Friday, 18 December 2009

In the market for food

Stock up on those tasty Christmas treats at one of the farmers markets being held in Bradenton.

The Community Farmers Market at New Medicine Community at Health Park East, 6040 State Rd. 70, Bradenton (761-9816) runs through April 2010.
This market features local, organic and sustainable goods from Florida farmers and friends. 2:30-6:30 p.m. every Wednesday.

Farmers Market. Along Main Street, Lakewood Ranch, Bradenton (907-943 or This seasonal market returns to Lakewood Ranch for its third season and runs 8 a.m.-1 p.m. every Saturday.

So get out there and support our farmers. And you might even get the odd free sample - well it is Christmas after all...

Friday, 27 November 2009

Crab craw, made easy

So it's stone crab season down here in Florida, and everyone's eatin' the little critters.

But for the first-time chef, just getting through the shell can be something of a trial. Well, perhaps the easiest way to show you how to do it is to, er, show you how to do it.

Here's expert Bert Davis to show you how. Bert has been cutting fish for 18 years. He is the sales and marketing manager for Waterstreet Seafood, one of the largest import/export companies of fresh and frozen seafood.


Don't just visit Anna Maria Island, Fl, stay there. For the very best in luxury rental accommodation, visit

Friday, 20 November 2009

Fun, folk, fish ... and ice cream!

Like your folk music? Like eating some of the best seafood on the west coast of Florida? Well if the answer to just one of those questions is yes then you really need to be heading over to Crotez for this weekend's second annual Cortez Folk Festival.

The festival starts at 10am and runs to 4pm. Admission is free.

As well as some great folk music, the festival also features nearly 30 vendors offering crafts, food and fun for all the family. Several area bands will be performing, from folk, to bluegrass and country tunes, among them Hatch Motley's Sea Chanties, Myakka, Something Special, Eric Von Hahmann, Maple Mountain Music and Cortez String Band, as well as Glen Hines, Tony Polidori, Heather Doig and Culbreath.

The Florida Maritime Museum will also host guided tours, several vessels of the museum's wooden boat fleet will be on display, and there will be a special demonstration at the F.I.S.H. Boat Shop.

Along with an ice cream eating contest, organizers plan to raffle off a 19-foot sailboat.
For more information, call 708-6120 or visit

Sorry, we really should mention that again in big letters: AN ICE CREAM EATING CONTEST! Actually, forget the fish and the folk, that is reason enough to clear your diary. See you there, big spoons at the ready...

Come to Anna Maria Island and stay with us. Visit for details of how you could be spending your next vacation in paradise.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Reggae rhythm hits Bradenton Beach

A taste of the Caribbean has come to Anna Maria Island.

Next time you go back to Anna Maria Island you might notice something new on the strip. Actually, this new restaurant is halfway along Gulf Drive North (opposite the Bradenton Beach Club, at 1700 Gulf).

It is already proving popular with the locals, and more than once I spotted a steel band outside treating the patrons to some real sounds of the Caribbean.

The menu looks varied, but very much Caribbean cuisine, and should make a nice change for the island.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Ice cream, nice cream

We know the season is kind of officially over with the passing of the Labor Day weekend, but the sun still shines on Anna Maria Island. And what better way to quench your thirst than a traditional ice cream from Dips on Gulf Drive.
Dips is an old fashioned creamery and still serves penny candy, Italian ices and homemade ice cream. Choose from over 150 candies which line the walls and pull up a stool at the counter and order up classic flavors like Mint Chocolate Chip, Vanilla or Chocolate ice cream topped with an enormous selection of toppings, including chocolate sprinkles, marshmallow, and cappuccino!
Malted milk shakes are also available, and they might give you two straws if you want to share. We can't imagine you will, though!

Don't just visit Anna Maria Island, stay here. For the very best in vacation rental properties visit and spend your vacation in a real home from home.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Heaven's Kitchen on Cortez

Not far from Anna Maria Island is the delightful fishing village of Cortez. You really should pay a visit when you come to Anna Maria - and while you're there you have a choice of places to eat. All of them, however, specialise in seafood, which is hardly surprising given their surroundings.
A recent review of one of them, the Cortez Kitchen, gave it two very definite thumbs up. Here is a sample from it:

What’s on the menu?
Appetizers include several sushi rolls featuring tuna, grouper, shrimp or you can be adventurous and try the Cortez Roll which features mullet ($7.50-$8.99). Other offerings are coconut shrimp, Buffalo wings, chicken tenders, fried mushrooms and more. Sandwiches and baskets include the grouper or Buffalo grouper sandwich for $10.99, soft-shell crab sandwich ($8.99), Cubans, hamburgers and more. Entrees include stone crabs (market price/in season), steamer pots ($17.99), shrimp ($14.99) and the popular grouper dinner ($15.99), which features fresh domestic Gulf grouper filleted in-house. Don’t forget to check the specials board, which usually contains items such as lobster bisque (rich and creamy), catch of the day and the Cortez specialty — smoked mullet.

