Food & Drink

Surf’s up: Locals recommend their favorite places for seafood in Manatee County

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.

Here’s where they recommend:

Chris Burns cracks stone crab claws for a customer at the Star Fish Company Seafood Market and Restaurant in Cortez. Bradenton Herald file photo

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.


An order is up at Tide Tables in Cortez. Bradenton Herald file photo

Tide Tables

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 grouper tacos at The Waterfront Restaurant on Anna Maria Island come with fresh-chopped pico de gallo and jicama tartar slaw. The Waterfront Restaurant

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.


Other recommendations:

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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