- June 23, 2015
One of my favorite things about living in Florida is the abundance of outdoor activities. Heading to the beach, hiking nature trails, strolling St. Armands Circle, taking in all the warmth and beauty of the Sunshine State … and then the clouds open up with a loud, wet, laugh. “HA! You thought you moved to the SUNSHINE State?!”
I was caught in the traditional summer afternoon downpour outside on St. Armands Circle Saturday. I took refuge in a restaurant I had yet to try — Surf Shack Coastal Kitchen. And as if to apologize for the nasty weather, Florida offered up another surprise — happy hour.
Every day from 2 to 6 p.m., Surf Shack cuts its drink prices in half. This is definitely the way to go here, because the coastal-themed restaurant’s drinks start off kind of pricey. Signature cocktails range from $10 to $12 at full price. But you get your money’s worth.
Our first order was the Coronarita, a $12 monster served in a frosted glass the size of your head, garnished with an upside-down mini Corona. It’s refreshing, sweet but not too sweet, and, coupled with the $6 happy hour price, it will take your mind off the nasty weather outside. My favorite drink was the spicy margarita. Surprisingly smooth, and the jalapeño tequila offers a flavorful kick. The menu offers a variety of other be beachy drinks, as well as local craft beers on draft.
Surf Shack does not discount its food during happy hour, but you will get a complimentary bowl of bacon pepper popcorn, which will promptly disappear into your face. The guacamole ($9) makes for a great snack — very fresh and flavorful. But the tacos are where it’s at. You order them individually at $4 each, so they can work for a snack or a meal. My favorite was the longboard fish taco, definitely the most substantial taco we ordered. It’s topped with a yummy chipotle sour cream. Also delicious were the jerk chicken, bangin shrimp and tiger shrimp tacos.
The vibe at Surf Shack is super casual and family friendly. If you’re looking for a swankier happy hour, head upstairs to Surf Shack’s rooftop piano bar, The Terrace. It has the same deal — half-price drinks daily from 2 to 6 p.m., but its cocktail list focuses more on craft martinis than beachy margaritas. I love the Charles St. Amand (all the drinks have Sarasota-themed names) — Blanc de Blancs, St. Germain, Chambord and fresh strawberry ($14; $7 at happy hour).
Surf Shack Coastal Kitchen and The Terrace at Surf Shack are located at 326 John Ringling Blvd. Happy hour is 2 to 6 p.m. daily.