It’s dinnertime. Maybe it’s been a “blah day.” Maybe your biorhythms are off. (Remember biorhythms?) Maybe you just feel like you need a little oomph. For whatever reason, you want some energy in your restaurant choice. The question for this month’s “favorites” discussion was: “Where do you go for dinner when you want to be someplace with lots of energy? ... maybe even a little noise ... food that's on the scintillating side ... in other words, ‘lively.’”
Betsy Kane Hartnett
Eat Here wins hands-down. Runners-up include Selva Grill and Darwin’s on 4th. State Street Eating House is on the list if you're looking for a small party ... it just doesn't have room for a big, lively group.
For lively, I like The Table because it is so bright and on the water, and in winter, you can sit outside around a fire pit. The food is pretty, tasty, good and healthy. I like Mattison’s on 41 because it is one of the few places that you can dance to live music … and Michael’s On East because it is “home folks.”
Erin Coughlin Hart
Hands-down, Owen's Fish Camp is not only one of my favorite restaurants but definitely my top pick when I am in the mood for some hustle-and-bustle and the crinkling sound of the fish camp basket paper. As soon as you walk in the door, there’s a burst of energy not often found in restaurants. I have lived on Cape Cod for most of my life, so it definitely brings me back. My two favorite menu items are the mussels appetizer served over pasta and the fish camp basket.
Here are two of our favorites in the lively category: The Cottage, in Siesta Key Village, for tuna tiradito (tuna sushi with watermelon), skirt steak with plantains and, of course, crispy calamari. There is music most evenings in the garden in the back and people-watching outside on the front porch or inside at high tables. Next door is Blu Que Island Grill, which is good for barbecued ribs, brisket and burgers with truly exceptional blue cheese coleslaw. On weekends, the pulled-pork barbecue comes right from their own roasted pig. They offer music on weekends beginning at lunch and during the evenings.
My choice would be Libby’s for reasons from owner Stephen Seidensticker’s welcoming charm to the diverse, adventuresome cuisine that ranges from comfort food to truffle fries. I always end up with the meatloaf, but the menu is always changing. It’s a pleasurable, outdoor dining scene someplace other than Main Street. Nothing compares with the people-watching during Ladies Night on Thursdays. I grew up at Studio 54 in New York in the late ’70s and “loved the nightlife,” but watching (just watching) the flotsam and jetsam at Libby’s on Thursday nights is incomparable! No 54 but — from the sidelines — quite a show!
I like going to Mattison's City Grille because of all of the downtown places to eat; it’s outside but has cover. There’s live music, but you can still carry on a conversation and meet with a group of people. The food is great; I love Paul and his staff! I probably eat there once a month. I don’t think that there’s a particular dish I always go there for … let’s just say that everything they do at Mattison’s is great!
IF YOU GO
Blu Que Island Grill
149 Avenida Messina, Siesta Key
Darwin’s on 4th
1525 Fourth St., Sarasota
1888 Main St., Sarasota
1917 S. Osprey Ave., Sarasota
Mattison’s City Grille
1 N. Lemon Ave., Sarasota
7275 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota
Michael’s On East
1212 S. East Ave., Sarasota
Owen’s Fish Camp
516 Burns Court, Sarasota
1345 Main St., Sarasota
State Street Eating House
1533 State St., Sarasota
153 Avenida Messina, Siesta Key
The Table Restaurant Creekside
5365 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota
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