Read the rest of the review here

There really is only one company to trust with your Anna Maria Island vacation, and only one website you need to visit. Click on for the very best in vacation rentals on the island. From two-bed cottages, to huge homes for the whole family, waterside, gulf front, secluded, we have it all.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Beer and sun - perfect combo

Got a dry mouth? Need refreshment? Well, you could just pop a soda and quench your thirst, or you could seek out Anna Maria's very own microbrewery and sample some of the finest brew known to man...

Little is known about the mysterious Little Giant Brewery, located in Tarpon St, Anna Maria Island. You might know even less about it after reading the blog at but it's worth seeking out.

There are regular Anna Maria beer tastings at the Waterfront where you can try out the beer in safety and have some great island fun in a good-time atmosphere.

Seek and ye shall find ... beer!

Don't just visit Anna Maria Island, stay here. For the very best in vacation rental properties visit and spend your vacation in a real home from home.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

New York, Old Florida mix

It's always nice when someone from up country comes to see us and tells all the folks back home how nice it is here. Well, those lovely people at the New York Times have been singing the praises of Anna Maria Island's restaurants recently, thanks to an article by Cindy Price.

It starts: FLORIDA is a clever little peninsula. Just when you think you’ve seen everything under its proverbial sun, you stumble across a place like Anna Maria Island — a seven-mile slip of cushy white sand tucked in the Gulf of Mexico where you can dump the car, rent a bike, swim in smooth, teal waters and eat remarkably well.
That last part doesn’t happen entirely by accident. Not in the Florida I grew up in, where chain restaurants line the landscape from Jacksonville to Miami. But Anna Maria Island, about 40 miles south of Tampa, has always kept things old school. A free trolley-style bus runs the length of the island, and colorful old cottages dot the landscape. There are practically no chain restaurants, no high-rise hotels or party beaches — just a laid-back, margarita-by-sunset kind of place with establishments committed to keeping things fresh, independent and local.

Cindy goes on to explain where she ate, and each experience seems to have been a good one. Check out the whole article here

Don't just visit Anna Maria Island, stay here. For the very best in vacation rental properties visit and spend your vacation in a real home from home.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

The future of food

We do like to eat, but what we eat has changed so much over the years. Consumers nowadays are a lot more calorie-conscious and careful about what they eat.
One thing remains constant when we Americans eat out, however: we want what we want, how we want it.
The latest study by R&I Magazine, the USA's leading source of food and business-trend information and exclusive research on operators and restaurant patrons, shows that less is more in most chain eateries.
'The big theme shaping chain menus in 2009 is the drive to help diners tighten their belts, both literally and figuratively,' says its senior editor, Allison Perlik.
The study also attempts to predict food trends and what we'll all be eating next. Take a look at some of these, and then try not to go an make yourself one...

Chipotles, sliders, mojitos—every few years, an ingredient or recipe makes such a big splash with chain consumers that it becomes a virtual menu must-have. So what’s up next? R&I culled a list of the latest contenders:

Already huge among independent-restaurant chefs, meatballs make an ideal menu addition for chains for the same reasons they work for single-unit operations: They’re affordable; they’re simple; they’re comfort food. Already on board: A spring promotion at Littleton, Colo.-based Champps Americana featured a Chicken Meatball Sandwich on a toasted hoagie roll with marinara sauce and provolone cheese; Concord, Calif.-based Round Table Pizza got into the act with the Meatball Marvel pizza and sandwich; and Dallas-based T.G.I. Friday’s added a Meatball Sandwich on ciabatta.

