Hands Down Best Restaurants in Sarasota, FL (A Local’s Guide)

by | Sep 5, 2023 | 11 comments

If you’re looking for the absolute best restaurants in Sarasota, Florida area, you’ve come to the right place!

As a born and bred Sarasota gal, I know where the good food is at in this town, top things to do and where to get to-go cocktails to watch the sunset. And as an avid traveler myself, I understand that the quality of a vacation largely comes down to the quality of the food.

Here’s my list of the best restaurants in Sarasota, Florida. They’re not the fanciest spots that you go to for status or necessarily the most popular Sarasota restaurants, just the spots with great atmosphere and unforgettable food.

If you stick with this list, you’ll dine at the best restaurants in the Sarasota, Florida area and ensure your beach vacation is a dream come true!

napule best sarasota italian restaurants
sarasota fl italian restaurants

Best Sarasota, FL Italian Restaurants

Napule – South Sarasota

7129 S Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34231 | Website | $$

Of all the Sarasota, FL Italian restaurants, Napule is one of my favorites.

Located in a two-story, open-air building, this modern-rustic restaurant Italian restaurant has a unique vibe that stands out in Sarasota. The authentic Italian food never disappoints and they have amazing cocktails. If you’re torn on what to order, you can’t go wrong with the burrata, the Pappardelle with Pistacchio and Speck and the berry + passionfruit cheesecake for dessert (it’s way creamier than traditional cheesecake).

RELATED POST: How to Find TONS of Teeth at Venice, Florida Shark Tooth Beach

La Violetta – Central Sarasota

4837 Swift Rd, Sarasota, FL 34231 | Website | $$$

La Violetta’s homemade pasta will steal your heart.

This little Italian restaurant is tucked away in a brick office complex off Swift Road and it’s my favorite place to go for special occasions. Or just really good authentic Italian food. You definitely need reservations because it’s a small place and everyone wants to eat here.

While everything here is good, the Panna Cotta Di Gorgonzola appetizer and the Caramelle pasta entree are 11/10. The Caramelle is so good I’ve been unable to get myself to try much else on the menu!

flavios restaurant bar in downtown sarasota

Flavio’s Brick Oven & Bar on Main – Downtown Sarasota

1766 Main St, Sarasota, FL 34236 | Website | $$

Flavio’s on Main Street has my favorite bar in town. It’s a beautiful granite bar that’s so inviting for cocktails with a friend or even a full dinner. Their menu has amazing wood-oven pizza and other Italian classics like fried calamari, lasagna and other homemade pasta and meat dishes.

Plus, they have an excellent happy hour menu from 4-6pm every day at the bar only!

RELATED POST: 8 Best Restaurants in Downtown Sarasota for Every Taste & Budget

Best Sarasota Greek Restaurants & Mediterranean Food in Sarasota

best restaurants in sarasota florida
greek restaurant in sarasota florida

Blu Kouzina – St. Armand’s Circle

25 N Boulevard of the Presidents, Sarasota, FL 34236 | Website | $$

Blue Kouzina is a little white-and-blue Greek restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating right off St. Armand’s Circle. It’s nautical decorations and family-owned feel make you feel like you stepped through a portal into Greece. It’s a great spot to grab lunch or dinner with friends or for a double date night.

I love the Skillet Cheese appetizer and Chicken Kalamaki entree. And don’t forget to try a Greek beer or Ouza with your meal!

1592 best restaurants sarasota florida area

1592 | Wood Fired Kitchen & Cocktails – Downtown Sarasota

1592 Main St, Sarasota, FL 34236 | Website | $$

1592 is one of the most well-rounded restaurants in Downtown Sarasota. There’s something for every price point and the atmosphere is great for anything from lunch with coworkers, to Aperol Spritzes with a girlfriend or even special occasions (I celebrated my engagement here!). 1592 has indoor and outdoor seating, an amazing cocktail list and fresh mediterranean food.

Trust me when I say you must try the fried calamari and greens appetizer. It’s the best fried calamari dish I’ve EVER had (and I’ve tried at least 50). My other go-to dish is the grilled chicken open-faced pita. It’s so flavorful and you get so much chicken!

mexican-food-in-sarasota-florida-1

Best Sarasota, FL Mexican Restaurants

Mi Pueblo – Central Sarasota & University

Palm Plaza, 4436 Bee Ridge Rd, Sarasota, FL 34233 | Website | $

Mi Pueblo is a great spot for authentic Mexican food for lunch or dinner. I love their “combination plate” options that let you choose two or three items so you can eat a taco, tamale and enchilada all in the same meal! They also have a live mariachi band one night per week per location—just call or check on their website.

