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From global-fusion fare to the freshest local seafood, Sarasota restaurants will be a highlight of your trip. Here are a few of the best place to eat.
1. Indigenous. Chef Steve Phelps’ passion for creating complex, flavorful dishes from sustainable, local ingredients inspired him to open Indigenous, a restaurant that celebrates American cuisine with a rotating menu that adjusts with the seasons. As if the environmentally friendly and community-conscious menu full of succulent, local, organic seafood, beef, lamb and vegetarian dishes wasn’t enough of a selling point, the rustic wraparound porch dining area rounds out the experience with a touch of ambience and Southern charm.
2. Mélange. Discriminating midnight snackers with a flair for adventurous flavors flock to Mélange in downtown Sarasota on a nightly basis. Chef Lan Bradeen’s eclectic Asian-fusion restaurant serves up gourmet small plates like duck-brie crepes and rabbit tacos seasoned with curry, fennel slaw and crème fraîche until 2 a.m. While you’re indulging in Mélange’s late-night delights, be sure to accompany your order with a seasonal cocktail by award-winning mixologist Brad Coburn. Pangea, Mélange’s attached lounge and sandwich shop, also offers quick bites on the go well into the wee hours that put Taco Bell’s “Fourth Meal” to shame.
3. The Table Creekside. Situated along the shores of Sarasota’s Phillippi Creek sits The Table Creekside, an upscale waterfront restaurant hailed for both its atmosphere and its adventurous global-fusion menu. Enjoy gourmet twists on classic dishes, like organic chicken spring rolls jazzed up with fontina cheese, portabella mushrooms and apple carrot slaw, or the calamari steak po’ boy sandwich served with Incan aioli and Vidalia ceviche, as you overlook the serene creek below or hang out on the other side of the restaurant at the sleek, posh aqua-blue “Miami-style” bar. The food is delicious, regardless of your choice of view.
4. Selva Grill. When founding chef Darwin Santa Maria opened Selva Grill in 2002, the original location only offered seven tables. By Selva’s second month in business, those seven tables were some of the most sought-after in town as food connoisseurs jockeyed to get their names on two-month reservation waiting lists. The popular upscale Peruvian restaurant has since relocated to a larger location in downtown Sarasota that receives rave reviews from visitors around the world — particularly on behalf of its delectable ceviche and adventurous cocktails. Today, Selva Grill maintains the sterling reputation it garnered at the outset, but thankfully, there are enough tables to accommodate Sarasota’s big appetite — without the two-month wait.
5. Owen’s Fish Camp. As the name suggests, Owen’s Fish Camp exudes an unpretentious, rustic charm. Tucked away in a quaint, banyan tree-shaded bungalow in downtown Sarasota’s artsy Burns Court, the restaurant specializes in Southern-style cooking and fresh seafood — a blend that truly defines traditional Florida cooking. The menu includes a mixture of down-home, Southern-inspired seafood dishes, complete with collard greens and fried green tomatoes, as well as simple favorites like fish and chips that will keep even the pickiest eaters satisfied — so feel free to bring the kids.