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Sarasota-Florida’s Best Kept Restaurant Secrets-Three Town Favorites-By Price

Sarasota, Florida is full of fantastic dining spots and continues to blossom as the years go by. To name all of the fantastic restaurants in Sarasota would take up an entire book. But no matter how many hot new menus appear on the city’s hot list, no matter what venues are the latest award winners in atmosphere, cuisine and service, there will always be a few of those city’s best kept secrets that only the natives are keen to. A few of the best, in order of price, are illustrated below.

$ Super Cheap. Patellini’s Pizza.

Patellini’s is located on Main Street, right in the center of the city’s small downtown center. You can buy pizza by the slice or the pie, along with an array of other quick Italian meals. Patellini’s has always been an unspoken hot spot for the areas artists and traveling hippy crews, as well as the well-informed Sarasota’s elite class. This is probably because of the open-minded friendly personality that the owner, who seems to be always working, exudes. You can tell that he truly wants to hear the what the people of the town are up to and he is the kind of guy that would give any wandering homeless person a free soda. Patellini’s is a fantastic option for those visiting the downtown area’s musical attractions, or for those who find themselves venturing out to stare at the boats in the marina (just a small walk from the joint). Additionally, Patellini’s is open later than the other quick serve restaurants in the downtown area, which is always a huge selling point. Oh, and not to mention, fantastic, one of a kind pizza.

$$ Moderately Cheap: El Greco

Also on Main Street, but in a more easterly direction than Patellini’s. Especially well-known for its gyros, El Greco is a classic Greek restaurant that has been around for ages and is known for its exceptional Greek cuisine. Though the atmosphere is honestly undesirable (it is very cheap looking, nearly cafeteria-like, and no music) the food far outweighs the awkwardness. It is so indescribably fantastic that one forgets the fact that they can hear the conversations of every other patron the very instant the warm complimentary bread is placed upon the table. All of the recipes are right to the classic Greek style and served accordingly. You can get anything from a shot of Greek coffee to Avgo Lemono (chicken lemon), their infamous soup. A fantastic fulfilling combination is a Greek salad with a cheese Stromboli. The Strombolis are extremely filling so best to share a large with your dining partner. And when you order the salad, it would greatly dampen the experience if you opted out of the salad dressing. El Greco’s house salad dressing, which is a sort of raspberry flavored vinaigrette type style with spices that go perfectly with the feta cheese and Calamata Olives, is a must-have accessory. Even if you generally don’t like salad dressing, give it a try. Chances are, after the second bite, you’re a new fan.

$$$ A Small More Pricey: Fandango

Fandango is a Middle Eastern style restaurant on Siesta Key. It used to be in the heart of the Siesta Key shopping area, known as “The Village” to natives, but it went to a very obscure location. This says a lot about the loyalty of right customers and also the size of the customer database, because at the end of a dirt road for the most part, Fandango would never be learned, by tourist nor native, unless specifically referred to. The fact that it stays in business at this location is a right test of its quality. If you take the South Bridge/Stickney Point from Sarasota to the island, make a left on the main road and then take your immediate left to drive toward the boating docks you just passed on the bridge. Halfway to the docks, you will see Fandango’s hidden colorful building on the right. The restaurant is painted so brightly that it should stand out to you and in a weird way, the spirit of the color combination seems to fit the aura of the whole menu in general. For the meals do indeed seem colorful. One thing is for certain, each entrée is unique to itself and there is no risk of the foods ingredients overlapping each other to the point of making what one might reckon is a dull menu. This restaurant features all different kinds of Middle Eastern cuisines and they all are well worth every penny. Not to say that the restaurant is expensive, but it does seem to mimic the price of a fine dining place and it is most certainly the opposite. The interior is equally as colorful and very casual, with a bar and a stage for the occasional musician to showcase his or her local talents. The restaurant’s dish that seems the most well loved to natives is the falafel. One can order the falafel appetizer, which is simply pieces of dry falafel (be sure to order tzatziki sauce or another dressing) or the entrée, falafel sandwich, which is the same order of falafel, but wrapped in a warmed pita with tzatziki and basic salad fresh vegetables. Hint: If you make it for the lunch schedule, the exact same falafel sandwich is about half the price of the entrée, dinner menu equivalent.

Lori likes freelancing as a writer and artist in various genres. She has degrees in Journalism and Mktg/Adv/PR from Emerson College and has extensive exp. in promotions, event plotting & copywriting. Read more articles by Lori at:
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