Tastes of Florida
Food in Bradenton, FL
Great Food, Great Views
My husband knows I love all things spontaneous, so after hearing me whine about the weather for weeks on end, one Friday I came home to bags packed, an Uber in the driveway and a surprise trip to the Bradenton Area! It’s an easy 1.5-hour flight to Sarasota-Bradenton International and upon arrival, we decided to eat our way to seafood heaven. We started off with Bridge Street Bistro just in time for their nightly sunset celebration on the balcony overlooking the water. Everything was fresh and beautifully plated.
The next morning, we took Southern Living’s advice for one of the “Best Breakfasts in Florida” at Gulf Drive Café, where their seafood omelet and fresh squeezed mimosa enjoyed with our feet in the sand had us wanting to call Southern Living and thank them for the recommendation! We spent the day exploring the historic fishing village of Cortez and enjoyed happy hour and stone-crab claws while singing along to live music and watching the fishing boats come in at Swordfish Grill. Then we crossed over to Anna Maria Island to end our evening the way we started it, feet in the sand, over a farm-to-table dinner at Sandbar Restaurant where their stuffed grouper and house-made blueberry ice cream are not to be missed!
Where the Air Smells Like Oranges
Downtown Bradenton will quickly draw you in on its charm as a funky, artsy downtown, where the air smells like oranges (thanks to a near-by Tropicana plant), and the streets are filled with locally-owned restaurants, shops, and cafés. Take these recommendations from us. For brunch Pier 22’s Spanish eclectic architecture, and seating overlooking the Manatee River is absolutely charming, throw in malted Belgian waffles and smoked salmon crepes, and you can’t go wrong! For the best crab cakes, head to O’Bricks, housed in a chic renovated turn of the century building. For live music and dancing right on the Riverwalk head to Mattison’s City Grille and enjoy unique options like the fresh sushi or Bison filet.
Don’t miss the Village of Arts and eat at nearby Chateau 13, where stepping through the door feels like stepping into a European café with rare wines and a phenomenal charcuterie board. Another must-visit is Bradenton’s newest hot spot, Oak and Stone Rooftop Bar situated atop the 9-story Springhill Suites. With artisan pizza, craft beer, cornhole, and an energetic vibe, this is the kind of place you’ll want to go and laugh all night long with the friends you’ll easily make at the bar.
Let’s Talk Fine Dining
If your husband is romantic enough to plan a surprise getaway, you can bet fine dining is also on the agenda, and we found some truly special spots. Recognized by Zagat as one of the “Top Restaurants in America” and the “Best Food on the Gulf Coast,” Beach Bistro lived up to the hype! It’s intimate beachside dining, on Anna Maria Island where you are treated like royalty. Weeks later we’re still talking about their lobstercargots featuring large chunks of Florida lobster slow cooked in herbs and butter.
On Longboat Key, there are two culinary gems: Harry’s Continental Kitchen and Euphemia Haye. Harry’s is a classic white-tablecloth restaurant with a beautiful tropical setting. They also have a corner store with hot lunches, gourmet groceries and fine wine to grab on your way to the beach. Euphemia Haye is known for its romance. Nested inside a wooden cottage amidst a tropical jungle, it’s elegant dining with an emphasis on excellence. We ordered the roasted duck and peppered steak and were amazed at how tender they both were. After dinner we headed up to The Haye Loft to finish the evening off in style with banana pie, live music, and port. Bradenton, we’ll be back!