Siesta Key Oyster Bar (SKOB) [Photo: Lauren Jackson]

Itinerary: Five Days for Foodies

Sarasota is an ideal destination if you’re looking to eat your way through your vacation.

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The area is known for its many restaurants, and locals go out of their way to support quality cuisine. The great news is that Sarasota’s food delights aren’t limited—whether you’re in north or south Sarasota, Venice, or elsewhere in Sarasota County, there’s a highly rated restaurant just minutes away! If you’re in a rush, remember that most of our local restaurants offer their items to go, and you can order online.

Day 1
Everyday is Thanksgiving at Der Dutchman, where thousands of pies are sold annually for the holiday

First Watch Restaurants

Come see what all the fuss is about at First Watch, a locally grown breakfast/brunch/lunch restaurant that's now a national chain. From seasonal specials like Strawberry Tres Leches French Toast and Lone Star Brisket Hash to standby favorites like pancakes, eggs and bacon, you will absolutely leave hungry and happy at First Watch. Choose from several locations around Sarasota. 

Der Dutchman/Yoder’s

Sarasota’s Pinecraft community has a sizable Amish and Mennonite population, and you can enjoy some of Pinecraft’s down-home cooking at its popular restaurants. Der Dutchman features a massive buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner with comfort-food faves like roasted chicken, real mashed potatoes, cream corn and Essenhaus noodles over mashed potatoes. In fact, Der Dutchman was named Best Buffet in America by USA Today’s 10Best. Save room for its homemade pies, and stop inside the bakery and gift shop. You’ll find similar delectable comfort food over at Yoder’s Amish Village. Both Der Dutchman and Yoder’s are closed on Sundays.

Dolce Italia/Bijou Garden Café

We hope you’ve saved room for a gourmet-level dinner at one of two local favorites, Dolce Italia or Bijou Garden Café. While they offer very different menus, they both excel at what they do. Located near Siesta Key, Dolce Italia’s roots are located in Ischia, an island in Italy’s Gulf of Napoli. Rigatoni al pesto, gnocchi and seafood linguini are just some of Dolce Italia’s mouthwatering dishes. 

Bijou Garden Café, located in downtown Sarasota’s theater and arts district, describes its food as a mix of French and California cuisine. Find an impressive appetizer list, with items like escargot bourguignon, colossal shrimp cocktail and Costa Rican yucca cakes with mango salsa and chipotle aioli. Main courses include combos like filet mignon with tomato demi-glace, roasted carrots and rosemary potatoes; and roasted half duck with cherry coffee reduction and warm cinnamon apple farro. 

Day 2

C’est La Vie

Bonjour! For a taste of France right here in Sarasota, make your way to C’est La Vie for breakfast in downtown Sarasota. Whether you choose a croissant, crepe, omelette—or maybe all three and a little more!—you’ll find everything to be buttery delicious. This popular eatery has indoor and outdoor seating that both offer great people watching. C’est La Vie also offers a selection of lunch and dinner items. 

Libby’s Neighborhood Brasserie

Libby’s Neighborhood Brasserie has been a Sarasota top pick for decades, thanks to its fresh ingredients and hospitality. Its Hillview location is nestled amongst several other great restaurants and the well-known Morton’s Gourmet Market. The second Libby’s location is in Lakewood Ranch. Rotisserie chicken carbonara, Cuban sandwich and honey bourbon sandwich are just some of the menu highlights. Vegetarians and vegans, Libby’s sees you! You can try dishes like Impossible vegan double mac burger, Impossible vegan Bolognese pasta and cauliflower steak. Top off your meal with key lime pie, strawberry shortcake or chocolate decadence cake. 

O’Leary’s Tiki Bar and Marina Jack

For happy hour, stop over at O’Leary’s Tiki Bar and Grill, located in downtown Sarasota’s Bayfront Park, which features live music and beautiful bayfront views. Grab a local beer from brewers like Sarasota’s Big Top Brewing, or enjoy a “Peachey” Pirate. After your drink, you’re just a few steps away from Marina Jacks, which also features spectacular views of the bayfront and the adjacent marina. It specializes in seafood but has plenty of choices if you’d rather have steak or a salad.

Day 3

Green Zebra Café

Voted Best Breakfast by SRQ Magazine in 2022, Green Zebra Café offers a healthy selection of vegetarian and raw food choices all day long. It also sources its items from local growers and food producers, such as Worden Farm and Albert’s Organics. You’ll find a couple of brunch standbys, like avocado toast or an omelette. However, you can also opt for items like a raw pancake (with dehydrated overnight banana pancake, cashew whipped cream, strawberry chia coulis, and fresh fruit), or a Brazilian acai bowl. They say their dessert items are good any time of day, including raw chia pudding or a peanut butter chocolate chip cheesecake. Green Zebra has locations in downtown Sarasota and St. Armands Circle. 

