Anna Maria Island is a picturesque island situated on the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico in Southwest Florida. It is known for powdery white sand beaches, gorgeous sunsets, pretty beach houses, and fun great restaurants. Having spent two weeks on the island this past June, my family has compiled 10 of of the best restaurants on Anna Maria Island.
1. Cheesecake Cutie
Conveniently located in the main strip mall on the island near the local Publix is a hidden gem called Cheesecake Cutie. This is a great place to grab lunch where they specialize in thick sandwiches on pretzel rolls, gourmet salads, delicious warps and of course…….cheesecake. They make full size versions but I recommend grabbing a variety of the smaller “cutie” versions and taking them back to your rental to mix and match. Because it is located in the strip mall, it is easy to find parking (not always the case on the island) and you can either grab a table in the pretty little restaurant or take your sandwiches and cuties to go and picnic right on the beach.
Jennifer, the owner, seems to be there all the time and she was very friendly and helpful as I was trying to make my decisions. My kids and I liked it there so much that we stopped by twice so make sure to go there early in your trip because you’ll probably want to stop by again before your vacation is over!! They are also very pooch friendly with some tables outside on the walkway and they have homemade dog treats that your fur baby will love!!
2. Anna Maria Oyster Bar
This casual dining restaurant is located directly on Bridge Street Pier, one of the more popular areas on the island. It really just looks like a regular diner but don’t be fooled: the seafood inside is delectable. My family and I walked in for lunch while we were perusing the little shops on Bridge Street and meandered in as we were getting hungry.
The views off the pier are beautiful and the fried shrimp I had there was the best I had on the island. These were jumbo shrimp that were quite filling. My son said the same about his bowl of lobster bisque. This is a restaurant I wish we had saved time to eat at again. You can be sure that it will be one of the first Anna Maria Island restaurants we go back to the next time we are on the island.
3. Rod and Reel Pier Restaurant
This is an historic little pier located on the Bay side of the island with a rustic charm. As the name suggests, you are sure to see a lot of people fishing off the end and sides of the pier.
It makes for fun entertainment to watch people fish while you are waiting for your table. This is a small little diner and there isn’t much parking, (you may need to park down the road a bit at Bayfront Park and take a short walk) but the ambiance and satisfying food inside is well worth your trouble. It helps to show up in a golf cart to squeeze into the tight spaces.
My daughter and I had a delicious breakfast to start our day at the pier. The views are spectacular. You can even see the Skyway Bridge that leads across Tampa Bay. Although you may not find the food to be the best you have on the island, Rod and Reel Pier is just so much of a quintessential part of Anna Maria Island restaurants that I would really consider it a “Can’t Miss” establishment.
4. Beach House
This is a large restaurant right on the main street of the island near Bridge Street. It is one of the more popular restaurants that always has a line of people sitting and waiting in front. To be honest, we found the food to be average, but the open-air patio views are well worth the wait, especially if you can score a seat outside during sunset since this restaurant is situated right on the beach. The tropical drinks are good and the ambiance has that perfect island vibe. I recommend arriving before 6 o clock to avoid the long lines or you may be hungry at 6:30 but not actually eat till after 9.
5. The Blue Marlin
With a cozy cottage feeling on the inside and a fun tiki setting on the patio, The Blue Marlin is a good choice for either a romantic dinner for two or a fun family or group dinner as well. Known for their fresh caught seafood dishes and fun crafted cocktails, this restaurant fills up quickly so take advantage of their reservation system (not many restaurants on the island take reservations). Try and go when they have live music and be sure to arrive super early as parking spots are limited on Bridge Street. You definitely have an advantage if you arrive in a golf cart here rather than a full size vehicle. Alternatively, you could take the island’s free trolley which will let you off right on Bridge Street.
The Blue Marlin really is one of the best places to get fresh seafood so make sure you don’t miss out.
6. Minnie’s Beach Cafe
Strawberry Waffles at Minnie’s Beach Cafe on Anna Maria Island, FloridaConveniently located right in the middle of the island and a quick walk from many resorts or beach rentals, Minnie’s Beach Cafe is a fabulous diner to grab a delicious breakfast. Their establishment is small and popular so be prepared to wait. Parking is a cinch since they are located in a strip mall and the food is worth the wait. The small space has classic checkered tablecloths and the packed restaurant is a sure sign that when your food arrives, you will be in for a treat. My son especially loved his strawberry waffles…..I may have snuck a few bites off his plate!! 😉
7. Beach Bistro
Definitely the most upscale restaurant that you will find on the island, Beach Bistro is an award winning establishment right on the Gulf with a Zagat rating of 4.9 that you will need to book weeks in advance. I’m not kidding. You will be sorely disappointed if you wait to book a table the week before your trip. They are THAT popular. And with good reason too! When you sit down at your table, you will be greeted with a fabulous five course meal that will be an incredibly memorable experience.
