Our favorite amazing and spectacular Anna Maria Island restaurants offer the freshest US Gulf Coast seafood, the tastiest key lime pie, and everything in between.
Here is our US Gulf Coast Travel Guide to 11 fantastic Anna Maria Island Restaurants, curated from the countless ones we have tried. One of our favorite things to do in Anna Maria Island is EAT! And the wonderful restaurants of Anna Maria Island score very high!
Note that we have eaten at all these AMI restaurants so you can be certain the advice, information, and tips included here are accurate, timely, and authentic. Time to explore the best places to eat in Anna Maria Island, Florida.
11 Spectacular Anna Maria Island Restaurants
US Gulf Coast Travel note: during busy times, especially the popular winter months, consider eating lunch/dinner (linner we call it) between 2pm and 4pm. Crowds and wait times are less, better table seating is likely, and kitchens and staff are less busy.
Also note that many AMI restaurants appear on our US Gulf Coast Seafood Trail: 12 Sensational Places to Enjoy Gulf Seafood and 13 Best Grouper Sandwiches in Florida Gulf Coast Grouper Trail.
Yes, I expected to eat fresh seafood in Anna Maria Island. No, I did not expect to eat at one of the most highly rated restaurants in the USA. Beach Bistro in AMI is one of 11 US restaurants with a 4.9 Zagat rating. Goodness.
We started with lobster appetizers in two forms: phenomenal lobstercargots and lobster Novey style (named for former owner Sean Murphy’s home of Nova Scotia). Besides grouper and shrimp (our favorite US Gulf Coast seafood items), this particular dish might be the best seafood I have ever had along the US Gulf Coast.
Expertly prepared entrees and desserts arrive accompanied by exotic and elegant drinks. As one of the few Anna Maria Island restaurants on the water, Beach Bistro hosts nightly sunset celebrations and has a lively “Old Florida” bar environ.
Ginny’s and Jane E’s Bakery
A perfect place for breakfast in Anna Maria Island is Ginny’s and Jane E’s Bakery Cafe. It is quirky, fun, cool, and serves amazing food.
Definitely order a righteous cinnamon roll at Ginny’s and Jane E’s Bakery. Arrive early in the morning to witness the humongous trays of giant cinnamon rolls appearing right from the oven. Hmmm, would you classify cinnamon roll as a dessert? We may have to include Ginny’s and Jane E’s on our US Gulf Coast Dessert Trail. What do you think?
My favorite breakfast menu item here is the Cuban Egg breakfast sandwich. Que Bueno! See it here.
On my third visit to Ginny’s and Jane E’s Bakery, I discovered that they have amazing key lime pie. For only $3 a slice. Thus the next day I made my fourth visit! Perhaps an upcoming US Gulf Coast Travel article will focus on the best Anna Maria Island key lime pie. See another place below but also let us know your favorites.
Gulf Drive Cafe and Kokonut Hut Tiki Bar
I absolutely love putting my feet in sand while staring at the water when I eat. Nothing makes me feel more like wasting away, Jimmy Buffett style. So, Gulf Drive Cafe passed that test.
Not only is Gulf Drive Cafe a great Anna Maria Island restaurant on the water but their food is pretty darn good. Breakfast omelets are huge. Happy hour is popular because the setting is remarkable for those spectacular Anna Maria Island sunsets. Plus, the Coconut Hut Tiki Bar rum runners are really good.
Oh, and seeing the tropical holiday decorations at Kokonut Hut Tiki Bar are one of my favorite things to do in Anna Maria Island for the holidays.
Island Fresh Market
My latest Anna Maria Island discovery is Island Fresh Market. Items I have bought here and love include Key West pink shrimp (they will steam them, and ask for extra Old Bay seasoning), cocktail sauce (nice spice), key lime pie (really good), blue crab and corn chowder, and Old Florida Gourmet Chips (here is the only place I found the Nice and Spicy flavor).
