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Siesta Key Restaurant Guide: Dining near the world's best beach

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Siesta Key is Sarasota’s casual answer to the high-end resort stylings of Lido Key. Here you’ll find places that cater to the casual beach-goer more than the ritzy tourist, which makes it a great place for visitors and townies to mingle. But, if you want something more refined, Siesta can provide that, too. Here’s a comprehensive list of all the dining spots on the favored island of Sarasota locals.

ANNA’S DELI 217 Avenida Madera, Siesta Key, 349-7790 or surfersandwich.com
Anna’s is Siesta Village’s long-standing spot for hefty sandwiches.

Bella Roma Ristorante Italiano (11.25.2008)(STAFF PHOTO/CHIP LITHERLAND)

BELLA ROMA 5239 Ocean Blvd., Siesta Key, 349-0995 or bellaromaitalianrestaurant.com
You’ll find traditional Italian cuisine, with an exceptional array of pasta and risotto, at this small Siesta Village restaurant.

BIG OLAF 5208 Ocean Blvd., Siesta Key, 349-9392
For decades, this shop has provided cold treats to overheated locals and tourists, usually decadent ice cream piled into Olaf’s trademark waffle cones.

The Blase Cafe and Martini Bar on Siesta Key (6.3.2010)(STAFF PHOTO/E. SKYLAR LITHERLAND)

BLASÉ CAFÉ 5263 Ocean Blvd., Siesta Key, 349-9822 or theblasecafe.com
This funky spot serves an array of interesting appetizers focused on seaside seafood, along with standard modern American fine dining entrées.

BLU SMOKE ISLAND GRILL 149 Avenida Messina, Siesta Key, 346-0738 or blusmokeislandgrill.com
This restaurant features traditional barbecue mixed with interesting open-fire grilling, along with a variety of sides.

BROKEN EGG 1140 Avenida Messina, Siesta Key, 346-2750 or thebrokenegg.com
Broken Egg caters to its devoted fanbase in the heart of Siesta Village, complete with cute outdoor dining carved on a deck that juts out into its parking lot.

CAFÉ CONTINENTAL PATISSERIE 5221 Ocean Blvd., Siesta Key, 346-3171
Fresh pastries and good coffee for anyone who wants a more casual early morning nosh in the Village.

The 14 ounce veal chop at Cafe' Gabbiano in Siesta Key (04.27.2010)(STAFF PHOTO/CHIP LITHERLAND)

CAFÉ GABBIANO 5104 Ocean Blvd., Siesta Key, 349-1423 or cafegabbiano.com
Pietro Migliaccio’s hearty, NY-influenced Italian fare has that distinctive balance of rusticity and elegance that is the hallmark of great Italian-American cuisine, the kind of elusive qualities that chains and even most independent places fail to replicate. The outdoor area is covered and elegant.

CAPTAIN CURT’S 1200 Old Stickney Point Road, Siesta Key, 349-3885 or captaincurts.com
Award-winning clam chowder, live music and big plates of steamed seafood with sides of butter highlight this casual spot near Siesta's south bridge.

CITY PIZZA 6645 Midnight Pass Road, Siesta Key, 349-4490
This south Siesta staple still serves amazing New York pies featuring floppy slices and incredibly gooey cheese. The dough is chewy and flavorful and the setting is perfect — sea breeze blowing, palm trees swaying.

CLAYTON’S SIESTA GRILLE 1256 Old Stickney Point Road, Siesta Key, 349-2800 or claytonssiestagrille.com
You can get three squares a day at Clayton’s — breakfast to dinner — all of it tailored to the elegant island setting that decorates this restaurant just off the south bridge to Siesta.

Mixed ceviche at The Cottage on the Key. (Dec 9, 2010) (Sarasota Herald-Tribune photo by Dan Wagner)

THE COTTAGE 153 Avenida Messina, Sarasota, 312-9300
This tiny spot just off the main drag in Siesta Key Village is the new home of chef Darwin Santa Maria, the island setting a perfect match with his considerable talent with seafood. At the Cottage, his dishes are mostly small plates, but with big flavor. (Read Jack Winner's review.)

DAIQUIRI DECK 5250 Ocean Blvd., Siesta Key, 349-8697 or daiquirideck.com
It’s not all fried fish sandwiches and long rows of alcoholic slurpee machines at Daquiri Deck. Owners expanded the Deck a couple years back and added in an extensive raw bar menu to up the non-frozen options.

GILLIGAN’S ISLAND BAR AND GRILL 5253 Ocean Blvd., Siesta Key, 346-8122 or gilligansislandbar.com
The usual lineup of bar food and boat drinks at a lively nightspot.

The Hub Baja-Grill on Ocean Blvd. in Siesta Key Village (6/14/2008) (Sarasota Herald-Tribune/Staff Photo by Ed Pfueller)

THE HUB BAJA GRILL 5148 Ocean Blvd., Siesta Key, 349-6800 or thehubsiestakey.com
The Hub looks like a tourist spot thanks to acres of faux island décor. Still, it’s difficult to argue with a big, open-air covered deck that sits right on the sidewalk in the center of Siesta activity.

