6 Small Restaurants in Sarasota You Should Try
We like to support local businesses and are always on the lookout for small restaurants that are locally owned. You may not have heard of these restaurants while visiting Sarasota but each one has a unique approach and serves excellent food in our opinion. If you are in Sarasota and looking for something different and want to avoid the seasonal crowds check them out.
By the way, the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed below belong to us. We are not affiliated with any of these restaurants, nor do we receive any monetary (or other) compensation for our recommendations.
Flavors of India
This is a small unassuming Indian restaurant just south of Gulf Gate and Stickney Point Road on the east side of Tamiami Trail. It provides a delightful array of Indian food with authentic deep flavors that are obviously lovingly created. We have worked our way through the Tandori list, as well as most of the curries, sauces, naans, etc. Everything was authentic and well prepared. Having lived in Northern Virginia just outside of Washington D.C. where there are lots of Indian restaurants, we’ve had our fair share of Indian food over the years and this restaurant stands right alongside our favorites there. We are happy to have them in town.
They have a lunch time buffet which we honestly haven’t tried (yet) for $10.99. The interior is pleasant and the service staff were friendly and efficient. They can easily accommodate larger parties and events; reservations are suggested. It’s easy to park right out front. If you are in the mood to try something different, maybe something you haven’t tried before, give this restaurant a try. We have brought several people here that have never had Indian food and they liked it enough to request a return visit when they are in town.
We have a thing for mussels and french fries. Moules et frites as the French would say. So we recently visited Antoine’s in Sarasota. Once again in a strip mall. Maybe we should rename our post to say the best strip mall food in town. The outside doesn’t look like much but the inside is beautifully decorated and offers a bit of a european vibe. The owner came out and spoke to us bringing fresh bread from the kitchen and introducing himself and the restaurant. They are from Belgium and bake everything fresh. The owner is outgoing and speaking with him added a very nice personal touch to our evening.
The mussels are offered in a number of sauces: Creamy garlic, tomato, dijon, curry, blue cheese, provencal...you get the idea. The sauces are fantastic and the mussels plentiful. On Monday nights, they have all you can eat mussels so if you like mussels that is the night to try.
In addition, they have other choices from the sea like seared salmon, halibut and daily specials. They also have various meat dishes such as steak tartare, duck, pork, and filet mignon. For desserts they have a wonderful creme brulee, chocolate mousse, sea salt caramel ice cream with Belgian chocolate drizzle. We tried the creme brulee and it was up there with the best we’ve ever had.
There are only a few tables so reservations are highly recommended.
Several years ago some good friends invited us to join them at Marcello’s for dinner and are we glad they did! Marcello’s is owned, well...by Marcello. He offers old family recipes perfected over time with his skill as an educated chef. Marcello’s offers an intimate dining experience with many items made table side. When we have visited the owner/chef came out of the kitchen to walk around and welcome the guests.
The menu changes daily but always contains fresh local fish, hand-cut veal and homemade pasta. Dishes like osso bucco, lamb ragout, Branzino, veal parmesan, veal chop, scallops and more. This is not your everyday Italian serving canned sauces and pasta. Marcello, a master chef, serves uniquely presented and inventive dishes that are cooked to perfection and worth every penny..
Service is always prompt and the wait staff very attentive. A classy experience for those looking for higher end Italian food away from the noisy seasonal crowds. There are only a handful of tables and reservations are highly recommended.
Fresh Catch Fish Market & Grill
Fresh Catch Fish Market and Grill is fairly new to Sarasota. It is owned and operated by a family who dreamed of opening a restaurant serving fresh fish. It is both a fish market and a restaurant and grill. It’s simple styling is pleasing and we have eaten here several times, and each time we came away impressed with the freshness and quality of the food and the service. Their fish dip which is a Florida favorite is a little different than the usual being made with mahi mahi and served with vegetable sticks and ciabatta crostini, and one of our favorites in town. Being a fish market they pride themselves in providing the freshest fish quoting that it’s “fresh daily, from the sea to our market and grill”. It doesn’t get any fresher than that.
Their menu boasts several soups; Lobster Bisque, Clam Chowder, Fish Stew. Their grouper sandwich and fresh catch tacos are wonderful and their crab cakes with no filler are on par with the crab cakes you can get in Maryland. Don’t forget to try the key lime pie. Yum!
In the last few years, Pho restaurants have started popping up here in Sarasota. Being a huge fan of Pho since our son introduced us to it more than 10 years ago, we were happy when Pho 99 showed up within a few miles of our home. We rushed over there after it opened when it took over the location from the old Starbucks on Clark and were excited. It has a great vibe. It’s extremely clean and the owners are frequently on site.
For those that don’t know, Pho is a type of Vietnamese soup, typically made from beef stock and spices. You get your choice of protein; shrimp, beef (many types), chicken, pork, etc. Based on your choice you are given bean sprouts, basil, lime, peppers to add to it as you desire. For me it’s like your favorite chicken soup on steroids. I love it when it’s cold outside or if I have a cold coming on.
They also carry numerous other dishes such as vermicelli rice dishes, broken ride dished, vegetarian dishes, and appetizers. Our favorite appetizer is the shrimp spring rolls made of rice paper wrapped with shrimp, fresh salad, fresh herbs (mint), rice vermicelli and served with peanut sauce.
They have wine and beer and a great Vietnamese iced coffee - if you like coffee you must go by and try it.
Heinrich's German Grill
Having worked in Munich periodically for nearly 7 years, I have had my share of authentic German food. I can say without a doubt that the food here is just about as good as I've had anywhere in Bavaria ! They have an extensive menu full of all the German delicacies you could wish for; schnitzel, sauerbraten, sausage... Your choice of sides; potato salad, sauerkraut, red cabbage, spaetzle, etc. They have it all and you can tell the food is made from scratch.
Even though they are in a strip mall, as soon as you walk through the doors you are transported to Germany. Frequently, people inside are speaking German to the owners. There is German music playing and the vibe is homey. You can always tell when a place has authentic ethnic food when the visitors in the restaurant are from the ethnic place.
As with any good German restaurant, they have excellent beer & wine choices. They import barrels from Germany! Don’t forget to leave room for dessert. They have a wide range of traditional German desserts that top off the evening along with a digestive to help it all go down smoothly. guten Appetit!
Psst - reservations are highly recommended!