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The Best Waterfront Restaurants in Sarasota-Manatee

We often hear locals and visitors alike lament what they see as our area’s shortage of waterfront dining options, but after combing our coastline and tracing our local rivers and creeks, we were able to identify dozens of restaurants—46, to be exact—that offer beautiful water views.

Whether you’re hoping to dine adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico, the Intracoastal Waterway or the Manatee River, or you’re looking for a romantic evening out, a sunny spot for lunch with the kids or an Old Florida throwback, we’ve got you covered and then some. Think we don’t have a lot of waterfront restaurants? Think again.

Fine Dining With a Side of Views


This national chain rests above a small lagoon near New Pass. The restaurant is best known for its epic salad bar and impeccable service. It also has a great happy hour, with loads of discounted appetizers and value-priced beverages, uncommon in most upscale restaurants. 201 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key, (941) 383-5593,

Marina Jack

One of Sarasota’s longest continually operated restaurants, Marina Jack offers casual dining downstairs on its patio and more upscale options on the second floor. Guests can also take to the seas for a meal on the restaurant’s yacht, the
Marina Jack II. While the water views are the star here, we’re partial to the braised short ribs served with a classic mushroom demi-glace. 2 Marina Plaza, Sarasota, (941) 365-4232,

Island Ocean Star

Before Ocean Star opened its Anna Maria location, it gained a loyal following
on the mainland. The island waterfront location, however, further elevates the restaurant’s high-quality sushi with a swanky setting on the tip of Anna Maria.
If sushi isn’t your cup of tea, the eatery also features hibachi, curries and noodledishes. 902 S. Bay Blvd., Anna Maria, (941) 251-6940,

Jack Dusty Editor’s Pick

Located inside Sarasota’s Ritz-Carlton hotel, Jack Dusty is a common meeting spot for the community’s movers and shakers. And it’s no wonder, with its outstanding cocktail selections and chef-driven menu. Opt for the perennial
favorite Siren cocktail, made with gin, St-Germain and prosecco. After that, tuck into a wide selection of oysters or even a seafood tower if you’re feeling
extra indulgent. Inside The Ritz-Carlton, 1111 Ritz Carlton Drive, Sarasota,
(941) 309-2266,

Great Options for Dockside Dining

Tide Tables Restaurant & Marina

Any restaurant with “marina” in the title is a safe bet for boaters. You’ll find traditional waterfront options here, like conch fritters, a grouper sandwich, fresh fish served fried, grilled or blackened, and fish tacos. 12507 Cortez Road W., Bradenton, (941) 567-6206,

The Point Restaurant

Situated near marker 38 in Osprey’s Intracoastal Waterway, The Point has ample boat slips, and it’s a good thing, because this place is enormous. But don’t let its size intimidate you. The service is warm and friendly, and the food is oh-so-good, like the fish ‘n’ chips, which wowed us on a recent visit. 131 Bayview Drive, Osprey, (941) 786-3890,

The Crow’s Nest Restaurant, Tavern & Marina

Venice Island’s Crow’s Nest is so boater-friendly that it even has a harbor
master who will help direct you to a nearby slip. That’s helpful, because this
place is busy. For those days when you’re donning shorts and a tank top, head into the downstairs tavern for one of the best burgers around. Feel like something a little more dressed up? Slip on your Sperrys and head upstairs, where the
menu skews more formal. 1968 Tarpon Center Drive, Venice, (941) 484-9551,

White Elephant Pub

Situated between Englewood Beach and a small marina, the White Elephant is ultra-casual and describes itself as “chill.” Light bites go great with a crisp draft beer, but the entrée offerings are slim. 1855 Gulf Blvd., #5729, Englewood, (941)

Pelican Alley

The parking lot at Pelican Alley can be a madhouse, so we always recommend boating to this Nokomis spot. While the outside looks like a fish shack, the interior is light and airy, with a white and teal color palette. Order the crab fritters
with the creamy lobster sauce and thank us later. 1009 Albee Road W., Nokomis, (941) 786-3616,

Anna Maria Oyster Bar

As the name indicates, Anna Maria Oyster Bar’s oyster selection is a highlight.
Raw bivalves from around the country are served with either cocktail sauce or chimichurri, while roasted oysters are served in five different styles. Which one is best? You decide. (The restaurant has multiple locations in the area; the Bradenton Beach spot is the one you want if you’re looking for water views.) 200 Bridge St., Bradenton Beach, (941) 778-2662,