Hot Browns.
Sandwiches are about as close to recession-proof as menus get, and Philly cheesesteaks, Reubens and Cubanos have all had a turn as “the” hot build. Next up: the Hot Brown, an open-faced turkey sandwich blanketed in Mornay sauce (béchamel with cheese). Already on board: Atlanta-based J. Christopher’s Kentucky Hot Brown layers turkey over toasted French bread with creamy cheese-and-bacon sauce. Meanwhile, Calabasas Hills, Calif.-based The Cheesecake Factory added the Hot Turkey Supreme, an open-faced turkey sandwich over grilled brioche and fresh spinach with white-Cheddar sauce. Hybrids. Chain diners are notorious for craving new flavors that don’t stray too far from recipes they know and love, so dishes that combine two or more well-established favorites seem a sure bet. Already on board: Carlsbad, Calif.-based Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill’s All-American Taco delivers a char-grilled burger, American cheese, salsa, garlic-chipotle mayonnaise and lettuce inside a warm flour tortilla. San Diego-based Jack in the Box’s Taco Nachos uses chunks of the chain’s signature tacos as a base for Cheddar-cheese sauce, melted pepper-Jack cheese, jalapeños and salsa.

Hot dogs.
This American classic isn’t yet in high supply beyond dedicated concepts such as Carlsbad, Calif.-based Hot Dog on a Stick, but hot dogs’ nostalgic, economical appeal means the ballpark favorite increasingly is cropping up on all kinds of menus. Already on board: Lakewood, Wash.-based The Ram Restaurant & Brewery recently featured beer-battered Crab & Shrimp Corn Dogs. Columbus, Ohio-based Rise & Dine Restaurants offers the Back to Basics Value Menu, built around regionally influenced dogs from Chicago, New York and Texas, as well as jalapeño-cheese and Reuben dogs.

These all-in-one meals are back, and for good reason. They’re fast, versatile and operationally simple. Already on board: Cypress, Calif.-based Chevys Fresh Mex’s $7.99 Lunch Bowl offers ramped-up flavors such as grilled salmon with Mexican rice, tomatillo sauce and roasted-corn salsa, or chicken with house-made mole, rice and mesquite-grilled vegetables. At Jack in the Box, the Hearty Breakfast Bowl with scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon, sausage and Cheddar cheese was among the year’s most successful debuts.

Fried potatoes.
Potatoes are a cost-effective kitchen staple, and fried foods are always a home run, so it makes sense that operators are serving up multiple renditions of the crisp, golden treat. Already on board: Glendale, Calif.-based IHOP’s Loaded Country Hash Browns featured toppings such as sausage, Cheddar cheese, grilled onions and country gravy, while Atlanta-based Hooters debuted Bleu Chips (fresh-cooked potato chips covered in blue cheese, bacon, diced tomatoes and green onions) and Lots-a-Tots (fried potato tots with cheese sauce, bacon, green onions and sour cream).

Mmmmmmm. Hungry.
Read the full article here (over a sandwich if you just can't wait).

There really is only one company to trust with your Anna Maria Island vacation, and only one website you need to visit. Click on for the very best in vacation rentals on the island. From two-bed cottages, to huge homes for the whole family, waterside, gulf front, secluded, we have it all.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Skinny's will fill you up

Here's the skinny on Skinny's, it's just about the best place on the island to get a really cold beer, and eat a really great burger.
There are other burger joints, sure, but Skinny's has become something of an institution on Anna Maria Island, and that is for a very good reason.
Here's what it looks like inside - nothing special you might think, but think again...

Don't just visit Anna Maria Island, stay here. For the very best in vacation rental properties visit and spend your vacation in a real home from home.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Lego no-go for Orlando

Was hoping this rumor would be true, but it seems not. According to the Orlando Sentinel there will be no Legoland in the city anytime soon.

Reports the Sentinel: 'Is Legoland looking to open a theme park in Central Florida? The chain's operator says no, at least not any time soon.
Rumors that the chain, inspired by Lego building blocks for children, was considering the Orlando area for a second U.S. theme park spread across the internet last week after some Central Floridians reportedly received surveys gauging their interest in a Florida Legoland.
But Merlin Entertainments Group, the parks' British-based parent company, said the rumors of a second U.S. park weren't true.
"This is pure speculation!" wrote Sally Ann Wilkinson, a Merlin spokeswoman reached by e-mail last week. Wilkinson said the company, which already has Legolands in California, Germany, Denmark and England, considers the United States a key market for expanding all of its attractions, including Madame Tussauds and Sea Life.
"To this end we are assessing the potential of several key areas, including Florida, and this often includes us undertaking consumer research. However, we have no specific plans as yet for the state."'

Shame, those places are great. Oh well, back to relaxing on the beach and enjoying the sun.

