COMMENTS

Top 10 2012: Cheap Eats

/
  • curry creek burger 2

    920 Tamiami Trail S., Nokomis, 485-6560, currycreekcafe.com

    Curry Creek Cafe

    This Nokomis hidden gem might lack in ambiance and atmosphere (and the neighboring establishments might be a little rough), but the cuisine is superb, the staff supremely friendly. Dave Arbuckle has made magic happen in Nokomis. The meatloaf (served with wilted spinach and mashed potatoes) will put you in a euphoric food coma; the Little Gasparilla Seafood Stew (an updated version of the most famous chowder in the area, Pelican Alley’s Admiral’s Chowder, which was an original Arbuckle family secret) will ruin you for other chowders forever. (Read the review.) -- By Ashton Goggans

  • IMG_2605

    822-6926, brownbagprovisions.com

    Brown Bag Provisions

    This small Sarasota lunch operation delivers twice-weekly, on Thursdays and Fridays, and never has a week gone by that I haven’t been impressed. Owner Kelly Drost (and her right-hand ladies Jackie Schaffel and Roni Gold) spends each week collecting ingredients as locally as possible, crafting thoughtful, well-loved takes on everything from bånh mi or pulled pork, to their wildly creative weekly grilled cheeses or salads. The quality, quantity, and convenience has earned Brown Bag a loyal, almost religious following of late-week lunch devotees. (Read the review.)

  • IMG_2978

    1668 Main St., Sarasota, 366-7600, mozzarellafella.com

    Mozzarella Fella

    This New York deli and sandwich shop opened up earlier this year to much praise. There were rumors of a calamari sandwich that was just deadly; their fresh Mozz was as good as it gets. Strolling into the little Main Street shop, we were greeted with that thick Brooklyn accent that anyone who has spent anytime in The City has come to love. We ordered big, trying out everything we could (they have something like two-dozen sandwich options) — the caprisi, roasted portobello, eggplant Parm, prosciutto, the famed calamari, and more. Each and every sandwich was a killer, the bread (a custom roll made for them by local bakers Bavarian Bread) the absolute closest thing to a proper NY roll that I’ve ever had outside of The City. (Read the review.)

  • IMG_3115

    1734 Bamboo Lane, Sarasota, 955-9434, starkeepercafe.com

    Star Keeper Cafe

    We came upon this hidden downtown cafe after a friend tipped us off late in the year. Occupying a picturesque Old Florida home hidden on an alley between Ringling and Main downtown, the Star Keeper Cafe has quickly become a weekend staple for EC and me. We’re a little obsessed with the Warm Mini Donuts, and on balmy afternoons there is very little we’d rather do than sip strawberry basil lemonade in the garden out back. (Read the review.)

  • vscocam21

    401 S. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota, 312-6633, burnscourtcafe.com

    Burns Court Cafe

    The only restaurant reappearing on the Cheap Eats Top 10, Burns Court Café, has continued to impress, with their sandwiches and their daily quiche specials blowing me away each time I stop in for what is, forgive the hyperbole, hands down the best espresso in town. The owners and staff are the sweetest people you’ll ever meet, the space is as delicate and beautiful as any European-style café I’ve ever been in, and the corner of Dolphin and Pineapple might be the most tranquil street corner in Sarasota. (Read the review.)

  • fwcheap24b

    7523 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, 926-0441, gentilesteaks.com

    Gentile Bros.

    It takes serious chutspah to open up a shop promising truly authentic Philly Cheesesteaks, and it was with great skepticism (we’ve all been burned before, surely, and little in this world is more disappointing than a half-hearted attempt at a Philly) that I strolled into Gentile Bros. for an afternoon steak. Hidden in one of those strange strip malls that jut off at 45-degree angles from 41 just south of Clark, the space smelled of the only bread that a cheesesteak should ever be served on: Amoroso Rolls. The classic steak and the chicken steak (order them “Whiz-wit”) blew our minds, and we have considered ourselves regulars ever since. (Read the review.)

  • 1564 Main Street.

    1564 Main St., Sarasota, 870-5555, pangealounge.com

    1564 Main Street

    As if the brains behind both Lan (now Melange) and Pangea, Brad Colburn and Lan Bradeen wouldn’t produce brilliance, this year they cordoned off half of Pangea’s cocktail lounge, hiding the ultra-hip bar in the back, and opened up a late-night sandwich shop, catering to service industry folk like myself, and also to, of course, those painting the town red in search of late-night sustenance. With a limited menu of pressed sandwiches, salad, and soup, the place is a total—their Loaded Baked Tato soup is just out of this world delicious, their turkey and smoked gouda a triumph. Open until 2 a.m., the place has become downtown’s more-refined answer to Gulf Gate’s Munchies 420. (Read the review.)

  • IMG_2558

    536 12th St. W., Bradenton, 746-8350

    Council's Bradenton Recreation

    I strolled into this absolute dive on a whim while ogling all of the amazing new things happening in downtown Bradenton. I’d heard rumor of one of the best working-class burgers around, and despite the urge to try out one of the probably two-dozen new restaurants that have opened up on Old Main, I went for a patty cooked on a Garland grill that is three-quarters of a century old. Cheap beer, a half-dozen pool tables, some seriously weathered characters, and one of the best burgers around: Here’s to another 75 years of Council’s. (Read the review.)

  • FNTLATE05y.jpg

    1345 Main St., Sarasota, 362-4427, selvagrill.com

    Selva Grill's Late-Night Menu

    Everyone loves the place, sure. And though it can be a little pricey for a regular visit, the late-night menu is just a ridiculously good deal, and a really nice place to sit with a lady. Belly up to the bar, order an Old Fashioned from Steve, and peruse the menu: all your favorites are there—skirt steak, New Zealand lamb chops, oyster shooters, wok-fried sirloin—and all the items come in between $5 and $12.

  • fwcheap09g

    19 East Road, Sarasota,377-3262

    Fruitville Texaco

    When I wrote about Fruitville Texaco’s delicious prepared foods, I was berated with comments. “Who wants to eat food from a gas station?” they wrote. I do. Especially when it’s this good. So this is me standing my ground: Texaco’s fried chicken, prepared for the past decade by some of the most kindand sweet ladies you could ever meet, is absolutely killer; the chicken livers are an adventurous treat; the place is owned, I now know, by an old Sarasota family who not only treats their employees very well (many of them have been there for ages), but who takes great pride in the small business they’ve built, one which many a blue collar worker has called their lunch spot for quite some time now. (Read the review.)

     

COMMENTS