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Sarasota: Best Seafood - Shrimp and Fish

p
princess00 Dec 14, 2011 12:07 PM

Okay, Chowhounds! Who has the best seafood in the Sarasota area? Particularly locally sourced fresh fish and/or shrimp from the gulf fish?

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  1. s
    snobman Dec 15, 2011 06:39 AM

    Probably Duval's which recently moved to Main St. Starfish is all local and just caught though it's not in Sarasota, but Cortez. Captain Brian's near the airport has excellent local seafood. Believe it or not you'll have a hard time finding a Sarasota restaurant that serves locally caught, fresh seafood. Phillippi Creek Restaurant gets their crab from ASIA!

    Good luck.

    2 Replies
    1. re: snobman
      p
      princess00 Dec 15, 2011 12:02 PM

      Wow! Really? Being so close to the water, I am surprised the local restaurants aren't serving what is right at their back door. I miss gulf shrimp from living near Galveston bay for so many years; I was hoping to load up on some tasty seafood while on vacation.

      1. re: snobman
        apicard Jul 14, 2012 08:19 AM

        The Lucky Pelican, fresh consistent and really good.

      2. m
        Mother of four Dec 15, 2011 03:29 PM

        We have a few local shops that sell fresh fish, but not all from FL. In the restaurants...who knows where it's from. You would think local, but not necessarily so.

        23 Replies
        1. re: Mother of four
          scubadoo97 Dec 19, 2011 12:17 PM

          Local is going to cost more and push the price up. Those farmed shrimp from Asia are pretty cheap and that Basa fish can pass for snapper. Unfortunately people want good food and also want low prices which don't always coincide. I can say I've been to Duvals and Dereks and they both serve very high quality tasty seafood. Not cheap but tasty meals at both.

          1. re: scubadoo97
            p
            princess00 Dec 19, 2011 01:14 PM

            Well, thanks for the feedback! I will lower my expectations on finding good seafood in Sarasota, then. I'm always seeking a tasty backet of fried shrimp or a fish sandwich anytime I'm visiting a location that is near the Gulf. Will check out the menus for Duvals and Dereks. Would you say these places are kid friendly? We'll be traveling with a 2 year old.

            1. re: princess00
              scubadoo97 Dec 19, 2011 01:58 PM

              Not sure about Duvals since they moved but Dericks is fine dining so depends on the 2 yr old. Not the place for my kids when they were that age. We limited ourself to lower end, family and take out.

              1. re: scubadoo97
                p
                princess00 Dec 20, 2011 01:27 PM

                Thanks, scubadoo97. After looking at the information on these restaurants, I was figuring they may not be very kid friendly. Our toddler is fairly well behaved, but we may have a more enjoyable dinner at a more casual location.

                1. re: princess00
                  scubadoo97 Dec 20, 2011 01:50 PM

                  I don't want to say that there is no good local seafood in Sarasota but there is a lot of dreck that cater to tourists. Maybe someone that lives there can chime in with some good casual locations to try.

                  1. re: scubadoo97
                    p
                    princess00 Dec 27, 2011 01:01 PM

                    Ah, scubadoo97 - I see your point. We've never been to Sarasota, but I've seen a few comments on the boards indicating that a lot of the more frequented spots also cater to tourists. We are tourists, so we'd probably enjoy a few of those, but I often find that my favorite meal is some dive that only the locals know about. Will keep digging and hopefully we'll come across a real gem during our visit!

                    1. re: princess00
                      scubadoo97 Dec 27, 2011 01:40 PM

                      I didn't mean anything derogatory about being a tourist. More a jab at the restaurants that offer poor excuse for food because they know the tourist will be gone in a few days and will remember the beautiful beach and not the average food they ate.

                      I'm okay with a dive as well. If the fish is fresh and they don't screw it up it's all good.

                      1. re: scubadoo97
                        p
                        princess00 Dec 28, 2011 11:28 AM

                        Scubadoo97 - no worries about the comment. i did not take it as derogatory at all!

              2. re: princess00
                m
                Mother of four Dec 20, 2011 09:11 PM

                Neither one would I take a small child to. Casey Key Fish House is great for kids, and their fish is wonderful.

