9 Markets to Satisfy Your Craving for Fresh Seafood

When desire strikes to cook seafood at home, check out these Sarasota-area resources.

Living in our coastal community affords us opportunity to enjoy delicious seafood on a year-round basis.  And as I see it, there are pretty much three options for procuring that delicious seafood:

  1. Catch your own fish. This is a wonderful choice for those who have not only the gear, but also, the enthusiasm to get out on the water in the hot sun, armed with rations and sunscreen while waiting for fish to bite.  But it’s all worth it when you come home with a nice grouper, mackerel, trout or other species available in our Gulf waters!  
  2. Enjoy a delicious meal at a restaurant that serves fresh, local fish.  Chefs have relationships with local fishermen and suppliers to ensure they’re offering great options to those of us who can’t seem to get enough seafood and, let’s face it - sometimes it’s nice to leave the cooking to a a pro.
  3. Buy it at a market to cook in your own kitchen.  Many markets offer selections of local and imported seafood to meet the needs of customers, so you’re sure to find something to satisfy your tastebuds. 

Today we’re focusing on option three - buying seafood at a market.  Yes, it can seem daunting because there are so many options, but there are many folks in our area who know their fish and can help.  As I tackle this topic, I’m reminded of humorist Dave Barry’s words: “The only kind of seafood I trust is the fish stick, a totally featureless fish that doesn’t have eyeballs or fins.”  I’m sure fish sticks have their honored place on some dinner plates, but if you’re not in the market for them, here are several places to find some awesome fish, with or without fins and eyeballs:

Big Water Fish Market

6641 Midnight Pass Road, Sarasota, 941-554-8101

This cool spot on Siesta Key offers a great selection of fresh, wild-caught, Florida and non-Florida seafood, as well as, prepared sides like fish spread, octopus salad and tuna salad.  Scott Dolan owns the place and he’s passionate about providing the freshest seafood to his customers. Offerings change daily, depending on what’s being caught, so one day you might find hogfish, wahoo or tripletail, and the next day, something else.  And if you have a hankering for non-local fish like cod, halibut or scallops from Boston, salmon from Alaska, oysters from the Panhandle (or Louisiana or Texas), Scott has established relationships with suppliers in those areas who ensure their hauls are shipped overnight to him.  Oh, and if you’ve got a taste for a grouper sandwich, try theirs, rated one of the Top 5 Grouper Sandwiches in Florida.  What makes it so good?  As Scott says, “We aren’t the best cooks, but we do serve the freshest product possible.” 

Walt’s Fish Market & Restaurant

4144 So. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, 941-921-4605

This family-owned business has been in Sarasota since the 1940s.  It’s still owned and run by the Wallin family, with a long-standing focus on providing the freshest seafood.  Fishing is in the family’s blood, so they’re committed to making your experience memorable.  They offer a large selection of fish and shellfish, most of which is sourced locally.  To round out their offerings, they also have products sourced from around the world, so you’re sure to find something you like, served by an experienced and knowledgeable team.

Off The Hook Seafood Restaurant

6630 Gateway Ave, Sarasota, 941-923-5570

Off The Hook Seafood Restaurant is a locally sourced restaurant and market located near the South bridge to Siesta Key in the charming, cultural foodie hub of Gulf Gate. Founded by a local chef with over three decades of serving seafood in Sarasota, this hidden gem is the perfect place to try a local delicacy in a quiet spot known exclusively by locals as a haven of memorable meals.

Captain Brian's Seafood Market & Grill

8421 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, 941-351-4492

There are many offerings at Captain Brian’s Seafood Market & Grill, with something to surely please your palate.  They carry local fish and shellfish like snapper, grouper, mahi mahi, amberjack and Gulf shrimp, depending on what’s in season, as well as, New England favorites like flounder, cod, halibut and lobster.  The team receives daily deliveries of fresh fish, and are happy to share tips on how to prepare it at home. 

Morton's Gourmet Market & Catering

1924 So. Osprey Avenue, Sarasota, 941-955-9856

The seafood section at Morton’s Gourmet Market & Catering offers a variety of local and imported fish, including wild salmon, Gulf grouper, chilean sea bass, pompano and much more, with experienced and friendly staff to help with preparation tips.  They also offer prepared dishes like crab cakes and salads, so you can spend more time at the beach.

Maggie’s Seafood

Sarasota Farmers Market, Venice Farmers Market, Phillippi Creek Farmhouse Market, Englewood Farmers Market,  866-908-0002

Maggie & Gary Balch have owned this local institution for about 19 years.  They set up at farmers markets and offer a variety of options at each depending on what’s caught that week (basically, they catch on Fridays and sell on Saturdays, so you know it’s fresh).  The team shares great information to help you decide, including suggestions about how to prepare it at home.  They also offer prepared dishes like fish spread, shrimp salad, crab cakes, salmon patties, seafood pies and soups.  These folks know seafood, so be sure to stop by.

Fresh Catch Fish Market & Grill

7119 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, 941-413-7133

This cute restaurant and market, decorated in blue and white and dotted with iconic saltwater imagery, has been open about 4 months.  Members of the Provost family are the proprietors — dad Bob, mom Debra and son Devon. They hail from New England, so they know a thing or two about seafood.  They source their fish from Florida suppliers, emphasizing local species, and regularly carrying grouper, snapper, amberjack, shrimp and salmon, as well as, other specialities depending on what’s in season.  They even make crab cakes and key lime pie in house (courtesy of mom), so you’ll definitely find something you like.

Lotsa Lobster

8780 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, 941-918-2529

If you love northern fish like tuna, flounder, swordfish, haddock, steamers, scallops, mussels, or Maine lobster, you simply must visit this place.  It’s all flown in daily, so you can be sure it’s fresh.  But that’s not all they offer — you can find delicious local species like grouper and snapper, as well as frozen specialties and pre-made items.  The staff can also help you with preparation tips and, if you call ahead, they’ll even steam your lobster for you! 

Island Court Seafood

1939 Beach Road, Englewood, 941-474-8236

If you live in the Englewood area, you need to know about this place - a little spot on Manasota Key that offers fresh fish caught daily by their team of local fishermen.  This is a historic fishing town, so the place has a lot of old-Florida charm, and you can even walk out to the dock to see the fishing boats.

BONUS: Detwiler’s

Three locations serving Sarasota & Venice, 941-378-2727

Detwiler’s offers a variety of fresh and frozen seafood, from local waters to those around the globe, but their specialty is New England species.  And because of their established relationships and buying power, they’re sometimes able to offer great deals on those products, so keep an eye out on their social media outlets.


Nicole Coudal is a home chef and food writer based in southwest Florida, where she fishes and cooks using local ingredients. When not on the water, she visits farms, farmer’s markets, and other food-related venues to highlight what’s in-season and to create tasty recipes. Read more at www.MyDeliciousBlog.com.