 Gulf Drive. It reminds me of a old hunting/fishing camp in the Maine woods, and the owner/chef has a beard, etc..... Oh-the garlic bread.....
      Let me know how you make out. Irwin

      1. re: irwin

        Hi Irwin - How far ahead would we need to make reservations for "Sign of the Mermaid"? We may be a group of 4-6 on a weekday in October. Any other tips on what to order? Thanks in advance!

        1. re: Rubee

          3-4 days ahead of time for a reservation would be fine. I really don't remember what I ordered, but remember it was excellent. My wife had fish, and loved it. Ask the wait staff what they recommend, or what is the chefs favorite, and usually this dish comes out excellent. This restaurant is in a very old wood house on the main road, with a very little sign, so you will need to watch for it. Parking is around the corner or in back. The bread comes as hot garlic bread, and the portions are large. Can't remember pricing, but I think you will really have a experience. Enjoy, and report back to us. Do you want some more tips for Sarasota area? What do you like to eat? Irwin

          1. re: irwin

            This will be the second time we're heading down to visit my parents, who stay in Bradenton for a couple of months in the fall. Their favorites are places like the Beach House, Anna Maria Oyster Bar, and various chains, so we like to get them to branch out. Last year my picks were the Sun House, Beach Bistro, and Moore's Stone Crab (BTW, is Moore's still open?), so this year I'd like to check out some new spots. On my list so far is Sign of the Mermaid, and checking out the taco place at the Red Barn market and one of the spots in Cortez Village. We also plan on doing the sunset cocktails at Ca d'Zan for the Third Thursdays - any place close to the Ringling Museum you would recommend? I would love any other suggestions, especially on Anna Maria island, and a restaurant at St. Armand's Circle as my parents enjoy strolling around the area, but always go to Cha Cha Coconuts. Oh, and we like everything - high end to low end - nice sunsets a plus.

            1. re: Rubee

              rubee, july w/ be our 4th trip in 5 yrs. to ann maria. we love Banana Cabana & they have live music, some nites, (one guy & acoustic guitar.) food is great. city pier has the BEST coconut shrimp. sun house was extremely overpriced we thought, the 1st yr. we were there, but we DO make a trip there every time, JUST for the chips & salsa. they're so unique. 3 types or salsa.

    2. Thanks to both Nick & Irwin for the suggestions.... we have been doing our annual trip to Clearwater Beach for at least the past 10 years or so (I've been going there for at least 25 years) and now that it's changing so much, we're ready to move on to new adventures, which is why we're really excited about heading further south into new territory for us. These suggestions sound so enticing, that we may have to try them all!!! Do any have good music..... reggae, blues, classic rock (Stones)?? We are so looking forward to this trip and want to make the very best of it. If you think of any more, please feel free to pass them along!!! Thanks so much!

      We are always looking for the best grouper sandwich & the best conch fritters. I've seen a few comments on the grouper sandwiches (we've never had a bad one in Florida). Any suggestions for conch fritters (must have a good amount of spice in them). Why?? Because spice is the key of life!!

      1 Reply
      1. re: wineaux

        best conch fritters are @ Banana Cabana ! and spicy !

      2. Glad to hear that the taco stand at the Red Barn has made your list. I'm not sure when they switch over to their winter hours, but as of now they might still only be open friday-sunday. The tacos al pastor, carnitas and lengua are all good. Chicken tostadas and posole are good too, as is the horchata and other aguas frescas.

        1 Reply
        1. Rubee:
          Beach House is a tourist trap with just ok food.
          Moore's Stone Crab is open with fabulous views and good food.
          Sun House is terrible in my opinion.
          Coconuts is lousy but decent hamburgers.
          Anna Marie Oyster Bar is fried food haven, and just ok.
          Tommy Bahamas has real good food in St. Armands.
          Cafe E'urope is the best in the cirle.

          1 Reply
          1. re: irwin

            where is Moore's Stone Crab? We;ve been to ami 4x but haven't been there.

          2. Thanks Irwin! I was hoping to find some new spots we haven't been to yet - those I listed above are either places my parents really like that I have already been to (Beach House, Oyster Bar, Coconuts, etc.) or places I tried last year (Sun House, Beach Bistro, Moore's). I'll be sure to check out Cafe L'Europe!