Southside Village — located on Hillview from Tamiami Trail to Osprey and on Osprey from Hyde Park to Arlington — may well be the friendliest, “foodiest” neighborhood in town. It has no fewer than 15 nourishing establishments ranging in size and in ethnicity. Throw in a couple of watering holes (Legends Sports Bar and the Five O’Clock Club) and you can eat, drink and listen to music here from early morning to late at night. Here is the lineup on Hillview from west to east.
Gecko’s Grill & Pub
1900 Hillview St. | 953-2929
This remarkable neighborhood displays virtually every conceivable variation of “where everybody knows your name,” and you almost expect a 21st-century version of Ted Danson to pop up behind the bar. This is one of a five-restaurant mini-chain established in 1992 and open in this location since 2010; owners are Mike Quillen, recently awarded the National Restaurant Association’s “Restaurant Neighbor/Cornerstone Humanitarian Award” for Florida, and Mike Gowan. Signature dishes include tuna nachos ($12) and boom-boom tacos ($10 with chicken, $11 with cod or shrimp).
1920 Hillview St. | 952-0045
This longtime Sarasota favorite has been here since 1986; the present owner and chef, Peter Geannopulos, has been there since 2008. The restaurant is known for ribs, burgers and fish dishes, including cedar-planked salmon, which it serves for lunch Monday through Friday and dinner only on Saturday. A prix-fixe dinner with a bottle of wine, soup or salad, entrée (six choices, including grilled salmon, lamb chops and strip steak) and two sides is $39.95 for two. Check out the photo of Toots Shors baseball team on the wall by the hostess stand. You’ll recognize Rocky Graziano, Joe Louis, Sid Caesar, Frank Sinatra … and maybe more.
1944 Hillview St. | 954-4444
This is a “mom and pop” operation in the best sense of the term; owners Ashwin Shukla and Denise May are present for lunch and dinner six days a week, and they welcome many guests with a hug. The married couple has owned and operated Chutneys since 1987, which gives them the longest duration in the neighborhood. Their 50-seat “international café” where “spice is the variety of life” features Indian, Middle Eastern and Greek cuisine. Whatever else tempts you, try the jalapeno salmon spread with their house-made pita. And don’t fail to notice the shelf full of miniature elephants facing a global collection of hot sauces on the opposite wall.
Gateway to India
1960 Hillview St. | 364-4777
With owner Sam Kumar in the kitchen and his wife, Babita, running the front of the house, this 60-seat charmer is yet more proof of the quality and hospitality of chef-owned restaurants. The menu is primarily from the northern provinces of India and features all of Kumar’s own recipes. His signature dish is chicken tikka masala. The restaurant serves dinner seven days a week and offers an $8.95 lunch buffet Monday through Saturday. If you want to cook your own Indian food and can give him advance notice, Kumar will help you with recepies; email him at GatewayToIndia4u@gmail.com.
1962 Hillview St. | 954-1011
In France, one goes to the local bistro for home-style food and a casual, friendly atmosphere. And that’s exactly what you’ll find at 62 Bistrot; “not stars, not gastronomie, but traditional French food from grandma’s recipe book,” according to chef/manager Christopher Nebra. The restaurant serves crepes and lunch items starting at 11:30 a.m. on weekdays and 8:30 a.m. on weekends; there is dinner seven nights a week. Nebra says that from time to time, there is a coupon for a complimentary glass of wine on the website as well.
So much to eat, so little space
Here are other great options on Hillview, in fast-fact form.
1825 Hillview St. | 330-9302
Owner Joseph Mancari’s escape from retirement has Sarasota’s only drive-up, pick-up window (order ahead), best chicken salad and the closest thing yet to a tasty tomato in Florida.
1959 Hillview St. | 330-8071
Sushi and so much more for lunch and dinner. And, on a weekend night, an amazing display of fashion by young women with nothing to hide.
1936 Hillview St. | 366-3010
Dinner only, with live music virtually every night and a Sarasota Jazz Club jam session at 3 p.m. Sundays. See the complete schedule on its website or Facebook page.
The Lollicake Queen
1821 Hillview St. | 955-8101
Nobody doesn’t like Lollicakes, and now you are able to enjoy yours in the adjacent Perq coffee bar, featuring specialty beans.
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