                1. re: Mother of four
                  p
                  princess00 Dec 27, 2011 01:02 PM

                  Thanks, Mother of four. The menu looks like a good option for our 2 YO. Would you recommend this spot for lunch or dinner?

                  1. re: princess00
                    m
                    Mother of four Dec 28, 2011 07:17 PM

                    Either, but your wait would be a lot less at lunch. Thet have a large fish tank that the kids like, plus you can walk around where the boats are docked ,which the kids will enjoy.
                    By the way, lot's of neat things to do with kids ,if it's not beach weather, in Sarasota.

                    1. re: Mother of four
                      p
                      princess00 Dec 29, 2011 03:58 PM

                      That sounds great! I will definitely add that one to my list!

                    2. re: princess00
                      o
                      ospreycove Dec 29, 2011 05:35 AM

                      If the weather is good, take your 2 year old to Star Fish in Cortez, just up from Longboat Key across the Cortez Bridge on right. It is on the water, outside dining only, plenty of Pelicans, Herons etc. for entertainment. All their seafood comes from the next door wholesale fish house, (A.P. Bell), where you can see the commercial fishermen unloading their boats.
                      http://starfishcompany.com/starfishco...

                      1. re: ospreycove
                        m
                        Mother of four Dec 29, 2011 09:13 AM

                        That needs to be a Chowhound trip!! Never been there.

                        1. re: Mother of four
                          i
                          irwin Dec 29, 2011 02:23 PM

                          One of my top favorite restaurants... I love it there...
                          Had lunch today @ Hickory Hollow, Rt 301, Ellenton...
                          Wow---wonderful and very very cheap.... The owner told me today that they have been there 28 years. just so you know--cash only is accepted.

                          1. re: irwin
                            p
                            princess00 Dec 29, 2011 04:01 PM

                            Irwin - is this a BBQ joint? If so, I think I found the website. Thanks!

                            1. re: princess00
                              cvalcar Feb 29, 2012 12:45 PM

                              It is a BBQ place but they have fantastic fried fish!

                        2. re: ospreycove
                          p
                          princess00 Dec 29, 2011 03:59 PM

                          Ospreycove - I've seen this one recommended a few times on the chowhound boards. Looks like the type of place that we are seeking. Same question that I asked previously - should we try it for lunch or dinner?

                          1. re: princess00
                            o
                            ospreycove Dec 30, 2011 05:07 AM

                            Prin00, Star Fish is outside dining ONLY, so on a nice day in season be ready to wait for your order. This time of year they close at around 8:00 PM, I believe, so it might be better to go late afternoon, (very early dinner), as it is still light out and the doinner crowds have not appeared yet. The menu is the same lunch/dinner.

                            1. re: ospreycove
                              p
                              princess00 Dec 30, 2011 11:25 AM

                              Thanks for the feedback. We typically eat pretty early to appease the toddler's bedtime. It is VERY helpful to know there is a wait for our order. I'm excited about trying this one out!

                              1. re: ospreycove
                                Veggo Dec 31, 2011 07:16 AM

                                osprey, would you e-mail me? Thanks.

                                1. re: Veggo
                                  o
                                  ospreycove Dec 31, 2011 10:58 AM

                                  Veggo

                                  Your Earthlink e-mail address was sent back as "unknown"

                                  1. re: ospreycove
                                    Veggo Dec 31, 2011 11:03 AM

                                    hard to read, in caps its VFL12@earthlink.net. Please try again.

                2. Veggo Dec 31, 2011 05:30 AM

                  Check out www.halfshelloysterhouse.com , scheduled to open in Sarasota at 1991 Main St. on Jan. 10, 2012. I ate at their Gulfport location not long ago and thoroughly enjoyed their charcoal grilled oysters and gulf shrimp. It has a great vibe, too. Should be a welcome addition to our scene.

                  12 Replies
                  1. re: Veggo
                    p
                    princess00 Dec 31, 2011 12:53 PM

                    Thanks, Veggo! We are visiting in 2012 so I will certainly keep an eye on your recommendation.

                    1. re: Veggo
                      i
                      irwin Dec 31, 2011 01:25 PM

                      Half Shell's menu looks great....
                      Hope they do a good job in Sarasota and they will be packed...
                      They are opening in a great area....

