When it comes to dining around Sarasota, I think that there is one thing we can all agree upon. It might not be who has the best burger, or the best taco, or even the best sushi. These are food preference debates that will probably never be settled.
One thing I think we can all agree on is that Sarasota’s dining clusters each have their own very distinct personality. In the last installment of our Dine Around Sarasota series, we took a look at St. Armands Circle. If you missed that, you can read it HERE.
This time we’ll be checking out some options in the Gulf Gate neighborhood. It’s like the polar opposite of St. Armands. That’s certainly not a negative. It's just that it has its own unique feel AND flavor. St. Armands is scrubbed down for out of towners. It has a "vacation" feel. Gulf Gate certainly caters to a more local crowd and it feels that way!
On “The Circle” you’ll see families strolling with their children, lapping at ice cream cones before the ice cream liquefies. Gulf Gate, ah, not so much. It’s definitely a touch grittier. Less polished, that’s for sure. I’m actually struggling to think of the last time I saw a child under the age of ten there. There’s not a ton of foot traffic. No real sidewalks in the traditional sense, but it IS a popular Sarasota dining destination. And with good reason!
Gulf Gate has lots and lots of dining possibilities. So were going to have to divide this into two parts. Here’s part one! Let’s take some of the places that make up Gulf Gate's dining identity.
Not street food in the classic sense that it’s sold out of a cart. But these places nail that super casual comfort fare feel.
Screaming Goat Taqueria (6606 Superior Ave., (941) 210-3992)
Chef Malin Parker hits all the right notes with his taco creations. This is also a build-your-own concept. Lots of super tasty ingredients to fill that tortilla with. The beef barbacoa taco is fantastic! Oh, you can also get a nice craft beer to go with that taco.
Tony’s Chicago Beef Co. (6569 Superior Ave., (941) 922-7979)
What more can we say about Tony’s that we haven’t already said? Authentic Chicago style dogs and Chicago beef sandwiches. This place would hold up well, even in the Windy City itself! Here’s a link to another Bulletin post we wrote about Tony’s hot dogs.
Dix Coney Café (6525c Superior Ave., (941) 927-1672)
One of the newer entries in the crowded Gulf Gate food scene. Great gyros, subs, and burgers. Indulge in an order of chili cheese fries (You really should. At least one time). And like the sign says, "Breakfast ANY TIME"
The culinary world is well represented in Gulf Gate. You won’t need to get on a plane to get your taste.
Pierogi Inn (6611 Superior Ave., (941) 929-0101)
Combination Polish deli and grocery (we decided to include them here. We’ll cover some of the other ethnic markets in part two). The pierogis and kielbasa are authentic, traditional, and great! They’ve been serving them here in Sarasota for almost twenty years, so you know they’re doing something right.
Schnitzel Kitchen (6521 Superior Ave., (941) 922-9299)
Chef Heidi is serving up some of the best German cuisine in Sarasota. Their menu includes a “Schnitzel Station”! How many other places in town can say that? Quench your thirst from their big selection of imported German beers.
Thailand Restaurant (2238 Gulf Gate Dr., (941) 927-8424)
This one is a little bit of a sleeper. Nothing fancy inside or out. What they lack on the showy side, they make up for where it counts, the food! They have a nice selection of Thai curries and Vietnamese dishes, including both bun and pho noodle bowls. I was surprised at just how good it was the first time I went!
Hoshi Sushi (6516 Superior Ave., (923-8888)
Sushi in Gulf Gate. Kiyoshi gets a lot of the attention in the area (and with good reason), but newcomer Hoshi Sushi is getting its share too. Super creative sushi selections will have you saying, “that sounds interesting!” Yes, they’ve got all the standard sushi choices too. Hibachi dishes are also offered for those in your dining group that aren’t yet sushi connoisseurs.
L’Opera Bakery and Bistro (2336 Gulf Gate Dr., (941) 922-2253)
More than just a French bakery. Yes, they have delicious freshly baked French breads and pastries. But they’re also a full-on French bistro! Quiche for breakfast, baguette sandwiches for lunch, and dinner that features both beef bourguignon and cassoulet! Lots to love at this little place at the end of the plaza.
PIZZA, PIZZA, PIZZA
Whether you like your pies thin or thick, Gulf Gate offers great choices.
RomanSQ (6670 Superior Ave., (941) 237-8742)
Newest of the Gulf Gate pizza spots. Their pizza is rectangular! And they call them “trays”. You can order a full or half tray. Regardless of the unconventional shape and description, the pizza is great. It’s not quite a thick crust pizza like a Chicago deep dish, but it’s thicker than a traditional thin crust pie. I’ll just say that RomanSQ has its very own style!
Rico’s Pizzeria (6547 Gateway Ave., (941) 922-9604)
The most traditional of our three Gulf Gate pizza places. Mark Riley started Rico’s more than twenty years ago, and they’ve been serving up delicious pizza ever since. Thin crust pizza is the house style. It’s similar to a NY or CHI pizza. Not in the mood for pizza? Not a problem. Rico’s serves a full menu of delicious Italian specialty dishes.
Shaner’s Pizza (6500 Superior Ave., (941) 927-2708)
Everybody knows Shaner’s. Former major league baseball player Shane Rawley has been serving his super thin crust pizza here in Sarasota for the past twenty five years. Shaner’s pizza is certainly unique, with a cracker crust that is super thin and crispy. There really is no other pizza like this in Sarasota.
A LITTLE MORE UPSCALE DINING
Yes, believe it or not, you can get a white tablecloth meal in Gulf Gate.
Opus (6644 Gateway Ave., (941) 925-2313)
With Opus you get a two for one. Upscale finer dining on one side of the restaurant and the Opus Lounge on the other. They serve a Mediterranean inspired menu dotted with small plates and seasonal dishes. Enjoy a pre-meal cocktail in the lounge. Having a small dining get together? The Opus Lounge is also available as a private dining rental space.
Brine Seafood and Raw Bar (2250 Gulf Gate Dr., (941) 952-3039)
This newish seafood-centric restaurant is upscale, but at the same time has a casual feel to it. Does that make any sense? A variety of oysters and clams are featured daily on the raw bar menu. More traditional seafood dishes populate the main menu. They have bouillabaisse and lobster rolls on the same menu. That’s variety!
Dolce Italia (6551 Gateway Ave., (941) 921-7007)
Finally, our Gulf Gate part one roundup lands us at Dolce. Very traditional Italian cuisine served in a quaint and intimate dining environment. If you like feeling that you’re a part of the family, then you’ll love the Dolce way of dining. They treat everyone special. Don’t forget to save room for one of their great desserts!
WOW, that felt like a whirlwind. There is not nearly enough space here to say everything that needs to be said about the places we mentioned above. We’re not giving up on Gulf Gate just yet. Part two is coming soon…
SARASOTA FOOD EVENTS CALENDAR
We’ve done all of the heavy lifting for you! All you need to do is make that reservation. Here are some upcoming local food events that we think you might find interesting…
DEC 10 – Southside Village Holiday Stroll - INFORMATION
DEC 12 - A Wine Dinner with the Master of Piedmont Walter Lodali Himself! – Andrea’s - INFORMATION
DEC 24 – Christmas Eve Prix Fixe Dinner – Duval’s - INFORMATION
DEC 31 - New Year’s Eve Candlelight Dinner – Ortygia Restaurant - INFORMATION
DEC 31 – NYE’s Beach Bash – Sharky’s on the Pier - RESERVATIONS
DEC 31 – New Years Eve Celebration - Mademoiselle Paris - RESERVATIONS
EVERY SATURDAY – Sarasota Farmers Market (Lemon & Main – Downtown Sarasota)
EVERY WEDNESDAY – The Phillippi Farmhouse Market (S. Tamiami Trl.)
EVERY SUNDAY - Siesta Key Farmers Market (Davidson’s Plaza, Siesta Village)
Can’t get enough of dineSarasota and Sarasota Bites??