Mi Pueblo has three locations, one off Bee Ridge & McIntosh, one off of University and one in Venice. If your mouth is watering for margaritas, be sure to visit the University or Venice location as the Bee Ridge location only serves beer and wine.

La Primavera – Downtown Sarasota

901 N Washington Blvd, Sarasota, FL 34236 | $

La Primavera is an authentic Mexican supermarket and restaurant just north of Downtown Sarasota off 301. When it comes to authentic Mexican dishes, you name it—they’ve got it! You’ll love the fresh horchata, tortillas and tortas (and so much more). But if you can make it on a Friday night, they usually do pastor tacos right out on the patio and they’re AMAZING!

Best Seafood Sarasota Restaurants

Crab & Fin – St. Armand’s Circle

420 St Armands Cir, Sarasota, FL 34236 | Website | $$$

Enjoy the freshest seafood, from all over the world, alongside homemade pasta and bread at Crab & Fin. This St. Armand’s Circle restaurant has a Daily Fresh Catch Menu, Raw Bar and regular menu filled with some of tastiest seafood dishes you’ve ever heard of. You can get anything from a Poke Bowl to Korean Style Braised Beef Short Rib to Caribbean Yellowfin Tuna.

To top it all off, Crab & Fin has an excellent Happy Hour seven days a week, from 4-6pm, in the bar area only. It’s one of my favorite happy hours in Sarasota because the small plates and cocktails are high quality!

Chart House – Longboat Key

201 Gulf of Mexico Dr, Longboat Key, FL 34228 | Website | $$$

At Chart House on Longboat Key, you’ll enjoy epic sunset views and a surprisingly good happy hour menu at the bar. This classy restaurant sits right on a little inlet giving you amazing views of the ocean with both indoor and outdoor seating options, craft cocktails and a salad bar.

The Key West Spiced Chilean Sea Bass with Mango Sticky Rice is next level, as is the Peach Bourbon-Glazed Scallops and Shrimp.

RELATED POST: Best Sarasota Restaurants on the Waterfront: A Food-Lover’s Guide

Owen’s Fish Camp – Downtown Sarasota

516 Burns Ct, Sarasota, FL 34236 | Website | $$

Owen’s Fish Camp is SO MUCH FUN. This lively restaurant with both indoor and outdoor seating is always packed. They don’t take reservations so plan to grab a drink at the bar and wait for a table. The charming courtyard has picnic tables, string lights and bustling live music (on certain nights).

Owen’s coastal casual atmosphere makes it an ideal place to have a nice dinner without fussing over attire, though you wouldn’t look out of place a bit dressed up here. You’ll be stoked to see a two-person Low Country Boil on the menu, as well as Fish and Chips, Shrimp and Grits and more typical seafood dishes. Everything on their menu is delicious, but you can’t go wrong with their fresh catch of the day (I like it blackened!).

peruvian restaurants in sarasota florida

Best Sarasota Peruvian Restaurants

Inkawasi Restaurant – Lakewood Ranch

10667 Boardwalk Loop, Lakewood Ranch, FL 34202 | Website | $$

I rarely go up to Lakewood Ranch, but I heard really good things about Inkawasi and decided it was worth the trek. It did not disappoint!

This small restaurant is decorated nicely and had excellent service. Our waiter was so friendly and helpful with the menu. Their Lomo Saltado was the best I have ever had and the classic ceviche was great, too. Don’t forget to order a Pisco Sour drink with your meal!

selva restaurant in downtown sarasota

Selva Grill – Downtown Sarasota & UTC

1345 Main St f4, Sarasota, FL 34236 | Website | $$$

Selva has one of my favorite bar menus in Sarasota. It’s located right on Main Street in Downtown Sarasota and there’s also a newer location at UTC.

The menu is Latin fusion with an emphasis on Peruvian classics. You can choose from 9+ ceviches plus many other Latin dishes like empanadas and Paella. Otherwise, the menu has something for everyone, like Surf & Turf, Chilean Sea Bass or Roasted Chicken. The one thing you must eat here is the Spanish Caesar. It’s a saucy caesar salad in a stack with crispy plantain chips layered throughout.

