It’s a great rule while traveling to eat whatever dish for which the city is famous. Maybe that’s pizza in Italy, hot chicken in Nashville, or poutine in Canada. Here on Anna Maria Island and the Gulf Coast, that means fresh fish. But what kind? Where? What about meals for an entire weekend?
A trusted local decided to gather up some of the staple “Must-Eats” while visiting Anna Maria Island just to help you make your dining plans in paradise that much easier!
The Donut Experiment
Start your day with an iced coffee and a specialty made-to-order donut of your own ideation at The Donut Experiment. What started as a little donut shop on Pine Avenue in 2012 has become one of the most popular spots on AMI and even has franchise locations throughout the US. Get there early as it tends to get pretty busy and the only way to eat all day is to start early!
For locals, it’s truly not an Anna Maria Island dining experience without a Duffy’s burger. This place is famous for their truly delicious burgers and always ice-cold beer. They’re cash only, seat yourself, and offer counter-service. It’s laid back, casual, and even better than you expected… just as the island always was.
If you’re lucky enough to be in the Gulf Coast area during Stone Crab season, consider yourself extra lucky. If you happen to be here during the annual Stone Crab & Music Festival, you’re the luckiest. Stone Crab Claws aren’t just a delicacy but they’re a way of life here on AMI. You can get fresh claws at any of the local seafood restaurants, in Cortez you can even see the boats arriving with the claws from your table at the Swordfish Grill or Tide Tables.
We are truly blessed to live near the oldest active fishing village in Florida, Cortez. Our community brings “catch of the day” to a whole other level, where our seafood restaurants get fish straight from the boats to your plate. If you’re on AMI, you can head to longtime staples like The Sandbar, Beach House, or Rod & Reel Pier to get a taste. In Cortez, stop by the fish market and pick some up for yourself or head to one of the nearby restaurants! This local’s favorites? Blackened grouper or mahi-mahi for it’s flaky and light flavor.
The Tampa Bay Area is a proud champion of the beloved Cuban Sandwich. But, if you can’t make the trip to Ybor just for a sandwich, we highly recommend the Cuban at Hurricane Hank’s! Just down the street from the A Paradise office you can check-in and then head to Hank’s for a cuban and a delicious cocktail. An excellent way to start your vacation!
If you’re craving sushi, head to Island Ocean Star. Known for its modern interpretation of classic dishes and its insistence on only using high quality fresh ingredients. They have been recognized for their outstanding Sushi cuisine and offer delicious dining and takeout to Anna Maria, FL.
The Last Supper
So, it’s your last night in town and you want to go out with a bang. For a fine-dining experience with a great view from some truly creative chefs, we recommend a place like The Beach Bistro or The Waterfront. Both are lauded as some of the best places for a nice dinner on Anna Maria, so you can’t go wrong here!
Head to the Doctor’s Office for the best time you’ll ever have at the doctor’s. This place is truly unique to Anna Maria Island and offers innovative twists on your normal cocktail menu. The ambiance and craft libations are the perfect combination for a lovely way to end your day.
Of course, you can’t have a food tour without desserts! Our recommendation for best desserts actually require a short drive over the bridge into Longboat Key. While they both have great meal offerings as well, we can’t refrain from desserts at Harry’s Continental Kitchen and Euphemia Haye. Harry’s Bakery is indulgent, and baked fresh every day. Euphemia Haye has its own Dessert Room. Either way, you can’t go wrong with treating yourself here.
When visiting Anna Maria Island or hosting a guest, we proudly endorse these suggestions. If you’re looking for something in particular, our team at A Paradise knows the island very well so, let us know what you’re looking for and we’re happy to point you in the right direction… and will set you up in a place that’s near all the delicious action!