Sarasota’s Top Hidden Gem Restaurants

Sometimes the best food can be found in the least expected areas.

Welcome to Sarasota, Florida! Home to hundreds of independently-owned restaurants, many of whom are owned by chefs from every corner of the world and who offer authentic, ethnic foods found nowhere else near the Gulf Coast.

Sarasota Events Calendar culled the best “Hidden Gem” restaurants that are special for a number of reasons. They are often:

  • Less crowded and more intimate. Since they are not as well-known, hidden gem restaurants tend to be less crowded, which can make for a more enjoyable dining experience. They also tend to be more intimate, as the staff and diners are often more familiar with each other.
  • Serving unique and authentic food. Hidden gem restaurants often focus on serving unique and authentic cuisine that you won’t find at the more popular restaurants. This is because they are often owned and operated by people who are passionate about their food and culture.
  • Offering great value for money. Hidden gem restaurants often offer great value for money, as they are not as expensive as the more well-known restaurants. This is because they are not as concerned with marketing and advertising, and they can focus on providing quality food at a reasonable price.
  • Having a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The staff at hidden gem restaurants are often friendly and welcoming, as they are happy to have you there. They also tend to be more knowledgeable about the food and can offer recommendations.

Here are some of the best hidden restaurants in Sarasota, Florida:

Indigenous Restaurant is a New American restaurant that serves innovative and carefully sourced cuisine in a warm and sophisticated restored home. Opened in 2011, Indigenous has earned a reputation for being an inspirational and educational restaurant. Indigenous’ menu of seasonal American cuisine changes progressively throughout the year based on peak ingredient availability. With a focus on sustainable seafood, the chef works closely with local fisherman, artisans, and farmers to maintain the highest quality.

Located in the historic Towles Court district in downtown Sarasota, the building was meticulously restored to complement its surroundings with comfortable, sophisticated indoor and outdoor dining available year round.

Speaks Clam Bar is a casual seafood restaurant with a lively atmosphere and a menu of classic clam dishes, fried seafood, and raw oysters. There are several locations, including in St. Armand’s Circle and Lakewood Ranch.

Portuguese food and Italian Cuisine = MARVELOUS at Amore Restaurant off Fruitville and Lime Ave.

Amore Portuguese & Italian Restaurant is perhaps the most remote of all the restaurants, tucked in a small strip mall  off Fruitville Rd. and Lime. Husband/wife owner Liana and Tito are born and raised Portuguese folks who have been in the restaurant business for years, having operated Amore in Longboat Key and also Burns Court, until Covid hit and they reinvented themselves. Their menu boasts both Portuguese favorites, along with traditional Italian cuisine, but their wine list is superb with some of the best Portuguese wines I’ve ever tasted! Add to the appeal of dining here is a piano bar with 7 seats that features local talent that is superb! Open mike for many patrons who want to belt a tune (or two), and Eddie Tobin is a featured keyboard player (former keyboard player for Engelbert Humperdinck). Check out their End of the Summer Wine Pairing dinner coming up August 29 featuring five courses paired with top wines (all inclusive $130). Call for reservations: 941-383-1111. 180 N. Lime Avenue.


The restaurant occupies a 1926 historic home nestled among the trees on the edge of downtown Sarasota. Patrons may choose indoor or outdoor dining (weather permitting), including a lovely rooftop seating area, tucked in under the branches of the old live oak trees that surround the building. The perfect setting… exclusive, romantic, and intimate.

Bijou Garden Cafe: This fine dining restaurant is housed in a restored gas station. The atmosphere is elegant and sophisticated with chandeliers and white tablecloths. The menu features classic Continental dishes, like steak frites and lobster bisque.

Owen’s Fish Camp is a bustling locale in the historic district. The restaurant serves up imaginative takes on seafood dishes amid eclectic decor. It wouldn’t be called a fish camp if it weren’t bringing in the Bay’s local fish everyday. Not only do they have fresh seafood, but accompanying Southern Classics with a great Craft Beer and Wine selection.  Located in the heart of Burns Court in Downtown Sarasota, Owen’s Fish Camp is an ode to old Florida living. From the looming Banyan tree out front, given to Sarasota developer Owen Burns by Thomas Edison, to the tire swing out back, it is a restaurant full of history and Southern Hospitality. The casual atmosphere allows guests to relax and enjoy what makes Florida so special. Note: If you have to wait for a table, no worries. Out back is ample southern-style porch swings and a southern band that plays “swamp blues” and other tunes from the American South. What a hoot! 941.951.6936

Roessler’s Restaurant –

Roesslers Restaurant is one of the most elegant restaurants inside and out.

Their website says “timeless continental cuisine, ” but this hidden gem is that and so much more. If you are willing to travel south on Tamiami Trail to Sarasota’s most southern end, it’s worth the trip, especially for a special occasion. Roessler’s isn’t cheap, nor should it be given their vast wine collection and outstanding food. Roessler’s is a local family-owned restaurant, established in 1978, offering a Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence wine list, traditional continental cuisine with a commitment to using only the highest quality ingredients, and a dining experience of impeccable service. Situated on nearly three acres of manicured gardens and a beautiful lake with a bridge and gazebo, Roessler’s is one of the most romantic restaurants on the west coast of Florida!

D’corato – 

If you blink, you might easily pass the turn that takes you to D’Corato, 322 South Washington St. In fact, google the UPS Store, just south of Ringling, and that will be your turn, as D’Corato is not visible from the road. Once inside, you’ll be glad you took the time to find it. Owner/Chef Vincenzo is an amicable, young and gifted cook, and brought his Italian heritage and it’s many culinary wonders to the Gulf Coast. Here you will find homemade pasta and spectacular authentic Italian dishes, that will blow your taste buds.

The Garden Room at Towle’s Court’s “Shoogie Boogie”

My grandaughter calls this place “Shimmy-Shoogies,” but it’s real name is The Garden Room at Shoogie boogies. What can I say about this magnificent place nestled at Towles Court (1919 Morrill St )See the video here and it speaks for itself!

This charming – completely hidden cafe & private property special event venue by reservationis  located downtown Sarasota, with Romantic European ambiance garden setting inside and out. Reservations a must: 941-951-5437.

Andrea Martone is the Executive Editor, Sarasota Events Calendar, and a former Arts & Entertainment Editor, Sarasota Observer Newspaper Group. She is the President of

Andrea Martone

Andrea Martone is a former Arts & Entertainment Editor for the Sarasota Observer Newspaper Group, as well as a former Editor-in-Chief of a Long Island (New York) newspaper chain. She moved to Sarasota 14 years ago after working as an executive in NYC in public relations and marketing. She currently is a Public relations & marketing consultant and President of Insightful PR. She lives and breathes all things art, culture, music food and wine and is proud to be the Executive Editor of Sarasota Events Calendar.

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