Pop’s Sunset Grill Editor’s Pick

Part tiki bar, part dock and plenty family-friendly, Pop’s is a Nokomis icon. Dolphins play in the adjoining Intracoastal Waterway, which makes it the perfect boat-up location. And while the food (like the caviar flatbread) is fantastic, it’s the
staff that makes this spot a pleasure to dine at. 112 Circuit Road, Nokomis, (941) 488-3177,

Where to Take the Kids

The Old Salty Dog

Sarasota County is privileged to have three Old Salty Dogs, but only two boast waterfront locations, with one in Venice and the other on City Island, north of Lido Key. Each one is expansive, with an approachable menu. If you’re sick of seafood, give the signature “Salty Dog” a try. To make it, the chefs wrap a quarter- pound hot dog in bacon and deep fry it. While you’re there, sip a bloody Mary, which we’d argue are the best in town. 1485 S. Tamiami Trail, Venice, (941) 483-1000; 1601 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, (941) 388-4311;

Dry Dock Waterfront Grill Editor’s Pick

Stare across Sarasota Bay at the Ringling museum and New College of Florida while counting the boats speeding by. Dry Dock has multiple levels, but dining outside on the patio and adjacent lawn is a great way to let the kids run around
while you kick back with a glass of wine. The food is also great, especially the lobster roll. And while we always opt for French fries, give the coleslaw a try;
it’s out of this world. 412 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key, (941) 383-0102,

Seafood Shack

After a day of fishing with the family, the last thing you want to do is go home and cook your catch. At Seafood Shack in Cortez, the staff will prepare your fillets for you while you kick back and enjoy the view. 4110 127th St. W., Cortez, (941) 794-1235,

Turtle’s Restaurant

Turtle’s lauds itself as “the best family restaurant in Sarasota,” but from the outside, you might think the bayfront joint is a little fancy. Think again. The staff
welcomes big and little kids alike with a big smile and a high-five. Family-friendly
food dominates the menu, with dishes like coconut shrimp that are so good
you’ll be fighting for the last bite. 8875 Midnight Pass Road, Sarasota, (941) 346-2207,

Where to Eat When You’re Looking for Love

Magnolias on the Bay

This idyllic Englewood restaurant is inviting from the outset, with its baby pink exterior and black-and-white striped awning. But beyond its exterior panache, Magnolias offers Manasota Key’s only fine dining menu, with highlights like Chilean sea bass and seared scallops. This spot also has an extensive sushi menu that includes raw and cooked rolls. 2395 N. Beach Road, Englewood, (941) 460-8219,

Ophelia’s on the Bay

Heralded by Sarasota residents as the area’s most romantic restaurant, Ophelia’s has earned its reputation through its approachable yet well-executed menu, its white tablecloth service and its sweeping views of the Intracoastal. Enjoy
classic dishes like shrimp cocktail, a colossal wedge salad and a stunning half
duckling prepared à l’orange. 9105 Midnight Pass Road, Siesta Key, Sarasota,
(941) 349-2212,


Shore boasts two locations—one on St. Armands Circle and one on Longboat Key—but it’s the Longboat location that makes our list for its stunning views of Longboat Pass. Shore’s lobster, shrimp and crab Cobb salad is arguably the best item on the menu, but guests also come for the local snapper, served on a bed of wilted spinach with an arancini cake and citrus butter. 800 Broadway St., Longboat Key, (941) 259-4600,

Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant Editor’s Pick

Part of the renowned Chiles Hospitality group of restaurants, Mar Vista is nestled among towering sea grapes at the northern end of Longboat Key. Guests are invited to dine with their toes in the sand, surrounded by twinkling lights
in the evening, while dining on lemon and herb grouper and bacon-wrapped scallops. Don’t miss the homemade tater tots, either. 760 Broadway St., Longboat
Key, (941) 383-2391,

Pier 22

This marina restaurant overlooking the Manatee River makes our list not only for its romantic main dining room but also for the high volume of weddings it hosts.
Guests can carry their relationship from engagement to nuptials to anniversaries
with a memorable menu that includes grouper artichoke gratin and honey macadamia shrimp. 1200 First Ave. W., Bradenton, (941) 748-8087,

Beach Bistro Editor’s Pick

Anna Maria Island’s (and Manatee County’s) most iconic fine-dining restaurant has been a date night mainstay for decades. The restaurant’s prix fixe menu includes “lobstercargots,” foie gras, Colorado lamb with a savory bread pudding and the restaurant’s famous bouillabaisse. Make your reservation
at sunset to wow your date. 6600 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, (941) 778-6444,

