Waterfront Dining on the Manatee River

By | October 4, 2011

With the arrival of cooler fall temperatures we decided to head to a waterfront restaurant with outdoor dining this weekend. The Riverhouse Reef & Grill in Palmetto provided the perfect spot. Located on the north side of the Manatee River in the Regatta Pointe Marina in Palmetto, this place had everything we were looking for: outdoor tables on the dock overlooking the river, great fresh seafood, attentive service and one beautiful sunset!

The dining room at the Riverhouse has an aquatic-modern motif, but what makes it distinct is an interior that opens completely to the waterfront, bringing the outside in. Every table offers a view of sensational sunsets, glimpses of ocean life and yachts harbored in the anchorage.

They are open for lunch and dinner. The dinner menu had a good variety of choices with an emphasis on fresh fish prepared a number of ways with several sauces/salsas to choose from. We started with the Crab & Lobster Corn Chowder which was creamy and loaded with seafood. I ordered the mussels which were prepared in a light wine, lemon and garlic broth with fresh tomatoes and basil and they were cooked to perfection. My husband ordered grilled redfish with tropical salsa. It was excellent. Even though it was a busy night our server Theresa was very attentive.

You can access the restaurant by boat or car. Personally I loved the scenic view as we walked down the dock, but for customers who need assistance, a chauffeur in a golf cart makes regular trips back and forth from the roundabout in the parking lot to the dining area. Boaters can access the Riverhouse though the Regatta Pointe Marina opening near marker 19, just west of the Green Bridge. Slips are free, plentiful and readily available around the Riverhouse for restaurant guests.

The Riverhouse has an upstairs hall for banquets and weddings and is large enough to accommodate 350 people. The elevated view of the Manatee River is a breathtaking backdrop for any event. It just so happened that a wedding reception was being held there while we dined and photographs were being taken overlooking the water at sunset. I can’t imagine a more beautiful setting.

We will definitely visit the Riverhouse Reef & Grill again and highly recommend it. Just one more thing to love about living in the Sarasota/Bradenton area!

For more information check out their website:

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Great New Pub in Sarasota

By | August 29, 2011

I had heard through the grapevine that Jimmy’s Sand Trap had the best pastrami sandwich in town and since my husband has been on a quest to find just that, we stopped in there for lunch recently. Marty confirmed that it is the best he’s had in Sarasota. I ordered a BLT which was loaded with Applewood smoked bacon, crisp lettuce and nicely ripe tomatoes. Each sandwich comes with a Half-Sour pickle and one side. The menu has a wide variety of choices and ours were delicious. They have a selection of over 100 beers to choose from on draft and in bottles including many microbrews as well as a full bar. Daily happy hour is from 4-7pm.

One thing I particularly liked about the place was the pub atmosphere without the smoke (it is a non-smoking establishment). The decor is tastefully golf themed and seating is comfortable. Jimmy’s is located in the shopping center in the southeast corner of Webber and Beneva and is open for lunch and dinner during the week and for dinner on Saturdays.

If you’re looking for a great spot for a casual lunch or dinner, owner Jimmy Galanis will warmly welcome you and serve up a great meal. And if you, like Marty, have been looking for the best pastrami sandwich, you should definitely give Jimmy’s Sand Trap a try.


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Blu Smoke Island Grill on Siesta Key

By | August 13, 2011

Siesta Key Village has many eateries to choose from; we recently decided to try Blu Smoke Island Grill for the first time. As we walked up to the restaurant, the delicious smells flowed from the large outdoor dining area. We were early to meet our clients so we had a drink at the bar. The bar area is comfortable with relaxing blue lighting, live music and a friendly bartender.

Once our clients arrived we sat down and studied the menu which had many items to choose from. The mouth-watering cuisine features steaks, seafood, chops and fowl all slow cooked over hickory and applewood. We had burgers and salads and both were delicious. Our service was excellent and the atmosphere was relaxing.

We will definitely return to Blu Smoke. Check them out…you’ll be glad you did!

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New Waterfront Dining in Bradenton

By | July 23, 2011

We were happy to discover a new restaurant located right on the bank of the Manatee River in Bradenton. Tarpon Pointe Grill & Tiki Bar has just been open a couple of weeks but judging by the crowd last night, people have already discovered this great spot for dining or just having a drink.

There is a dining area under cover with tables around a large bar as well as outside tables with umbrellas. Almost all of the seats have a view of the water. They are well prepared if the occasional rain shower rolls in as the restaurant has roll down plastic walls with windows to keep you dry. Even in the heat of the afternoon we were kept cool with the many fans fitted with misters. 

