Take a table at Blu Smoke Island Grill in Sarasota and look forward to your next meal.
At Blu Smoke Island Grill, the cooks create additional gluten-free dishes that taste great.
This restaurant's fully stocked bar is a perk for patrons who enjoy a fine wine (or more) with their meal.
Reserve your own room at Blu Smoke Island Grill so that you can create your own private party.
Don't stay cooped up on a beautiful summer day! At Blu Smoke Island Grill, you can dine outdoors on their lovely patio.
Leave the fancy duds at home — patrons at the restaurant dress informally.
You can also have Blu Smoke Island Grill cater your next event.
Need to get out of the house? Order and pick up from this restaurant.
Pull into a parking space in the neighboring lot, or take advantage of the restaurant's valet service. If the lot is crowded, diners can search for street parking.
Make use of the luxurious bike racks at Blu Smoke Island Grill.
A typical meal at Blu Smoke Island Grill will set you back less than $30.
The restaurant's dinner menu receives the most attention, but diners have the option of grabbing breakfast or lunch here, too.
Inspired by various Asian cultures, Sarasota's Taste of Asia offers fresh and tasty Asian-fusion options.
Eat out with the little ones at this restaurant, and don't waste time scurrying for a sitter.
Outdoor seating is ready for diners on those warm summer days.
Surf the web from your tablet or laptop on Taste of Asia's complimentary wifi.
Taste of Asia is a casual spot to dine, so don't worry about being underdressed.
For the nights you just want to stay in and cozy up, order in great takeout or delivery from this restaurant.
If you're hoping to make a smashing impression at your next soiree, you can also have Taste of Asia cater for you.
Free parking is available in the adjacent lot.
A mid-priced establishment, Taste of Asia offers meals that typically cost about $30 or less.
So when you're in the mood for something less traditional, the entrees at Taste of Asia combine Asian ingredients with not-so-Asian influences for a truly delicious experience.
Next time you're ready to explore a fabulous blend of Asian cuisine, head to Taste of Asia for a casual get-together or low-key dinner.
Fresh fare can be found at Daiquiri Deck Siesta Key, where visitors seek to sample every seafood dish on the menu.
Whether rocking a gluten-free lifestyle or looking for something low-fat, this place will serve you just what you need.
Drinks are also on the menu here, so diners can start the night off right.
Enjoy the luxury of eating a delicious meal outside at Daiquiri Deck Siesta Key.
Daiquiri Deck Siesta Key is well-known for being able to seat large parties.
Wear what you like when you dine at Daiquiri Deck Siesta Key — the restaurant has a chill vibe just right for casual dining.
If you need to get somewhere fast, the restaurant also serves up grub to go.
A catering menu is also available if you're looking to dazzle the patrons at your next shindig.
Drivers will embrace the number of street and lot parking choices close to Daiquiri Deck Siesta Key.
For those who prefer to travel by bike, Daiquiri Deck Siesta Key is a great option due to its generous bike parking options.
There's no need to bust your budget at Daiquiri Deck Siesta Key, with most meals costing under $15.
Fill up on bread and olive oil at Italian hub Frankie's Italian Ristorante.
For fresh and healthy eats, head to Frankie's Italian Ristorante.
Don't go thirsty during dinner! This restaurant also offers a splendid drink list featuring wine, beer, and more.
Check email, shop online, or get the latest game scores on Frankie's Italian Ristorante's free wifi.
Frankie's Italian Ristorante offers an informal dining experience for those who are allergic to jackets and ties.
Can't get enough of Frankie's Italian Ristorante's tasty dishes? They also offer a catering service for parties and events.
This restaurant also offers delivery and take-out options for those who want to make it a night in.
Dine at Frankie's Italian Ristorante and keep your car safely parked in a nearby lot.
A meal at Frankie's Italian Ristorante will typically set you back about $30.
Find your sweet (or savory) spot at Frankie's Italian Ristorante, where you can opt for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Get ready to discover the colorful, flavorful world of Italian cooking at Frankie's Italian Ristorante.
You won't be disappointed at Sarasota's Sun Garden Cafe, where well-prepared eats and delicious drinks rule the menu.