                      1. re: irwin
                        e
                        EIF1lady Jan 1, 2012 04:30 PM

                        We will be visiting Sarasota for the first time in February and a friend of mine recommended Madfish Grill. Any feedback would be appreciated.

                        1. re: irwin
                          m
                          Mother of four Jan 1, 2012 07:04 PM

                          Where exactly? I'm assuming it's in one of the recently closed restaurants. Zoria's?

                          1. re: Mother of four
                            i
                            irwin Jan 7, 2012 01:49 PM

                            Madfish is on Cattleman between Bee Ridge and Clark. Don't waste your time going there.

                            1. re: Mother of four
                              m
                              Mother of four Jan 7, 2012 06:47 PM

                              No not Madfish, would never go there, Half Shell. Where on Main St?

                              1. re: Mother of four
                                i
                                irwin Jan 10, 2012 02:50 PM

                                Half Shell is opening in the former Main St. Oyster Bar, a block west of Hollywood 20....

                                1. re: irwin
                                  Veggo Jan 10, 2012 03:56 PM

                                  Today, says their web site (January 10, 2012).

                                  1. re: irwin
                                    m
                                    Mother of four Jan 11, 2012 04:49 PM

                                    Former Zoria's. That's what I thought.

                                    1. re: Mother of four
                                      Veggo Jan 11, 2012 05:13 PM

                                      Anybody gonna try it and report? I won't be back until March.

                                      1. re: Veggo
                                        m
                                        Mother of four Jan 12, 2012 08:10 PM

                                        I'm sure one of us will be there before March and report back.

                                        1. re: Mother of four
                                          i
                                          irwin Jan 24, 2012 02:45 PM

                                          Ate there Saturday evening....
                                          Good food, good menu, nice atmosphere, great location, great pricing, but service was terrible. They staff needs lots more training. The house was packed and the wait staff was going crazy. Once this straightens out, it will be a great restaurant.

                          2. c
                            chowfamily Jan 1, 2012 07:31 PM

                            Captain Brian's near the airport has excellent local seafood and is very family friendly. It's especially good value at lunch. The shrimp salad is delicious, with flavorful very fresh local shrimp. The fried clams rival those in New England. The servers are very friendly and many have been there for years. It is no frills, but worth a detour.

                            9 Replies
                            1. re: chowfamily
                              o
                              ospreycove Jan 2, 2012 04:45 AM

                              If you are interested in the quality, taste and freshness of the Seafood......I agree CAPTAIN BRIAN"S!!!

                              1. re: ospreycove
                                m
                                Mother of four Jan 2, 2012 10:00 AM

                                Make that #3!!! Just a bit far for us, so never think about it, but it is excellent fish..very fresh and a no frills place.

                                1. re: Mother of four
                                  p
                                  princess00 Jan 5, 2012 06:17 PM

                                  Wow! Three recommendations for Captain Brians! I will have to add that one to my list!

                                  1. re: princess00
                                    scubadoo97 Jan 5, 2012 07:34 PM

                                    Three chowworthy recs! Doesn't get much better than that.
                                    Check back with some feedback and have a great time on the Florida west coast

                                    1. re: scubadoo97
                                      c
                                      CFishman Jan 6, 2012 07:39 AM

                                      I am definitely going to try Captain Brian's but I want to put in another vote for a Chowdown at Starfish.

                                      1. re: scubadoo97
                                        p
                                        princess00 Jan 6, 2012 11:54 AM

                                        I will certainly let y'all know what we think! Thanks!

                                        1. re: princess00
                                          l
                                          lattelover Jan 8, 2012 03:23 AM

                                          Although I agree that Captain Brian 's fish is absolutely fresh and top-notch, I find the place a bit depressing with its aging decor and insipid salad bar. It would be so much better if it were updated a little. That being said, service is professional and fairly speedy. Instead of the mediocre potato side choices, try the sauteed spinach which is absolutely delicious

                                          1. re: lattelover
                                            o
                                            ospreycove Jan 8, 2012 05:19 AM

                                            Lattelovr, Well, at least he added the big saltwater fish tank a few years ago! I notice that the decor matches the clientele; but I go for the food and ignore everything else. Brian is a really great guy too, a living encyclopedia of Seafood.

