Written by Tara Caguiat for The Sarasota-Manatee Originals
Fiery sunsets, lapping waves, the occasional dolphin spotting—dining by the ocean is understandably desirable. Fortunately, Sarasota and Manatee Counties have more waterfront restaurants than most areas, with options directly on the sand and situated on the water.
Sink your toes in the sand and feast your eyes on otherworldly sunsets at these top-notch waterfront restaurants in Sarasota and Manatee County.
The Beach House Waterfront Restaurant
200 Gulf Drive North, Bradenton Beach, FL, 34217
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Situated right on Bradenton Beach, The Beach House serves up locally-sourced "farm-to-fork" and "tide-to-table" meals, giving you the freshest dining experience just feet from the sand. Plus, they have an in-house bakery!
Try Oysters Rockefeller or Vegan Lettuce Wraps for a starting snack, and everything from a Grouper Sandwich to a New York Strip or Whole Grilled Pompano for the main course.our text here ...
The Crow's Nest Restaurant & Marina
1968 Tarpon Center Drive, Venice, FL 34285
Head to the Crow's Nest for a mouthwatering seafood meal overlooking the ocean. Established in 1976, the waterfront restaurant serves lunch and dinner in their upstairs dining area, or a more casual experience in the downstairs Tavern. Choose from seafood platters, burgers, crab cakes and more on their menu with something delicious for everyone.
Curious about the current waterfront view? Head to their website and check out the live streaming webcam!
Fins at Sharky's
1600 Harbor Drive South, Venice, FL 34201
Lunch, dinner, sushi, cocktails, ocean views—what doesn't Fins have?!
Located next to the famous Sharky's on the Pier, Fins is a must-visit restaurant for Venice locals and visitors alike. Parked right on the beach just past Downtown Venice, Fins has lunch and dinner menus full of fresh seafood, a sushi menu and kid's menu. Plus, they have Happy Hour! "Fins Frenzy" runs daily from 4-6 pm at the deck and bar.
Gulf Drive Cafe & Kokonut Hut
900 Gulf Drive, Bradenton Beach, FL 34217
What started out as a simple cafe in 1981 has since expanded into a full-service bar and restaurant on the beach on Anna Maria. Get one of "the best breakfasts in Florida" here along with dinner and craft cocktails. The menus are especially island-friendly with items like Coastal Seafood Quiche, Island French Toast, Sauteed Sea Scallops and Hawaiian Island Chicken.
The Bradenton Beach favorite isn't located on just any slice of beach—it's parked right in front of a famous dive site called The Regina.
Jack Dusty at The Ritz Carlton Sarasota
1111 Ritz Carlton Drive, Sarasota, FL 34236
Jack Dusty never ceases to amaze guests with live mermaids lounging on top of the bar, showy cocktails like the siren, and of course, waterfront views. The hotel restaurant serves every meal of the day, including dessert, and is an ideal spot for special occasions.
The diverse menu is sure to delight every palate with meals like Whole Fried Snapper, Jack's Original Shrimp & Grits and Jack's Ceviche.
Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant & Pub
760 Broadway Street, Longboat Key, FL 34228
Situated dockside on North Longboat Key, the historic Mar Vista property dates back to 1912, but the restaurant we know it as today started in the 1980s. The "old Florida" eatery is open for lunch and dinner with a full bar and classic desserts.
The locally-sourced, seafood menu covers the basics like Oysters on the Half Shell and Baja Fish Tacos, while also including specialties like the Chivito Sandwich, Parmesan Crusted Flounder and Kung Pao Avocado.
Ophelia's On The Bay
9105 Midnight Pass Road, Siesta Key, FL 34242
Glass-walled dining rooms, open air patio and oceanfront location—what's not to love? Located on the south end of Siesta Key, Ophelia's on the Bay has been a Sarasota favorite for decades for special occasions and friendly gatherings.
You'll be impressed by their extensive wine list and ever-changing dinner menu. Seafood is the main focus with items like ceviche and crab cakes for starters, and Classic Scampi of Black Tiger Shrimp and Gulf Grouper for dinner.
PIER 22 - Restaurant - Patio - Catering
1200 1st Ave W, Bradenton, FL 34205
Conveniently located in Downtown Bradenton, Pier 22 is the perfect location for an upscale lunch, dinner or event. They call it "casual fine-dining" making their restaurant appropriate for all hungry guests.
You'll overlook the water as you peruse their menu with items like Fish & Chips, Jambalaya, New York Strip and Lemon Chicken. Plus, there's something for every price point and palate through lunch and dinner with a Small Plates menu and Sushi menu.
Pop's Sunset Grill
112 Circut Road, Nokomis, FL 34275
Kick back and relax with live music at Pop's Sunset Grill, where you can park your car or dock your boat along the restaurant. The menu has wood-fired pizza, a raw bar, fried baskets, burgers, wraps and more! It's the perfect casual dining experience after a day at the beach or on the boat. There's even a cozy courtyard with fire pits for chilly winter nights.
Riverhouse Waterfront Restaurant
995 Riverside Dr., Palmetto, FL 34221
Head to Palmetto's Historic District for a front-row view of the Manatee River at Regatta Pointe Marina. Riverhouse Waterfront Restaurant is three restaurants in one with the casual Snook Deck, upscale Reef & Grill and private dining rooms.
Daily Happy Hour runs from 3-7pm with house wines, draft and bottle beer and house cocktails. Lunch or dinner runs every day of the week but on weekends, they have a scrumptious "all-American" brunch. The menus consist of mainly seafood and meat dishes with pastas, sandwiches, tacos, bowls and more!
Sandbar Seafood & Spirits
100 Spring Avenue, Anna Maria, FL 34216
Sink your toes in the sand as you enjoy oysters, clams or peel-and-eat shrimp at The Sandbar on Anna Maria. The establishment has an amazing atmosphere with Old Florida charm along with a commitment to protecting the environment with locally-sourced ingredients. The main menu has something for all eaters with mainly seafood but also burgers, steak and vegan options.
The talk-of-the-town Sunday brunch is worth planning your weekend around with items like Sticky Buns, Smoked Salmon Benedict, Gulf Seafood Quiche and classic breakfast cocktails like mimosas and bellinis.
Waterfront Restaurant on Anna Maria
111 South Bay Blvd., Anna Maria, FL 34216
Dine under twinkling lights with the sound of waves crashing at the Waterfront Restaurant on Anna Maria, where almost everything is prepared on-site with a fresh menu updated seasonally. Their lunch and dinner menu have a nice array with everything from fried calamari and Grouper Tacos to Pork Tenderloin and Chicken Parmesan. Plus, you can wash it all down with a unique craft cocktail like their Jalapeno Margarita or Snowbird