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Best of Sarasota's hidden gems

stack_c Aug 12, 2010 01:59 PM

Will be spending a week in Sarasota...5th or 6th time visiting the area. Have been to the majority of the well known and well reviewed restos ( Derek's, Beach Bistro, Bijou, Mosaic, Selva Grill, Ophelia's Euphemia Haye's etc) We are looking to try some not so well known but equally as delicious places for dinner. For example, looking for good mexican, cuban, chinese, thai, bbq, indian, italian.
Thanks in advance! Looking forward to some new culinary experiences!

Beach Bistro
6600 Gulf Dr, Holmes Beach, FL 34217

Selva Grill
1345 Main Street, Sarasota, FL 34236

Euphemia Haye
5540 Gulf of Mexico Dr, Longboat Key, FL 34228

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    ospreycove RE: stack_c Aug 12, 2010 02:07 PM

    If you are here in Early Sept. Bologna Cafe will be back from vacation, this is truly an experience you will not find in very many places. All the cheese, Salumi, (cured meats) olives etc. are imported from italy. Pasta is made fresh daily, Barbara is the cook, and Claudio makes fresh mozzarella daily too, sometimes it is still warm! fresh baked breads round out great treats here. The antipasti di Torrre is a must have appetizer.


    Very good Vietnamese Pho and bun dishes are at Pho Cali, Main street Sarasota, very reasonable.


    1. f
      fepey RE: stack_c Aug 12, 2010 02:46 PM

      Have you tried Libby's, Lan, or Vizen Sushi? All three are excellent.

      26 Replies
      1. re: fepey
        ospreycove RE: fepey Aug 12, 2010 04:18 PM

        Fepy....Rumor has it (Creative Loafing) that Libby's is maybe going to go "Poooff"

        1. re: ospreycove
          Longboat RE: ospreycove Aug 12, 2010 05:57 PM

          I have no info whatsoever on Libby's going "Poooff" or not -- but I'd be shocked. It's always crowded and the patrons represent all age groups, include young.

          1. re: Longboat
            ospreycove RE: Longboat Aug 13, 2010 04:56 AM

            LBK....Check back a few issues in the freebie newspaper, "Creative Loafing", the writer alluded to thie subject event.

            1. re: ospreycove
              Longboat RE: ospreycove Aug 13, 2010 07:02 PM

              I can't find it by Googling "Creative Loafing Libby's" although I certainly don't dispute that you saw it. The only articles I do find on Creative Loafing are favorable to Libby's. Either way, I've been to Libby's maybe a dozen times, including out of season, and it's always either busy or packed. People can say anything, including Poooff. I feel confident that Libby's isn't closing anytime soon.

              1. re: Longboat
                ospreycove RE: Longboat Aug 13, 2010 07:28 PM

                Only time will tell on this one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                1. re: ospreycove
                  Longboat RE: ospreycove Sep 27, 2010 10:46 AM

                  Time has told! Turns out that Libby's is just fine and is suing the journal that published the rumor of its demise:


                  Restaurant files libel suit after news report
                  Libby's owner says magazine didn't call to check rumor of closing

                  1. re: Longboat
                    ospreycove RE: Longboat Sep 28, 2010 03:51 PM

                    As one said....."The rumor is"...........not coorborated by a second verification

        2. re: fepey
          stack_c RE: fepey Aug 14, 2010 10:55 PM

          have not tried Libby's but just looked at the menu and my mouth is watering! Is that in the neighborhood behind the hospital? What kind of cuisine is Lan?

          1. re: stack_c
            Longboat RE: stack_c Aug 15, 2010 05:25 AM

            Yes on Libby's location, it's called the Hillview section. Libby's is close to the corner of Hillview and South Osprey. And here is Lan's website -- you can see their menu. http://www.lanrestaurant.com/

            1. re: stack_c
              Mother of four RE: stack_c Aug 29, 2010 01:31 PM

              We went to Lans in May, right before we came back north for the summer. We had the price fixed meal, and it was very good. We will definitely return when we go back down.

              1. re: Mother of four
                ospreycove RE: Mother of four Aug 29, 2010 03:21 PM

                What is the intel. on "Retropolitan" in Burns Court; apparently same ownership as Galileo, next door. I think it is dinner only.

                1. re: ospreycove
                  irwin RE: ospreycove Aug 30, 2010 05:32 PM

                  a) Lans is a excellent restaurant. Great chef/owner and open late. This is where the local chefs go to eat after their restaurant closes.
                  b) Have not heard anything about Retropolitan, but not sure that Galileo is still open. Does anyone know ?