Along with the listed favorites, Island Fish Market AMI carries fresh seafood (including grouper and other fish, other shrimp, crab cakes), seasonings, other soups and chowders, kitschy fun household items (great souvenirs), and more.
One of AMI’s newest restaurants, opened in June 2021, is The Porch Restaurant; it replaced The Sign of the Mermaid. While burgers and the rib eye are popular, you know we came here for the local seafood. And The Porch’s blackened grouper sandwich is one of best we had in AMI. Bonus is that sides include asparagus or Brussels sprouts (both of which we tried and were excellent), in addition to French fries (which looked incredible).
The Rod and Reel Pier
Advertised as “Little Bit of Old Florida,” The Rod and Reel Pier restaurant is a wonderful spot for overwater dining while watching fisherman on the pier below. With the dining tables (inside and outside) on the top floor and bar area on the pier level, Rod and Reel is popular for everyone.
While enjoying our blackened grouper sandwich and fried oysters (and $1.50 draft beers) on our last visit, we watched a local fisherman catch several fish, including a wicked cool, alien looking bat fish.
Ironically there are far too few places along the Florida Gulf Coast where you can eat with your toes in the sand. The Sandbar Restaurant on Anna Maria Island is an epic Florida waterfront restaurant and as a bonus they have one of the most fun gift shops!
US Gulf Coast Travel tip: the grouper fish tacos cost $9 less than the grouper platter and has about the same amount of grouper. Better deal! But we have also had mixed results with the grouper sandwich; sometimes amazing and sometimes tiny and dry.
The liveliest AMI restaurant along Marina Drive also has phenomenal grouper dishes. Ugly Grouper might be the first restaurant we have been to with a dedicated menu section for Grouper items. Brilliant.
The blackened grouper sandwich and entrees at Ugly Grouper are big enough to share or take home extra for a second meal. With a full half pound of grouper and hefty portions of sides, Ugly Grouper meals are an excellent value. The grouper tacos at Ugly Grouper are a popular item and are served in a gulf fan shell. I will try these next visit.
And, yes, Ugly Grouper is in our 13 Best Grouper Sandwiches in Florida Gulf Coast Grouper Trail.
The Waterfront Restaurant
Chef William Hermenau of The Waterfront Restaurant serves astounding seafood items. We had Anna Maria Island’s best blackened grouper sandwich (that we have tried) and maybe the US Gulf Coast’s best blackened grouper sandwich. See all of our choices at 13 Best Grouper Sandwiches in Florida Gulf Coast Grouper Trail.
Chef Billy really encouraged us to come back for the shrimp and grits, which he says is like nothing in this world. Has anyone had it?
We head just a few miles off island for our final two magnificent Anna Maria Island restaurants.
Star Fish Company, Cortez Florida
Even at 11am there was an impressive line of local residents ordering food at the hidden gem seafood wholesale market Star Fish Company in the tiny hamlet of Cortez, Florida. The CASH ONLY, no frills “restaurant” is out back, overlooking the absolutely magnificent Sarasota Bay. Worth the wait? This blackened grouper was 1/3 the price of nearby sit down restaurant versions, as big and twice as tasty.
Tide Tables, Cortez, Florida
Driving across the Cortez Bridge from Bradenton Beach, take the first right you can and on busier days someone will direct you where to park. If a waterfront table at Tide Tables is not immediately available, put your name on the wait list and savor the magnificent intracoastal views until it is ready. Our group of four ordered five grouper menu items but there are other fresh Gulf seafood dishes too. But the grouper sandwich and grouper tacos are 100% recommended.
BONUS: More Anna Maria Island Restaurants
Anna Maria Oyster Bar
Located on the Historic Bridge Street Pier, Anna Maria Oyster Bar is another local institution. For no other reason than basking in this glorious setting while your friends back home are shivering in the winter, go to Anna Maria Oyster Bar. While I ordered an omelet, my friends all opted for the Hangover Sandwich. US Gulf Coast Travel tip: order the Hangover Sandwich. Ha!
