Child friendly/Longboat Key
On Longboat Key for President's Week. We are looking for 3 or 4 casual restaurants within a 20 minute drive to please my husband and 4 and 7 yo children. We love fresh seafood, but the children unfortunately will probably ask for chicken fingers. :( Appreciate any thoughts for those who have fought the battle over chicken fingers and FF each night.
The Blue Dolphin (which I like) would work as the food is good, the portions large and it's essentailly a diner and is only open for breakfast and lunch; also, they would like Mar Vista (which is mostly outside right on the bay but does have inside tables too). I don't care for Mar Vista myself but I think kids would love it -- here's their lunch menu and you can see that they have nachos and other stuff that kids go for: http://www.marvista-restaurant.com/me.... A lot of full time residents love Mar Vista. I personally am quite partial to Dry Dock for lunch outside but I'd get there early as no reservations. As another poster said, there was a one hour wait for dinner so I don't consider going there for other than lunch, although out of season it will be better with regard to waiting. All three of these restaurants are on Longboat Key.
Well, since no one responded, I thought that I could share with everyone what we did for food.
Lunches: had one lunch at the Colony Monkey Room on LBK, but found it expensive. Probably because the child portion was not enough for my 7 yo boy who eats like a 16 yo. The rest of the time, we just made sandwiches in the room and saved our money for eating out in the evening.
One fun lunch on the way from Tampa to LBK at the Linger Lodge in Bradenton. Just put the address of the restaurant in Google maps and it directed us there. Wonderful setting for the dining room, a porch over the Braden River. Incredibly fresh fried shrimp. Children's ship was ordinary, but we really enjoyed our meal which included fried green tomatos. I was only sorry that we did not have room for the fried okra. No one was brave enough to try the alligator, even though I swore that it "tasted like chicken". But if you are not adventurous, it honestly is in a RV park. The bathroom looks like a 1960s era Esso station in Montgomery, AL.
First night was still the holiday weekend, and we opted for a place where we could get a reservation. Note to file: ask the hotel to make a reservation for you for the first night if it is a holiday. We went into St Armands for Hemingways. My husband was very pleased with his meal, but I found the bouillabaisse strangly too heavy and rich. Almost, as if they finished it with too much butter. Children had lots of options.
2nd night: excellent meal at the Dry Dock. My husband loved the grouper, and I had grilled seafood plater. We arrived at 6 p.m. and had to wait a full hour to be seated. However, they had tables set out overlooking the bay, we ordered fried shrimp and fried clam appetizers and drinks. Watch out for Frank, the great blue heron who will steal your fried clams if you wander to look at the beautiful boats which pull up to the restaurant dock. Stone crab appetizer was fabulous.
3rd night: we ventured into St Armand's again and went to Columbia. We had a wonderful waiter, and enjoyed looking out on the street scene as we ate our dinner. My husband loved his sea bass special with lobster butter and crabmeat, and I had the paella and the special house salad. The salad was excellent, old style with ham and swiss, with fabulous garlic dressing. The paella was o.k. I felt as if it was a little overcooked. I might chose something else the next time we visit, but would definitely go back again.
4th night: we wanted "old style Florida" and went to Moore's Stone Crabs on LBK. The reason you go is for the stone crabs, and we were not disappointed. Grilled seafood platter was again good, and my husband enjoyed shrimp sauteed in wine. You must order the stone crabs. Bigger portion than Dry Dock, and delicious.
On our way across Alligator Alley, we stopped in Naples. Our friend had recommended Joe's Crab Shack for lunch. I'd chose another place next time, perhaps the ones across the street on 5th. It was kinda ordinary, although my husband liked his fish and chips. There was a children's playground, but the equipment had these berries falling from the tree on it.
All the places which we went to had children's menus and coloring materials.
Glad you enjoyed your trip and sounds like you liked the food too....
Dry Dock is not known for Stone Crabs, but the best stone crabs on the island is Moore's and Columbia. I feel that Columbia has only two good dishes...
One being their 1905 salad, and their stone crabs. All the remaining food at Columbia is awful......
You should of gone to Cortez Village and enjoyed the the grouper sandwich at Star Fish... Its only 10 minutes from the end of Longboat, and well worth the ride to eat on the water with the fishermen.....
Another joint that you would really enjoy is "Sign of the Mermaid" on Anna Maria. Old fashion cookin in a old fashion house, cooked by a old fashion cook.... Wow-really good, and inexpensive.
Linger Lodge is scary for most people, and way off the beaten track.
Next time you are travelling from Tampa to Sarasota on Rt 75, get off Rt 301 (Ellenton) go West for a few miles, and on the left is the best BBQ joint in teh area called HICKORY HOLLOW. Closed on Mondays, but fabulous food, real cheap, big selection of side dishes and a place that everyone enjoys, but we try to keep it low, so the line does not get too long. If you go back towards Rt 75, and continue on 301 West for about 1-mile, you will be at the Factory Outlet Shopping Center with about 200 stores full of bargains, and looking for customers..... Come back and see us again, and we will give you some more ideas.... Irwin