Don't just visit Anna Maria Island, stay here. For the very best in vacation rental properties visit and spend your vacation in a real home from home.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Citrus fresh Florida food

We all know that good cooking starts with good ingredients. In this Visit Florida video, watch as some of the best ingredients in the world - grown in Florida obviously - make some of the best dishes.
Experience recipes as diverse as grapefruit pie at Lang's in central Florida to orange fudge at Mixon's in Bradenton. Enjoy, and try not to slaver on your keyboard...

When you get to Florida, be sure to call in on Anna Maria Island, a little gem of a place off the Gulf Coast. Check out for the very best in vacation rentals on this paradise island.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Wine from paradise

Did you know that Florida produces wine? Watch this video about the Florida Winery and it seems it does.

Check out this from the Florida Winery website

Today we have expanded our selection of wines to include wines from the seven best wineries in Florida, that’s over 60 wines, which account for over 700 awards and medals. We have added walk in Humidors to all of our locations with the best selection of premium hand rolled smokes. Our gourmet foods range from the sweetest coconut candies to the hottest hot sauce. With everything from salsas and dressings, to spices and marinades, most of which are all made in Florida, you can find a way to spice up any meal. Of course you can’t have wine without a way to open it, display it, or drink it. We also carry all the wine accessories you could ever need or want.

They have outlets in St Pete and Madeira Beach, so why not pop over and try some free wine...

Monday, 22 June 2009

Italian for beginners...

Here's another great place to eat which is a little off the beaten track again (well, Bradenton) but here's another place well worth the trip in the motor: Carrabba's.
It's one of those places which has a simple philosophy to food - no doubt helped by the fact that the two founders, Johnny and Damien, enjoy their grub so much.
Carraba's serves fresh, flavorful Italian dishes prepared from the finest ingredients sourced from around the world. From fresh mussels rope grown in the icy cold waters off the coast of Prince Edward Island, to Borges extra virgin olive oil imported from Catelonia, Spain, to Garafolo pasta imported from a small town outside Pompeii.
Everything is made by hand in each of their restaurants every day from delicious soups and flavorful sauces to salad dressings and desserts. Even the roasted cinnamon rum pecans that top their John Cole dessert are made from scratch.
Check it out. The nearest one to Anna Maria is at 2106 Cortez West, Bradenton, FL 34205, call them on (941) 755-7712 or visit

Buono appetito!

Friday, 12 June 2009

Get yourself down under

Australia is a long way away from pretty much everywhere, but thanks to the Outback restaurants you can at least get a flavor of the place. The nearest one to Anna Maria Island is in Bradenton, and it's a good one.
Here's what Outback say about themselves: 'We start fresh every day to create the food you crave using the highest quality ingredients. Our soups, salad dressings and sauces are always made from scratch. We don't cut corners and we don't settle when it comes to authentic tastes, like our imported Danish Blue Cheese, our toasted hand-cut croutons or our homemade chocolate sauce. With every bite our big, bold flavors will delight your senses and inspire your tastebuds, all at prices that will inspire you to come back for more.'
And do you know what? It's hard to argue with any of that. For great steaks, seafood and big old portions, you really would be a drongo not to check in at The Outback.

Outback Bradenton (941) 792-18984402 W. Cortez Road, Bradenton FL
Opening times: Monday: 4:00 PM - 10:00 PM, ,Tuesday: 4:00 PM - 10:00 PM, Wednesday: 4:00 PM - 10:00 PM, Thursday: 4:00 PM - 10:00 PM, Friday: 4:00 PM - 11:00 PM, Saturday: 3:30 PM - 11:00 PM, Sunday: 3:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Directions: On I-75 take Exit #42 ( State Road 64 West). It turns into Manatee Avenue. From Manatee Avenue, go South on 43rd Street. Located on the right before Cortez Road

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

We're losing our appetites...

A story in the Tampa Times food section caught my eye this week.
It says: A new study was recently released by Chicago-based consulting firm Technomic. It seems the recession is stalling appetizer sales. The study looks at consumer purchases in appetizers, soups and salads. According to the reports, heavy purchasers of salads dropped from 51 percent in 2007 to 33 percent in 2009. Similarly, heavy purchasers of appetizers fell from 40 percent in 2007 to 24 percent in 2009, and heavy purchasers of soups slipped from 25 percent to 15 percent in the same time period.
I hope this isn't true, the first part of a meal is almost the best one. Only the main course and dessert are ahead of it.

Come on people! Save our appetizers before they take them off the menu...