Across the street from Gulf Drive and Kokonut Hut is Wicked Cantina. Sit outside on a sunny winter day and savor their margaritas, chips and salsa, and grouper tacos. US Gulf Coast Note: Wicked Cantina also makes a decent blackened grouper sandwich. Live music usually starts about 4pm every day.
For a quick bite, head to Skinny’s Place, the kitschy, quirky, “Old Florida Original” little burger beach shack, est. 1952, located right across the street from Manatee Public Beach. Eating at Skinny’s is one of the most fun things to do in Anna Maria Island.
Cookout at Your AMI Beach House
Preparing our own feast at our Anna Maria Island vacation house was one of the highlights of our guy’s getaway weekend in Anna Maria Island. Plenty of yummy fresh food and drinks are available at the nearby Publix but the highlight was grilling the fish fillets from our above fishing trip with Egmont Key Adventures.
Ice Cream in Anna Maria Island
There seems to be a thousand ice cream shoppes in Anna Maria Island and a great quest is to try them all. If you have, let us know.
We like the Small Town Creamery because they carry Ice Cream Club products, which is an award-winning Florida ice cream maker.
Two Scoops serves McClain’s Ice Cream from Sarasota and one scoop costs under $3. An excellent price for local ice cream. Order a scoop (or two) and stroll across the street to the pier.
AMI Beach Hut carries ice cream from Yoders Southern Creamery, also from Sarasota. This Amish, premium, small batch ice cream is very creamy. Their key lime pie ice cream might be the best tasting version I have eaten.
Other Anna Maria Island ice cream places include Anna Maria Island Creamery and Bakery, Dips Ice Cream, Holy Cow Ice Cream, Island Scoops, Fudge Factory, and Gelato-Go Anna Maria Island.
The Cheesecake Cutie & Cafe
When not indulging on AMI ice cream, satisfy your sweet tooth cravings at The Cheesecake Cutie & Cafe. The personal sized hand-crafted cheesecakes are delectable and divine. We split one each of the key lime and salted caramel versions but hope to try others. If you have been to The Cheesecake Cutie, which flavor is your favorite?
The Doctor’s Office
Experience an extensive menu of house blended or custom craft cocktails at Doctor’s Office. I opted for custom, request something spicy and rummy from the bartendress. Located in a former doctor’s office (duh), when it is at full occupancy, a rope across the entrance says “NO NEW PATIENTS AT THIS TIME. SORRY.” So cool. The Doctor’s Office is owned by Sean Murphy of the above Beach Bistro.
Florida Craft Breweries Near Anna Maria Island
Two fun local Florida craft breweries within a few miles of Anna Maria Island are 3 Keys and Motorworks. They are two of our Sensational Florida Gulf Coast Craft Breweries.
Motorworks Brewing has a huge indoor area and an outside beer garden highlighted by magnificent live oak trees (love them!), music stages, kid and dog friendly space. Try their phenomenal seasonal beers.
3 Keys Brewing is popular for their beer and food. Tuesdays is $5 burger day and their burgers are absolutely delicious. Unfortunately their fish tacos were disappointing but their craft beer is fantastic. And 3 Keys has epic beer flight boards in the shape of the state of Florida.
Anyone hungry? Or thirsty?
Do you have a favorite among our outstanding Anna Maria Island restaurants? Or one we have not listed?
The US Gulf Coast Travel team has not been everywhere on AMI yet. Some Anna Maria Island restaurants we look forward to trying include BridgeTender Inn, Island Ocean Star, The Feast, Tortilla Bay, Freckled Fin Irish Pub, Vinny’s Italian Kitchen, The Chateau Anna Maria, Isola Bella, Hometown Desserts, The Waffle Press, Pizza Social, and Poppo’s Taqueria. Phew, so many.
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