Attractions - Dining

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Longboat Key and Sarasota provide residents at SeaSide Garden Retreat with an abundance of dining options satisfying a wide range of tastes and budgets. We've found that you don't have to pay a fortune to get a great meal at area restaurants, but if you do want to have an elegant five-star dining experience for that special occation ... it also right nearby.

Our favorite restaurants in Sarasota, Longboat Key.

The choices are many, and fresh seafood is clearly the highlight of most menus. From blackened tuna on Caesar salads, to seafood chowders, to famous grouper sandwiches, fresh Gulf Coast seafood is a treat. Don't miss out on Sarasota's Florida stone crab claws dipped in local savory sauces. Outdoor cafés are plentiful especially on St Armand's Circle and in historic sections of Sarasota. Having lived overseas for many years, we enjoy the wide selection of ethnic restaurants in the area including Spanish paella, Japanese teppanyaki and sushi, Greek spanikopita, Thai curry and variety of Italian cuisines.

While it's impossible to cover all dining options, we've provided a few of our "local" favorites you won't find on other lists. We've also included a link below to the much publicized results of Sarasota Magazine's Reader's Choice.

Dry Docks Waterfront Grill
412 Gulf of Mexico Drive, 941-383-0102: a couple miles south

Located behind a dry dock boat storage facility, this restaurant is a real local favorite with great food, a great view of the bay and very affordable prices. It features some of the best seafood on the island, cooked to perfection. If you're a key lime pie crazy like us, not miss theirs we think it's among the best. They have indoor and outdoor seating available. It can get very busy during prime dinner times.


Lynches Pub & Grub
19B North Blvd of Presidents, 941-388-5550: a four miles south.

This is the local Irish pub established in 1986 by Cork County, Ireland, sisters Chris and Ethna Lynch. The Pub and Grub is located north of St. Armands Circle on the west side. Get a pint and some good pub grub and people watch on St. Armands Circle. If you get a chance the sisters are always willing to talk about their home country. We like the casual, comfortable atmosphere. Dress is very casual.


Monkey Room at The Colony
1620 Gulf of Mexico, 941-383-5558: one mile south

Here you will find a four star meal and lovely sunsets at an affordable price. It's an open air bar and grill next to the five star Dining Room at The Colony. We go before sunset and order the chicken, shrimp and beef satays (served in a pineapple) with a Caesar salad. You watch spectacular sunsets over the Gulf as you sip our cocktails and eat delicious food. You can even walk on the beach. A limited, but eclectic menu. (p.s. the chef is very flexible and has made special orders for us). Dress is nice casual.


Café by the Bay
2630 Harbourside Drive, 941-383-0440: couple miles north

Upscale restaurant within an elegant, yet casual, clubhouse setting with a spectacular view of the marina on the bay. The food is outstanding with an "Island Mediterranean" flair. It has an extensive menu featuring some of the best seafood and beef on the island. Seating is available in the indoor dining room or outdoor covered terrace. Dress is nice casual.


Tommy Bahama's

300 John Ringling Blvd, St Armand's Circle, 941-388-2446

Tommy Bahama on St. Armand's Circle is a favorite of visitors and locals alike. Tommy's has a unique set-up: the restaurant is upstairs from their well-known store.

The food tends to be on the expensive end but is worth it. They have entertainment in the evenings. Recommended meals include the coconut shrimp and anything jerk. The specials also tend to be quite good, with fresh local seafood.

The decor is straight out of island plantation casting. The service we've received has always been top-notch. Dress is nice casual.

Waffle Stop Inc
660 S Washington Blvd, 941-952-0555

Get ready for a "back in time" breakfast experience. This is where the "real" locals have breakfast in Sarasota. The waitresses know almost everyone by name because it's filled with "regulars". You'll see many of Sarasota's finest (i.e. police) in eating their morning meal. There's a picture of Elvis on the wall with a copy of his meal check when he had breakfast there in the '50s. The food is all American at roadside prices. It's the real deal…you've got to love it. Very, very casual.



Kay's BBQ and Liquor
5445 North Washington Blvd. (Hwy 301), 941-355-5150

Down home cook'n at great prices. If you love ribs, this is a great place. It's worth the 20-minute drive if you have a hankering for a great BBQ meal. Very casual.


Publix Deli
525 Bay Isle Parkway: five minute walk south

Almost embarrassed to put it in here, but it's too good to pass up. Publix Deli has great made-to-order sandwiches and salads. They use Boar's Head meats and cheeses. It's in the Avenue of the Flowers shopping complex just a short stroll from SeaSide Garden Retreat. Dress is grocery store casual.


Sarasota Magazine - Dining Guide

The Sarasota Magazine is a local, upscale publication that is widely read and has a finger on the pulse of the Sarasota community. Their website has an excellent dining guide to top rated dining establishments in the area. Here's the link to their dining guide: