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UPDATED 7/30: What are the best restaurants and bars in Sarasota-Manatee? Check out our favorites

Sarasota Herald-Tribune logo Sarasota Herald-Tribune 8/6/2021 Wade Tatangelo, Sarasota Herald-Tribune
a large ship in a body of water with a city in the background: Marina Jack in downtown Sarasota photographed from Bayfront Park. © Herald-Tribune staff photo / Wade Tatangelo Marina Jack in downtown Sarasota photographed from Bayfront Park.

UPDATED July 30, 2021:

Hugging the Gulf of Mexico, Sarasota and Manatee counties contain some of the best beaches in the country, a bunch of great parks and nature preserves, lots of fun things to do each weekend and a vibrant arts scene. For many of us, though, the rich restaurant and bar scene is also a key reason we call this particular waterfront corner of sunny Florida home.  

Our celebrity chefs include James Beard nominees Steve Phelps of Indigenous in downtown Sarasota and José Martinez of Maison Blanche on Longboat Key. Maison Blanche has also been inducted to Florida Trend magazine's venerable Golden Spoon Hall of Fame alongside Sarasota-Manatee standouts Beach Bistro on Anna Maria Island, Euphemia Haye on Longboat Key, Michael’s On East in Sarasota, and Selva Grill in downtown Sarasota. 

a group of people standing in front of a building: Dry Dock Waterfront Grill is at 412 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key, overlooking Sarasota Bay. © HERALD-TRIBUNE STAFF PHOTO / WADE TATANGELO Dry Dock Waterfront Grill is at 412 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key, overlooking Sarasota Bay.

But that is just the beginning of great options in the area, which is why we regularly showcase our favorite local restaurants in various dining guides tied to holidays, neighborhoods, foods and trends.

We published each of the ones listed below in 2020-21. Now, they're all in one place to peruse before enjoying breakfasts, brunch, lunch, happy hour, dinner or perhaps some late-night drinks and noshing at such destination spots as Sarasota, Siesta Key, Venice, Lakewood Ranch, Bradenton or Anna Maria Island. 

What are the best things to do in Sarasota-Manatee? Here are lists of our favorites

Best things to eat

I dine out quite a bit and the best of what I eat typically ends up in one of the various restaurant guides we run. Unfortunately, not all of the great stuff I consume at restaurants in Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties results in a review. So, in June 2021, I started an occasional column focusing on the best things I have eaten most recently at local restaurants.

Restaurant review:: Best things to eat in Sarasota-Manatee: July 28-Aug. 3

Restaurant review: Best things to eat in Sarasota-Manatee: June 24-30

a store front at day: Columbia Restaurant, opened in 1959, is at 411 St. Armands Circle, Sarasota. © Herald-Tribune archive Columbia Restaurant, opened in 1959, is at 411 St. Armands Circle, Sarasota.

Iconic restaurants in Sarasota, Bradenton, Venice and more

Restaurants come and go quicker than probably another business. For these five stories, we focused on ones that have been serving great food in Sarasota and Manatee counties for decades as well as legendary restaurants from across Florida. From fine dining to to flip-flops casual, these are definitely among our favorites.

10 historic restaurants in Sarasota County

10 historic restaurants in Manatee County

10 famous Sarasota County restaurants everyone should visit

10 famous Manatee County restaurants everyone should visit

10 favorite iconic Florida restaurants

a group of people sitting at a table with an umbrella: Beach House is at 200 Gulf Drive N. in Bradenton Beach on Anna Maria Island. © HERALD-TRIBUNE STAFF PHOTO / THOMAS BENDER Beach House is at 200 Gulf Drive N. in Bradenton Beach on Anna Maria Island.

Waterfront restaurants in Sarasota, Bradenton, Anna Maria and more

With many Sarasota and Manatee communities located right on the Gulf of Mexico – and with Bradenton, Palmetto and Ellenton featuring the mile-wide Manatee River flowing into the Gulf – we have a whole lot of prime waterfront property with outstanding restaurants and bars peppering plenty of it. Here's the series of guides we did about the best ones in Sarasota-Manatee offering outdoor dining right on the water.  

10 best waterfront restaurants for outdoor dining in Sarasota

10 best waterfront restaurants for outdoor dining around Anna Maria Island

10 best waterfront restaurants for outdoor dining in Venice, Osprey and Nokomis

Best waterfront restaurants for outdoor dining in historic Cortez Village

10 best waterfront restaurants for outdoor dining in Bradenton area

7 best waterfront restaurants in Englewood

10 of our favorite beachfront restaurants from all across Florida

Downtown Bradenton restaurants and bars are buzzing. © THOMAS BENDER/HERALD-TRIBUNE Downtown Bradenton restaurants and bars are buzzing.

Neighborhood restaurant guides for Siesta Key, Sarasota, Bradenton and more

In addition to featuring our favorite waterfront restaurants, we also regularly share neighborhood guides. Here are three we published this year. 

