Waterfront Dining off the Beaten Path

While visiting Siesta Key it pays to be daring and go a bit off the beaten path to find those hidden gems that offer the freshest local seafood, water views and extraordinary experiences.

With Sarasota and Bradenton featuring unique waterfront dining destinations that are within a reasonable driving distance of our Siesta Key resort rentals, it’s worth a quick trip out for a once in a lifetime experience to try them.

Although these restaurants work hard to always have the freshest catch of the day, you only have to hop in your car (or boat) and stop by.

Starfish company cortez restaurant
The Starfish Company doesn’t look like much from the outside, but the back patio area has a cozy atmosphere and plenty of shade overlooking the marina. (Photo credit: Heather Smith)

Star Fish Company

Starfish Company in the historic fishing village of Cortez in Bradenton is well worth the 40-45 minute drive from Siesta Key. This casual restaurant features amazing views of the Sarasota Bay, Longboat Key, Jewfish Key and Bradenton Beach and is a long-running seafood corporation.

This is where you can sample some of the absolute freshest local seafood prepared to perfection – they keep their menu simple because they are so good at what they do.

Choose from local delicacies at their dockside restaurant such as Stone Crab Claws, Shrimp & Grits, Florida Pompano, Grilled Mahi, Middle Neck Clams, Gulf Shrimp, Mullet, Grouper, and Oysters – all guaranteed to be locally sourced.

Have them prepare your seafood your own way – sautéed, fried, grilled or blackened, with a choice of simple sides like French fries, cheese grits and hush puppies. There are few seafood experiences like Star Fish Company, and we promise that you won’t regret stopping by this historic waterfront eatery.

Visit Star Fish Company at 12306 46th Ave W, Cortez, FL. They are open each day from 11:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. except for Sunday and Monday when they close earlier at 3:00 p.m.

Tide Tables Restaurant and Marina

As the highly popular waterfront alternative to Star Fish Company in Cortez, Tide Tables Restaurant and Marina is the other place to go for the freshest local seafood delicacies made just the way you want.

The menu starts off with Peel and Eat Shrimp, Grouper Bites, Conch Fritters, and Grouper Spread as starters. Chicken, grouper, shrimp po’boy and burgers round out the sandwiches which are served with coleslaw, chips, beans, fries or carrot salad.

A group of seafood and land fare baskets – the main delicacy, range from shrimp, to scallops, Mahi Mahi, corvina, chicken and ribs. Choose grilled, fried or blackened for these items based on your mood, with the same side options.

Along with the amazing seafood, the restaurant displays a variety of relics of a simpler time, from gear, to antique fishing electronics, and other decorations that symbolize one of the last remaining coastal fishing villages in the United States.

The restaurant focuses on freshness above all else – the seafood is cleaned right on site or nearby. The chefs there have made a commitment to proper seafood preparation that is hard to find.


Enjoy some of the most incredible sunset views overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway while dining on some of the best local seafood and without having to spend very much at all. Find this seafood gem at 12507 Cortez Rd W, Bradenton, FL 34210 Monday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Ophelia’s on the Bay

Ophelia’s on the Bay is an award-winning waterfront seafood restaurant located right on Siesta Key so it’s not too far off the beaten path. It’s in a cozy little southern bayfront corner of the island facing the Neville Marine Preserve that can be easy to miss with the attractions of Siesta Village.

This is more of an upscale seafood dining experience that is sure to please, and a suitable option if you don’t want to travel to Bradenton to try the incredible waterfront restaurants in Cortez, even though it’s highly recommended.

Enjoy a full menu that features a pleasant balance of surf and turf from Mahi Mahi, to Gulf Grouper, Chilean Sea Bass, Faroe Island Salmon, Jumbo Black Tiger Shrimp and Grits, Filet Mignon, Rack of Lamb en Sous Vide, Tenderloin Pork Medallions and a variety of other rotating specials.

Appetizers range from delectable drunken Maine Lobster Bisque to the most incredible Jumbo Lump Blue Crab Cakes, Eggplant Crepes, Stuffed Bon Secour Oysters and more.

Although the focus of the Ophelia’s on the Bay menu isn’t quite as local as the above-mentioned destinations, the commitment to culinary excellence and incredible quality that you will find here makes it a worthy stop. Find it at 9105 Midnight Pass Road, Siesta Key, FL 34242.

To learn more about waterfront dining destinations off the beaten path near us, or to book one of our Siesta Key resort hotel accommodations, call us today at (941)-349-1125.

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