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Catch it, cook it

If you happen to spend some time on Anna Maria Island and end up catching some fish, we want you to know what to do with it.
The opportunities to catch your tea are almost limitless on Anna Maria, but there are only a few rules of thumb for cooking them.
Here is a guide from to the best ways of preparing your catch for the plate. There are many different flavor options open to you, but as far as cooking goes, here are the dos and do not dos.

A general rule for baking or broiling fish is 10 minutes per inch of thickness at 400-450 degrees F, turning the fish halfway through the cooking time. This rule does not apply to microwave cooking or frying.
Fish less than 1/2-inch thick do not have to be turned.
If fish is cooked in a sauce or foil, add 5 additional minutes to the cooking time.
The cooking time for frozen fish should be doubled.
Seafood with low fat content, like grouper, flounder and tilapia, should be basted when cooking with a dry heat method such as broiling and baking.
Fish is done when the flesh becomes opaque and flakes easily at the thickest part.
Most fish will continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes after being removed from the heat, so plan for this in the cooking time.

Place fish, one-inch thick or less, 2-4 inches from the source of heat.
Fish thicker than 1-inch should be placed 5 to 6 inches away from the heat.
Seafood with low fat content -- like grouper, flounder and tilapia -- should be basted when cooking with a dry heat method such as broiling and baking.

Frying - pan-fry or sauté
Fry fillets in 1/8-inch of oil for 3 to 6 minutes per side or until golden and fish flakes easily.-- Thickness of fillets will determine the cooking time.

Deep fry
Place fish in single layer in deep kettle or saucepan and cook in enough fat to cover and permit fish to move freely; do not crowd. Generally the temperature of the oil should be 365 degrees F. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown. When cooking multiple batches, always allow the temperature of the oil to return to 365 degrees F before adding more fish.

Preheat gas or electric grill. Start the fire about 30 minutes before cooking when using a charcoal grill.
Fish is best grilled over a moderately hot fire and on a surface that has been well oiled.
When coals are white-hot, spread out in a single layer. Adjust the grill height to 4 to 6 inches above the heat.
Use indirect heat for a whole fish.
Firm-textured fish, like grouper, shark, swordfish and amberjack, grill well.
When cooking kebabs put foods with the same cooking time together, as seafood cooks quickly.

So there you have it. All you have to do now is go catch some fish...

Friday, 22 May 2009

Dem bones, dem bones, dem tasty bones...

Looking for a night out without all the fuss? Or maybe a night in with some great barbeque food you haven't had to cook yourself? Well, Anna Maria Island has the answer.
Mr Bones is a funky little family owned restaurant on Anna Maria Island where you’ll find some of the best baby back ribs in the country, as well as an eclectic assortment of home-made recipes from all-American to around the world.
With “full-flavored” as the theme, menu items range from the Burrito Gonzales the Chicken Tikka Masala, and from the fresh Greek Salad to the General Moe’s watercress (served over curry fried rice). With hot barbeque sandwiches and a half-pound burger (and over 60 different ice-cold beers) to round out the menu, you’ll surely find a great dining experience at Mr. Bones.
Promising an inexpensive meal and a good time eating it, Mr Bones has been a favorite with the locals and travelers alike since 1992.
A word of warning though, don't ask for salt and pepper. As the sign above the door says, their food is 'cooked by expert New Orleans chefs and doesn't need improving'.
Mr Bones is open Monday - Saturday, 11am - 9pm and Sunday 12-9pm and is located at 3007 Gulf Drive, Holmes, Florida 34217
Visit for more

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Stone groove baby!

We wouldn't normally recommend you leave Anna Maria Island, but sometimes the trip is worth it for the food alone. And besides, the journey over to Longboat Key really isn't that far.
When you go, go in December for the annual stone crab, seafood and wine festival at The Colony Beach and Tennis Resort.
This is a highly anticipated event that celebrates the state's coastal heritage, and attracts renowned chefs and winemakers to help usher in the beginning of Florida's stone crab season. Expect a fusion of culinary genius and indulgent wine offerings - at a price.
The Colony Beach and Tennis Resort is on 1620 Gulf of Mexico Drive, and you can get directions from the resort's website, or call (941) 383 6464.
The date has yet to be confirmed, but expect it to be late November to early December.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

How do you like these apples?

Lynn Kessel's food writing in the Tampa Tribune always makes our mouths water, and with the sun out her recipe this week could not have been better timed.
So if you're thirsting for something refreshing, simple and, dare we say it, good for you, then Lynn's green apple lemonade should just hit the spot.
Here's how to make it.

