The Thing to Do: It’s difficult to even begin sampling the best of Sarasota cuisine in one weekend. So to help you out, we’ve described some personal favorites in particular categories. Pick your preference of food or setting, and head to these for a top-shelf experience.
Ethnic: Selva Grill, downtown. Peruvian is the new Asian as far as hot culinary trends go. Among rich trappings, sample traditional ceviche and mix-it-up Peru-inspired inventions (941-362-4427, www.selvagrill.com).
Creative: Derek’s Culinary Casual, Rosemary District. Just off downtown, this treasure gives new meaning to new American with outside-the-recipe-box thinking fueled by global diversity (941-366-6565, www.dereks-sarasota.com).
Italian: Café Baci, South Trail. For more than 20 years, folks have flocked here for affordable, finely crafted Italian dishes in the best traditional fashion (941-921-4848, www.cafebaci.net).
Seafood: Captain Brian’s Seafood, near the airport. A seafood market up front, servers in T-shirts and spic-and-span surroundings let you know you’ve come to the right place for the utmost in casual and just-caught (941-351-4492, www.captainbriansseafood.com).
Home Cooking: Yoder’s, Pinecraft. Fresh from the farms and ovens of the local Amish community comes comfort food and the best fruit pies you’ll taste anywhere (941-955-7771, www.yodersrestaurant.com).
Breakfast: Broken Egg, Siesta Key. Choose from more than a dozen different pancakes — so huge they hang over the side of the plate — plus sinful omelets and bakery goodies (941-346-2750, www.thebrokenegg.com).
Funky & Fun: Siesta Key Oyster Bar, Siesta Key. Call it SKOB for short, and then start slurping at this hopping street-side hot spot (941-346-5443, www.skob.com).
Longtime Favorite: Michael’s on East. As original as the day it opened in 1987, Michael’s sets the standard for hip American cuisine and décor (941-366-0007, www.bestfood.com).
At a City Hotel: Verona, The Ritz-Carlton. Eat well and healthy on the fine organic regional cuisine served at the Ritz’s signature restaurant (800-241-3333, www.ritzcarlton.com).
At a Beach Hotel: Lido Beach Grill, Lido Beach Resort. Eight stories up, Lido Beach Grill's creative finagling with seafood and more is as dizzying and breathtaking as the view (800-441-2113, www.lidobeachresort.com).
Check out website www.freshoriginals.com. It’s the site for Fresh Originals, a visitor bureau program that promotes local restaurants and culinary excellence in Sarasota and Manatee Counties.