Visiting Siesta Beach? Here are 15 of our favorite Siesta Key Village restaurants and bars

Best restaurants in downtown Bradenton and what to eat and drink when you get there!

7 best downtown Sarasota restaurants, bars and hotels near Van Wezel, Mangrove Walkway and The Bay

a plate of food on a table: My Uncle’s Burger from the menu at Indigenous in Sarasota. © MIKE LANG/HERALD-TRIBUNE My Uncle’s Burger from the menu at Indigenous in Sarasota.

Best burgers in Sarasota

Every year in May, which is national hamburger month, we share our picks for best burgers found at local restaurants (no national chains!). We had to skip 2020 due to the pandemic so we came back big this year with a two-part series with Sarasota County featured in May and Manatee County in June.

Here are 20 of our favorite burgers in Sarasota County

Here are 20 of our favorite burgers in Manatee County

Vegan-friendly restaurants in Sarasota-Manatee

From casual comfort food spots to more upscale dining, some of our favorite local restaurants with entirely or largely vegan menus.

Vegan-friendly favorites: 15 great vegan-friendly restaurants in Sarasota and Manatee counties

a group of people standing in front of a window: The Crow’s Nest Restaurant & Marina offers an outdoor dining area with a view of the Venice Inlet. © Mike Lang, MIKE LANG/HERALD-TRIBUNE The Crow’s Nest Restaurant & Marina offers an outdoor dining area with a view of the Venice Inlet.

Romantic restaurants in Sarasota-Manatee

Every year ahead of Valentine's Day offer our favorites for romantic dining. Here's our latest.

Here are 21 of our favorite romantic restaurants in Sarasota-Manatee

a close up of a plate of food: Bangers and mash is a popular dish at McGrath's Irish Ale House in Lakewood Ranch. © HERALD-TRIBUNE STAFF PHOTO / WADE TATANGELO / 2021 Bangers and mash is a popular dish at McGrath's Irish Ale House in Lakewood Ranch.

Best Irish pubs in Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte

Each year ahead of St. Patrick's Day, we update and share our list of best Irish pubs. These are restaurants and bars where you can pair a perfectly poured pint of Guinness with a serving of soul-comforting shepherd’s pie, bangers and mash or perhaps fish and chips. 

Here are 10 of our favorite Irish pubs in Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties

a person standing in front of a store: The Mable is at 2831 N. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota. © HERALD-TRIBUNE STAFF PHOTO / WADE TATANGELO The Mable is at 2831 N. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota.

Best craft beer bars in Sarasota-Bradenton

Our annual list of the top local craft beer bars and what to drink, and eat, when you visit.

12 of our favorites craft beer bars for drinking and eating in Sarasota-Manatee

Best coffee shops in Sarasota-Manatee

Each year we also offer an an updated guide to the top coffee shops in Sarasota-Manatee.

Here's our guide to the best coffee shops in Sarasota-Manatee

a car parked in front of a building: Kojak's House of Ribs is at 2808 W. Gandy Blvd. in South Tampa. The barbecue restaurant has been owned and operated by the same family since 1978. © WADE TATANGELO / SARASOTA HERALD-TRIBUNE Kojak's House of Ribs is at 2808 W. Gandy Blvd. in South Tampa. The barbecue restaurant has been owned and operated by the same family since 1978.

Best BBQ restaurants

For this story, we rounded up the best barbecue restaurants and food trucks from all across Florida. 

10 of our favorite BBQ restaurants and food trucks to enjoy barbecue across Florida

a small boat in a body of water: Waterfront three-floor restaurant and bar The Point, on right, located on the Evie’s at Spanish Point property that also houses a separate tiki bar and restaurant, on left, opened earlier this year. © THOMAS BENDER/HERALD-TRIBUNE Waterfront three-floor restaurant and bar The Point, on right, located on the Evie’s at Spanish Point property that also houses a separate tiki bar and restaurant, on left, opened earlier this year.

Restaurant openings and closings

We spend a lot of time at the Herald-Tribune, and at Ticket in particular, writing about restaurant news in Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties. Here are the stories about the biggest restaurant openings and closings, with a link to bookmark all of our restaurant news and reviews. 

2021: 21 biggest restaurant openings for Sarasota-Manatee so far in 2021

2020: 10 biggest restaurant, bar openings in Sarasota-Manatee

15 biggest restaurant, bar openings of 2019 in Sarasota-Bradenton

Sorry, we’re closed: Remembering 21 Sarasota-Manatee restaurants lost during the coronavirus pandemic

Bookmark this page for the latest restaurant news and reviews for Sarasota-Manatee

Wade Tatangelo, the Herald-Tribune’s entertainment editor, may be reached by email at wade.tatangelo@heraldtribune.com. Support local journalism by subscribing.​​​​​​

This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: UPDATED 7/30: What are the best restaurants and bars in Sarasota-Manatee? Check out our favorites

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