HOME > Chowhound > Florida >


Good eats around St. Armands, Sarasota?

I am suprising the hubbie with an anniversary trip to St. Armand's in Sarasota. He is usually the planner so I am trying to make sure all my bases are covered so he enjoys this trip! This includes planning a good place for lunch and/or dinner. Any suggestions? There seems to be so many places! It doesn't have to be exactly at St. Aramnds Circle. A drive around Sarasota is no problem.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. What kind of food do you and hubby like and what price range?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Longboat

      We both like a lot of things and are very open to any food. However, as much as I love seafood, my husbands does not like to order it due to fishing practices, etc. So while we could eat a seafood restaurant, I don't know if it is worth going to if all he is going to get is a chicken sandwich. As far as price, I think that 50-75 for the entire meal is a good range. We are just poor college students!

    2. I can never get enough of Cafe L'Europe on St. Armands Circle. I have to drive down from Tampa on a regular basis just for some of their lobster bisque. It's lovely inside, and also has nice patio seating if you like watching the world go by. It is on the pricey side, and if you enjoy a cocktail or two you can easily hit $75 at lunch. It does have a "special" feel, though.

      1. I frequently enjoy the 1905 salad prepared tableside with sauteed garlic shrimp at the cuban-themed Columbia on the circle, and it's nice weather now for sidewalk seating and people watching. Too warm for their excellent cuban soups, and stone crab season ends today, but there are plenty of options there plus great mojitos.
        I have only made one quick visit to Ceviche, on 1 st. in a beautiful four story historic building with elevator and a rooftop tapas bar. It offers half price tapas at happy hour (the scallop ceviche was excellent, a pricey agave margarita a bit gimmicky). It's 10 minutes from St. Armands and I want to go back for a dinner. Iberico hams hanging from the ceiling over the first floor bar can only be a good thing.
        The Restos at Marina Jacks have been disappointing.

        1. For breakfast, try Yoder's which is a "Amish/Mennonite" restaurant. Their homemade breads and pies are amazing....

          Yoder's Restaurant
          3434 Bahia Vista St, Sarasota, FL 34239

          1. Most of us on this list were poor college students too and can relate to dining within a reasonable budget. The reality is that on St. Armands, $50 to $75 (for more than hamburgers, pizza, Chinese) won’t go a long way; it’s a very pricey area. Someone suggested Café Europe (and we evidently have very different opinions of that restaurant) but a dinner there with drinks or wine will come closer to $75 per person than not. I see your choices on the Circle as Tommy Bahamas (which I like, and if you go split the pina colada cake), Hemmingway’s, Cork downstairs. Columbia is also in your range, Cuban food, not particularly distinguished but fun – and very good sangria. For Tommy Bahamas, make reservations: (941) 388-2888.
            If you go down the road a touch onto Longboat Key, the Dry Dock Grill is reasonably priced and it’s on the water. It's about 10 minutes from the Circle. They don’t take reservations but if you’re coming now it’s out of season and the wait, if any, should not be long. If you want to spend a touch more, also a touch further out on Longboat is Pattigeorge’s, which I love, and right on the water, too. The reason I think of that restaurant for you is if you’re coming from Gainesville (I checked your profile) you’ll want to meet Sam the bartender at Pattigeorge’s. He’s a local legend AND a Gator. Note that I’ve addressed the St. Armands area and not broader Sarasota. Happy Anniversary!

            Pattigeorge's Restaurant
            4120 Gulf of Mexico Dr., Longboat Key, FL 34228

            3 Replies
            1. re: Longboat

              For the record, I suggested lunch at L'Europe...which you can do for $75.

              And I don't agree with you regarding Tommy Bahama. I've had a $75 lunch there, too (and the food was absurdly overpriced and very Bennigan's-esque, IMO).

              Different strokes, I guess. :)

              1. re: sweet_polly

                Well, even though we don't agree, I still like your blog. ;-)

                1. re: Longboat

                  Thank you! :)

                  People seem to either love or hate L'Europe. Agree with you that Columbia is a nice, consistent and relatively reasonably-priced crowd-pleaser. Might be a good option for these guys.

            2. I would also recommend the Dry Dock Waterfront Grill for lunch. The upstairs view is simply unforgettable and the food is good and very affordable. I would recommend the fish and chips for you and the fried whole-bellied ipswitch clam sandwich for he. Both around $14 each and excellent eats.

              Another lunch spot you might enjoy is the Old Salty Dog just around the corner from the 'circle'. It was featured in an episode of Man vs Food last year and you are directly on or over the water watchin the boats go by. I've never been there but looks like a fun place. Very casual.

              For dinner make a reservation at the Columbia and before or after eating walk around the circle looking at all the quaint shops. Although not my favorite place, it's beautiful and quite a unique restaurant. Very affordable.

              The Old Salty Dog
              1601 Ken Thompson Pkwy, Sarasota, FL 34236

              1. I would recommend Cork also. Hemingway's is over-rated in my opinion. Not worth the prices. If you want to drive away from the circle -- not too far -- try Libby's on Osprey. Mattison's Grill on Main is nice for lunch.

