Manatee County could be called a seafood lover’s paradise.
The coastal communities of Cortez and Anna Maria Island offer tasty and thoughtfully prepared seafood dishes that make the most of Florida’s bounty, and there’s more to choose from further inland.
Options range from homey to upscale and traditional to nuanced. And if you’ve got to have it fresh, there are several restaurants that exclusively serve locally caught seafood.
We asked members of our Facebook group “Manatee Eats” where to get the best seafood in Manatee County.
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Here’s where they recommend:
Star Fish Company
When it comes to seafood, Star Fish Company is a trusted community establishment. The family business started as a seafood wholesaler in the 1920s, opened a market in the ‘60s and then added a restaurant when a new owner bought the business in the ‘90s.
“Star Fish Company strives to serve simple Florida seafood prepared in the simplest of ways,” the restaurant’s website says.
Offerings include mullet, grouper, gulf shrimp, oysters, crab cakes and lots of fish sandwiches. Try your entree grilled, fried, blackened or sauteed.
Star Fish Company is at 12306 46th Ave. W., Cortez.
Tide Tables is another local favorite in the heart of the historic fishing village of Cortez.
A simple menu promises food made to order and always fresh. Highlights include peel and eat shrimp prepared with Cajun spice, fresh Gulf grouper, a shrimp po’ boy, corvina (served charred, grilled or blackened) and scallops.
Oh, and we hear the fish tacos are amazing.
Tide Tables is at 12507 Cortez Road W., Bradenton.
Blue Marlin Grill
Blue Marlin Grill is a great spot for relaxing on Anna Maria Island. Located on historic Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach, the restaurant has cozy nautical decor, a covered deck and a courtyard with live music on the weekends.
The menu promises only fresh, locally caught fish and offers dishes such as Cortez Chowder (fresh grouper cheeks and shrimp in a tomato saffron broth), a grouper sandwich topped with fried green tomato and clam linguine.
The restaurant also offers an entree of fish of your choice prepared one of three ways: Thai, pecan-encrusted or Fulford (egg washed and sauteed with lemon butter, then finished with garlic Parmesan breadcrumbs).
Blue Marlin Grill is at 121 Bridge St., Bradenton Beach.
The Waterfront Restaurant
The Waterfront Restaurant’s lunch and dinner menus offer a nuanced take on seafood, with dishes such as Frutti Di Mare ( a linguine pasta dish with Key West pink shrimp, scallops, mussels and clams), Mahi Salsa De Langosta (mahi mahi marinated in ancho chiles and lime, served on purple rice) and a maple mustard salmon entree.
You can also keep it healthy and add grouper cake, salmon, shrimp, tuna or the fresh catch to any salad for an upcharge.
The Waterfront Restaurant is at 111 S. Bay Blvd., Anna Maria.
▪ Cortez Clam Factory, 10104 Cortez Road W., Bradenton
▪ Anna Maria Oyster Bar, 6906 14th St. W., Bradenton; 6696 Cortez Road, Cortez; 1525 51st Ave, E., Ellenton; 200 Bridge St., Bradenton Beach
▪ Captain Brian’s Seafood, 8421 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota
▪ Swordfish Grill, 4628 119th St. W., Cortez
▪ Rod and Reel Pier, 875 N. Shore Dr., Anna Maria
▪ The Sandbar Restaurant, 100 Spring Ave., Anna Maria
▪ The Clam House, 304 Seventh St. W., Palmetto
▪ The Sea Hut, 5611 U.S. 19, Palmetto
▪ The Beach House Restaurant, 200 Gulf Dr. N., Bradenton Beach
▪ Eat Organico Ristorante Italiano, 4832 Cortez Road W., Bradenton
▪ Annie’s Bait & Tackle, 4334 127th St. W., Cortez
▪ Speaks Clam Bar, 8764 State Road 70 E., Lakewood Ranch
▪ The Feast Restaurant, 5406 Marina Dr., Holmes Beach
▪ Pier 22 Restaurant, 1200 First Ave. W., Bradenton
▪ Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant, 760 Broadway St., Longboat Key
▪ O’bricks Irish Pub & Martini Bar, 427 12th St. W., Bradenton
The Banana Factory, 6916 14th St. W., Bradenton
▪ Lucky Pelican Bistro, 6239 Lake Osprey Dr., Sarasota (Sarasota County)
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