Restaurants Located Right on the Beach

Sharky’s on the Pier and Fins at Sharky’s

This beachfront spot in Venice offers double the bang for your buck. You can sip frozen piña coladas outside at Sharky’s and enjoy the island vibe, or head upstairs to Fins at Sharky’s for a more formal date night. Either way, the Gulf views are outstanding. 1600 Harbor Drive S., Venice, (941) 488-1456,

Beach House Waterfront Restaurant

Open since the mid-1990s, the Beach House recently underwent a massive
renovation. But despite its refreshed interior and patio, the beachy feeling is
strong, with a few tables placed directly in the sand. Much of the produce is
provided by Gamble Creek, the company’s affiliate farm, so keep your eye out
for seasonal local veggies. 200 Gulf Drive N., Bradenton Beach, (941) 779-2222,

Sandbar Seafood & Spirits

Brought to you by the same owners as Mar Vista and Beach House, Sandbar is
the jewel in the Chiles Hospitality crown. Located at the tippy top of Anna Maria
Island, this flagship restaurant offers modern, classic fare. If you’re unsure of
what to order, we love the pulled pork mac ‘n’ cheese. Meat at a seafood joint
may seem like sacrilege, but you won’t be disappointed. 100 Springs Ave.,
Anna Maria, (941) 778-0444,

Gulf Drive Café Editor’s Pick

This spot might be open all day and into the wee hours of the morning, but it’s the breakfast menu that keeps us coming back again and again. Keep it classic with scrambled eggs, pancakes and other accompaniments enjoyed right next to the Gulf of Mexico. 900 Gulf Drive N., Bradenton Beach, (941) 778-1919,


Waterfront Dining Doesn’t Have to Include Saltwater

Woody’s River Roo

As you cross the Manatee River while cruising I-75, Woody’s River Roo beckons from below with big bold letters arranged across its roof. Instead of passing by this gem while hurrying to Tampa, take it slow and pull over. Shift your point of view upward at all those busy people and racing cars while you sip a daiquiri and enjoy a lazy day. 5717 18th St. E., Ellenton, (941) 722-2391,

Linger Lodge Restaurant Editor’s Pick

Wild, weird and wonderful are excellent words to describe Linger Lodge. Expect to be greeted by a room full of taxidermized creatures ranging from small to extra-large before you find your seat. This historic restaurant captures Old
Florida style by offering a no-frills menu with items like gator bites and frog legs. If you’re not feeling that adventurous, there are plenty of other wonderful options
suitable for every palate. 7205 85th St. Ct. E., Bradenton, (941) 755-2757,

Mila’s on the Manatee

Mila’s screams “tourist trap,” but in a fun way. It’s the kind of place that makes you want to get out and see what the fuss is all about. Best of all, it’s got a killer weekend brunch buffet where you can chow down to your heart’s content for only $14.95. 955 Riverside Drive, Palmetto, (941) 212-6006,

Snook Haven

A trip to Snook Haven is less about the food than it is about the music and
dancing—and there is plenty of dancing. The expansive property overlooks the
Myakka River and draws people seeking a good time. Come during the day and
rent a kayak to help you work up an appetite, then sip an ice-cold beer at this
secret oasis. 5000 E. Venice Ave., Venice, (941) 485-7221,


Stroll downtown Bradenton’s 1.5-mile Riverwalk and end your scenic saunter at
Mattison’s. One of three Mattison’s in the area, the Riverwalk location offers a killer happy hour alongside the restaurant’s signature dishes, like artichokes Esther—crispy, fried artichoke hearts finished with lemon butter and shaved parmesan. 101 Riverfront Blvd., Suite 120, Bradenton, (941) 896-9660,

Riverhouse Waterfront Restaurant

This Manatee River behemoth is really three restaurants in one. The waterfront patio bar, called Snook Deck, features bar-friendly food like truffle wings and fried green tomatoes. Reef & Grill, meanwhile, is open for lunch and dinner with a casual all-American menu. At Second Floor, which is on, well, the second floor, dinner service is more formal, with oysters casino and a blue crab pot pie.
995 Riverside Drive, Palmetto, (941) 729-0616,

Farlow’s on the Water Editor’s Pick

Ask the host to sit outside on Farlow’s charming patio, which overlooks a small
inlet connected to Lemon Bay. On the menu, you’ll find crab cakes, hush puppies and scallops, but also—thanks to the owners’ Kentucky heritage—shrimp and Kentucky cornbread anda classic Kentucky hot brown. We recommend ordering anything with the “house specialty” asterisk. 2080 S. McCall Road, Englewood, (941) 474-5343,


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