By Marsha Fottler, Sarasota Magazine
It doesn’t take much to fulfill every diner’s Florida dream: just a million-dollar view of sparkling blue-green water, a relaxed atmosphere, some fresh Florida seafood and pretty tropical cocktails. Fortunately, Sarasota offers a wealth of places that provide all that and more. Most are casual, a few are upscale, and more than you might imagine offer seriously good food. Here are seven of our favorites.
Old Salty Dog
Lunch and dinner.
1601 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota.
Condiments are corralled in a dog bowl in the center of your table at the Old Salty Dog (above), a big seafood shack where you can eat eyeball-to-eyeball with pelicans. Situated on the Intracoastal Waterway near Mote Marine Laboratory, this big fish-camp kind of a place seats 165 in a variety of waterside spots—inside the high-ceilinged main room, on a narrow porch, at the bar (one inside, one outside) or on the deep and weathered wraparound deck.
You get drinks in plastic glasses, food in baskets, plastic chairs and incomparable scenery while you enjoy a fried grouper sandwich ($15.99) with light, crunchy almost-tempura batter or a City Island Po’Boy ($14.99) with fried shrimp and oysters on a nontraditional po’boy soft bun. Also on the menu: fish tacos, Maui burger and lobster roll as well as hot dogs, turkey and beef hamburgers.
This is casual food in a laid-back, rustic environment that features all things nautical including a big marlin on the wall. There’s a full bar, and if you like a cocktail before a meal, go for the Key Lime Colada ($9.95), a lime rum piña colada with a floater of Keke Key lime liquor. Looks pretty and tastes sublime. Logo T-shirts for sale at the tiny souvenir niche in the big room.