Have a few picky young eaters in the family? Not a problem at this restaurant, where the food and ambience are perfect for family dining.
Surround yourself with the wonderful weather at your next night out at Sun Garden Cafe.
Sun Garden Cafe is a great location to host a group dinner.
Enjoy wifi here free of cost.
Bring your furry friend to the restaurant — Sun Garden Cafe allows dogs to dine, too.
For a dressy dinner, Sun Garden Cafe is just the right place to show off your favorite heels.
That's right! Sun Garden Cafe will bring their delicious food to your house for any occasion.
Ordering food? You can pick it up yourself!
Dining at Sun Garden Cafe? Enjoy the easy and free parking in the lot next door.
If your preferred mode of transit is of the two wheel variety, you're in luck — there's tons of bike parking outside the restaurant.
For a tasty Spanish supper, head over to Spanish Pointe Marina.
A healthy lifestyle starts with the food you eat, and Spanish Pointe Marina is creating innovative healthy meals.
Drinks here are readily available, so you can enjoy a glass of red or try something new.
Take the kids along too — this restaurant is a great spot for families with food that even little ones will love.
Sit outside when the weather is fine — Spanish Pointe Marina has a lovely patio to enjoy a warm day.
For those in a hurry, the restaurant lets you take your grub to go.
Whether you have a large or small vehicle, parking is easy near Spanish Pointe Marina.
If your preferred mode of transit is of the two wheel variety, you're in luck — there's tons of bike parking outside the restaurant.
For simple Spanish recipes with flavor through the roof, the options at Spanish Pointe Marina will put a smile on your face.
Siu mai: small pork dumplings. Each has a thin wrapper that needs to be delicately pleated by hand. Easily, they’re one of the most labor-intensive items at Phoenix Restaurant in Chicago, where each weekend this Chinese restaurant serves 80 different varieties of classic dim sum snacks.
This little fact about the siu mai is one of many surprising stories I learn from Eddy, the chef at Phoenix, where he also handles a million other tasks to keep the restaurant running smoothly. When I first came in, he was waving at a group of regulars while on the phone haggling with a seafood vendor.
“What we are serving in this restaurant is what we are eating in Hong Kong. ... It’s very typical,” Eddy says.
In 1996, Phoenix was one of the first restaurants to introduce dim sum to Chicago. Its customer base has grown over the years, and today, even with other dim sum restaurants up and down the block, you’ll find long lines winding out the door on any given Sunday.
Sound intimidating? It doesn't have to be.
Here's our guide to dim-sum dining, with a few tips from Eddy.
On the weekend: order dim sum off a cart
On weekends and special holidays, the wait staff winds traditional dim sum carts around tables, lifting lids off stacked steamer baskets to reveal the enticing contents. Should you see something you like, they leave the basket on your table and put a checkmark on your bill (it’s tallied at the end).
Phoenix is one of the only dim-sum restaurants in Chicago that still uses these carts. When I ask Eddy why they keep them, he says “tradition.” Not only to impress the tourists who come in, but also to let Chinese-American customers share this bit of culture with their kids.
Hot tip: if you want to experience the pushcarts without the crowds, head over on a Saturday, which tends to be less busy than Sundays, Eddy says.
On a weekday: order dim sum off the menu
Cartless weekdays offer a quiet, more peaceful atmosphere for ordering off the paper menu, which you can find near the hostess stand. Don't be intimidated—the menu has pictures; it has numbers; it has names written in both Chinese and English. And best of all, you need only point to what you want to have it brought out from the kitchen.
So what should you get?
“Everyone has their favorites,” Eddy says. The most popular dishes with Westerners are ha gao (shrimp dumplings) and siu mai (pork dumplings mentioned above). Kids gravitate toward the crunchy, easy-to-grip shrimp rolls and sweeter fare, from mango pudding (pictured above) to custard rolls.
Foreign travelers, especially those from Latin America, and adventurous eaters alike seem to love the chicken feet (pictured at bottom-right of top photo), a more exotic dish consisting of skin and tendons. While all these dishes are traditional, the chefs can tweak the recipes to accommodate for special diets or food allergies.
