The 20 Best Restaurants in Sarasota for Any Occasion

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Whether you’re a Sarasota native or just in town for a few days, you have plenty of options when it comes to dining out around town. Sarasota offers a wonderful lifestyle to both locals and visitors, and dining is just one of the many factors. In fact, Sarasota made the Condé Nast list of “The Best Food Cities in the U.S.” a few years back. 

Looking for a weekend brunch spot? Or perhaps you’re planning a romantic date? Read on, because there is sure to be a Sarasota restaurant for you on our list of the best restaurants in Sarasota. 

Breakfast and Brunch


We’re starting out our list with the most important meal of the day: breakfast (or brunch, if you’re not such an early riser). The following breakfast and brunch spots are perfect for grabbing a classic American breakfast or enjoying a slow weekend brunch. 

First Watch

Our first Sarasota breakfast joint is First Watch, which is located right downtown. However, the restaurant has various additional locations in the greater Sarasota area. Located right on bustling Main Street, First Watch “specializes in both traditional and innovative creations all freshly prepared to order”. 

In fact, this restaurant has been granted the Sarasota Herald-Tribune Readers’ Choice award for “Best Breakfast in Manatee and Sarasota”. While you are certainly getting quality at First Watch, you will also appreciate quantity. Portion sizes are generous, so come with an appetite or be prepared to share. 

Some of their specialties include lemon ricotta pancakes, eggs benedict, and the classic omelet. The restaurant often offers seasonal specialties as well, like their pumpkin pancake breakfast in the fall. Opening hours are 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. every day of the week. 

pancakes up close dripping with caramel

Fresh Start Cafe

Located in Laurel Park, Fresh Start Cafe is another great place to get your breakfast and brunch fix. The restaurant offers a quaint indoor cafe setting as well as outdoor seating options. The restaurant is open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m every day except Wednesday.

Here you can enjoy classics, like an eggs/bacon/pancake breakfast or french toast, or order some more unique dishes. Try a breakfast burrito, bagel & lox, or shakshuka (Israeli poached eggs in tomato sauce). Fresh Start Cafe also has a wide selection of frittatas, or you have the option to create your own. 

Millie’s

A Sarasota staple for over three decades, Millie’s offers breakfast and brunch classics. It’s one of those places that you know you can’t go wrong. Located just a twenty-minute drive from downtown Sarasota, Millie’s is your traditional American comfort food joint with a charming dining setting. 

Some of Millie’s staples include eggs florentine and biscuits and gravy. If you prefer your breakfast on the sweeter side, try the German apple pancake. Millie’s is open daily from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. 

Toasted Mango Cafe

You can visit the Toasted Mango Cafe at two Sarasota locations: right downtown or on beautiful Siesta Key. This unassuming breakfast joint is open from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. every day of the week. 

Their extensive breakfast menu is certain to have something for everyone, with options including eggs benedict, omelets, corned beef hash, waffles, french toast, pancakes, breakfast wraps, and more. If you can’t make it out until later in the day, the Toasted Mango Cafe also has a great selection of lunch options, including wraps, sandwiches, and salads.   

breakfast waffles on a plate

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Lunch


If you’re looking for a place to grab a casual lunch, look no further than these Sarasota recommendations. And forget about your average soup and salad combo. Sarasota has plenty of unique and international lunch cuisine to choose from. 

Bitia’s Taqueria 

Bitia’s Taqueria is your Sarasota spot to enjoy a quick and casual lunch with a twist. Located just three miles from downtown Sarasota, this Salvadorian restaurant specializes in one of the country’s most emblematic dishes: papusas. Papusas, similar to a Venezuelan or Colombian arepa, are cornmeal flatbreads stuffed with a variety of fillings. 

Try a papusa de chicarron y queso (pork and cheese papusa), or one of the restaurant’s other regional specialties. Bitia’s tacos, quesadillas, tamales, and burritos are all worth trying. The restaurant is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day except Mondays. 

Lila

Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about our vegetarian readers. Located right on Main Street, you’ll find plant-based Sarasota eatery Lila, which has a classy indoor dining room and outdoor seating options as well. Here you can enjoy classic American dishes made with organic ingredients, including plenty of vegan and gluten-free options. 

Lila’s menu includes plenty of salads and sandwiches (like the mushroom burger or the tofu Rueben). But don’t worry, meat-eaters have their own options at Lila, like the grass-fed bison burger or Faroe Island salmon cakes. The restaurant opens for lunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 10:30 a.m to 4 p.m. on Saturday. 

