Culture, Art and Great Food Mix Together at Sarasota’s Museums and Attractions

Enjoying beauty and art requires brainpower and good food. Fortunately, Sarasota’s largest museums and attractions have got you covered. From fancier dishes to casual to al fresco eats, you have plenty of choices. Here’s the scoop on restaurants available at several local museums and attractions.

The Ringling

Known for its art and circus museums and Ca’D’Zan, the opulent home and grounds of John and Mable Ringling, The Ringling also offers an array of food choices. Want some coffee and maybe a sandwich? Mable’s Coffee and Tea, located in the John M. McKay Visitors Pavilion and above the gift shop, is your place. In fact, you can get to Mable’s through its entry in in the gift shop. That gives you the  chance to check out the gift shop’s eclectic offerings. If you’re wandering around The Ringling and its various attractions, you may find that The Wandering Chef Food Truck is the best fit. It offers picnic-type and kid-friendly fare like hamburgers and street tacos that you can enjoy at several nearby picnic tables. When you really want to take a break, The Ringling Grillroom in the Visitors Pavilion is the place to go. This indoor/outdoor restaurant is casual but classy, focusing on modern American fare. If you want something substantial like New York strip steak, it’s on the menu. If you want something lighter like Roasted Vegetable Lasagna or a Caesar salad, you can try that as well at the Grillroom.

The Wandering Chef Food Truck
The Wandering Chef Food Truck

Sarasota Museum of Art and Bistro

Housed in the former Sarasota High School, the new Sarasota Museum of Art is operated by the nearby Ringling College of Art and Design and features rotating contemporary exhibitions. Whether you want thought-provoking pieces or pops of color, you can find them both at the museum. When you’re done wandering checking out the exhibitions, make your way over to Bistro, where you’ll find a retro style mixed with forward-thinking menu items. Executive Chef Kaytlin Dangaran aims for food inspired by Florida’s local produce, healthy proteins, and artisanal specialty items, according to its website. Menu highlights include the Smashed Avocado Tartine, Bistro BLT, and Spring Chopped Salad. If you’re there on the weekend, keep your tastebuds content with brunch items like Eggs Benedict, Bread Pudding French Toast, or a Bistro Bloody Mary. You can sit inside on Bistro’s cheerful, bright orange chairs or take in the view from the outside, which sometimes will feature live music.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens and Selby House Café

The always beautiful Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in downtown Sarasota features lush plants and an unforgettable view of Sarasota Bay. It bills itself as The Living Museum for good reason. As you walk around and take it all in, make sure to stop by the Selby House Café for lunch or a snack. It’s located in the historic Selby House, which was once home to William and Marie Selby. They made their living from the Selby Oil and Gas Company but wanted to live a quiet life enjoying the outdoors. Nowadays, you can sit inside the Selby House Café and view photos from the Selby while enjoying natural tea, a cookie, hummus and pita, or a sandwich. Or, take your food and drink outside for an expansive view of Selby Gardens. Operated by the locally famous Michael’s on East Restaurant, Selby House Café is located beside the Ana Goldstein Children’s Rainforest Garden and some impressive-sized banyan trees.

Selby House Cafe
Selby House Cafe

Café Barbosso

Café Barbosso is actually a bonus listing as it’s not a museum, but it is an attraction in its own way. That’s because this restaurant mixes together live artists every night, a bountiful display of art on its walls, and fabulous Italian food. It also hosts live music on Thursday through Saturday and gets busy enough that you’ll want to make reservations. While enjoying dishes like Spaghettini ‘n Meatballs or The Ultimate 10-Layer Eggplant—all cooked by Chef Joe DiMaggio Jr. (yes, he’s related to the baseball legend)—you can watch artists create on canvas right in front of you. Or, you can take in the variety of art adorning the walls, from portraits of Frank Sinatra and Audrey Hepburn to more abstract styles. You’ll leave stuffed and happy…or as the folks at Café Barbosso put it, “Eat, Love, Laugh…or Else.”