If you can book your seat near sunset, the experience will be even more perfect. Because this is a more upscale establishment, I recommend leaving the kids behind in the rental and ordering them some pizza with a sitter if they are too young to stay alone and going out with you and your partner for a romantic meal at the Bistro. And of course, as an upscale restaurant, you will be charged an upscale price. This is one of the more pricey meals you will have at an Anna Maria Island restaurant but rest assured: It is worth every penny!
8. Ginny and Jane E’s
Ginny and Jane E’s would make the top of most any list of Anna Maria Island restaurants. It is fun, eclectic, and has the most amazing cinnamon rolls on the island or…….anywhere! It is located on Gulf Dr. on the north end of Anna Maria Island. You are going to want to get here bright and early or plan on waiting in a long line because everyone wants a bite here!
Parking is limited and again, you are going to have a much easier time parking here if you have a golf cart. If your rental is anywhere near by, I would suggest walking. There is a great shop with a funky vibe too so you can peruse all the interesting things they have to sell while waiting for your food.
My daughter and I splurged on some handmade bracelets that were made locally on the island. If you are going to splurge on calories anywhere on the island, Ginny and Jane E’s is the place to do it!
9. Bridge Street Bistro
Our first dinner on the island was at Bridge Street Bistro and it didn’t disappoint. I knew on arrival day, after driving 20 hours from Chicago, that I would want a delicious meal with a reservation so I didn’t have to wait. This was the perfect choice.
The restaurant has a nice classy vibe and it also offers outdoor seating. It definitely feels more upscale than the majority of the restaurants on the island but I thought the prices were reasonable. The food is fabulous and the views from the porch on the upper level are stunning at sunset.
We also couldn’t resist dessert and my son said the Peanut Butter Mouse Pie was his favorite dessert of our vacation. The menu varies each night but they specialize in steaks and fresh caught seafood. The lobster mac and cheese was delicious as was my sea bass.
In fact, we enjoyed dinner here so much that we came back twice. It is definitely one of my favorite Anna Maria Island restaurants. Parking can be tricky here since it’s obviously on Bridge Street but if you pull into the hotel’s lot behind the restaurant and let them know you have reservations you will often find that they have saved you a spot!
10. The Ugly Grouper
For the island ambiance, delicious food, and stiff drinks, my favorite of the bunch is probably The Ugly Grouper…..though it’s really hard to put all these great Anna Maria Island restaurants into a ranking. The Ugly Grouper is just a fun hang out with a great island vibe. If you go in the evening there is always live music but make sure to get there early. Like at least by 5 or you may be waiting for hours to get a table. Taking a golf cart here is also recommended because it’s easier to park it in tight spaces.
We also came here for lunch twice. It’s much easier to get in for lunch by the way if you don’t want to fight the dinner crowds. Just know that the live music doesn’t start until the evening around 5:30.
There are so many great choices here that it is hard to choose. But here are some of our favorites: I loved the grouper tacos which is one of their specialties. Notice how the shell is a cheddar cheese crust and it makes these tacos so delicious. My kids actually raved about the chicken tenders. Surprisingly, my favorite dish was the Pulled Pork Nachos. Covered in Queso, my husband and I scarfed these down and were barely hungry for anything else. The cheese logs also deserve a shout out! Basically, anything here is going to be amazing!!
And we haven’t even talked about their craft cocktails. I ordered a Rum Runner that was not just delicious, but it really packed a punch. Overall, for my whole family, The Ugly Grouper was one of our favorite outdoor dining restaurants to eat, drink, and hang out while on Anna Maria Island.
Bonus: Euphemia Haye
And finally, for a fine dining experience off the island, my husband and I really enjoyed Euphemia Haye on Longboat Key. This exquisite restaurant specializes in steaks and seafood and was our favorite meal during our entire trip.
The restaurant itself is fine dining and and is one of the more romantic restaurants in the area. It has a nice wine selection. Upstairs is more casual and features a lounge and an incredible dessert room. Do yourself a favor and stay for dessert! 😉 Even though this is not technically an Anna Maria Island restaurant, it is quite close and is worth the effort to drive off the island.
Anna Maria Island is often known as Old Florida and is a little slice of heaven on Earth. You will be blessed with incredible sunsets and fantastic food if you are lucky enough to travel there. Make sure to fit in as many of these fabulous restaurants as you can on your trip and have a great time!
Have you ever been to Anna Maria Island? Do you have a trip planned to Anna Maria Island? Which of our restaurant recommendations looks best to you? Do you agree with our assessments? What are we missing? Join the conversion and share any tips, questions, or thoughts in the comments!
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