Everyone needs a vacation once in a while.
And even if your next one is a long way off, we know of a way that you can pretend to be worry free — at least for a few hours.
Welcome to the world of waterfront dining.
In Manatee County, coastal dining options are almost endless, so we brought in some experts to help narrow the field.
Here’s where members of our Facebook group Manatee Eats recommend taking in some coastal beauty and cuisine.
Star Fish Company
You can’t beat the historic fishing village of Cortez for some of the most unspoiled waterfront vistas in Manatee County.
Star Fish Company is no exception.
Gaze out over the Gulf of Mexico from the restaurant’s dockside picnic tables as you enjoy seafood prepared simply in old Florida style.
Specialties include stone crab claws, 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. in Cortez.
Tide Tables Restaurant and Marina
Another Cortez favorite, Tide Tables is a prime spot for sunset drinks and dinner.
A simple menu promises food made to order and always fresh, and the seafood is often locally caught.
Highlights include peel-and-eat shrimp prepared with Cajun spice, fish tacos, fresh Gulf grouper, a shrimp po’ boy, corvina (served charred, grilled or blackened) and scallops.
Pair your meal with a domestic or craft beer, cider or wine.
Tide Tables Restaurant and Marina is at 12507 Cortez Road. W. in Bradenton.
Riverhouse Waterfront Restaurant
At Riverhouse Waterfront Restaurant in Palmetto, several enticing dining experiences are housed in the same building, all with gorgeous views of the Manatee River.
The original restaurant, Riverhouse Reef & Grill, is on the bottom floor and features casual eating, including seafood plates, sandwiches, tacos, burgers, pasta and dessert.
Check out the Snook Deck for drinks and light bites. The patio bar offers beer, wine, custom cocktails and a daily happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m.
And coming soon, a new restaurant on the second floor (called, fittingly, The Second Floor) will offer gourmet coastal dining and private party spaces.
Riverhouse Reef & Grill is at 995 Riverside Dr. in Palmetto.
Newsroom recommends: Linger Lodge
Maybe the beach isn’t your thing. Or maybe you just need a break from the tumultuous tourist season.
This riverside gem may be the stop for you.
Head off the beaten path to Linger Lodge, where eclectic decor, authentic Southern food, folksy music and the lush backdrop of the Braden River await.
Linger Lodge also offers a full liquor bar.
Linger Lodge is at 7205 85th St. Court E. in Bradenton.
▪ The Sandbar Restaurant, 100 Spring Ave., Anna Maria
▪ The Waterfront Restaurant, 111 S. Bay Blvd., Anna Maria
▪ Rod and Reel Pier, 875 N. Shore Dr., Anna Maria
▪ The Beach House Restaurant, 200 Gulf Dr. N., Bradenton Beach
▪ Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant, 760 Broadway St., Longboat Key
▪ PIER 22 Restaurant, 1200 First Ave. W., Bradenton
▪ Dry Dock Waterfront Grill, 412 Gulf of Mexico Dr., Longboat Key
▪ Swordfish Grill, 4628 119th St. W., Cortez
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