Your Guide to Valentine’s Day in Sarasota
Let us help you make some dining decisions for this romantic holiday.
February 14th. It’s one of the busiest days in the restaurant business. Mother’s Day, Easter, and Valentine’s Day. Those are three pretty big days to dine out.
I know that it’s still a couple of weeks away, but you’ve got to plan now. That is unless you’re OK with eating at 4:30 or 9:00pm. If you wait much longer, those may be your only options.
I realize that some of you may opt for a quiet dinner at home. But a whole lot of you are going to want someone else to do some of the work for you. If you’re part of the latter group, we have a few suggestions on where you can spend a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner.
There are two distinct ways that you can go with this and still have a memorable evening. The first is dining out (restaurant). The second is dining in (your house), but with help.
Let’s look at option two first. This means you’re having dinner at home with that special someone. We have some great caterers in Sarasota that can help reduce the stress of putting together a special meal. Here are a few places in town that can set you up with a complete Valentine’s Day dinner that will make it seem like you have been working all day long on it.
Michael’s Catering (941) 214-9006. The experienced chefs at Michael’s Catering can put together a great dinner for two for your special evening. Call for info on the options.
Mattison’s Catering (941) 921-3400. Let Chef Paul Mattison and his culinary team put just the perfect Valentine’s Day meal together for you.
Morton’s Gourmet Market (941) 955-9856. Over at Morton’s Catering, Chef Salvatore Boscarello can take all the work out of your special meal. They can put together just the right ingredients to make for a memorable evening.
We have one more at-home option for you.
Zildjian Catering (941) 363-1709. Alyson Zildjian and her talented team can put a delicious Valentine’s Day dinner on your table. They have a menu with dishes to suit any taste. Order ahead for February 14th pickup.
Alright, let’s move on to the thing that most of you are going to want to do. That’s going out for a romantic dinner. This is where things can get a little bit more complicated. Of course, we can help steer you in the right direction. Here’s the thing, Almost every restaurant in town, that serves dinner, is going to be open that evening. This isn’t a day that restaurant people are taking off.
With that in mind, I’m going to run down a few places that can offer up that romantic setting, special meal, or both. Keep in mind that a good chunk of the following places will be running special Valentine’s Day menus or offers. I recommend that you call or go online to check. OK, let’s do this!
SPECIAL, BUT WON’T BREAK THE BANK
These are terrific places to take your Valentine. And you’ll have a little money left over to pay the sitter. These spots will offer you a memorable Valentine’s Day meal.
Amore Restaurant (180 N. Lime Ave., (941) 383-1111)
Amore Restaurant (Italian/Portuguese cuisine) is offering a special Valentine’s Day menu. VIEW MENU
Boca Sarasota (19 S. Lemon Ave., (941) 256-3565)
A downtown, upscale casual favorite. Perfect for the less than formal Valentine’s Day crowd.
The Columbia Restaurant (411 St. Armands Cir., (941) 388-3987)
We wrote a little piece on how to make The Columbia Restaurant’s iconic 1905 Salad. You can check that out RIGHT HERE. The Columbia is perfect for any occasion, especially a special one.
Libby’s Neighborhood Brasserie (1917 S. Osprey Ave., (941) 487-7300)
Southside Village neighborhood favorite. Libby’s has been through some changes in the past few years. But they still deliver a memorable meal. If you haven’t been in a while, this may be your chance.
A LITTLE BIT HIGHER END
Let’s say that you’re looking for just a bit more of an upscale Valentine’s Day experience. We’ve got more than a few options for you.
Bijou Cafe (1287 1st St., (941) 366-8111)
The classic Bijou was recently purchased by the group that also owns Sage. They still offer everything that you would expect from this downtown favorite.
Crab & Fin (420 St. Armands Cir., (941) 388-3964)
One of the best raw bars in town. You know what they say about oysters…
Duval’s Fresh. Local. Seafood. (1435 Main St., (941) 312-4001)
If you’d like to have a great craft cocktail with your Valentine’s Day meal, check out what they’re doing over at Duval’s. We just wrote about their great cocktails. Here’s our BULLETIN POST.
Kojo (1289 N. Palm Ave., (941) 536-9717)
If a holiday dinner with an Asian flair is your idea of how to treat your Valentine, Kojo’s is perfect for that. Bao buns, sushi, and ramen!
Mattison’s Forty One (7275 S. Tamiami Tr., (941) 921-3400)
Always a crowd pleaser. Chef Paul Mattison’s holiday menus always deliver. We made his delicious Artichokes Ester-Style recently. You can read how that turned out HERE.