Made

Perhaps the best place to sit down for a relaxing lunch in Sarasota is Made. Their lovely outdoor patio, extensive lunch menu, and delicious dishes are sure to please. Plus, Made is conveniently located in downtown Sarasota, right off of Main Street. 

There is something on the menu for everyone at Made, like mac-and-cheese, salads, burgers, and more. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the chicken & french toast or BLFTA (bacon, lettuce, fried green tomatoes, and avocado). Made is open from 11:30 to 2:30 for lunch from Tuesday to Friday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays. 

Pho Cali

If you’re looking for a fancy dining experience, perhaps Pho Cali isn’t for you. But if you’re looking for consistently delicious and authentic food, then you’ve come to the right place. Also located in downtown Sarasota, you can dine in or carry out at this traditional Vietnamese locale. 

pho from the top

Not surprisingly, Pho Cali’s specialty is pho, which is a Vietnamese soup made with rice noodles and plenty of additional ingredients. You can order yours with beef or chicken broth, and additional ingredient options include brisket, chicken, and mixed vegetables. The restaurant is open for lunch from 11 to 3:30, Monday through Saturday. 

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Happy Hour


Hoping to grab some drinks with coworkers or enjoy a cocktail after a long day on the beach? Well, we have the perfect Sarasota happy hour spots for you. 

Boca Sarasota

Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. you can enjoy happy hour at Boca Sarasota. This industrial-chic downtown restaurant has the perfect vibes for relaxing with a cocktail and some appetizers. 

Aside from their impressive wine list, you can explore Boca’s house cocktails, like the Blue Lagoon, Seasonal Spritz, or Watermelon Collins. There are also plenty of starters to choose from, including zucchini fries and fried green tomatoes. Plus, you’ll love the restaurant’s outdoor patio seating area.  

State Street Eating House + Cocktails

State Street Eating House + Cocktails is the perfect location for cocktail connoisseurs. If you’re just looking to grab a drink, head to the Lounge, where you can enjoy happy hour specials from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. daily. 

The menu includes almost twenty custom cocktails, as well as four “high roller” cocktails ($50+). Some of State Street’s most intriguing cocktails include “Fizzy Endings” (empress gin, egg white, cream, lavender, citrus, and soda) and “Tea Slice” (whiskey, hibiscus tea, lemon, and alchermes liqueur). 

bartending pouring a mixed liquor drink over ice

Shakespeare’s

If you’re more of a beer drinker than a cocktail connoisseur, look no further than Shakespeare’s English Pub. Self-proclaimed to be “Sarasota’s premier craft beer restaurant”, Shakespeare’s never disappoints. You can expect to see around 20 beers on tap at any given point, as well as more than a dozen types of bottled beer, both domestic and international. 

While you’re grabbing a brew, enjoy some of Shakespeare’s irresistible appetizers, like the spicy stuffed mushrooms, popcorn shrimp, or loaded fries. You’ll find Shakespeare’s less than a ten-minute drive from downtown Sarasota. 

Siegfried’s

Now that we’ve seen Sarasota’s English pub, let’s head to a German beer garden: Siegfried’s. Open from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. from Wednesday through Sunday, the beer garden is the perfect setting for grabbing a casual drink with some friends. Here you can enjoy German and domestic beers, both on draft and bottled, as well as unique German wines. 

Perhaps one of the best parts of Siegfried’s (aside from the quaint garden area and incredible beer) is their selection of authentic German eats. Out in the beer garden, you can order a German pretzel, German pepper sausage, or imported meats and cheeses. Patrons with a sweet tooth will love the homemade cakes and traditional applestrudel.  

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Date Night


Whether it’s a first date or a special anniversary dinner, we’ve rounded up the most romantic dining options in Sarasota. 

Mélange

Another Main Street staple, Mélange is the perfect place to go if you’re looking to impress a first date. The restaurant is dedicated to “the exploration of food and flavors from different regions around the world”, so you’re sure to find some creative and unique dishes when you visit. Plus, Mélange’s modern dining setting is sophisticated yet casual. 

House favorites like tuna tartare, rabbit tacos, and duck brie crepes are just a few of the menu’s many inventive dishes. The house cocktails, in the $10-$12 price range, are also a must. Mélange is open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. 

Indigenous

Located in a charming yet classy repurposed home, Indigenous is dedicated to sustainability and “creating a better food system”. That’s why you’ll find such a seasonal menu at the restaurant, which changes on a regular basis. The restaurant’s farm-to-table philosophy ensures that you’re getting only the freshest (and most delicious) ingredients. 