JAVIER’S 6621 Midnight Pass Blvd., Siesta Key, 349-1792 or javiersrestaurant.com
Before the Peruvian invasion came to Sarasota in the form of Selva Grill and a handful of other restaurants, Javier’s was serving anticuchos and ceviche in a calm and elegant spot on south Siesta.

JO-TO JAPANESE STEAK HOUSE 5218 Ocean Blvd., Siesta Key, 346-8366 or jotosteakhouse.com
Jo-To has a humble facade in Siesta Village, but behind that door are the chop-socky shenanigans of tableside teppanyaki and the only sushi on the key.

Owner Jennifer Holland serves martinis at her Lelu Coffee Lounge on Siesta Key. (02.19.2010)(STAFF PHOTO / CHIP LITHERLAND)

LELU COFFEE LOUNGE 5251 Ocean Blvd., Siesta Key, 346-5358 or lelucoffee.com
Lelu is a full service spot, with everything from breakfast sandwiches and a cup o' joe to caffeinated martinis and blue cheese sliders.

LOBSTER POT 5157 Ocean Blvd., Siesta Key, 349-2323 or sarasota-lobsterpot.com
Seems strange to head out to a Florida barrier island for New England-style seafood, but the absurdly rich lobster bisque and a bucket of steamers will quickly convince you that seafood has no borders.

MIGUEL’S 6631 Midnight Pass Road, Siesta Key, 349-4024 or miguelsrestaurant.net
Amidst a sea of bar food and casual spots on Siesta, Miguel’s stands out as the most refined traditional restaurant on the island. Here you’ll find Continental classics with a focus on French cuisine.

NAPOLI’S 5242 Ocean Blvd., Siesta Key, 345-2452
Great pies and standard casual Italian fare, with slices sold from the outdoor courtyard on busy nights.

OLD SALTY DOG 5023 Ocean Blvd., Siesta Key, 349-0158 or theoldsaltydog.com
The grouper sandwich is very good, the beer is cold and domestic, but the biggest draw for the OSD can be summed up in six words: beer-battered, deep-fried hot dog.

The waterfront view at Ophelia's on the Bay restaurant at Siesta Key. (April 21, 2011) (Herald-Tribune staff photo by Dan Wagner)

OPHELIA’S 9105 Midnight Pass Road, Siesta Key, 349-2212 or opheliasonthebay.net
Most Siesta restaurants get away with either hiding away behind a strip mall façade or amping the village’s island-party theme for atmosphere. Ophelia’s, however, fits the island better than all the rest. The high-end food is elegant and composed, but the location — mere feet away from the mangrove islands of an Intracoastal offshoot — is fabulous. Depending on the weather, and the bugs, try to reserve one of the tables placed right on the deck where you can eat to the natural music of jumping fish and buzzing cicadas.

PITA SHACK 5214 Ocean Blvd., Siesta Key, 706-2844 or thepitashacksk.com
Meat, veggies and cheese stuffed into warm pita makes Pita Shack a favorite Siesta Village spot for quick and casual sustenance.

SIESTA KEY OYSTER BAR 5238 Ocean Blvd., Siesta Key, 346-5443 or skob.com
SKOB is another spot that references the wood and surf theme common to Siesta Village pubs, but here it feels a little more natural, in large part to a staff that’s turned it into a popular haunt for regulars. The food is standard bar and Floribbean fare.

SIESTA SMEAG’S 5263 Ocean Blvd., Siesta Key, 349-9494
Good pizza from a place with a name that more evokes Lord of the Rings than New York pie.

SOLORZANO BROTHERS PIZZERIA 215 Avenida Madera, Siesta Key, 349-2767 or solorzanobrospizzeria.com
Big, New York pizza in the heart of the village, from a family that owns several Sarasota Italian spots.

SUN GARDEN CAFÉ 210 Avenida Madera, Siesta Key, 346-7170 or siestasungarden.com
Owned by former downtown Sarasota restaurateurs Suzanne and Rick Monroe, Sun Garden stands out from the rest of the village’s many breakfast spots. The sweet potato pancakes — topped with sweet almond butter — will cause cravings, and the fried baloney sandwich ain’t far behind.

TASTE OF ASIA 5110 Ocean Blvd., Siesta Key, 349-2742
More than the usual pan-Asian joint, Taste of Asia features seriously tasty and rustic Laotian, Thai and Vietnamese cuisine that doesn't cut corners. (Read Jack Winner's review.)

TURTLES 8875 Midnight Pass Road, Siesta Key, 346-2207 or turtlesrestaurant.com
Way down on the southernmost section of the island, Turtles is a casual joint that serves bar items and fresh seafood across from Turtle Beach.

VILLAGE CAFÉ 5133 Ocean Blvd., Siesta Key, 349-2822 villagecafeonsiesta.com
Village Café is another entrant in the crowded Siesta breakfast scene, but it’s managed to hold its own for years against the other village powerhouses.

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Brian Ries

Brian Ries is the editor of ticketsarasota.com.
Last modified: June 24, 2011
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