Anna Maria Island, north of Sarasota, is a find in and of itself. Floridians refer to it as “old Florida” due to its distinct lack of over-bearing high rises and gaudy neon. Home to many pastel beaches and diverse restaurants — from tiki bars to white tablecloths –Anna Maria is on the radar for those of us in-the-know in Sarasota.
Part of its charming allure is derived from the various options for open-air, beach dining. One of my favorites is the Gulf Drive Cafe on AMI at Bradenton Beach. First introduced to the area by a friend from Wisconsin who had vacationed there for years, I joined her for brunch a few months ago. I was smitten. Ever since then, I have recommended the bar and restaurant to anyone traveling in this area. While Sarasota does have a few beach-front restaurants, Anna Maria offers a boatload. The stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico provide a grand accompaniment to any meal. And the sunsets are to die for.
As the tourist season winds down, the last of our friends to pass through town arrived yesterday. I told them to meet me at the Cafe. Once again I was taken aback by the view. The service is swift, and the menu extensive. Diners can choose from brunch items, crepes, salads, sandwiches, a raw bar, and various dinners. Yesterday’s lunch for our party of four included raw oysters, a flaming saganaki cheese, a Greek salad, a shrimp and mango salad, and one grilled Grouper sandwich, all washed down by yummy Bloody Marys.
Although our visitors had to turn around and head north, we get to stay and play in this land of fun and sun!
The Sarasota Spectator
Our Sarasota Spectator is Betsy Miller, a retired high school teacher and college professor. Originally from Columbus, Betsy has fallen in love with the Gulf Coast of Florida, especially Sarasota. Blogging about the area has been a creative outlet for the writer, opening up an avenue of exploration. You may find the bon vivant enjoying happy hour at a tiki bar, shopping on historic Main Street, or seated at a concert or show at a local theater. Chances are you also might find her buried in a book on one of our beautiful beaches. Asked to give one word about her feelings for Sarasota, Betsy replied, “Smitten.”