When diners are new to dim sum, Eddy encourages them to experiment. He’ll point out a few of the more popular dishes; if there’s something they don’t end up liking, it can easily be swapped out for something else. This way, by the second or third visit, diners will have a better idea of what they like.
And don't forget the tea
At dim sum, the tea is equally important to the food. Phoenix serves three different types: green tea, white tea, and brown tea. “Each one has its own usage,” Eddy says. While we talk, we drink jasmine tea, which is good for getting rid of toxins.
You can show your dim sum know-how by obeying proper tea etiquette. When your teapot is out of water, prop the lid off to the side. This signals to the wait staff that you need more hot water.
Eddy pours more tea and tells me to tap my fingers lightly against the table when the cup is nearly full. “When your friend or host fills your tea, this means ‘thank you’,” he says. “It’s part of the custom.”
Photos by Andrew Nawrocki, Groupon
I had no idea what to expect upon arriving at Elizabeth, the Michelin Star winner from Chef Iliana Regan. But an unmarked, unremarkable storefront between a tire shop and a sporting-goods store certainly wasn’t it. With few exceptions (Schwa, most notably), Chicago’s upper-echelon restaurants boast exteriors that match their illustrious River North and Restaurant Row addresses.
But as it turns out, Regan has no taste for that sort of superficial flash. She dons no chef’s whites. She displays no awards. She does not raise her voice to the Gordon Ramsay–level roar or even the Rachael Ray-ish rollick that TV cameras eat up.
Instead, this northwest Indiana native quietly built her reputation as someone who hunts for frogs and spears them herself. Someone who has suffered tick bites and poison-ivy rashes foraging for wild flora. Someone who has penned an essay on intensity for Lucky Peach and once themed an Elizabeth tasting menu after those violent and visceral A Song of Ice and Fire novels.
So yeah, I was kinda terrified to eat her food.
I’d never done a tasting menu before. And I wouldn’t necessarily classify myself as a picky eater, but I’m not a particularly adventurous one either, particularly when it comes to meat. (I can barely look at plated octopus without shivering.) I’d heard that Regan once served edible ants. Which are, like, bugs.
My nerves were calmed upon walking into Elizabeth, though. Austere yet charming, the whitewashed space was accented by light fixtures made from bare tree branches; dining chairs draped with faux-fur slipcovers; a chef’s counter armed with Elder Scrolls and Vikings Funko Pop! dolls. It was all in support of the season’s menu theme: vikings.
There were two options: land or sea. Or, as the first in a delightful succession of servers explained it, “Imagine a viking ship has reached the shore. One group goes on land to look for food, the other into the sea.” My friend Erin and I opted to order one of each to share and, despite my trepidation of certain meats, placed no restrictions on what we would eat. (You can arrange for some allergies and dietary needs in advance.) We wanted to go all in.
After the amuse-bouche—a surprisingly complex roasted whey carrot dressed with goat’s-milk cheese and edible flowers—came our first courses. The land dish was … a bowl of rocks. The server assured me the top “rock” was actually a baked potato coated in edible clay. But it was very convincing as a rock, so I bit in with trepidation. As Erin ate the rest, dipping it into the cheese and butter puddings it was served with, I forked into her langoustine with lingonberries. (Pro tip: don’t try to tear off the claw without looking. You will stab your finger on a spine.) So far, so very good.
As the servers continued to weave their culinary narrative, I realized there was an unmentioned character in their tale—Elizabeth itself. The restaurant is small, seating about 16 or so, and the kitchen is wide open. It was impossible not to get caught up in what was happening back there, particularly when sous chefs were wielding brûlée torches and “plating” on gorgeous pieces of handmade pottery. And the line between front and back of house was practically nonexistent. One moment, you’d see someone in the kitchen stirring and slicing; the next they’d be presenting your next course or clearing your table. (Chef Regan included.)
This created an unexpected intimacy, one that removed any hesitation when asking about a particular dish. It’s clear the teammates take a deep yet quiet pride in their collective work. They spoke warmly about where ingredients came from, excitedly about the preparation techniques used. They always used “we” or “our,” never “me” or “Chef Regan.” (Again, Chef Regan included.)
