There is a lively restaurant scene north of Fruitville these days. There are no fewer than five options for dinner, from blue jean-casual, American regional (Blue Rooster) to as haute-as-it-gets in Sarasota (Pomona), with a good dose of Latin American for spice (Savory @ Night, Canta Rana and Darwin’s on 4th).
These eateries are mostly new and chef-owned. What they have in common, besides location, is the proprietors’ passion and creativity. And they amount to a literal feast of choices, pun intentional.
Note: Some of these restaurants are open for lunch, but the focus here is dinner.
Darwin’s on 4th
1525 Fourth St. | 343-2165
Hours: 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Tuesday; 5 to 11:30 p.m. Thursday; and 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday
Seats: 150 in the restaurant
Average guest check (before tax and tip): $30 to $40
Signature dishes: Ceviche and grilled skirt steak
Darwin’s is Sarasota’s only downtown brewery, offering 10 different beers. Menu features Darwin’s classics back to Selva Grill days, plus eclectic urban street food from around the world.
Foodie and friends’ comments: “Good food, wonderful atmosphere when the live musicians are playing.”
“They are introducing beer pairings as opposed to the typical wine pairings.”
1525 Fourth St. | 388-7539
Hours: 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 5 to 11 p.m. Wednesday; 5 p.m. to midnight Thursday; and 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday
Average guest check (before tax and tip): $20 and up
Signature dishes: Shrimp and grits and fried chicken and waffle
Southern comfort food, unique “warehouse” vibe, music six nights a week
Foodie and friends’ comments: “Fried chicken!” “Best biscuits in town.”
“Very fun ambience for friends and a good time get-together.”
1813 Fruitville Road | 343-2280
Hours: 5 to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, open later on Friday
Seats: 150 total indoors and outdoors
Average guest check (before tax and tip): $25 to $30
Signature dishes: Ceviche paracas and lomo saltado
Everything is made from scratch; many ingredients imported from Peru. Chef/owner Diana Durand cooks from her collection of 2,000 recipes from four generations of her family.
Foodie and friends’ comments: “… predict a bright future for this exotic-but-accessible food.”
“Peruvian is a melting-pot cuisine influenced by Japan, China, Italy, Spain and Africa.”
Savory @ Night (Savory Street Café)
411 N. Orange Ave. | 312-4027
Hours: Dinner 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Seats: 42 inside, 20 outside
Average guest check (before tax and tip): $36 in season, $25 in summer
Signature dishes: Tulum jumbo prawns, sea scallops pibil style, ancho-seared salmon
One place by day, another entirely by night; handcrafted desserts baked on premises, fine food in a comfortable, casual environment.
Foodie and friends’ comments: “Great baked goods.”
“Lovely venue … a hidden secret because even during season, you can find a comfortable seat.”
Pomona Bistro and Wine Bar
481 N. Orange Ave. | 706-1677
Hours: 5 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday
Seats: 50 plus inside, 25 outside
Average guest check (before tax and tip): $35 to $80, depending on food and wine choices
Signature dishes: The signature here is the seasonal menu — four big changes annually. The beef flatiron steak is the only dish that was on the menu at opening.
Both partners are chefs. Pomona offers half plates of entrées “when it makes sense” — a unique option.
Foodie and friends’ comments: “The wine choices are spectacular and one only dreams of the savory desserts.”
“Excellent food, great ambience … a tad pricey.”
“A really special place, very intimate.”
About Foodie Friends
These are friends, acquaintances and some self-identifying total strangers of all ages who love food and eat out a lot. If you’d like to be on the list, email [email protected].
All that’s needed is the decade of your age, whether you are a seasonal or full-time resident and your snail mail address.
Foodie Friends quoted in this story are: Eduardo Anaya, Penny Hill, Allen and Stephanie Hochfelder, Molly Klauber, Flora Major, Jennifer Mitchell and Jules and Sheila Rose.
View Foodie Dines North of Fruitville in a larger map