                                            1. re: lattelover
                                              w
                                              wheaton24 Mar 19, 2012 07:52 AM

                                              I agree that it needs a makeover. There's also a fishy smell which is not a good sign of freshness.

                                2. j
                                  jfb1138 Jan 18, 2012 10:47 AM

                                  Walt's Fish Market Restaurant (4144 S Tamiam Trail) has local fish and shrimp and prepares it perfectly. They've been in business since 1918 (as fishermen) and restaurant since soon after WWII. They've had time to get it right.

                                  Not all the seafood is local, because not all seafood is local. Maine lobsters do no grow in Florida, after all. But you can get Florida lobster almost always. Stick to things like snapper and grouper (usually three or four different kinds available at all times), pompano, cobia, tripletail, and the like and it cannot be fresher. They do offer other kinds of fish like swordfish and cod, but if you know what's local, you can buy and eat local. Walt's also buys from local fishermen as well as a wholesaler in Tampa.

                                  Because they sell fresh seafood at the retail level, you can just look in the cases to see what's available. You can request that any fish they have be prepared for you, whether or not it's on the menu.

                                  Walt's advertises itself as a 'Cracker' restaurant. What with frog legs and 'gator on the menu, that's not far off. Whatever it is, it is not Capt Brian's or Bonefish Grille-- and that's a very good thing! The food is simpler and honors the fish by not disguising it. Most fish can be prepared fried, broiled, or blackened. If that's not going to be good for a particular fish, the great staff will tell you. If you insist, they'll make it your way.

                                  This is not a restaurant oriented toward prom dates. It's a place that knows its products and how best to prepare them.

                                  Following a recent death in the family, Walt's has taken on a new part-owner. This had led to a freshening of the interior and slight changes in the menu, as well as somewhat higher prices. The value for money equation is still sky-high on the value end.

                                  If there's anything to ding about Walt's it's the quality of the side dishes (two come with most meals). They're typical for the type of restaurant -- cole slaw, french fries, corn on the cob, etc. -- but are mediocre, in my book. As I don't go there for the side dishes (I'm there practically once a week, though it's a ten-mile drive), I don't mind that much. They are all passable, just not as good as the seafood.

                                  16 Replies
                                  1. re: jfb1138
                                    j
                                    JohnnyGe Jan 18, 2012 03:18 PM

                                    +1 for Walt's

                                    1. re: jfb1138
                                      p
                                      princess00 Jan 21, 2012 11:42 AM

                                      jfb1138 - thanks for the detailed description of Walt's. I'll have to check that one out too. sound just like what we are looking for!

                                      1. re: jfb1138
                                        w
                                        wheaton24 Mar 19, 2012 07:54 AM

                                        This place reeks of fish. Our waitress had a filthy uniform. Very unappetizing. I won't return.

                                        1. re: wheaton24
                                          p
                                          princess00 Mar 30, 2012 07:25 PM

                                          Wheaton24 - it seems like you have had a stinky fishy experience at walt's and captain Brian's. What seafood restaurants are on your top list that don't smell fishy?

                                          1. re: princess00
                                            w
                                            wheaton24 Mar 30, 2012 08:04 PM

                                            Casey Key Fish House is good. Very casual, but the fish is fresh and well prepared. On the high end, I suggest The Table Creekside. Owen's Fish Camp is another good fish place.

                                            1. re: princess00
                                              o
                                              ospreycove Mar 31, 2012 03:30 PM

                                              Maybe wheat should go to Red Lobster, does not smell like fish......

                                              1. re: ospreycove
                                                i
                                                irwin Mar 31, 2012 05:21 PM

                                                Jim: Red Lobster closed all their joints in Maine.. They could not compete with the local restaurants because we understand that all their fish comes in frozen. They are also double or triple the cost of Capt. Brians. I also have visited Swordfish Grill next to Cortez Kitchen in Cortez once weekly for the last 4-weeks, and I must report that it is better then Star Fish. First of all, you don't have to eat out of a box. Secondly, you don't have to sit at a ugly picnic table, or worry about getting your auto dinged in the parking lot...
                                                I am impressed with Swordfish Grill's menu, prices, and freshness of fish, not to mention a beautiful deck in the rear, on the water, with tables & chairs, or hi-tops right on the water, and guess what--they have waiter service......and a full bar......