IF YOUR VALENTINE IS A STEAK LOVER
If you want the traditional Valentine steakhouse experience, these next five places will not disappoint. This is always a very popular way to celebrate this holiday. You can’t go wrong with any of these local steakhouses.
The Capital Grille (180 University Town Center Dr., (941) 256-3647)
Connors Steak & Seafood (3501 S. Tamiami Trl., (941) 260-3232)
Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse (2001 Siesta Dr., (941) 358-9463)
Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse (6700 S. Tamiami Trl., (941) 924-9442)
Summer House Steak and Seafood (149 Avenida Messina, (941) 260-2675)
ROMANCE ITALIAN STYLE
Italy says ROMANCE! We have some high-end Italian cuisine on this list and a couple that are more modestly priced. There is a little something for everyone’s budget.
Andrea’s (2085 Siesta Dr., (941) 951-9200)
You can always count on Chef Andrea Bozzolo to deliver something dazzling for a holiday meal. Valentine’s Day will be no exception.
Café Gabbiano (5104 Ocean Blvd., (941) 349-1423)
For Valentine’s Day, Cafe Gabbiano’s will have a special menu featuring some of their most popular dishes! Chef Paolo recently helped us with a dish using a brand new pasta shape, Cascatelli. If you missed it, you can read about that HERE.
Napulè Ristorante Italiano (7129 S. Tamiami Trl., (941) 556-9639)
A great selection of imported meats and cheeses will get your Valentine’s Day meal off to a wonderful start.
Pazzo Southside (1936 Hillview St., (941) 260-8831)
They will be featuring some special dishes for the evening. An ideal place for that casual Valentine’s meal. A little while ago we featured Pazzo in one of our Make it at Home posts. You can check that out HERE.
VALENTINE’S WITH A VIEW
If you’re looking for that romantic Florida waterview to accompany your meal, these restaurants are sure to take care of that part of the equation.
Dry Dock Waterfront Restaurant (412 Gulf of Mexico Dr., (941) 383-0102)
Upscale casual with a scenic view. It’s hard to not enjoy a meal by the water.
The Chart House (201 Gulf of Mexico Dr., (941) 383-5593)
A Longboat Key favorite for many, many years. Stunning views and a dining experience to match.
Ophelia’s On The Bay (9105 Midnight Pass Rd., (941) 349-2212)
Beautiful views of Sarasota Bay to accompany your dinner.
Marina Jack’s (2 Marina Plaza, (941) 365-4232)
Waterfront dining on Sarasota Bay. Marina Jack’s has long been known for their delicious food and fabulous service.
Pier 22 (1200 1st Ave W., (941) 748-8087)
Special Valentine’s Day menu including rack of lamb, roast duck, and grouper Oscar. VIEW MENU
This is our top, top end. These are some of Sarasota’s finest special occasion restaurants. Food and service of the highest level. Any of these places will create a memorable Valentine’s dinner that won’t soon be forgotten.
Beach Bistro (6600 Gulf Dr., (941) 778-6444)
Dining directly on the beach. What could possibly be more romantic than that? It’s hard to top a Beach Bistro experience!
Euphemia Haye Restaurant (5540 Gulf of Mexico Dr., (941) 383-3633)
Always a special experience. Chef Ray Arpke’s roasted duckling and the prime peppered steak (along with their famous Caesar Salad) will make for an unforgettable dinner.
Indigenous (239 S. Links Ave., (941) 706-4740)
Sustainable seafood and the culinary creativity of James Beard nominated Chef Steve Phelps are a can’t miss combination. The small dining room makes for an intimate evening.
Maison Blanche (2605 Gulf of Mexico Dr., (941) 383-8088)
We are indeed lucky to have more than one James Beard nominated local chef. Chef Jose Martinez creates meals that are impossible to forget. Their three-course prix fixe menu is wonderful.
Michael’s on East (1212 S. East Ave., (941) 366-0007)
When you think of special occasion restaurants, Michael’s has to be near the top of any list. A dining room with a classic contemporary feel and service that goes beyond (they have won 32 consecutive AAA Four-Diamond Awards). They will be featuring a special Valentine’s Day menu for the evening.
Sage (1216 1st St., (941) 445-5660)
The newcomer to our local fine dining scene. Sage has quickly become a place to enjoy an extra special meal whether it’s a holiday or not. Chef Chris Covelli’s creations always rise to the occasion.
OK, I know that’s a lot to digest. But like I said at the start, I wanted to give you options. Remember, Valentine’s Day is the absolute wrong holiday to procrastinate on your dining plans. These places will all fill up fast. Enjoy!