Best burgers, waterfront restaurants, live music venues in Sarasota, Manatee

The Fuego Burger at Brewster's Tavern in downtown Sarasota.

The Fuego Burger at Brewster’s Tavern in downtown Sarasota.

It’s the final Friday of May and while there are lots of fun Memorial Day weekend events to be excited about in Sarasota and Manatee counties, it’s also a fine time to look back at five of our most popular restaurant and food stories for the month. Because, really, going out to eat is exciting, too!

The stories highlighted below include dining guides (including one for folks who enjoy live music with their meal) as well as news about a restaurant opening on North Trail. In addition, keep in mind that our weekly restaurant inspections report, which typically publishes on Monday, is also very popular with our subscribers.

Restaurant reviews: The best things to eat this week in Sarasota and Manatee

Ticket Newsletter: Sign up to receive restaurant news and reviews plus info on things to do every Friday

The Clasico Burger at Clasico Italian Chophouse in downtown Sarasota.

The Clasico Burger at Clasico Italian Chophouse in downtown Sarasota.

1. The 25 best restaurants in Sarasota County for burgers

Even my coworkers can’t believe how much beef I consume for my annual best burgers list, which this year expanded from 20 to 25 just for Sarasota County, with a similar-sized list for Manatee County planned to run in the near future. And in response to the commenter who implied I simply wrote about every place that serves a burger in Sarasota, the county has something like 800 restaurants and, trust me, the vast majority serve very average burgers.

Which restaurants make the best burgers in Sarasota County? Here are 25 of our favorites

Star Fish Company Market & Restaurant is in the historic fishing village of Cortez on north Sarasota Bay.

Star Fish Company Market & Restaurant is in the historic fishing village of Cortez on north Sarasota Bay.

2. Best waterfront restaurants in historic Cortez on Sarasota Bay

Launched in January, our annual series on the best waterfront restaurants began with Sarasota and then featured Anna Maria Island, the Venice area, Bradenton and Englewood before visiting the historic commercial fishing village of Cortez. And, really, I’ve found there’s not a better place in Southwest Florida for fresh, Gulf of Mexico seafood that has been expertly prepared than at the dockside restaurants in Cortez.

Best waterfront restaurants in Cortez Village on Sarasota Bay and what to eat, drink there

Fork & Hen is taking over the former space of Leaf & Lentil at 2801 N. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota, with a menu including Southern comfort staples such as fried chicken and mac-and-cheese, as well as other cuisines.

Fork & Hen is taking over the former space of Leaf & Lentil at 2801 N. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota, with a menu including Southern comfort staples such as fried chicken and mac-and-cheese, as well as other cuisines.

3. Southern food restaurant Fork & Hen opening in Sarasota

My colleague Jimmy Geurts broke the news that Fork & Hen, serving Southern food staples and more, is set to open at 2801 N. Tamiami Trail, in the former space of Leaf & Lentil that’s across the street from Ringling College of Art and Design. Personally, I can’t wait to try their fried chicken, award-winning mac-and-cheese, and the Hitman burger containing a smashed patty with fried mozzarella, pimento cheese and Applewood smoked bacon.

Restaurant News: Casual spot offering Southern comfort food, more opening in Sarasota

Doug Deming, left, is seen here performing with his band the Jewel Tones on Sept. 23, 2021 at Mattison's Riverwalk Grille Bradenton.

Doug Deming, left, is seen here performing with his band the Jewel Tones on Sept. 23, 2021 at Mattison’s Riverwalk Grille Bradenton.

4. The 10 best restaurants, bars and breweries for live music in Sarasota and Bradenton

Jimmy also wrote about some of the best places to enjoy live music in Sarasota-Manatee including many that are also outstanding restaurants. These include personal faves Cottonmouth Southern Soul Kitchen in Bradenton’s Village of the Arts, J.R.’s Old Packinghouse Cafe in Sarasota, Mattison’s locations in downtown Sarasota and Bradenton, and Stottlemyer’s Smokehouse in Sarasota.

10 best restaurants, bars and breweries for live music in Sarasota and Bradenton

The tomato pie at Jennings Downtown Provisions in Bradenton contains tomato relish, croutons and pimento cheese, all made in house. It's served with a side salad of mixed greens and balsamic dressing.

The tomato pie at Jennings Downtown Provisions in Bradenton contains tomato relish, croutons and pimento cheese, all made in house. It’s served with a side salad of mixed greens and balsamic dressing.

5. Restaurant reviews: The best things to eat this week in Sarasota and Manatee

Locally-owned French cafe and bakery Mademoiselle Paris now has three locations in the area including in downtown Sarasota and an even cuter one on Anna Maria Island.

I visited both for my latest Best Things to Eat column as well as Bradenton’s Jennings Downtown Provisions, which has been rocking some awesome specials lately such as the must-try tomato pie. And I went southbound for my third pick, reviewing Village Fish Market Restaurant and Lounge, the oldest r
estaurant in adorable Fishermen’s Village in Punta Gorda.

Restaurant reviews: The best things to eat in Sarasota and Bradenton area: May 25-31

More Ticket Editor columns:

Top 10 reasons Sarasota-Bradenton is best place to live in United States

New waterfront restaurant opening in Bradenton key to Riverwalk expansion east

More free block parties and concerts for Sarasota and Manatee

Wade Tatangelo is the Herald-Tribune’s dining and entertainment editor overseeing the weekly Ticket publication. He’s also co-leader of USA Today Network’s Uniquely Florida team creating statewide content. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. He may be reached by email at [email protected] Support local journalism by subscribing.​​​​​​

This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Ticket Editor: Best burgers, waterfront restaurants Sarasota, Bradenton

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