The deliciousness of dock & dine
One of the things that makes the Bradenton Area a favorite destination for outdoor enthusiasts is our nearly endless waterfront that runs along the the Gulf of Mexico, Sarasota Bay, Tampa Bay and the Manatee River.These welcoming waters, covering the spectrum of colors from emerald green to deep blue, offer every conceivable kind of recreation – from paddle-boarding and kayaking to deep-sea fishing and snorkeling. And one thing’s for sure…all that activity can really work up an appetite!For those who don’t want to spend time too far from the water, we offer another experience few places can match: Dock and dine, which is the experience of boating right up to a restaurant, hopping off and grabbing some food and drink before heading out back out to the water. Here are six picks that set the high-water mark for docking and dining.
A Longboat Key destination since 1920
With an origin story that dates back to the founding of Longboat Key, Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant and Pub is a historic landmark that’s withstood the test of time. And with a recent renovation just completed, it will be around for a long time to come. Featuring a private dock with 14 slips that can accommodate crafts from 6 to 12 feet (depending on tides), Mar Vista offers an intimate outdoor dining experience secluded away on a private beach and surrounded by ancient buttonwood trees, bedecked in lights that sparkle like electric jewels. There’s indoor seating too. The menu offers a wide variety of choices, from burgers to fresh seafood, and the fully stocked bar provides for convenient package service of beer and wine. Whether you’re looking for a romantic spot for two, or a mid-day respite from a day out on the water, Mar Vista provides the magic.
Magnificent views on the Manatee River
As you walk up to Pier 22 from the parking lot, you can’t help but take in its beauty – the sun glinting off the masts of the ships in the marina, the billowing palms overhead that line the pier, and the magnificent terracotta-colored villa rising in the distance. And it looks even better when approaching from the water. The adjoining Twin Dolphin Marina offers 225 wet slips for long-and short-term stays. From the tables by the water, sweeping views of the Manatee River do not disappoint. With a setting like this, it’s no surprise to find the food and service are equally impeccable. The menu features a variety of locally sourced Gulf Coast fish and shellfish, in addition to imported seafood from around the world. For wine lovers, Pier 22 is sure to please. Wine Spectator magazine recognized it with an Award of Excellence last year for its outstanding collection of wines.
From island pier to all-around fav
Founded in 1996 on Anna Maria Island, Anna Maria Oyster Bar quickly made a name for itself because of its fresh seafood and friendly local atmosphere. As its popularity exploded, it soon outgrew its confines and began expanding into new locations further inland. The original location is now gone, but AMOB, as its affectionately known, still maintains an island presence at the end of historic Bridge Street Pier, which juts proudly into the Intracoastal Waterway. A floating dock was added in 2019 for more convenient access from the water. And while no trip to AMOB is complete without sampling the fresh and delicious oysters, don’t let the name fool you – as the restaurant itself will tell you, oysters aren’t the only thing on the menu. The coastal-inspired menu showcases all kinds of fresh seafood, as well as burgers, steaks, ribs, craft beers and more – all at reasonable prices.
Exclusive waterfront dining in Palmetto
Sitting on the Manatee River in a former boathouse at the end of the pier at Regatta Point Marina is the spacious Riverhouse Waterfront Restaurant – bringing an exclusive waterfront experience to Palmetto’s dreamy historic district. Riverhouse features three distinct dining options under one roof. Located on the ground level is the Reef & Grill full service bar and restaurant, which features an all-American inspired menu with seaside twists to some of the most traditional dishes. Also on the ground level is the Snook Deck, a casual, waterfront patio bar, where you can experience the river vibes with craft brews and good tunes. Upstairs is the aptly named Second Floor, a formal coastal kitchen featuring a streamlined, gourmet menu in a historically inspired space invites you to sit down and stay awhile. The common thread among all three dining spaces are elegant hints of coastal charm and breathtaking sunset views.
Some would call it a diamond in the rough. But to the the thousands of locals and tourists who come back again and again, Cortez Kitchen is a priceless “hidden gem.” for fresh, local seafood served in a laid-back, authentic Florida setting right along the water’s edge. Located in one of the oldest fishing villages still operating in the United States, Cortez Kitchen took its name for the body of water that it sits on – referred to just as “the Kitchen” by locals for its bountiful supply of fish and seafood. Here old-fashioned fish and seafood favorites are just one of the many attractions on offer. There’s also singing and dancing with live music every weekend, and events like the annual Cortez Fishermen Festival – a two-day event held in February that celebrates the maritime heritage and traditional ways of fishing village life.