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Looking for the best restaurants in Florida w/in driving distance of sarasota/ft myers

macleody2k Mar 8, 2010 08:09 AM

My wife and I were thinking it would be fun to spend a weekend or two driving to the "best" restaurants in Florida. We live in Port Charlotte, and restaurants in the area are decent at best(although I will give props to Donato's, and Laishley Crab House has the most fantastic Oysters I have ever had!).

We both love all types of food, the only stipulation is my wife has a stomach condition and can not eat anything at all spicy. Other than that, we are open to anything. Any suggestions for food destinations worth driving to?

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  1. askdrtodd RE: macleody2k Mar 8, 2010 09:07 AM

    define driving distance? an hour? two?

    1 Reply
    1. re: askdrtodd
      macleody2k RE: askdrtodd Mar 8, 2010 09:56 AM

      Lets say up to 4 hours. If the place is really spectacular, we might be willing to stay at a hotel in the area check out local sights. The better the food, the longer we are willing to travel!

    2. r
      RevrendAndy RE: macleody2k Mar 9, 2010 09:23 AM

      How long have you been in the area? Have you been to Perfect Caper in Punta Gorda? Bern's Steak House in Tampa?
      What about Miami-Lauderdale?

      4 Replies
      1. re: RevrendAndy
        askdrtodd RE: RevrendAndy Mar 9, 2010 09:30 AM

        Go to Tampa for a day, do Pane Rustica for lunch and Bern's for dinner. That'll be a pretty amazing food day.

        1. re: askdrtodd
          macleody2k RE: askdrtodd Mar 9, 2010 01:52 PM

          We have done Bern's. To be honest, it was good, but I did not think it was great. The steak was amazingly tender, but tasteless. My wife's was as well, and the Lobster Bisque had far too much Sherry in it.

          We have not done the Miami-Lauderdale area.

          Pane Rustica is a new name for me. I will check it out!

          1. re: macleody2k
            Lauracooks RE: macleody2k Mar 23, 2010 09:51 AM

            Try Sideberns. Vey upscale and great cocktails

            2208 W Morrison Ave, Tampa, FL 33606

        2. re: RevrendAndy
          macleody2k RE: RevrendAndy Mar 9, 2010 04:16 PM

          I just recently heard of Perfect Caper. I plan on checking it out, people seem to love it!

        3. l
          laboheme RE: macleody2k Mar 9, 2010 11:36 AM

          Right in Sarasota, Derek's Culinary Casual is hard to beat...he was a semi-finalist for a James Beard award last year. Ezra's in Bradenton is always spectactular...go there for their bento lunch box (with some of the best fried Apalachicola oysters and asian calamari caesar salad) then drift down to the Rosemary District in Sarasota to Derek's for dinner...you won't be disappointed.


          4 Replies
          1. re: laboheme
            macleody2k RE: laboheme Mar 9, 2010 01:54 PM

            Great suggestions! I lived in Sarasota for a couple years, but had never heard of these! Thanks for the links as well!

            1. re: macleody2k
              Longboat RE: macleody2k Mar 9, 2010 04:56 PM

              The Beach Bistro on Holmes Beach (Anna Maria Island) has the highest Zagat food rating in Florida. And it deserves it.

              1. re: Longboat
                askdrtodd RE: Longboat Mar 10, 2010 04:15 AM

                true. beautiful view, location, restaurant. excellent food. bring your wallet though.

                1. re: askdrtodd
                  macleody2k RE: askdrtodd Mar 11, 2010 12:03 PM

                  I looked The Beach Bistro up online. Looks amazing! I see what you mean about price, though. Still, we will add it to our list.

          2. TomOHaver RE: macleody2k Mar 12, 2010 12:50 PM

            It's worth driving down to Naples to try Escargot 41, IM Tapas, USS Nemo's, Angelina's Ristorante (Bonita Springs), and Truluck's. All have been reviewed in detail here and in Insatiable Appetites blog.

            1 Reply
            1. re: TomOHaver
              macleody2k RE: TomOHaver Mar 13, 2010 05:28 AM

              Well that would use up a few trips! Great recommendations, thanks!

            2. z
              Zeits RE: macleody2k Mar 15, 2010 06:21 PM

              i have only been to sideburns (not Berns) but if you want to try a steak place that i think is the best i've ever been to (and its in Naples) try Preston's. its small and reservations during season are hard to get--but you won't be disappointed. great choc cake too made by the Mrs.
              Inca's Kitchen is worth a look --not much for decor but the food is just fabulous.

              Sea Salt--mixed reviews. i had a great food but the service was awful--maybe start-up problems...but the chef was the sous chef for Galileo in DC when it was the #1 rest there (Washingtonian Magazine). plenty of good places but those are the only destination places i can think of.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Zeits
                macleody2k RE: Zeits Mar 17, 2010 07:04 AM

                Cool. Looks like a trip south is in order! Thanks!

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