Columbia Restaurant

You can’t visit the Tampa or Sarasota area without trying Columbia Restaurant, which has been in Florida since 1905 and specializes in Spanish-Cuban cuisine. Columbia got its start in Tampa’s historic Ybor City and now has seven locations around the state. At Sarasota’s St. Armands Circle, enjoy al fresco or indoor seating. Specialties include Cuban black bean soup, its “1905” salad, original Cuban sandwich or a tapas sampler. 

Café L’Europe or Daiquiri Deck

Your dinner choices for day 3 offer very different cuisine and vibes, so you can take your pick based on what suits your mood. Located in St. Armands Circle, Café L’Europe describes itself as “where Old World charm meets New World thrill.” Located in what was once the sales office of circus magnate John Ringling, Café L’Europe focuses on local and sustainable ingredients as well as an extensive wine list and live piano music. Enjoy a Bistro steak salad, duck a l’orange or Faroe Island salmon, among other sophisticated choices.

Daiquiri Deck, with five area locations including St. Armands Circle, has a fun, festive atmosphere, and its deck area gives you a place to people-watch and enjoy—you guessed it—a daiquiri or two. You can also get a bite to eat while at Daiquiri Deck, with specials like Florida gator bites, shrimp po boy, and lobster mac and cheese. Daiquiri flavors include banana slider, frosé, basic beach coffee and many others. In Sarasota County, Daiquiri Deck also has locations in Siesta Key Village, South Siesta Key and Venice.

Day 4

Siesta Key Oyster Bar (SKOB) [Photo: Lauren Jackson]

Brooklyn Bagel & Deli

You don’t have to travel to The Big Apple for world-class bagels—Sarasota can get you fed in a New York minute! Brooklyn Bagel & Deli offers fresh bagels and deli sandwiches made with Boar's Head meat, known for its high quality. Find 21 bagel flavors and more than 10 types of cream cheeses. Brooklyn Bagel & Deli has two locations, one on Beneva Road and the other on Cattlemen Road.

Spearfish Grille

Spearfish Grille, located at Siesta Key Marina, serves “amazingly fresh local fish” and offers a colorful, charming location to enjoy your meal. Enjoy crispy fried grouper cheeks (yum), sushi nachos, cheesy Gulf shrimp and grits, or a “Big Boy” signature Sammy made with daily fresh caught fish. If you’d like, sit outside for patio dining and to watch marina life. Spearfish Grille also has live music.

Siesta Key Oyster Bar

Have a casual dinner over at Siesta Key Oyster Bar in Siesta Key Village. This laidback beach bar is decorated with hanging dollars and is just minutes away from Siesta Key’s famous beach. Oysters are a big deal at Siesta Key Oyster Bar, as you may have surmised from its name, but you’ve a wide choice of other menu options. There’s Keith’s seafood tacos, grouper sandwich and seafood jambalaya, for starters. Enjoy the live music as well!

Day 5

Toasted Yolk Café

Now here’s something to motivate you to get out of bed. Toasted Yolk Café, a chain in the Southeast, features churro donuts, a pork chop scramble, a healthy garden breakfast bowl and many other choices. The Toasted Yolk is located in downtown Sarasota, with a location also planned for Lakewood Ranch.

Sharky’s on the Pier

You’ve got an iconic view at an iconic restaurant over at Sharky’s on the Pier. Sharky’s is located on the Venice Pier, and the restaurant name definitely fits as Venice is known as the Shark Tooth Capital of the World. So you’re “smack dab on the Gulf” as the restaurant describes, and you’ve got beach views and live music as well as their food to keep you happy. For upscale dining with a casual atmosphere, try its sister restaurant Fins at Sharky’s, also located on the pier.

Big Top Brewing and Selva

Grab your happy-hour drink at Sarasota’s Big Top Brewing Company, with two area locations. Its name is a nod to the local circus history, and it was Sarasota’s first local brewery. Afterwards, make your way over to Selva Grill, which specializes in Latin Fusion with a special focus on Peruvian cuisine. The New York Times says that Selva is “possibly the best food in Sarasota.” So, you’ll have plenty of choices, but a few to consider include one of its many ceviches, Andean rack of lamb or lomo saltado (sirloin steak with tomatoes, onions, and Jasmine rice).

Don’t Forget the Food Trucks

There’s no shortage of food to go around, but if you need something to fill in the hunger gaps, here are a few acclaimed food truck choices. Make sure to check their websites in advance for hours and locations: