Anyone who's ever spent any amount of time on Siesta Key knows that "The Village" is the star of the show on this popular barrier island. But that may all be changing...
Siesta Key's "South Village" has been gaining in popularity over the past bunch of years. Yes, I agree, "South Village" is a horrible name. There must be some creatives out there who can come up with a WAY better name than that! Let's put our thinking caps on, shall we?
Over the past few years, more and more places have been expanding, remodeling, and improving their businesses from mid-key on south. There's a lot to see and do down by the Stickney Point Bridge.
We’re all very familiar with the mainstay names, Captain Curt's, the Crescent Club, and Ophelia's On The Bay. Sure, we've loved those places over the years. But there are new names filling out the roster in this growing culinary hotspot. There are new places to explore, eat, and shop.
Since this is a food-centric newsletter, we're going to stick to the eating part, if it's all the same to you. And there is a lot to focus on!
When I was just vacationing here twenty-plus years ago, the first stop for dinner on the key was always Captain Curt's. This was back when the restaurant was confined to just the original building. Where the Sniki Tiki now stands was a breakfast/lunch-only spot, Granny's Corner Café. That might bring back some memories for a few of you.
Captain Curt's has transformed itself over the years into a food and entertainment complex that takes up the entire corner of Midnight Pass and Old Stickney Point Road. So no more Granny's, but you can get a beer on BOTH sides of the parking lot now! That’s a good development.
Here's another one for you. Remember Javier's? A lot of you probably do. They were first located in the Surfrider Motel as the Surfrider Restaurant. Then just up the road in Crescent Plaza as Javier’s. Javier and Mary Arana turned out some of the best Peruvian cuisine in town at that time.
Javier LOVED making his famous tableside bananas foster! It was nearly impossible to leave that restaurant without devouring an order. Javier knew how to make that classic dessert sing. They also served some of the most perfectly roasted duck you have ever had the pleasure to consume!
Enough dwelling in the past. Let's talk about the here and now. The here and now of south Siesta Key dining!
THE SOUTH END OF THE ISLAND
These places are well worth the LONG drive to the south end of Siesta Key. And, as a bonus, enjoy the beautiful water views that can turn an OK meal into a memorable one.
It's fine dining Siesta Key style! What's better than a relaxing water view to accompany your meal? Chef Daniel Olson creates some pretty spectacular dishes at the Zagat-rated restaurant. Bonus - They have valet parking!
Serving casual waterfront fare since 1986. That's forever in the restaurant business! You can get there by boat (marker 48). They make a tasty crab bisque and feature a nice Sunday brunch.
Turtle Beach Grill (8865 Midnight Pass Rd., (941) 349-2280)
Right next door, "the other" Turtles. Also accessible by boat (yes, marker 48). Very, very casual, and dog friendly. They also feature LIVE music Thursday-Sunday, 5PM to 9PM.
They're all bunched together in one convenient spot with lots of parking!
You want French cuisine, AND you don't want to leave Siesta Key. Don’t panic. You've got a couple of choices, but only one in the South Village. That choice is easy, Miguel's! Chef Gabe Garcia puts his twist on traditional French fare. They’re good at this. They've been doing it since 1983. They have an Early Bird menu. The Le Chateaubriand Bouquetiere for two is the star of the entrée menu. Don't you dare forget the Mousse au Chocolate for dessert!
Yes, it's the former City Pizza. Just a name change. They also operate a downtown location. They feature 38 beer taps. So the odds are they're pouring something that perfectly suits your taste. NY pizza by the slice. Trivia nights and live music. Their awning says, "Free air conditioning AND color TV!" Is that weird??
The original is up on North Tamiami Trail. But if the key is your home, either permanently or temporarily, the south bridge location is the one for you. AND they don't have the parking issues that the North Trail spot has. Same great menu, though. You can get any of their delicious salads chopped. I love that!
It's a great little fish market and restaurant. Sometimes, it gets overlooked with all of the competition in the fresh seafood space here in Sarasota. They serve a top-notch Reuben sandwich. You can also get a grouper Rachel sandwich (that’s a Reuben with cole slaw!)!
We can't put these spots in any "named" location. Let's just say South Village (ugh).
What more is there to say about this longtime Siesta Key favorite? Award-winning clam chowder (you can also buy it as a "Make Your Own Chowder Kit"). Oh, and as you would expect, lots and lots of crab! The Sniki Tiki has live music daily. It's a fantastic spot to grab a beer with friends and enjoy a beautiful Sarasota day!
Yes, there is also a location in Siesta Village (that one is the original "Deck"). The south bridge location features all of the same frozen concoctions to get you in that vacation state of mind. Their menu has a "Create Your Own Sandwich" section. Pick your protein, your carrier (my word, not theirs 😀 aka bread), your veggies, and finally, your cheese. Now everyone can be a master of their own sandwich destiny!
They've been open since 2004 (that's 18 years!), but they somehow still feel fresh. They serve dinner nightly. If you or someone you're dining with is vegan/veg, they have some really satisfying options, including a garbanzo meatloaf and cauliflower steak with heirloom tomatoes. OH, you can also get beef braised short ribs!
Located at the end of Old Stickney Point Road in the Siesta Key Marina. This cute little place serves super casual Florida fare. Try the crispy fried grouper cheeks for an app or the fresh hogfish "free dive" meal. It's a completely laid-back atmosphere that will immediately de-stress your day!
Yes, you know Anna's. No, we don't need to say any more about it other than Surfer Sandwich. Super quick counter service makes this the ideal pre-beach stop. Some folks may not know that they'll be happy to make up a platter of assorted sandwiches for your next casual gathering!
A FEW LAST SPOTS, THOUGHTS, AND OBSERVATIONS
These last few stragglers don't fit neatly into any particular bucket.
Siesta Spirits (6637 Midnight Pass Rd., (941) 346-2337)
Yes, the south bridge area has its own liquor store. It's full service and has lots of parking!
Crescent Club (6519 Midnight Pass Rd., (941) 217-6837)
One of Siesta Key's original and best-loved "dive bars." And I say that in the most complementary and celebratory way possible. People LOVE the Crescent Club. Lots of places try and replicate the dive bar feel. The Crescent Club oozes it without trying. They have recently added a new outdoor space in the front of the building. But, don't worry, the inside still looks like the Regal Beagle.
Ice cream is like grout. It fills in all of the little cracks that are left after that big meal. There are a couple of spots south of the Stickney Point Bridge if you need that kind of thing! The Orange Octopus (1220 Old Stickney Point Rd – Capt. Curts Plaza) and the Siesta Creamery (6575 Midnight Pass Rd.) can hit that right final note.
That's it. Boy, that was a lot! When I started planning for this piece, I never planned for it to be SO LONG. But there are a bunch of great places at the south end of Siesta. Now you've got a list. All you have to do is work on that name! Please send your suggestions along...
🗓️ SARASOTA FOOD EVENTS 🗓️
Here are some upcoming local food events that we think you might find interesting. All you need to do is make that reservation. We’ve provided you with a link to more info.
🧑🌾 FARMER’S MARKET INFO 🧑🌾
🌟 SHARE, FOLLOW, LIKE 🌟