                  1. re: irwin
                    Longboat RE: irwin Aug 31, 2010 05:31 PM

                    On Galileo:

                    From the Herald Tribune: Restaurant owner accused of videotaping employees


                    1. re: Longboat
                      irwin RE: Longboat Sep 1, 2010 01:53 PM

                      Yes, I saw that. What a nut. Is the restaurant still open?
                      Also see that Selva Grill closed.... too bad--very good restaurant. Sarasota seems to have way too many restaurant closings !!

                      Selva Grill
                      1345 Main Street, Sarasota, FL 34236

                      1. re: irwin
                        fepey RE: irwin Sep 1, 2010 02:07 PM

                        Selva Grlll closed? I was last there on July4th but had a very good meal. I can't find anything online just yet about it closing but sad to hear that. Seems like you hear about a new place closing almost every week.

                        1. re: irwin
                          ospreycove RE: irwin Sep 1, 2010 02:07 PM

                          Very interesting; Selva is open, I heard it closed too. Galileo is also open as of today. Another "rumor" the old Sarasota news that reopened as a cafe and Apple reseller called "Media on Main" is "having trouble" and being quite vocal about it.

                          1. re: ospreycove
                            Longboat RE: ospreycove Sep 1, 2010 04:16 PM

                            I also think Selva is open. The founder and chef, Darwin Santa Maria, has left though and is opening a restaurant on Siesta Key called Cottage on the Key.


                            Santa Maria Restaurant
                            135 Avenida Menendez, Saint Augustine, FL 32084

                            1. re: Longboat
                              ospreycove RE: Longboat Sep 2, 2010 05:50 AM

                              2 newplaces opening, on St Armonds circle. In the space held for a long time by Maus and Hoffman, men's clothier, there is a sign for a "Traditional Mexican" restaurant. In the space that was occupied by Cork and Bottle shop, a "Japanese steakhouse and Sushi......Both signs state "opening soon", we will see.

                              1. re: ospreycove
                                irwin RE: ospreycove Sep 3, 2010 05:54 PM

                                Hemingway"s in St. Armands Circle is closing -- I just read, but not because lack of business, but because landlord would not renew lease, so they are looking for another location according to the Longboat Observer.

                                1. re: irwin
                                  ospreycove RE: irwin Sep 3, 2010 05:58 PM

                                  Wow, There is an institution without a home!!!!

                                  1. re: irwin
                                    ospreycove RE: irwin Sep 9, 2010 12:48 PM

                                    Irwin..... A quote from Hemingway's website," Hemingway's Retreat Has Closed!
                                    .........for now.

                                    We have accepted a generous offer from our landlord for an 'early-out'
                                    from our lease which was to have expired in June of 2011.

                                    We are currently negotiating with other spaces and will certainly keep you
                                    informed of our whereabouts. As soon as a new opening date is set, you
                                    will be the first to know.

                                    We thank you for a wonderful 21 year run at 325 John Ringling Blvd and
                                    look forward to welcoming you when we celebrate the opening of a new
                                    Hemingway's Retreat.

                                    Thank you all for your wonderful support and patronage through the years.

                                    Please feel free to stay in touch via email at: hemingwaysretreat@yahoo.com ."

                                    Who knows what is next???

                                    Hemingway's Retreat Restaurant & Bar
                                    325 John Ringling Blvd, Sarasota, FL 34236

                                  2. re: ospreycove
                                    LJBTampa RE: ospreycove Sep 7, 2010 10:19 AM

                                    When Cork was closing, they said they were going to reopen as an island barbecue place. We were surprised to see that it will now be a Japanese steakhouse and sushi place. Tango recently opened as an Argentinean steakhouse and sushi place. Odd that Cork would choose something so similar. I liked what they were before (foodwise).

                                    1. re: LJBTampa
                                      ospreycove RE: LJBTampa Sep 7, 2010 11:32 AM

                                      LJB The landlord was open to all who wanted to lease the building. To date very little activity, besides the sign.

                            2. re: Longboat
                              Caden555 RE: Longboat Feb 7, 2011 03:05 PM

                              Not Guilty and sueing the city of Sarasota, Saraota Police Dept. and all related others involved in this case. http://www.mysuncoast.com/news/local/...

