Dreaming of Sarasota’s white powder beaches along with beautiful crystal blue waters ? Me, too. However, I also dream about food so I’m always looking for unique places to eat when vacationing in my favorite places. Sarasota neighborhood restaurants have some of the best food, and then there are some that are more cocktail oriented, which works, too!
Sometimes Sarasota neighborhood restaurants include chain restaurants
Usually, when I visit other states, I try to mix up the spots I hit. I not only eat at regionally-based chain restaurants, but also locally-owned and operated eating joints. Why? Because, why the hell not? I have only one hard-and-fast rule about chain restaurants – just one – I never eat at Italian chain restaurants. I can’t bring myself to do it. Strictly mom and pop Italian for me and mine. What can I say, I am who I am!
However, any other kinds of food, I’m all for exploring big-chain restaurants. And Sarasota has a great mix of great options. Let’s ‘dig in” shall we?
Regionally Based Big Box Chain Restaurant Options
- The Square at UTC; 5405 University Parkway, Unit 104; University, FL 34201
(MANY OTHER LOCATIONS)
Don’t be fooled by the word breakfast in their name. Obviously breakfast is served, but also lunch. There’s many locations throughout Florida, too. The location I ate at is fairly close to the Sarasota-Bradenton Airport, which might be why we had such a long wait time. There was also a little mix-up with names…. it happens when the person you’re dining with has a super popular first name! You live and learn, I suppose. However, the wait wasn’t terrible, even if I was starving after getting off the plane! The food is definitely worth the wait, too.
Keke’s offers up large portions on your plate, along with really amazing service. Super happy with not only the quality of food for the price, but the large amount of food for the price!
- Clark Road & Honore Avenue; 5585 Palmer Crossing Circle; Sarasota, FL 34233
Great little spot if you have kids, or you want to watch a sports game. Typical menu for a chain place, and surprisingly decent fries. If you’re looking to get away from the huge crowds and tourists all over Downtown Sarasota, and just be around some locals – head to Gecko’s.
- 325 John Ringling Boulevard; Sarasota, FL 34236
(They have other locations not far from Sarasota.)
Let’s just call a spade a spade: frozen cocktails are their thing, food is not. It’s a sweet place to start your evening, as long as you don’t need to actually eat a meal whilst eating. Typical frozen calamari from a box and dropped into a fryer, over-salted and slapped down in front of a customer. I couldn’t even finish them, and if I didn’t need to have something in my stomach, I’d have just asked them to take it back.
However, on the other hand, they know their frozen cocktails! I see why they’re always busy and have taken over much of Siesta Key, and Sarasota-area. Alcohol is basically Sarasota’s “state flower”.
- Palm Plaza; 4436 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota, FL 34233
Gotta tell you, I was pleasantly surprised with the food. My fellow diner didn’t love his dried out chicken with his fajitas, but my beef was perfect (so yes, I shared). Salsa, awesome. Guacamole, amazing. Dessert (which we got for free, since the waitress dropped an entire Corona beer on my fellow diner’s crotch). DEFINITELY a place I’ll frequent the next time I’m down in Sarasota (soon, I hope).
- Mi Pueblo North – University Walk Plaza; 8405 Tuttle Avenue; Sarasota, Florida 34233; 941.359.9303
- Mi Pueblo Venice – Brick Yard Plaza; 530 U.S. 41 Bypass; Venice, Florida 34292; 941.486.0005
BEST Places Owned by Locals to Eat and Drink in Sarasota
- 2300 Bee Ridge Road; Sarasota, FL 34239
A family-owned and operated Greek Restaurant, serving up breakfast until 2pm every day (they’re closed on Sundays). Plus, of course, lunch and dinner. As a New Yorker, I’m fond of quality Greek Cuisine and I can find it almost anywhere I go in my home state. Athens Family Restaurant serves insanely great food, and has some of the best Tzatziki I’ve ever eaten.
If you’re a Greek Food lover, make sure you head to this place and support a local family.
- 1564 Main Street; Sarasota, FL 34236
Not a place to bring the kids, of course. However, it’s owned and operated by a Sarasota transplant (who spent time in Brooklyn, which isn’t far from where I live). Brad, the owner and craft bartender, is fantastic. I didn’t even realize he was the owner during my conversation with him the Friday night I was there.
His staff of bartenders are friendly, helpful and talented as all get-out. He’s got a fantastic thing happening in Sarasota, and if you have the chance to check the place out and enjoy amazing cocktails – DO IT. Call first to confirm the hours of operation, and make sure to order at least one of the seasonal cocktails! Budget for at least two cocktails, one of the classic ones and one of the seasonal ones.
I’m a fan, and I definitely think if you give this place a shot, you’ll be a fan, too.
Traveling is seriously difficult to do during lockdowns and pandemics, but it’s possible if you do it safely. And if you’re a local to Sarasota, going out to eat is definitely safe if you follow all the guidelines offered up by the CDC. However, if you’re not into going out to eat, many places on the list offer take-out!
Lots of restaurants, local ones and chain ones, need the money tourists and locals bring to the area. If you aren’t able to eat out, or take out, maybe consider buying a gift card if they offer them. Everything helps keep the restaurants open, running and supplying much-needed jobs for the staff.