1 green apple
1 lemon
1 tablespoon flax powder
1 tablespoon Stevia or 1/2 cup blueberries
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups water

Place all ingredients except the ice into a blender. Blend well. Serve lemonade over ice. For pink lemonade, add a handful of strawberries into the blender.

See, we told you it was simple.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Calling all foodies...

If you fancy a nice drive with some good food at the end of it, why not take a trip down to Sarasota to sample a one-of-a-kind food festival this June.
The annual "Savor Sarasota" restaurant has been expanded to two weeks, June 1-14. More than 30 restaurants, some Zagat-rated, will offer multi-course meals at a discount, $15 for lunches and $25 for dinners.
Get details and hotel discounts from the Sarasota Convention & Visitors Bureau, 1-800-522-9799 or

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Time for the Sign?

Hello there food lovers, here's another restaurant you should be checking out while you're on Anna Maria Island: The Sign of the Mermaid.
The restaurant has been open for 15 years in what is an old fisherman's cottage, built in 1912. It still has a green tin roof, antiques and mismatched furniture inside and the sort of homely feel you just don't seem to get anymore.
The menu features food from Florida and Europe and the wine and beer menu does the same. Don't miss chef, and co-owner with husband Ed, Andrea Spring's famous Key Lime Pie, but in truth everything on the menu is worth opening your mouth for.
Located at 9707 Gulf Drive in the north of the island, you should call ahead on (941) 778 9399 to make sure of a reservation.
Happy eating, and if they ask, tell them we sent you...

Friday, 24 April 2009

Eat out on the sand

The Sandbar, located on the north end of Anna Maria Island, has for decades been a favorite for locals and a great place to impress your out of town guests. Enjoy our inside dining room or relax before a sunset on the Gulf front deck.
What better way to experience fine Florida dining than to pair it with live entertainment - With exceptional local artists performing at our restaurants on almost a nightly basis, you can be assured that our food won't be the only thing you'll be talking about after you leave.
The Sandbar is also considered the perfect beach location for your wedding, reception, next corporate luncheon, business meeting, after hours function or family get together.

Here's a bit of history about the place from their website.
The tradition of entertainment and relaxation at the Sandbar dates back as far as 1913. In those days Anna Maria was only accessible by boat. Many people came from Tampa, landing on the bay side and making the short hike to "The Pavilion," a favored meeting place for local and tourist alike, and on whose site the Sandbar Restaurant now sits.
In the 1930s a diving platform was erected on pilings, approximately 100 feet offshore and connected to the beach by a cable that met the 'more adventuresome' could make use of, minimizing the chance of falling prey to sharks that inhabited the area waters. Local fisherman still refer to the platform, now marked only by three submerged pilings and visible only at low tide, as the "wire."
A mysterious fire engulfed "The Pavilion" in 1946. A 'bucket brigade' was formed to protect the surrounding buildings, but legend has it that the owners didn't waste much water on the blaze. They subsequently placed two old army barracks on the spot and the Sandbar was born.
The Sandbar was traded around a bit in the following years. One owner, Mrs. Bernice Enaux, Linkadded a dance floor in the late 40s which did more to enhance the Sandbar's reputation.
The hurricane of 1950 did extensive damage to the building and wiped out what was left of the platform. Mrs. Enaux, not to be deterred, rebuilt and strengthened the building. After being sold by Mrs. Enaux in the early 60s, it once again saw a period of ownership by many. Extensive remodeling, done in the early 70s removed the bar from the south side and added a new bar and lounge on the north side.
In July of 1979, the Sandbar was purchased by its present owners. It is our intention to remain here for many years to come. We can achieve that goal by constantly providing good food, fine spirits, and polite courteous service. If at any time you feel that we are not maintaining those standards, please let me know. I consider it very important!

Check out the Sandbar here

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

The best place for food there is

If you like Florida food, then you could do much worse than click on over to the Sun Sentinel website section dedicated to it. Click here to read some interesting articles, recipes and news about forthcoming food fairs and shows.
With deals, tips, a cookbook and lots of advice you might want to bookmark it straight away.
Why not click here for an interesing recipe for Asian-inspired meatloaf.

Happy cooking!

