Honored by the U.S. Commerce Association with 2011’s Best of Friday Harbor Award, the Blue Dolphin Cafe boasts Culinary Institute alumni who concoct fresh breakfasts and lunches throughout the day. The eatery obtains provisions from Sarasota’s Sutter Egg Farm to craft three-egg omelets and eggs benedict, and fruit-sprinkled pancakes are topped with Vermont maple syrup or folded neatly into the lab-coat pockets of on-the-go surgeons. Patrons can top salads with their choice of chicken, shrimp, or tilapia, pairing them with burgers, wraps, sandwiches, and fried eats prepared in trans-fat-free oil. A kids’ menu accommodates youthful palates, and Friday-night dinners served November–April brighten the colder months.
The StarLite Majesty, a 115-foot dining yacht, and the StarLite Sapphire, a 113-foot dining yacht cruise Florida's coast under the emblem of StarLite Dining Cruises. Throughout the year, these vessels embark from various ports around Tampa for dining cruises in the warm Florida sunshine or under a starry sky. Passengers board the ships and are escorted to their reserved tables by the dining staff. After ordering entrees such as filet mignon and fresh-from-the-wharf seafood, guests explore the ships as onboard chefs prepare the fresh entrees in an hour. Passengers gaze at the StarLite Majesty yacht, or at the custom Club Lounge and their impressive appointments on the StarLite Sapphire.
Family pictures hang from exposed brick walls inside the dining room at Gio Fabulous, making it feel like you've been invited into someone's Italian kitchen. The pizzeria is one of four restaurants owned by the Gio brothers, who got their start more than two decades ago, selling home-baked bread to local restaurants. Today, it's the restaurants pizza crust recipe that takes center stage. The dough is made fresh each day, hand-tossed, and topped with fresh mozzarella, chunky tomatoes, Parma prosciutto, and more. Their authentic Italian dishes also include housemade gnocchi bolognese and spaghetti frutta di mare tossed in white wine sauce. Their culinary expertise helps them curate a wine and dessert list worthy of such entrees.
There's a reason that everyone refers to Tara Sell as Sweets. A true southern belle, Tara is not only sweet and friendly in demeanor, she spends most of her time in the Sweets' Bakehouse kitchen, whipping up a delightful array of sugary treats. Within her colorful turquoise shop—firmly rooted in Bradenton's Village of the Arts—Tara and her kitchen crew fold local Florida and Georgia produce and premium ingredients into creative cakes and inventive baked goods. This also extends to lunchtime, where customers have choices such as gourmet sandwiches and wraps. Throughout the year, Tara spreads her culinary expertise amongst aspiring cooks during her fun and informative cooking classes.
With outposts in Sarasota and Lakewood Ranch, Jpan Restaurant boasts a bold red-and-black decor aesthetic and a menu full of artfully presented fresh-fish creations. Skilled sushi chefs assemble complex specialty rolls, or let simple slices of fish steal the spotlight with array of sashimi selections. For those who prefer an entree that's seen some heat, there's an array of tempura and teriyaki dishes, as well as steamy bowls of ramen or udon noodles. The drink list includes domestic and Japanese beers, along with wines, soft drinks, and sakes served cold or heated in the forge of a samurai swordsmith.
At The Firkin & Fox, Tampa-area gentlefolk bond over a menu of English-inflected pub fare alongside a selection of 16 draft beers. Crispy calamari ($8.99) runs on chipotle dipping sauce, and traditional fish 'n' chips ($7.99 for one piece; $10.99 for two pieces) or cottage pie ($8.99) pay edible homage to America’s allies across the Atlantic: the Luxembourgers. The Firkin burger, topped with bacon, jack cheese, and chipotle onions ($9.99), meets hourly meat quotas, and the portobello-mushroom sandwich ($7.99) shimmers with a balsamic glaze and pesto mayo. Draught beers such as Bass and Boddingtons—hearty ales from Britain—complement rousing games of billiards. The convivial pub invites communal dining in or out of doors, and boasts a squad of sportscasting televisions with immaculate hairdos.