I live part time on Longboat Key and dine out pretty much every night. While I’m starting to look to find some good very casual restaurants up to now we’ve only eaten at the higher end places.
Here are my evaluations of the top restaurants in Sarasota/Longboat, not in any particular order (and note that for the BEST list below we’ve dined in each restaurant multiple times):
Cork: upstairs is formal and terrific, downstairs is informal and terrific
Maison Blanche (Longboat)
Beach Bistro (Holmes Beach)
Zaks: outstanding steak, no need to go to the chains like Flemings and Ruth’s
Beach Bistro (Holmes Beach). Just awesome.
Ophelia (Siesta Key)
Euphemia Haye (Longboat)
GOOD, BUT NOT AS GOOD AS THOSE ABOVE:
The Table: but never, ever, on a weekend; we recently waited 50 minutes with reservations; we canceled our pending reservation and won’t go back again anytime soon, but I can’t deny the food is good.
Michaels on East: I avoid this one on weekends, it gets the fancy crowd and is very busy
Crab & Fin
Tommy Bahama (casual)
ON MY TRY FOR FIRST TIME LIST:
Derek’s Culinary Casual
the restaurant at the Ritz, I’ve had lots of breakfasts there but not dinners
PLACES I'LL NEVER, EVER RETURN TO:
Rustic Grill: food just wasn’t any good, dry chicken, etc.
Uva Rara: dirty paper dish towel in my Caesar salad (and not comped!), rest of dinner was mediocre
Morel: a disaster in every way from start to finish