Happy hour runs from 4-6pm in the bar and lounge and the limited menu is drool-worthy (plus the Spanish Caesar’s on it). I typically order a Grapefruit-Basil Martini with a Spanish Caesar and Chilean Sea Bass Croquettes. If you stay out late, happy hour kicks off again at 10pm or 11pm, depending on the day of week.

thai food restaurant in sarasota florida area

Best Restaurants in Sarasota, Florida Area for Thai & Asian Food

Isan Thai – South Sarasota

5758 S Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34231 | Website | $$

Isan Thai has some of the best (if not THE BEST) Thai food in Sarasota. And I’m not just biased because I worked here for years during college.

You’ll love the traditional Thai wooden carvings and decor, along with the Thai music that plays in the background.

The Thai food at Isan is Northern-style Thai food, as the owner is from the Isan region of Thailand that borders Laos and Cambodia. Honestly everything on the menu is amazing, but my favorite dishes (that I strongly recommend) are:

Appetizers

  • Moo Tod
  • Thai Spring Roll
  • Tom Kah Gai Soup
  • Larb Gai Salad

Main Dishes

  • Kao Soi
  • Pad Thai
  • Cashew Nut
  • Pineapple Fried Rice

And you definitely want to get Mango Sticky Rice for dessert if mangos are in season.

kojo sarasota tuna pizza
kojo sarasota downtown restaurant bao bun

Kojo – Downtown Sarasota

1289 N Palm Ave, Sarasota, FL 34236 | Website | $$

It’s easy to love everything about Kojo, from the food and cocktails to the atmosphere and logo, because all the branding for this restaurant is executed flawlessly. The miniature wooden ducks on the table that act as a holder for your chopsticks never cease to charm me!

You’ll be pleasantly surprised with their cocktail menu (because it’s amazing) and mezcal lovers will enjoy the Mezcalero. As far as food, you will not regret the Tuna Pizza or Pork Belly Bao Buns. Also, their chocolate bar dessert is like nothing you’ve EVER had. Don’t miss it!

tsunami sushi sarasota

Tsunami Sushi & Hibachi – Downtown Sarasota

100 Central Ave Suite 1022, Sarasota, FL 34236 | Website | $$

Tsunami Sushi never disappoints. I go here with family, for birthdays and for date night. The staff are consistently friendly and deliver an excellent customer experience!

In typical sushi restaurant fashion, Tsunami’s menu has an overwhelming number of rolls to choose from. The ‘One Night Stand’, ‘Tiger’ and ‘Climax’ rolls are my go-tos. But when I don’t want sushi, the Hibachi Shrimp & Chicken is so tasty.

Tsunami doesn’t have Happy Hour but they make fantastic cocktails. I recommend the Lychee Cocktail because it’s so flavorful with just the right amount of sweetness.

Pho 101 – South Sarasota

6125 S Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34231 | $

If you love slurping down a big bowl of Pho on a cold or rainy day, get takeout Pho Tai from Pho 101. If you’re not in the mood for soup, go for the Lemongrass Chicken Bun.

Best Restaurants in Sarasota Florida Area for Special Occasions

special occasion at summerhouse restaurant siesta key

Summerhouse – Siesta Key

149 Avenida Messina, Siesta Key, FL 34242 | Website | $$$

Summerhouse is a stunning, modern-coastal restaurant with a beautiful bar and amazing menu in Siesta Key Village. This is the perfect spot to celebrate an anniversary or special occasion, or for a fancy date night. In addition to an impressive wine list, they also have craft cocktails.

Honestly, everything on their menu is probably good, though I recommend the Bone-in Ribeye or Diver Scallops with mushroom-truffle risotto *drool*.

RELATED POST: 12 Best Beachfront Hotels at Siesta Key

Indigenous – Downtown Sarasota

239 S Links Ave, Sarasota, FL 34236 | Website | $$$

Indigenous is one of the best restaurants in Sarasota Florida area—and the country! You’ll find this award-winning, gourmet restaurant tucked away in Laurel Park in Downtown Sarasota.

Indigenous’ seasonal menu and focus on sustainable seafood ensures you get the freshest, tastiest food. Plan to order a nice bottle of wine from their hand-picked wine list, a fresh seafood dish and definitely a homemade dessert!

Baker & Wife – Southgate Sarasota

2157 Siesta Dr, Sarasota, FL 34239 | Website | $$

Baker & Wife offers a beautiful atmosphere, globally-inspired menu and killer cocktails in central Sarasota. You can get anything here from a burger to seafood to pasta. I love the Black Tiger Shrimp & Peanut Noodles dish and the Raspberry Club cocktail is my favorite drink in SRQ!

