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Laid back in Bradenton Beach/Anna Maria

We are going to Bradenton Beach in July and want to know of any good, inexpensive local seafood hangouts and restaurants to try. We are on a budget and I can't stand chain restaurants. Any places on the beach or bay where we can just sit, sip a few, down a few oysters or whatever is in season? Also, is there anywhere to get a good Cuban sandwich on the island?

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  1. By all means, check out Star Fish Company in Cortez (starfishcompany.com). It's a fish market with a dock/restaurant out back on the water. They have great fried grouper sandwiches. Just down the road there's also the Cortez Kitchen, which has a similar atmosphere but can get a little louder as they sometimes have live music. I don't know where to get a Cuban sandwich out on the islands, but Cafe Havana in Oneco (just south of Bradenton) isn't bad. Not great, but decent.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Nick

      Thanks Nick! I checked out the web site and this is exactly the kind of place I am looking for!

    2. The Sandbar! Right on the beach, great food, and I can't say enough good things about the friendly staff. We had our wedding on the beach just in front of the Sandbar in May; they catered and the food was great! We also spent some time there for lunches and dinners during our week-long stay. Great seafood, very nice patio.
      We also really enjoyed Rotten Ralphs (excellent Bloody Marys!).
      Both on Anna Maria. Have fun!

      1. My wife and I always make it a point to stop into "Mr.Bones BBQ" whenever we stay in Bradenton Beach. I think you will find it is quite a chowish place - Grab you own beer out of the casket. "New Orleans trained chef. No salt or pepper on the tables - don't even ask".

        Anyhow, everything there is good. Ribs, pulled pork and homemade sausage (gotta try it). The curried rice dishes are delish. It isn't cheap cheap but not outrageously overpriced like the majority of restaurants on the island.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Little T.

          Just be aware that Mr. Bones is not traditional barbecue. I was not a fan. There are way better places for barbecue in Manatee County (Hickory Hollow in Ellenton, for instance). I do like the casket of beer and the "don't even ask" sign, however.

        2. "Sign of the Murmaid" in Anna Marie is very good. Its in a very old house, crooked floors, and reminds me of a fishing camp in Maine.... The chef and wife run the restaurant, and you will need a resv. I think you will really enjoy athe atmosphere, and good. Report back to us.

          3 Replies
          1. re: irwin

            Wow, such great suggestions! I am interested in Mr. Bones. I am originally from NC, so am partial to the pepper/vinegar sauce, eastern NC style BBQ. I also like the idea of the fishcamp feel. Looks like there aren't many cheap, cheap places on the island, so this is going to help us a lot!! I think the experience of the food is as important as the place...they go hand in hand.

            1. re: klfarlowe

              I believe Hickory Hollow does Carolina-style. They also have the best variety of sides of any barbecue place I've seen. I guess I'm just not a fan of Mr. Bones because the one time I went there, both the ribs and the pulled pork were drowned in a really sweet, tomato-based sauce.

              1. re: Nick

                Hickory Hollow is my favorite also, but its a little schlep for most people. the sides are wonderful but small portions. the food is really good, and expect to wait. They accept cash only. Its worth it. Its very near Ellenton where they have a factory seconds shopping center.

          2. The Cafe on the Beach, on Holmes Beach where Manatee Ave. dead ends, has a $6 all you can eat pancake and sausage breakfast every day. (They have sold 3 million Jimmy Dean sausage patties in 13 years without a thank you from Jimmy). Their fried grouper sandwich for $10 is killer.
            Star fish, which you have checked out, is a wonderful blast from the past, right on the docks among the fishing fleet. Rustic, not where you would spend half an afternoon. If you have a kitchenette where you are staying, Star has a nice retail shop up front. Walter Bell next door retails, also. Too bad stone crabs are out of season. Try pompano.
            Rotten Ralph's...you can camp out for hours with cold beer and lots of nice boats. I can't think of a cuban sandwich on Anna Maria, but the Columbia restaurant on St. Armands circle is good cuban.