In recent months we have visited the best waterfront restaurants for outdoor dining in Sarasota, Anna Maria Island, Nokomis-Osprey-Venice, Cortez and Bradenton. Now, we return to the southernmost part of our coverage area to spotlight Englewood, the Gulf-front community straddling both sides of the Sarasota-Charlotte county line. The restaurants, which all offer open-air dining on the water, are presented in alphabetical order.
Beach Road Wine Bar & Bistro
1350 Beach Road, Englewood; 941-474-9500; facebook.com/BeachRoadWineBarBistro
Offering a gorgeous view of Lemon Bay with seating on an outdoor patio and slips for those arriving by boat, Beach Road Wine Bar & Bistro is an ideal place to pair by turns fun and more sophisticated cuisine with a sweeping selection of varietals.
Popular menu items include the shrimp and grits (four tiger prawns in a spicy broth served over cheesy polenta), pork ribeye (bone-in pork served with Southern-style mashed potatoes and asparagus) and, from the lunch menu, don’t miss out on a chance to try the Bistro Haute Dogs. The two all-Kobe beef hot dogs are bathed in a brine with butter and beer (seasonal tap), chargrilled and served on a Hawaiian sweet bun, with toppings prepared daily.
Farlow’s on the Water
2080 S. McCall Road, Englewood; 941-474-5343; farlowsonthewater.com
Keith and Laurie Farlow’s tropical dining destination on Ainger Creek features a winning fusion of Caribbean and Southern cooking that has kept their place at No. 1 for some time now on Yelp and Tripadvisor’s ranking of the best restaurants in Englewood. Farlow’s is also a recipient of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association’s Seal of Commitment for exemplary safety and sanitation standards.
Popular dishes include the Shrimp & Kentucky Cornbread that places pan-seared wild pink shrimp in a Morita chile and roasted garlic butter sauce over house-made cornbread and wilted greens. For island-style seafood, check out the Anguilla hogfish: coconut and macadamia nut encrusted hogfish from the Florida Keys topped with a tropical strawberry and peach rum glaze.
There’s also the St. Croix Cranberry Chicken Salad featuring two scoops of freshly made cranberry chicken salad over romaine and artisan greens with raspberries, granny smith apples, strawberries, mandarin oranges and candied pecans; served with house vinaigrette. And for starters, be sure to try the fried green tomatoes made with a recipe “smuggled out of Kentucky.” The thin sliced green tomatoes are dipped in cornmeal batter and drizzled with Farlow’s own cocktail sauce.
1400 Aqua View Lane, Englewood; 941-474-4292; landysonthewater.com
Known for steaks and seafood with a Mediterranean twist, the family owned and operated Landy’s overlooks the Redfish Cove area of Lemon Bay.
Popular items on the extensive menu include the Cajun Surf N Turf (five ounce hand cut filet mignon topped with shrimp sauteed in a spicy Cajun sauce and served with creamy mashed potatoes) and the Seafood Portofino (shrimp, scallops, mussels and clams sauteed in garlic sauce with a hint of tomato and tossed with linguine).
Other favorites include a fried soft shell crab B.L.T. on a croissant and the Famous French Dip: Thin sliced prime rib with mushrooms and provolone on a toasted hoagie roll, served au jus.
Lighthouse Grill at Stump Pass
260 Maryland Ave., Englewood; 941-828-1368; thelighthousegrill.net
Overlooking Lemon Bay and boasting the best sunset views of any restaurant in Englewood, Lighthouse Grill reopened in 2017 after the completion of an extensive renovation of the marina. It’s accessible by boat at Marker 17A.
Popular menu items include fresh conch and octopus salad mixed with roasted garlic, onions, Spanish olives and fresh peppers; tossed in olive oil, white vinegar and fresh lemon juice. There’s also the herb-grilled salmon filet topped with a light lemon butter sauce and served with orzo. Another highly recommended dish is the fried crispy whole snapper topped with roasted garlic, peppers and onions. We’re also told the wings, served traditional or slow smoked, are “amazing.”
Lock ’N Key Restaurant & Pub
2045 N. Beach Road, Englewood; 941-474-1517; lockandkeyrestaurant.com
Right across the street from Englewood Beach, the Lock ’N Key restaurant underwent a total renovation in 2018 by owners Rocket and Sue Atamanchuk. Lock ’N Key is also a recipient of Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association’s Seal of Commitment.
Popular lunch items include the Grouper Rocket containing fried grouper with melted Swiss, thousand island dressing and coleslaw on grilled rye bread. There are also the signature “Key” burgers made from fresh ground beef. These include burgers with numerous topping options that include grilled shrimp, barbecue pulled pork or mac ’n’ cheese, as well as a beef patty covered with creamy jalapeno, raspberry jam and fried onions. There are also Impossible and black bean burgers listed on the menu.
For dinner, the restaurant recommends the classic surf and turf pairing of filet mignon and lobster tail (or stuffed shrimp). There’s also the parmesan-coated shrimp and scallops; as well as the coconut shrimp, which are hand battered and “fried the Island way” served with a spicy berry sauce.
SandBar Tiki & Grille
1975 Beach Road, Englewood; 941-460-8280; sandbartikigrille.com
This Manasota Key spot offers tiki hut-style dining on the water with live music daily in a fun, beachy atmosphere. SandBar is a recipient of Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association’s Seal of Commitment.
For many, when it comes to dining at SandBar it’s all about the “Bustin’ Beach Burgers” made with a premium ground brisket blend. Popular selections include the Tiki Torch containing melted Swiss and pepper jack, bacon, pineapple, tangy mango salsa, banana peppers and red onions; drizzled with Caribbean teriyaki sauce and served on a toasted brioche roll. Another popular burger is the Bomber containing Swiss and American cheese and bacon; a signature mix of grilled mushrooms, onions, roasted corn, red peppers and shaved sirloin; and finished with a tangy barbecue sauce, also served on a toasted brioche roll.
Sandbar also does a bunch of smoked barbecue items including ribs, pulled pork, and brisket, which can be enjoyed as a sloppy joe with Sandbar’s own sloppy joe sauce. Other popular menu items include the Island Tacos (filled with choice of chicken, pulled pork, haddock, shrimp, grouper or mahi mahi) and the fish and chips made with a one-pound whole filet of haddock “dredged in seasoned flour, deep fried, served with our famous tiki fries and coleslaw.”
The Waverly Restaurant and Bar
2095 N. Beach Road, Englewood; 941-475-3500; thewaverlyfl.com
Located right across from Englewood Beach, The Waverly now serves its full menu in the second-floor dining room with floor-to-ceiling windows featuring Gulf of Mexico vistas as well as at the first-floor outdoor bar.
Known for its winning pairing of spectacular sunset views and seafood, popular dishes include a buttered split top lobster roll with freshly steamed and hand-shucked lobster meat tossed in mayo and lightly seasoned. Another popular item on the lunch menu is Scott’s Turkey Club featuring house-roasted sliced turkey breast, with crispy bacon, lettuce, tomato, baby Swiss and aioli layered on thick-cut marble rye.
Popular dinner dishes include the pan-seared sea bass served with a passion fruit beurre blanc, with grilled corn and blue crab risotto and scallions. Another favorite is the slow roasted, herb-rubbed prime rib, served au jus and accompanied by Yukon Gold whipped potatoes and grilled asparagus.
An earlier version of this story originally ran Sept. 17, 2020.
Wade Tatangelo is the Herald-Tribune’s entertainment editor. Email him at [email protected].