Over the next few courses, there were so many charms. An herb-rolled, soft-boiled quail egg served in an actual nest; impossibly chewy seaweed bread darkened by squid ink; a cauliflower-mushroom soup that Erin about died over. I was particularly fond of a course called Barnyard: headcheese dusted with beet powder, paired with a collage of root vegetables and flavored puddings reminiscent of something out of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Modern Wing.
And that’s the thing. Never in my life would I have thought that I’d be fond of headcheese. I would have probably never eaten it if it weren’t for this meal. But it was fun to break out of my culinary comfort zone.
The other surprising thing? How full we were, considering it was a tasting menu. By the time we were served the entree courses—rare lamb medallions wrapped in swiss chard and pickled fish in a sauce of its own bones—we were taking deep breaths between bites. I’m pretty sure they were the only two plates we didn’t completely clean.
We managed to buck up for our “one-and-a-half” dessert courses, as the server put it. (The “half” was a palate-cleansing sorbet.) Our favorite was Under the Sea, a spongy coral-seaweed cake so realistic looking it prompted me to ask the server just how much of it we could eat. “All of it,” she said. We complied.
Maybe, as a writer, I’m just a sucker for a good story. But I was enchanted by Elizabeth, both in backstory and in not knowing what was coming next throughout the culinary adventure. And while I probably won’t be buying headcheese any time soon, I’m excited to see what Chef Regan has up her non-chef’s-whites sleeves next season.
Shop Chef Iliana Regan's tasting-menu experience at Elizabeth Restaurant:
Watch her explain her approach to fine dining:
As useful as WD40 and much more edible, coconut oil is a powerhouse. In fact, just one jar of the stuff can replace several household staples, from kitchen ingredients to baby wipes. Here’s how to substitute it for 16 total items in 3 rooms of the home:
1. Coffee: Coconut oil is a reputed energy booster. Swallowing a spoonful or two in the afternoon can be a healthful alternative to a cuppa.2. Coffee creamer: Emulsified and poured into coffee, it’s much tastier than (and probably just as nutritious as) that bulletproof stuff.3. Butter or oil (when sautéing): Coconut oil’s high smoke point makes it great for cooking on the stovetop, especially at high heat. Try swapping it in when making stir-fries, scrambled eggs, or pancakes, especially if you like a very mild coconut flavor.4. Oil (when baking): The oil imparts a delicious je ne sais quoi to baked goods—even boxed ones. Use it to give from-the-box brownies an upgrade, and you’ll dream about them for days.5. Condiments: Drop it into quinoa or oatmeal for added nutrients and healthy fats. You can also put it on top of sweet potatoes instead of butter!
6. Moisturizer: It works on your body and your face. It’s naturally SPF 4, so it offers a bit of protection from UV rays, too.7. Leave-in conditioner and anti-static agent: Rub a small amount between your hands and smooth them over your hair to control flyaways.8. Lip balm: It soothes sore, chapped lips, and other skin irritations.9. Eye-makeup remover: Rub it between your fingers until it liquefies, smear it on your lids, and wipe it off with a cotton pad.10. Face wash: Add a little water and rub it in your hands until it foams.11. Hand and foot cream: Massage it into cracked knuckles, or slather it onto your soles and stick them into socks for an overnight soak.12. Shaving cream: It’ll give you a smooth shave, plus additional moisture for your skin.
13. Ouchie ointment: Dab it on cuts and scrapes, which will benefit from its antimicrobial properties.14. Anti-itch cream: Coconut oil reduces itching from bug bites, and helps to calm sunburn, eczema, and cradle cap.15. Diaper cream: A layer on baby’s bottom guards against (and soothes) diaper rash flare-ups.16. Baby wipes: Simply mix it with hot water and pour it over a stack of paper towels that you’ve cut in half. Keep the towels in an airtight container so they stay moist.
Check out more coconut-oil coverage:
Oil Pulling Whitens Your Teeth and (Maybe) Makes You Invincible
The Five Best Uses for Coconut Oil You’ve Never Heard Of