Big Sugar Restaurant & Rum Bar
1900 Hillview St., Sarasota. (941) 388-7679. www.bigsugarrestaurant.com.Seats: 180.Cuisine: Caribbean.Specialties: fritters three ways: coconut shrimp fritter with mango sauce, conch fritter with scotch bonnet marmalade and sweet-potato fritter with tamarind sauce; bouillabaisse; sugarcane-caramelized pork tenderloin with apple-rum mustard sauce; potato-crusted mahi mahi with asparagus and sweet-potato mash in a blue-crab lemon grass emulsion.Main courses: $14-$23.Chef: Eric Bein.Owner: Kas Iversen.
Ceviche Tapas Bar and Restaurant
1216 1st St., Sarasota. (941) 952-1036. www.ceviche.com.Seats: 170.Cuisine: Northern Spanish and Catalan with tapas.Specialties: ceviche de la casa—shrimp, scallops, squid and fish with tomatoes, scallions, peppers and cilantro; ceviche de Vieiras—fresh sea scallops marinated in lemon, lime, cilantro, sweet pepper and onion; paella Valenciana—lobster, scallops, shrimp, squid, chicken and mild chorizo simmered with saffron rice; paella negra—black rice with squid ink, lobster and assorted shellfish, served with aïoli.Main courses: $18-$28.Chef-owner: Antonio Escobar.Owners: Jim Snyder, Andrew Wilkins and Pierre Dumaine.
Libby’s Café & Bar
1917 South Osprey, Sarasota. (941) 487-7300. www.libbys cafebar.com.Seats: 280.Cuisine:Floridian.Specialties: deviled eggs with American sturgeon caviar; organic prime beef tartare; cedar wrapped organic Alaskan salmon with maple-Dijon crust; grilled Colorado lamb chops with butternut squash risotto and minted natural jus; Maine lobster “bolognaise” with pasta and wild mushroom sofrito; Chilean sea bass “Oscar” with lump crab and asparagus hollandaise.Main courses: $25-$40.Chef: Fran Casciato.Owners: Steve, Joe and Patrick Seidensticker.
Mattison’s Forty One
7275 South Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. (941) 921-3400. www.mattisons.com/mattisons_41.cfm.Seats: 300.Cuisine: Mediterranean.Specialties: crispy artichoke hearts with a tomato, lemon and caper butter, sprinkled with Parmesan; saffron steamed mussels with fennel, mandarin and basil butter; New Zealand rack of lamb with a white bean cassoulet, garlic spinach and Shiraz sauce; Cajun lime blackened mahi mahi with tropical fruit and citrus beurre blancMain courses: $17.95-$33.95.Chef-owner: Paul Mattison.
Polo Grill and Bar
10670 Boardwalk Loop, Lakewood Ranch. (941) 782-0899. www.pologrillandbar.com.Seats: 200.Cuisine: American “with a global soul.”Specialties: tuna tartare won ton tacos; Asian chicken sliders with slaw, hoisin barbecue and scallion brush; gaucho beef empanadas with spicy salsa; organic burger with cheese on a pretzel bun; slow roasted sirloin with garlic aïoli, arugula, tomatoes and onion jam on ciabatta.Main courses: $9-$13.Chef: Damon Vogel.Chef-owner: Tommy Klauber.