Sarasota sits along Florida’s Gulf Coast and offers visitors the best of both worlds. Many vacation rentals in Sarasota are located just minutes from the beach, and the downtown area is merely a few miles away. Sarasota is known for its delicious seafood. There are plenty of restaurants in the immediate area where you can find everything from Cedar Key clams and peel-and-eat shrimp to pizza, submarine sandwiches, and kid-friendly menu items. If you’re visiting Sarasota and putting together a list of potential eateries to check out, this top 10 list is a great starting place.
1. O’Leary’s Tiki Bar and Grill
O’Leary’s Tiki Bar and Grill is a great place for families with children, thanks to a great kids menu and rustic outdoor seating where it’s okay if a spill or two occurs. The tables sit right on the sand, and the fresh air and beautiful views of the bay are just steps away. Sip on a frozen drink, and indulge in a specialty burger as your little ones nibble on chicken fingers, fish fingers, fried clams, and hot dogs – all perfectly portioned for junior-sized appetites.
2. Walt’s Fish Market
For a fun history lesson and tasty seafood, all rolled into one, head over to Walt’s Fish Market for a meal and a story. Established in 1941 when local fisherman Walter Wallin inherited a fish market from his father, Walt’s only sold fresh fish and offered fried fish sandwiches to patrons. Today, Walt’s is a full-service restaurant and fish market with live music every day and the promise of the “freshest seafood possible.” Sit in the dining room for a fresh seafood meal and a side of “gator bites” or hush puppies, and then pop over to the historic market and pick up some fresh fish for a cookout at your vacation rental.
3. Owen’s Fish Camp
Show your kids a great time while enjoying authentic Gulf Coast seafood at Owen’s Fish Camp. The restaurant sits inside an old Florida house, complete with a wooden front porch tire swing in the back for the kids to play on. All the seafood comes in fresh daily from the bay, and sides such as fried pickles and fried green tomatoes make this family-friendly spot even better.
4. Surf Shack
Treat your kids to delicious food and a-rockin’ good time with a fun visit to Surf Shack, a local favorite with tasty fish tacos and live piano music. The environment is extremely casual, as the sign at the door lets patrons know they’re entering the “Flip-Flop Zone,” which makes this spot an ideal option for families with kids. The West Coast taco is a top choice among locals, as well as the jerk chicken. Best of all, if you feel like a tropical “adult” cocktail, the restaurant offers non-alcoholic versions of fun and fruity drinks for the kiddos.
For amazing views of the water in a modern atmosphere, take the family to Shore. Breathe in the fresh sea air from the rooftop dining area while you dine on fish tacos and Parmesan-crusted grilled cheese sandwiches, and then order the Shore hot fudge sundae with enough spoons for the whole family. Your kids are sure to love the sweet concoction of Godiva brownies, M&Ms, bananas, and pistachios.
Enjoy some of the best sandwiches in Sarasota followed by delicious homemade frozen custard at Sweetberries. Located just a few minutes away from the beach and Gulf Coast shoreline, this family-friendly eatery is the perfect spot to visit after a day on the water. Indulge in a specialty sandwich such as the Havana Cuban smothered in Provolone while your little ones enjoy a junior-sized sandwich from the “Little Berries” menu, and then finish the meal off with frozen custard in the flavor of the day.
7. Cha Cha Coconuts
For a delicious family meal in a fun, Caribbean-style environment complete with live music and delicious tropical food and drink, spend an afternoon at Cha Cha Coconuts. A lively outdoor patio puts you where all the action is. The “Little Coconuts” menu has silly-named items such as the “Cowaburger, Dude!” hamburger, as well as fun games and jokes to keep the kids entertained.
8. Old Salty Dog
Referred to as “Sarasota’s Old Florida Favorite,” the Old Salty Dog restaurant is a must-visit establishment if anyone in your family likes hot dogs. Located along the water in Sarasota’s picturesque Siesta Key, the relaxed atmosphere makes Old Salty Dog a great place for families to grab a bite between beach time and sightseeing. All the hot dogs are dipped in batter and fried, then topped with everything from cheese and onions to mushrooms and sauerkraut, and the taste is truly amazing.
9. Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers
If your kids are hungry for a frozen treat after a day at the beach, head over to Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers for dinner and dessert. Feast on onion rings and specialty hot dogs right at the counter, and then top off the meal with some of Freddy’s signature custard. If you’re feeling daring, try an ice cream “Concrete” shake that’s almost too thick to get through the straw. Your kids are sure to love the diner-style ambiance and friendly service, and you can even take some custard to go for a late-night treat at your vacation rental.
10. Ham Heaven and Devil Dogs – Sarasota, Florida
For some of the tastiest hot dogs in all of Sarasota, take the kids for a bite at Ham Heaven and Devil Dogs. Located in the Sarasota Mall a few miles from the beach, this family-owned restaurant offers hot dogs that are sure to make your kids smile. All of the “Devil Dogs” are named after a state, and they come fully loaded with toppings such as chili, sauerkraut, chili, onions, and even potatoes. Make sure to save a bit of room for dessert, as you don’t want to miss out on the signature rice pudding.
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