Friday, 17 April 2009

Have a Banana

If all that Floridian food gets too much and you just want something different, Anna Maria Island can cater for that need as well. One of the most popular choices for those seeking a change is Banana Cabana, which serves up what it calls 'Floribbean cuisine'.
Step away from Bradenton Beach and into a little piece of the Caribbean. Fill up on conch chowder, conch fritters, plantains and mango crab cake and wash it down with a large selection of Caribbean beers.
They say: 'Frequented by actors and athletes. Noted in many magazines around the country. When you enter, you feel like you are in the Caribbean.'
Denzel Washington said: 'Great food!'
So why not check out Banana Cabana and see for yourself.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Oysters ahoy!

If you’re looking for a terrific Florida seafood restaurant, family dining, reasonable prices why not drop in on the Anna Maria Oyster Bar?
If you're in the mood for oysters, lobster, King Crab Legs, steak, shrimp, ribs, burgers, fish & chips, calamari, salads, chicken or pasta they have got the food to fit your mood. The restaurants' fun, relaxing atmosphere and great service will make your dining experience even more enjoyable.
The Anna Maria Oyster Bar also has the best drink prices in town. Happy Hour all day, every day! Whether it’s the giant great white shark on the building of Landside, the tropical tiki bar at Cortez, or the spacious outside waterfront dining at Ellenton, each of the three Anna Maria Oyster Bar locations offers the same great food and consistent service.
The restaurants are open seven days a week, from 11am for lunch and dinner. Sunday to Thursday from 11am-9pm, and Friday and Saturday from 11am-10pm.
Check out the website at

Friday, 10 April 2009

Don't throw out Easter leftovers

Well, it's nearly Easter folks, and you know what that will mean come Monday - leftover ham.
But never fear, here are some tasty alternatives as suggested by JM Hirsch of AP, to try out and give your tastebuds a real treat.
Easter is done, but the ham isn't. What next?
Ham leftovers are an easy way to crank out fast meals that pack tons of flavor. Just be sure to go easy on the salt. Most hams are cured and brined, which crank up the sodium in the meat. Taste the finished dish before adding more salt.
A frittata is an easy choice. Cut the ham into small chunks, then saute with diced onions and bell peppers. When the ham is lightly browned, pour several beaten eggs over it. When the eggs have set on the bottom, top it with cheese and broil for several minutes.
Or try ham and cheese on pasta. Toss fine-chopped ham and grated fontina (or other good melting) cheese with warm pasta and just a few tablespoons pasta cooking water for an all-but-instant mac and cheese. A splash of hot sauce gives a nice finish.
Ham also is delicious used in place of chicken in a basic chicken noodle soup. And for a nod to the classic sandwich, you could even top the soup with croutons made from cubed rye bread drizzled with olive oil and toasted.
Or if you'd rather stick with an actual sandwich, try this delicious culture clash. Ham and cheese are paired with thin-sliced pear and mango chutney inside a gently toasted and pressed panini.
Ham Panini With Smoked Gruyere and Pear

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Take a light bite...

You don't always want a full meal, especially when it's so hot outside. But never fear, Anna Maria Island caters for you too. There are a number of small cafes and coffee shops dotted around the island, but here are two of our favorites.

Mad Pastry Café
Not really a restaurant, almost a diner, but way more than just a coffee shop, the Mad Pastry Café is a pretty unique experience on Anna Maria Island. With a mouth-watering array of cakes, pies and pastries all freshly made you might never want to eat a brownie again/

Anna Maria Café
Part bakery, part garden furniture store, and with an internet café tacked on for good measure, there are many reasons to stop by Anna Maria Café. Jane E and her staff will whip you up a coffee and a wide choice of frittatas, quiches, muffins, scones, bagels and sandwiches.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Good eating, good times

Here's a couple of real local favorites on Anna Maria Island, Sharkey's and Rotten Ralph's. Both offer up some real good home cooking and thirst-quenching drinks but it's that certain little extra something which makes these two just a little bit more special.
Sharkey's is a great place for live music, and if you drive past on the main road which runs from north to south on Anna Maria you'll go past it just after the main shopping center in Holmes Beach (the one with Publix in it). Carry on south for Rotten Ralph's which calls the renovated Bradenton Beach pier home. Come for the wonderful breakfast as the boats chug past you out to sea and enjoy the quiet of an Anna Maria morning. You won't regret it.
Check out their websites below, and don't forget to tell them we sent you...

Sharkey’s Sea Grill
Offering great food for reasonable prices in a relaxed atmosphere, Sharkey’s is a big favorite with the locals. And it’s not hard to see why, with five different fish each day and specials including Seafood gasparilla, Michigan pork chops, Key West grouper and lobster tails.