                              1. re: Longboat
                                Caden555 RE: Longboat Feb 7, 2011 03:08 PM


                            3. re: ospreycove
                              definiteopinions RE: ospreycove Sep 9, 2010 05:13 AM

                              Retropolitan. Went last week. No one to greet you at entrance at 7pm on a Friday night. OK menu, but scattered service (waitress, overheard: " I'm so BORED tonight."...then why weren't you checking your tables?) Slow cooked pork was distressingly bland. The meatloaf...no sauce "The chef isn't doing a sauce for meatloaf right now" very dry, had to resort to ketchup. Said they'd been open a month. There's no energy or interest from the management -- with only 4 tables occupied while we were there, you'd think they'd stop by to check in. They do have patio seating. We're full-time Sarasota residents, and this isn't on our "return to" list. Galileo next

                      2. e
                        ElGimpo RE: stack_c Aug 30, 2010 10:04 AM

                        Two restaurants I think of as 'gems' that are never mentioned much are Curry Creek Cafe and Roessler's Restaurant, both in south Sarasota. I've been to Curry Creek Cafe twice now for lunch and have been quite impressed. Talk about a small hole in the wall in the middle of nowhere... A mix of Indonesian, Italian and American food. For lunch try the soft shell crab sandwich or the crabcake sandwich along with the seafood stew. I keep hearing their curry is to die for. They are running a special of extra 10% accrual off the bill every time you go up to 40% off on your 4th visit.

                        Been to Roessler's many times, very fine dining and $$$, but worth it for special occasions. The baked onion soup is a masterpiece, and the boneless duck new orleans is just amazing. The place gets packed so reservations are needed.


                        Roessler's Restaurant
                        2033 Vamo Way, Sarasota, FL 34238

                        Curry Creek Cafe
                        920 Tamiami Trl S, Nokomis, FL 34275

                        1. c
                          cereme RE: stack_c Feb 22, 2011 04:37 AM

                          For Mexican the best in Sarasota is El Toro Bravo on Stickney Pt. Road. Rueben is the owner they came from New Mexico and do a great job.

                          It is a little hole in the wall place but the owner cooks and comes to greet you.

                          They do excellent rellenos, fajitas and salsa.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: cereme
                            ospreycove RE: cereme Feb 22, 2011 09:32 AM

                            Cereme....Totally agree with you on "El Toro" Ruben is so passionate about his food; he takes the time to throughly explain each dish to the uninitiated and has the patience of a Saint for those who need to "Redesign the menu". We are currently planning, with Ruben, a dinner for about 30 guests. He wants to be there and set it up fo us and explain his dishes to the servers so they are informed on the ingredients, techniques, etc. Looking forward to the dinner!!!!!

                            1. re: ospreycove
                              ospreycove RE: ospreycove Mar 21, 2011 10:27 AM

                              Follow up to the above post about planned catered dinner from El Toro Bravo.
                              Ruben is a trip, he came out the day prior to the "Event", really just a casual get together; just to see the layout. He appeared at the agreed upon time and without a sound setup the buffet of Enchiladas, seasoned rice, beans, spiced beef, shredded chicken chopped tomatos, onions, 2 kinds of shredded cheese, cilantro, a micro green salad, soft corn and flour, as well as his own crispy tortillas, for tacos, green and red NM sauces, Pico de Gallo. House made Guacamole and Salsa for the chips rounded out the display. We had thirty guests and paid for that number we could have easily served another 15! Ruben's price was very reasonable, that included Bain Maries with plenty of fuel to keep everything at perfect serving temp. Along with his knowledge of food, commentary and stories made for a enjoyable evening
                              We are more than pleased with El Toro Bravo's food and professionalism!

                          2. s
                            Shoshanna88 RE: stack_c Apr 6, 2011 08:11 AM

                            There is a little restaurant called Touche Bistro in the Gulf Gate area that has fabulous panini and sandwiches. The owner is the cook and will adjust the items to your taste. She makes everything from scratch including the salad dressing. I had a turkey panini which was the best I have ever had. Another time I had a grouper sandwich which was also very good. They seem to have an innovative breakfast menu which I have not tried. Great place for lunch.

                            1. k
                              kelsbeth RE: stack_c Jun 5, 2011 06:42 PM

                              We ate at Duvall's last night. It was wonderful. Always loved to go to De Ja Vue when we visit Sarasota. I am so glad that Ce Ce and hubby have reopened in a better place. They are masters at cooking fish. Very creative. Last night we decided to "step outside the box" and I had the Scallops Rockerfeller" and my husband and the rack of Lamb. Both were awesome. Also had their signature desert a fresh Danish bread pudding. Delicious!!
                              Tody we had Sunday brunch at Libby's and Sushi at Pacific Rim. Both meals were great. Very creative Martinis at Pacific Rim.

                              Pacific Rim
                              1859 Hillview St, Sarasota, FL 34239

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: kelsbeth
                                ospreycove RE: kelsbeth Jun 6, 2011 04:24 AM

                                Word is that There is a new breakfast/lunch place in the works on St. Armond's Circle, it will be called Shoree Diner.
                                Anyone else hear about this?

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