They are open for lunch and dinner and the menu has lots of variety so there is something for everyone. During happy hour (3-6pm) there are drink specials and bar bites at very reasonable prices. The atmosphere is very relaxed…it was like being on vacation for an afternoon!

Adjacent to the restaurant is a thatched roof tiki hut with another bar and lots of seating. They maximized the water views with bar/railing and stools all along the riverfront. If you’re up for an activity, there is a sand volleyball court and they have “cornhole” games set up between the restaurant and bar. And for the sports fan there are a number of big screen tv’s mounted in the tiki hut. Live bands perform every evening. It’s just a fun place so check it out if you’re in the area…you won’t be disappointed!

The location is just north of SR64 (aka Manatee Avenue) on 7th Street East next to the Manatee Landings Marina. If you prefer to come by boat they are at MM24 and have plenty of docking space.



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Cafe Palm

By | July 22, 2011

I have visited Cafe Palm/Media on Main on two occasions. As you may know, I’m a realtor and share an office with two other real estate agents. On that particular day, our space had begun to sound more like the drug induced throes of a Lady Gaga concert than an office with three civilized human beings making business calls. I had no choice but to snatch up my laptop and head for the hills. I needed a place to abuse carbs AND pimp houses (aka network) in a somewhat efficient manner. I had been meaning to visit Cafe Palm / Media on Main for a while. I had this fantasy that it was the type of place that the local “ladies of leisure” might spend their time…you know, sculpted cheekbones and perky lips in tennis skirts, sipping on champaigne and noshing on fresh fruit. Maybe you are one of these ladies, hmm? I’m not mocking you, I’m just jealous. Anyway, I was eager to pretend for an hour or so.

The menu was eclectic and quite frou frou enough to differentiate Cafe Palm from some run of the mill breakfast/lunch place. I opted for the Silicon Valley “Handheld,” which for 10 bucks was a little bit steep for a sandwich. Good thing it wasn’t called a sandwich or I might have thrown the menu into the street and walked right out. Delectable turkey breast, carmelized onions, avocado, and a tasty garlic spread were nestled between two warm pieces of heavenly flatbread. It was fancy and it was darned good. Next time I’m dying for a fancy sandwich, you know where I’m going.

On my second trip I opted for the daily special, which was a chipotle chicken crepe with potatoes, red pepppers, three cheeses, some kind of magical sauce, and pico de gallo. It was good but not great. I figured out that they must have the crepes and the stuffings pre-made so that they can easily fold it up and nuke it. It wasn’t hot, and it was out on my table faster than anybody could have made it. Still, though, it was really quite good, as far as suspected-microwaved meals go. In the future, however, if I’m in the market for really tasty crepes I’ll march a few blocks up to C’est La Vie. There really is no point in eating a crepe anywhere else in Sarasota.

All in all, my excursion was a success. I had a fancy sandwich, did my best to look “leisurely” while sipping my coffee, and got a little bit of business done in the process. As I gathered up my things, those ladies had no idea I was heading back to the office. I’m pretty sure they thought I was headed to the spa.

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Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez!

By | July 20, 2011

Buffet Table at Polo GrilleIn Cajun, that means ‘let the good times roll’ – and that’s definitely what happened this weekend at Polo Grill’s 4th annual Shrimp Boil! I’ll be honest, I went for the food – there’s nothing like Billeaud’s boudin and fresh shrimp to get me rolling – but it was the ambiance that really made this a night to remember.

Featuring newspaper-lined tables, dollar drafts, and live music from the Gumbo Boogie Band – where they found a real, live, Louisiana cajun band I’ll never know – the normally restrained restaurant was transformed into a rollin’, trollin’, shrimp-boilin’ good time.


Here are some more pics:

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Mar Vista Restaurant on Longboat Key

By | July 11, 2011

Outdoor dining is great anytime of the year and we were reminded this weekend while on Longboat Key. We stopped in at Mar Vista which is on the north end of the key on Broadway just before you cross the bridge to Bradenton Beach on Anna Maria Island. This restaurant is one of three owned by Ed Chiles (son of our former Governor Lawton Chiles) which include the Sandbar in Anna Maria and the Beach House in Bradenton Beach. All are waterfront locations but Mar Vista is the only one on the Bay side of the Key.