Rotten Ralph’s
Open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, Rotten Ralph’s offers simple, hearty food to locals and tourists alike. Enjoys the views from their open-air deck or through the huge windows surrounding the restaurant.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Conch munch

Ever wanted to know how to make the best conch fritters? Check out this recipe and method from Chef Vern Thomas, who makes the fritters to a traditional Bahamian recipe.


Thursday, 26 March 2009

Nearby nosh-ups

Looking for some good eats in the area surrounding Anna Maria Island? Well, we wouldn't normally reccommend you leaving our special little spot, but if you gotta go ... well, here are some of our favorites close by.

Miller’s Dutch Kitch’n
‘Just downright good eat’n’ is promised at this traditional eatery, founded by Ervin and Erma Miller who left Amish country in Holmes County, Ohio, in 1981 to start a new life on Florida's Gulf Coast. Favorite specials for each day of the week include cabbage rolls on a Monday, Dutch casserole on Tuesdays, and baked turkey and dressing every Thursday.

MarVista Restaurant
Housed in one of the oldest buildings on Longboat Key, this old-style Florida restaurant dates back to 1912. With views over Sarasota Bay from the deck not surprisingly there is a heavy emphasis on seafood, with steamer pots a specialty.

Anna Maria Oyster Bar – Cortez
Located just five minutes from Anna Maria Island, the Oyster Bar is one of three in the Bradenton area. An island atmosphere awaits, especially once you visit the restaurant’s very own tiki bar and sample the seafood delights on offer with daily specials including All-you-can-eat fish ‘n’ chips, live Maine lobster and Alaskan King crab legs.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Kermit's Key Lime magic

Well, all this talk of food must be making you hungry! So what about a nice recipe idea for Key Lime Pie from one of the masters of the art.
Watch as Kermit (not that one!) talks you through the importance of good ingredients and the process of making the best pie on Earth!

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Eat, drink and be merry

Continuing our initial look at the restaurants available on Anna Maria Island, let's look at three interesting venues. All of them are worth a visit.

Anna Maria Café
Part bakery, part garden furniture store, and with an internet café tacked on for good measure, there are many reasons to stop by Anna Maria Café. Jane E and her staff will whip you up a coffee and a wide choice of frittatas, quiches, muffins, scones, bagels and sandwiches.

Beach Bistro
With more awards than you could shake a Golden Spoon at, Beach Bistro offers a truly fine dining experience in a wonderful setting. With a wine list featuring over 300 entries and food rated consistently highly by Zagat Guide, take your tastebuds on a holiday they will never forget.

Banana Cabana
Step away from Bradenton Beach and into a little piece of the Caribbean. Fill up on conch chowder, conch fritters, plantains and mango crab cake and wash it down with a large selection of Caribbean beers.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Food, glorious food

Okay, so keeping with the theme of good eating, here's another of Anna Maria Island'a celebrated venues.
With more awards than you could shake a Golden Spoon at, Beach Bistro offers a truly fine dining experience in a wonderful setting. With a wine list featuring over 300 entries and food rated consistently highly by Zagat Guide, take your tastebuds on a holiday they will never forget.
And there is one more good reason to dine in style at the Bistro - the Bistro Bus.
Every weekend on Anna Maria you can call the restaurant and they will come and get you, no matter what size your party.
On weekdays the Bistro will also provides special reservation service for parties of eight or more from Bradenton, Sarasota and Lakewood Ranch and special service for members of The Concession.
At today’s prices, gas is more expensive than beer, so as they say, don’t drive — drink.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Food, glorious food

Hello there and welcome to a brand new blog in which we will be showcasing some of the finest places to eat on and near Anna Maria Island, Florida.
We think it's the finest little piece of land on the planet, and part of that is the varied and interesting array of food available to the visitor and resident alike.
But so much more than that, Anna Maria Island is also a great place for buying fresh fish and fruit and vegetables caught and grown locally. As a result we will also be taking a look at some traditional Florida cuisine and even give you some recipes so you can cook up a storm yourselves.
So, let's start with a real local favorite on the island, the Beach House Restaurant.
Watch the sun set on the deck before listening to the nightly live music at one of Anna Maria’s most popular beachfront restaurants. An impressively varied lunch and dinner menu, with naturally a heavy emphasis on seafood, and plenty of sand for the kids to play in make this a great choice for families.
Visit the restaurant's website at