                The bar at Lido Beach Resort is a great place for a sunset drink.

                2 Replies
                1. re: LJBTampa

                  Cork (downstairs) is fine, I recommended it too, and it meets Lisa ME's price point. Much more expensive, I used to love Cork (upstairs), one of my go-to places. It's changed a lot, though, and I rarely go there anymore. Jeff Trefry, the former managing partner has left and a group of real estate agents has taken the place over. I just don't think it's distinguished anymore, particular at the price. Timmy is still a great waiter.

                  1. re: Longboat

                    Update on Cork. Just heard this morning that it is closing at the end of the month. Not sure yet if ownership is changing. It is going to become some sort of Island BBQ place. Just what we need -- more island-style food.

                    FYI, the realtors (Howard Rooks and his daughter and son-in-law, Lisa and Bob Morris) were the owners when Jeff Trefry was there, too.

                    When Jeff left, they hired a new GM and a new chef who did not fill Jeff's capable shoes IMHO.

                2. How can I put this delicately? Many of the places mentioned so far are fine choices but the patrons are often, er, a little long-in-the-tooth. As college students, you may be looking for a quiet time and this might be your match, but I just wanted to make sure you were aware. On the plus side, late dining times are easier to get :)

                  If you want to check out something a little more progressive, take a 10 minute drive into town to Derek's Culinary Casual. It features more modern preparations and an evolving menu of very fresh ingredients and should also fit your budget.


                  Derek's Culinary & Casual
                  514 Central Ave, Sarasota, FL 34236

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: YosemiteSam

                    Not surprised that Cork is closing, although I am not too happy to see this happen in this area. The owners are not restaurant people, and I think depended on the chef to make it work. We ate there last week and it was just OK. We were the only occupied table in the joint... The bar had 3-4 customers, but I said to our group of 4 that this place will not be here much longer.
                    Lido Beach Bar is awesome. Libby's is very good. Mattison's Grill does not get me excited, but Patrick's on Main St has been serving some great food lately including $4 hamburgers.
                    I really like Lazy Lobster on Longboat. Excellent service, full bar, good food very reasonable, and very busy so the turnover will keep everything fresh. Two Chefs opened recently and great reasonable food. El Greco has the best greek salad and best greek pizza in town and again, very reasonable. Ask for waiter IZZY.
                    Barnacle Bills also has a great fish assortment of dishes, reasonable and good service. One of my favorite joints is CASEY KEY FISH HOUSE, about 25 minutes from St. Armands, but again, excellent reasonable and great selections, but you might have to wait for dinner. Lunch is no problem.... I love the place, right on the water, plenty of parking, fast service with a smile, and snapper to die for.....
                    Have fun, and report back... Irwin

                    El Greco Cafe
                    1592 Main St, Sarasota, FL 34236

                    Lazy Lobster
                    7602 Lockwood Ridge Rd, Sarasota, FL 34243

                    Barnacle Bills
                    2901 Placida Rd, Englewood, FL 34224

                    7275 S Tamiami Trl, Sarasota, FL 34231

                    1. re: irwin

                      Have you tried Lan's? Our kids went there and thought for a Sarasota restaurant it was good, they are from DC. We have reservations for Tuesday night, so we shall see!
                      LisaME, you might be interested. It is $35 price fixed, three courses, plus it also has late night dinning for a younger crowd. It is downtown on Main St, not far from St Armand's.

                    2. re: YosemiteSam

                      The main courses here are in the mid to upper $20s. After considering appetizers, drinks, taxes and tips, and her price range of $50 to $75 for the entire meal, this probably exceeds her budget. Good restaurant.

                      1. re: YosemiteSam

                        Derek's is excellent, but likely exceeds OP's stated budget.

                        1. re: LJBTampa

                          You and Longboat a likely correct - but I guess I feel a true Chowhound should go into debt for good food :) Buy used textbooks maybe? j/k

                      2. I've only been to Crab & Fin, and he Columbia Restaurant. Both are good. I will have to try the others that havebeen mentioned here. Hmmm, I may have to drive down there next week to try one of them. :)

                        Crab & Fin
                        420 Saint Armands Cir, Sarasota, FL 34236

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Saraplicious Kitchen

                          If you are looking for a good post dinner desert there is an oustanding french macroon shop on st armands. C'est Bon and very trendy

                        2. So, we are back from our amazing vacation! The hubby had a great time! We had a drink at Columbia but the wait was nuts and they have one in YBor, it looks like the same thing. We ate our first night at Tropical Thai on Main St., which a friend recommended. It was pretty decent, nothing spectacular but a good meal for a good price, and the waitress was really nice and helped critique my husband's recipe for Pad Thai. The next night we decided to eat at Ceviche, and had a marvelous time. We actually met some friends there, and I feel like with tapas, the more the merrier because you get to try more things. The Portabello tapa was excellent, and the Bandeilla Mixtas, which we got a Racion, had very tender, deliciously (a word?) marinated steak. Thank you all for all of your help, this was my first post on chow hound. Shout out to lauracooks! She recommended this site to me!

                          Tropical Thai Restaurant
                          1420 Main St, Sarasota, FL 34236