At Mar Vista you can dine inside which is an old home dating back to the early 1900’s or outside either on the patio or under the shade trees. We opted for the latter as there is a great view of the water from there and fans to keep you cool.  I ordered one of the daily specials which was a Caribbean Grouper Wrap with a side of fruit which was wonderful and Marty had the Flounder Poboy; both were fresh and tasty. Seafood is their specialty but they have plenty of variety on the menu including tropical drinks if you’re in that vacation state of mind.

If you’re on Longboat Key and looking for a great casual spot for lunch or dinner check them out:

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Siesta Key – Lunch at The Hub

By | June 19, 2011

Our first dining experience as Siesta Key summer residents was at The HubThe Hub is located in the Siesta Key Village at the corner of Canal and Ocean Blvd.

  We sat outside on their large porch overlooking the Village.  It was fun to watch all the happenings in the Village while we listened to live music performed by an acoustic guitar player.  Almost immediately we were swept into the relaxed feel you get on Siesta Key.

The menu was filled with many delicious choices; it was tough decision but in the end I chose the fish tacos and Joe chose the chicken burrito. Both were served with black beans and rice and both were out of this world!  If you are looking for a great meal and atmosphere stop in at The Hub, you will not be disappointed!!

For more information and menus visit The Hub’s website at

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Nancy’s Bar-B-Q

By | May 27, 2011

Southern Comfort Foods…Southern Hospitality…Southern “Old Florida” Charm! Dine in…Take Out. Sweet Tea…Cold Beer and Bar-B-Q. “It’s a Sarasota thing”.

Sandwiches, Ribs, Chicken, Beef Brisket and Pork… slow cooked for hours allowing spices and smoke to permeate and tenderize the meat. In addition to Nancy’s time-tested dry rub, there are two sauces–sweat or spicy…you decide. I suggest you try both!

Side dishes include…but not limited to…Beans, of course, slaw, roasted mixed veggies or several other ‘creative’ choices. Dessert available…to put closer to your dining experience. Prices start at $5.50…

Bon Appetit!

Nancy’s Bar-B-Q
Downtown Sarasota
301 S. Pineapple (Corner of Pineapple @ Ringling)
Open Monday thru Saturday 11:30 AM

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Bonefish Grill

By | February 15, 2011


I lived in Chicago for half a decade, and I would have been mortified to bring a weekend guest to the Cheesecake Factory downtown.  Shortly after I moved here, a new friend suggested we go to Bonefish.  I said “sure!”all while turning up my inner nose at the idea.  Who would go to a chain restaurant with all these great seafood restaurants around?  Years later, I’m not ashamed to admit I’m a regular.  The service is always great, the food is always excellent, and as odd as it may be, it’s actually quite the locals scene.  It’s so packed during Season that you have to hover and stalk seats at the bar and common tables, but it’s a fun energy.  We usually sit in the bar, but if you want a table expect to wait an hour and a half during season.  Don’t worry though, they pass tasty snacks around on trays while you wait!  The bartenders make it a point to know your name too, which is a nice touch.  I get the same thing almost every time: Jumbo Sea Scallops and Shrimp (except I ask for all Scallops, and they don’t charge me extra!), around $16.  They are never overcooked and are always properly cleaned so you don’t bite into that tough little morsel from hell that they’re supposed to cut off.   You can pick from among four sauces (Pan Asian, Lemon Butter, Chimichurri, or Warm Mango Salsa), but if you’re nice you can ask them to serve your fish grilled and sample several of the sauces!  I like the Lemon Butter and Chimichurri.  I was brave enough to try the Imperial Longfin the other day and it was TO DIE FOR.  Fresh, tender, flaky, and rich enough that I suspected Paula Deen might just come walzing out of the kitchen yelling “Hey y’all, surprise, it was me that cooked this!” (Sidebar: Just how cool would that have been?)  They also have a seasonal side, which right now seems to be some kind of spaghetti squash which is just ok, but for $1 you can substitute one of their other sides, which I will now be doing on a regular basis.  The Haricot Verts and Potatoes Au Gratin are the best, though the Garlic potatoes are excellent as well.  On Wednesdays bang bang shrimp are $5, so if you want a seat at the bar come early.  When there is a bargain Sarasota, the locals will pack it in!  Oh, and if you’re lucky enough to go when they have the chocolate crème brulee, get it, but plan on your bill being permanently more expensive because you will always feel incomplete without it.  I’m not one to turn down bread, but if you plan on getting dessert or an appetizer (AHI TUNA, don’t ask, just get it), do yourself a favor and skip it unless your ultimate plan for the evening is laying on your couch in misery.

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