Exotic and Unusual Dining Experiences at Savor Sarasota 2018

With nearly 90 restaurants participating in this year's Savor Sarasota, there's plenty to choose from — and why not take advantage of the prix fixe special to try something new?

Whether it's a three-course meal that will transport you to another part of the globe, or a unique dining experience that defines categorization — we've compiled a list of spots offering a taste of the eclectic at Savor Sarasota 2018.

Savor Sarasota Dining Experiences that Defy Categorization

For an interesting "nesting doll" dining experience, you can't go a-fowl with the famous Turducken at Alpine Steakhouse. Yes, that's a deboned chicken stuffed inside a deboned duck within a deboned turkey. This poultry inception put Alpine Steakhouse on the Food Network map when Guy Fieri featured it in the second season of "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives."

Fondue never goes out of fashion — and the Savor Sarasota menu at The Melting Pot makes for one of the most fun group dining experiences in town. Choose between gooey Gruyère or Wisconsin cheddar to share, skewer your own meaty main course (or marinated wild mushrooms for the veg set) to cook and dip at the table, and for the love of all things chocolate — make sure to save room for dessert: your choice of melted milk chocolate and caramel, or "Yin and Yang" dark and white dipping chocolate, paired with fresh strawberries, bananas, marshmallows, pound cake, brownies.

Blue Rooster, a restaurant and live music venue in downtown Sarasota's Rosemary District, juxtaposes its hip, urban warehouse setting with old-fashioned southern comfort food standards like fried chicken 'n' waffles and pecan pie.

It's worth the visit to Brick's Smoked Meats just to meet "Big Red" — one of the most sought-after wood-burning smokers in the world. Big Red is a gargantuan, two-ton J&R Oyler smoker, standing several stories tall and capable of handling 1,800 lbs of meat — so be sure to arrive hungry for Texas-style brisket, sausage, and ribs from Brick's "Texas Trinity" basket featured for Savor Sarasota.

A Longboat Key landmark since 1980, Euphemia Haye makes the list because this restaurant is recognized worldwide, not only for its culinary excellence, but for its romantic atmosphere. Cozy up for the most romantic dining experience on Florida's Gulf Coast during Savor Sarasota, and take advantage of the once-a-year deals on roast duckling, Grecian lamb shank, and more cooked to perfection by local culinary superstar, Chef Ray.

There are few restaurants whose commitment to sustainable, health-focused, organic, plant-based cooking matches that of Lila in downtown Sarasota. Lila makes the list of eclectic standouts thanks to its creative, vegetable-centric dishes that are free of all animal products. Lila's Savor Sarasota menu does include one meat item with locally-sourced king crab, prepared on a separate cooktop, but is otherwise populated with scrumptious vegan and gluten free options like the Harissa lentils with cauliflower rice and grilled vegetable skewers, and grilled tofu with Lila dragon sauce, Chinese mustard, and sriracha.

When it comes to tableside service, there's nothing in Sarasota quite like the traditional Brazilian steakhouse, Rodizio Grill, where seasoned, rotisserie-grilled cuts of meat are delivered and carved tableside by "gauchos," aka South American cowboys. For the most bang for your buck — or meat for your money — Savor Sarasota Restaurant Week is a fantastic time to visit Rodizio to take advantage of all-you-can-eat Brazilian grilled meats, hot dishes, and salad bar items.

Asian Cuisine at Savor Sarasota

In downtown Sarasota, visit Tsunami Sushi & Hibachi Grill for standout fresh sushi, sashimi, hot entrees, and chic sake cocktails. Tsunami receives frequent recognition for its flavorful and aesthetically appealing Savor Sarasota menus, featuring Asian fusion dishes.

Pacific Rim, known for its sushi and Thai offerings, does not disappoint in its Savor Sarasota menu. Dishes to look forward to include Escolar Carpaccio, Gyoza Dumplings, and Som Tum Salad; Poki Bowl (Hawaiian raw fish salad), and sumptuous Banana Tempura and Fried Cheesecake desserts.

Saveur Sarasota: Restaurants with French Flair

A longtime hallmark of downtown Sarasota, C'est La Vie's second location at University Park delivers the same French classics as its downtown sister for lunch and dinner. Homemade Pâté de Campagne, Crêpes, and Coq au Vin are just some of the dishes to look forward to during Savor Sarasota — and don't forget to leave room for C'est La Vie's Bourbon Vanilla Crème Brûlée at dessert!

Lolita Tartine places a chic modern twist on its Parisian atmosphere and offerings. Located in the artsy urban Rosemary District, Lolita Tartine provides excellent people-watching to accompany a menu with smart twists on French classics. We recommend the Tartine Gauguin (smoked salmon and tzatziki sauce on rye bread) and the Moroccan Lamb Tagine with prune, apricot and couscous. Finish with the pistachio crème brûlée or choose whatever else you fancy from Lolita Tartine's diverse dessert menu for Savor Sarasota.

Celebrating over 34 years on Siesta Key, Miguel's has earned a reputation for exquisite French continental fine dining in Sarasota. Miguel's one-of-a-kind Savor Sarasota offerings include Oyster Rockefeller made from fresh Gulf oysters, Shark Chowder, Le Veal Blanquette, New Zealand Chops Moutarde, and Miguel's famous Roasted Duckling L'Orange.

Fusion Restaurants and Exceptionally Eclectic Menu Offerings

Sarasota foodie favorite, Melange, pulls out all the stops on its Savor Sarasota menu. The intimate fusion restaurant in downtown Sarasota is known for its eclectic tapas-style offerings. Try the Ginger Crab Soup (dry sack sherry flan and blue crab topped with ginger caviar and hazelnut crumpet), the Duck Brie Crêpes (shredded duck, brie, currants, almonds, brandy cream sauce) or the Fried Chicken and Waffles with house jams, salted maple syrup, and smoky butter. For the grand finale, we suggest Chef Lan's Vanilla Lavender Crème Brûlée with orange liqueur-soaked berries and wonton crisp.

Another Sarasota fine dining standard, Michael's on East is known not only for its cuisine but its award-winning wine cellar. Explore an array of internationally-inspired dishes on this year's Savor Sarasota menu, including: a Caribbean-influenced Sugar Cane-Skewered Citrus BBQ Shrimp with jicama slaw and toasted coconut, Braised Australian Lamb Shanks with red wine au jus, and Creole-style Blackened Diver Scallops accompanied by crawfish, tasso and corn maque choux, grilled Cajun smoked sausage, sautéed baby kale, and crispy onion straws.

Shore Diner is an al fresco, mid-century-meets-modern rooftop eatery on St. Armands Circle whose funky Savor Sarasota menu offers a diversity of options. Try the refreshing Kung Pao Calamari featuring Napa cabbage, red pepper, toasted peanuts, basil, and mint and cilantro garnish; the Wood-Grilled Branzino fish with roasted corn and goat cheese polenta, shaved fennel citrus salad, and basil butter; or the Shore sushi sampler. Shore's unique dessert options include Lemongrass-Marinated Strawberries with Thai basil, aged sweet balsamic vinegar, and mango sorbet, as well as French Lavender-Scented Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Moscato d’Asti apricot soup and green apple sorbet, or a Bailey's Irish Cream and Dark Chocolate Brioche Bread Pudding.