I had a couple of very concerned comments on my first Florida post thinking that maybe we were just going to eat at all the buffets and fast food restaurants and call it a day without trying any of the good food.
Of course not! Not to worry, we didn’t just eat crap! Yes, we did eat a lot of crap, but we had to because of the novelty of it. We just don’t have anything like those places in Canada. We have the Mandarin, a Chinese buffet, but dinner is almost $30 a person. A far cry from Hungry Howie’s $6.99 special. But we ate at better places than Hungry Howie’s, IHOP, and Checkers. Oh right, and the Golden Corral… I’m not even going to talk about that because my Golden Corral plate is just an embarrassing disgusting mess of random items.
Anyway, we ate at a few nice places, so let’s talk about those.
Our first decent meal was at the Anna Maria Oyster Bar in Bradenton.
It was my first Florida seafood experience and I loved it. They also had paper towels hanging above each table, just in case things got messy.
And this was a good thing, as things tend to get messy for me.
Neither of us are big fans of oysters, so we started with the mussels.
Hands down the best mussels I have ever had. The sauce they came in was so ridiculously good that Evan and I ordered bread just so we could dip it in the sauce. It was all garlicky and parmesan-y and I couldn’t get enough of it. I also loved the addition of tomatoes in there. I just can’t say enough about the mussels.
For my entree I ordered the pasta skillet with scallops. Which came with more bread. Delicious garlic bread.
I was really sold on the pasta because of the Anna Maria Island sauce that was described on the menu. Typically I really prefer tomato sauce over oil or cream sauces, but when I read that it was a blend of tomatoes, artichoke hearts, basil, wine, and herb butter I just couldn’t say no. It was really good, especially the scallops, just melt-in-your-mouth good. But after all the mussels and all the bread I was pretty full so I ended up taking a lot of it home.
I also had a rum punch as it was on special.
But just one, as those are dangerous for me.
Our next delicious dining experience was at Pop’s Sunset Grill at Nokomis Beach.
We went there after a full day on Venice and Nokomis beaches, so don’t be judging my scraggly hair and shiny skin. I was swimming in that glorious ocean!
I really loved that they had outdoor seating right on the water, because patios are something I really love about Ontario and I noticed was lacking in Florida. I just love sitting outside, but I noticed most of the restaurants in Florida were indoor. Maybe because it just gets too hot to sit outside? I don’t know. I never realized how much of a patio culture Ontario had though until I visited here (in the summer, obviously we’re not crazy enough to patio it up in the winter).
Anyway, it was great to sit on the water and watch all the boats go by and be jealous of them.
Evan’s Florida shirt killed me.
We had already had quite a lot of snacks throughout the day so we skipped appetizers and just went for the main course. And oh man is all I have to say about the main course.
We got the full steamship pot for two, which included 24 shrimp, two lobster tails, red potatoes, corn on the cob, onions and celery. Amazing.
I LOVED the fresh seafood. There was so much of it, and it was pretty inexpensive also. The lobster was sooo good.
Our server told me they had the best pina coladas in the world also, so I obviously had to try one of those.
I promise I am not wincing, I am just squinting from the sun. It was a good pina. Perhaps the best in the world, but I am not really a pina colada connoisseur so I cannot say for sure.
Dining experience #3 takes us to The Hub Baja-Grill, just outside of Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota, where we had spent the day leisuring on the sand and swimming in the ocean.
I look really excited about it, but really I was just excited for food.
Evan and I started with the nacho dip sampler, which came with salsa, guacamole, and cheese con queso.
I loved the dips! The guacamole was so good both Evan and I commented that it would have won the Guac-Off!
Margaritas were on special here, and our server really recommended them, so that’s what I went with.
No disappointment here.
Pints of beer were only $3 until the end of happy hour (again unheard of in Ontario), so that’s what Evan stuck to.
I ended up switching to beer after my margarita.
It was a really cute restaurant and I loved where we were sitting. Our table was on the patio just off the street, so it was perfect for people watching.
And we were also really close to the live entertainment.
That guy was really good actually. I was impressed.
For my main course I decided to go for tacos, because I LOVE tacos.
But I have to be honest and say they were only okay. Someone in the kitchen got a little excited with the taco seasoning and I felt like the meat was noticeably too seasoned. Otherwise good though.
I tried some of Evan’s fish tacos and I liked them much better!
Twice because I could barely eat the first time since it was after our first night out with Paula and I was not feeling the most fab.
It should be noted that this was my first time trying grits, and they were not nearly as bad as I thought they were going to be. Same with the biscuits and country gravy. Well not the biscuits, those were obviously going to be delicious, but that country gravy always creeped me out a bit. But I liked it a lot. I also liked the apple butter a lot, which is in the bowl on the plate with the biscuits and country gravy. I’m sad we don’t have Cracker Barrel in Canada. I didn’t even know what I was missing.
So see, we didn’t eat horribly the entire time. Some decent meals definitely went down. I think my favourite was the steamship seafood pot. I wish I was still eating that right now!