                                            2. re: wheaton24
                                              apicard Jul 14, 2012 08:20 AM

                                              I totally agree!

                                            3. re: jfb1138
                                              p
                                              princess00 Mar 30, 2012 07:23 PM

                                              Wow. What a complimentary description of this restaurant. I will certainly have to add this to my list of places to check out. Thanks for the feedback. Our trip is fast approaching and I am getting excited!

                                              1. re: princess00
                                                o
                                                ospreycove Mar 31, 2012 03:38 PM

                                                Capt Brians, has a fish market in the restaurant....hence fish smell, same goes for Walt's. Brent the owner is a commercial fisherman and he brings fish directly from his boat to the shop, He also has a fish market in the restaurant.
                                                Star Fish in Cortez, owned by one of the last family owned wholesale operations left in Florida, Star Fish is owned by A.P.Bell, smell the fish it is all fresh,l just off the boats that unload right next to the outdoor restaurant. Owens Fish Camp is new and the predominate smell is fried, not bad fried just fried.

                                                1. re: ospreycove
                                                  p
                                                  princess00 Mar 31, 2012 03:57 PM

                                                  Ospreycove

                                                  Thanks for clarifying. We plan on trying starfish, captain Brian's, owens fish camp and likely walt's on our trip. Being landlocked in Dallas, I have a feeling we will not have an issue with the freshness of the fish. Lol! I can't wait to weigh in on my favorite!

                                                  1. re: ospreycove
                                                    w
                                                    wheaton24 Mar 31, 2012 06:22 PM

                                                    Fish markets should smell of the sea/ocean. There's a big difference between a briny smell and the kind of fishy (spoiled fish) odor I'm talking about.

                                                    1. re: wheaton24
                                                      o
                                                      ospreycove Apr 1, 2012 06:41 PM

                                                      Do not expect the "briny smell of the sea" in a wholesale fresh seafood mkt. like Hunt's Pointe distribution complex in NYC. That smell of the sea is more times than not the "fragrance" used in some retail operations. Somewhat akin to the "Bright Eyes" solution applied to some residents of the fish case that have "hung out" a little too long. This product gives the appearance of fresh fish with clear eyes to a fish that is actually beyond being fresh.

                                                      1. re: wheaton24
                                                        apicard Jul 14, 2012 08:21 AM

                                                        Right!

                                                    2. re: princess00
                                                      o
                                                      ospreycove Mar 31, 2012 03:41 PM

                                                      Capt Brian had fresh smelts this week and he is in the short season for Shad Roe, a true delicacy, and very difficult to find.

                                                      1. re: ospreycove
                                                        Veggo Mar 31, 2012 03:50 PM

                                                        osprey, I went to Capt. Brian earlier this month when you were still in Italy. I enjoyed the grouper reuben, and I had reserved 3 lbs. of colossal stone crab claws, when nobody in Cortez even had large. Pricey, but they were the single source for the best.

                                                  2. n
                                                    normanwest Apr 21, 2012 07:59 PM

                                                    best seafood is in bradenton up on cortez road....near bridge........

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: normanwest
                                                      Veggo Apr 21, 2012 08:43 PM

                                                      May we assume your reference is to Cortez Kitchen and Star Fish?
                                                      I'll volunteer the Cortez Cafe for breakfast, especially the corned beef hash and their toasted biscuits. It has a cult following`but does not compete with the seafood sisters in the Village.

                                                    2. apicard Jul 14, 2012 08:16 AM

                                                      After being transplanted from a coastal village in RI, I didn't just crave fresh seafood I needed it! So by all means RUN straight to The Lucky Pelican near Lakewood Ranch! The seafood is FRESH, consistent and always delicious!

                                                      1. w
                                                        wheaton24 Jul 14, 2012 09:20 AM

                                                        I agree with the Lucky Pelican in Lakewood Ranch. Excellent!

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: wheaton24
                                                          p
                                                          princess00 Jul 17, 2012 05:27 PM

                                                          Thanks for this referral! The menu looks tasty!

                                                        2. s
                                                          Sunfire Dec 12, 2012 02:34 AM

                                                          If you're ever looking for a GREAT Lobster Roll, check on Doggin' It on Fruitville. Great hot dogs too, dozens of toppings!

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