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Apr 5, 2007 06:16 AM

Sarasota area-Good local restaurants?

We'll be visiting my inlaws in Sarasota for a week at the end of May. Last time we were down there it was for only four days and we ate at three chain restaurants for dinner (first night we ate at the house) and I don't think I can take that for a full week.

I'm looking for suggestions for locally owned places with great food. All price ranges (and cuisines) are welcome since we'll probably sneak off for a "nicer" dinner one night. And we're willing to drive to surrounding towns for good food. Well, I'm willing and everyone else will just have to agree.

I can't take another vacation eating bad food! Please help!

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    1. No one from Sarasota on the boards?

      5 Replies
      1. re: MMJ

        You might try doing a search here for Sarasota. There have been several posts in the past.

        1. re: MMJ

          what type of food do you like?

          1. re: irwin

            I did search but most of what I found was fairly old info. I'd figure the food scene would change quite a bit from year to year so I wanted to get more recent suggestions.

            As far as foods I like, pretty much anything goes. I'm a culinary school grad who appreciates a good meal and I live in NYC so I have access to all kinds of cuisines and I wouldn't say there's anything that's off limits, with one notable exception.

            I love seafood (all except eel & raw oysters) but my husband doesn't eat any fish and my inlaws stick to shellfish. So, sushi is out while we're in FL. We go to regular seafood places even with my husbands dislike since most will have a chicken dish or steak or a salad he can eat, but we try to stick with places that are known for their shellfish so my inlaws will enjoy it.

            Mostly, I'm just looking for locally owned places with well prepared, good food. If we're going to go out and spend the money on dinner for four (or more) then I would rather have that money go to smaller businesses rather than Applebee's, Outback, and my MIL's favorite, Carrabba's. But if I don't go with a list in hand, that's exactly where're we'll eat. And with Carrabba's, chances are we could end up there 3 nights out of the 7 we're there!

            1. re: MMJ

              I did another search & you are completely right, Nick. There are quite a few recent threads but I had to go past page 3 of the search to find them. Turns out the most recent thread was on page 9 (of 11!)

              I'll do some research on what I found and may be back with specific questions. Thanks!

              1. re: MMJ

                MMJ: are you going to tell us where you enjoyed eating?

          2. Although not necessarily locally owned, because the original is in Tampa, but I don't think you can go wrong with The Columbia on St Armands Circle. I have been to 3 of them now, Tampa-St. Pete Pier, and Sarasota. I would give the Sarasota location the thumbs up. My husband and I almost had our rehearsal dinner there. If you go two things you can't pass on are the sangria, and the 1905 salad.

            1. I have been coming to Sarasota area for over 20 years. As a matter of fact, I am here now, and was hoping to find some new ideas on Chowhound, but apparently not. Someone posted that the Columbia is great,...used to be....not any more. There are alot of chain restaurants down here, but some of the smaller ones, are okay. Barnacle Bills is low key seafood and there are a few of them around. The one by the airport tends to be best. If you go down on Main street, most of the restaurants there are very good. If you like sushi, Da Ruma is the best!!! Siesta Key has the lobster pot that alot of people seem to like. Anywhere on St. Armands, *except the Columbia) are ok, but for super nice dinner, Euphemia Haye on longboat has my vote. Also, do a search for Sarasota Magazine since they list alot of restaurants in it and you can often see the menus for these restaurants. They have a good reputation and usually are right on the money.. Hope this helps

              3 Replies
              1. re: nncc

                nncc for your information the Saraota Magazine only suggests restaurants that advertise in their book. They list Olive Garden as the best Italian restaurant in Sarasota, but you and I know different, so I wuld not rely on Sarasota Magazine.

                1. re: nncc

                  My wife and I just went to Lido Beach, Sarasota for our 40th Wedding Anniversary. The highlight of our vacation stay was eating and drinking at the Columbia Restaurant. The food was great, the sidewalk table and fresh air was very enjoyable, and the Imported Sangria was the best we've ever had. Next time we'll wait a little longer to get the Paella.

                  1. re: dthomas777

                    FYI - There's a more recent discussion of restaurants in Sarasota, in the topic at

                2. Harry's on Lonboat Key is a longtime favorite of ours. Aside from the restaurant they have a cute take out place that has "high-end" sandwiches and salads.