However, you’ll always be likely to find fresh seafood on the menu, as well as plenty of other entrees. Don’t pass up on dessert: try the decadent Cuban expresso ice cream or an irresistible lemon bar. Indigenous is open Tuesday through Saturday from 5:30 pm.m to 8:30 p.m.

Ophelia’s on the Bay

If you’re in the mood for a romantic waterfront dining experience, look no further than Ophelia’s on the Bay. This restaurant has been a Sarasota classic for over three decades, and for good reason. While there are meat options on the menu, it goes without saying that Ophelia’s on the Bay is the perfect place to bring a seafood lover. 

Yellowtail snapper, crab cakes, and sea scallops are just a few of the menu’s many delicious seafood options. Ophelia’s on the Bay has been rated “Best Waterfront Restaurant” and “Most Romantic Restaurant” by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune Reader’s Choice Awards, making it the perfect place to treat your special someone. The restaurant is open for dinner nightly from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. 

sea scallops on a plate

Sage

If you’re celebrating an anniversary or special occasion, Sage is a great place to splurge. This sophisticated restaurant (which also has a spectacular rooftop bar), offers unique creations with seasonal ingredients and an international touch. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Vegetarians, meat-eaters, and seafood lovers alike have their fair share of delicious options at Sage. Interestingly enough, the majority of dishes are also gluten-free. The menu is seasonal, but you can expect to find creative dishes like smoked scallops with green garbanzo hummus, Thai bouillabaisse, or grilled and roasted quail

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Family Meal


Finally, if you’re heading out with the whole crew, we have a few places up our sleeve that both kids and adults will enjoy. 

Eleni’s Pizza Works

Just a 15-minute drive north from downtown Sarasota you’ll find Eleni’s Pizza Works. This family-friendly eatery offers not only great pizza but also incredible stromboli, as well as delicious subs and wraps. If you’re looking for healthier options, the restaurant also offers a number of salad options. 

And of course, you can’t go wrong with one of the restaurant’s signature pies. Creations like the Happy Greek pizza, the Shrimp Scampi pizza, and Eleni’s Spinachine pizza are just a few of the unique pizza options offered at Eleni’s Pizza Works. You can head here for lunch or dinner, and opening hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon to 8 p.m. on Sunday. 

Michael’s on East

Located just south of downtown Sarasota is Michael’s on East, a Sarasota restaurant that has been offering quality meals for over thirty years. This spot is the ideal place to celebrate a family celebration, be it a graduation, a birthday, or whatever else the occasion. Michael’s on East is only open for dinner, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. 

This locale, while definitely on the classier side, is sure to have something for everyone in the family, as the restaurant has quite an extensive menu. Entrees range from seafood (snapper, seabass, and swordfish) to pasta dishes and steaks. More adventurous meat options include duck, pork chops, veal chops, and lamb. 

steak cut on a plate

Old Salty Dog

The Old Salty Dog actually has three locations: one on Siesta Key, one in Venice, and one conveniently located right outside of downtown Sarasota, in City Island. This is the perfect spot for a casual meal, be it lunch or dinner, with the family. The Old Salty Dog has numerous sandwich and entree options, but what they’re really known for is, you guessed it, their hot dogs. 

You can’t leave the Old Salty Dog without trying one of their signature dogs, like the famous “Salty Dog”, which is dipped in batter and deep-fried. While perhaps not the best location for the health-conscious, the Old Salty Dog is worth the cheat day. The City Island location is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday to Sunday. 

Phillippi Creek Oyster Bar

We couldn’t talk about good family restaurants in Sarasota without mentioning Phillippi Creek Oyster Bar. But don’t let the oysters scare you (or your kids) away. Phillippi Creek has an extensive menu, which seafood lovers will especially enjoy. 

While the restaurant is known for its oysters, you can’t go wrong with Phillippi Creek fried and baked seafood platters either. And be sure to order a round of hush puppies for the table. Phillippi Creek is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.  

oysters on a plate in sarasota

As you can see, there is no shortage of great dining options for any occasion in Sarasota. Whether you’re grabbing a quick lunch, having happy hour drinks with friends, or taking the whole family out to celebrate, one of our 20 favorite Sarasota eateries is sure to please.

 

Bree

Bree is a content writer and translator who hails from Michigan, though she currently calls Madrid, Spain her home. She spent her childhood making annual trips to Lido Key with her family, and the Florida Gulf Coast will always hold a special place in her heart. You can follow her at @breerecker on Instagram.

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