Enjoy the Best Restaurants in Sarasota Florida Area

There you have it! Whether you’re a local or a visitor, this guide will help you discover some of the best restaurants in the Sarasota Florida area. So, go ahead and indulge in the culinary delights of this beautiful city, and don’t forget to share your experiences with me! And if you discover any restaurants that deserve a spot on this list, comment below to let me know!

11 Comments

  1. Carol Suhre

    Can you help me out suggestions
    A restaurant for lunch
    We are coming from winter haven
    To meet friends coming up from Ft myers.
    We want some 1/2 way ?
    Bradenton or sarasota?
    Not familiar with the area at all

    Reply
    • Tara

      I’d love to! Bradenton or Sarasota would work but Bradenton will be closer to halfway for you coming from Winter Haven. Pier 22 is a beautiful restaurant on the river in Bradenton with really good food. Otherwise, I recommend going to 1592 Restaurant (mediterranean food) in Downtown Sarasota! Hope this helps 🙂

      Reply
    • Rachel R

      hi, can you recommend a few restaurants near IMG academy (seafood or italian)?

      Reply
      • Tara

        For sure! I recommend Tiramisu Ristorante Italiano for Italian and for seafood, definitely Tide Tables! It’s not a fancy place but it’s a great local spot. Mar Vista is also a great spot (a bit nicer) but it’s a further drive from IMG. Happy eating 🙂

        Reply
  2. lori bricks

    Hello!

    we are planning a visit to lido key in june, 2024. as dedicated foodies, we are looking for 1) the best pizza in the area; 2) the best burger in the area and 3) the best fine dining in the area.

    We would be willing to take a short uber/lyft for a great meal..,

    thanks in advance!
    Lori and Max bricks

    Reply
    • Tara

      Hi Lori and Max,

      Thanks for reaching out—I’d be happy to help! Glad to hear you’re coming to sunny Sarasota!

      1. Pizza, I recommend Ricos (this isn’t fancy but it’s solid pizza for ordering in), Napulè (an amazing Italian restaurant but quite far from Lido in South Sarasota) or Polpo Pizza Food Truck!
      2. Burger, definitely Shakespeare’s! Great little bar/restaurant right near the north bridge to Siesta Key in Sarasota.
      3. Fine dining, Maison Blanche (Frech, Longboat Key), Indigenous (downtown Sarasota), Michael’s On East (Sarasota).

      If I think of any others I’ll let you know but those are where I would go. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Lori M Bricks

    thanks so much!
    will look into them.
    best,
    lb
    P.S. anything else that we should know about the area? we live in new jersey and vacation in miami beach 2-3 times per year. first time trying gulf side.

    Reply
    • Tara

      Awesome!
      There is so much to do in the Sarasota area and depending on your interests it’s kind of spread out. I recommend getting a rental car if you really want to explore vs. relaxing on the beach every day. My favorite things to do in the area include the top restaurants (which I know you’ll explore!) but there are also options from Longboat(North) to Venice(South).

      My favorite things to do:
      – Find shark’s teeth on Caspersen Beach in Venice (I have detailed article on this)
      – Get coffee and a keepsake at Fox Mercantile in Cortez (stunning coffee shop/boutique north of Longboat in Cortez)
      – Walk the Ringling Bridge (Lido Key to Downtown Sarasota)
      – Eat on the water at Old Salty Dog and drink an Attitude Margarita (just before the bridge from Lido to Longboat Key)
      – Walk Marina Jack Park and get drinks at oceanfront bar O’Leary’s (downtown Sarasota)
      – Go to the beach at South Lido Beach (right on the tip of the island and a little different)
      – Play pickleball at Bayfront Park on Longboat Key (across from quiet beach, too)
      – If you love cute coffee shops, Palma Cafe in South Sarasota is an amazing, locally-run spot.
      – Cruisin’ Tiki is a cute option to ride around on the water and drink in a floating tiki.
      – Explore the Ringling Museum (very popular activity for art and local Ringling Bros. circus history)

      Okay that’s a lot but hope it gave you some good ideas 🙂 You’ll have a great trip!

      Reply
  4. Lori M Bricks

    hello again!
    thanks for your very thorough reply!
    I am a teacher, and we are leaving immediately after school ends 😎. This will be a respite until i start teaching summer school.
    We want nothing more than to lie on the beach…

    Reply
  5. Hedee

    Hi Tara!

    Thank you so much for this list of what seems like thorough reviews and personal recs! Driving out to Sarasota right now and looking for a good place for dinner tonight. Excited to try one of these out! 🙂

    Safe travels sis!

    Xx hedee

    Reply
    • Tara

      Aw, my pleasure! I hope you found a great spot for dinner. 🙂

      Reply

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