24 Spectacular Anna Maria Island Restaurants for 2024

My favorite amazing and spectacular Anna Maria Island restaurants prepare the freshest US Gulf Coast seafood, the tastiest key lime pie, and everything in between.

Enjoy my Guide to fantastic Anna Maria Island Restaurants, curated from the dozens I have tried. One of my favorite things to do in Anna Maria Island is EAT! And the wonderful restaurants of Anna Maria Island score very high!

Note that I have eaten at all these AMI restaurants so you can be certain my advice, information, and tips included here are accurate and authentic. Time to explore the best places to eat in Anna Maria Island, Florida.

waterfront Anna Maria Island restaurants
enjoy fresh Gulf Coast seafood at waterfront Anna Maria Island restaurants

Spectacular Anna Maria Island Restaurants

McCool Travel note: during busy times, especially the popular winter months, consider eating lunch/dinner (linner I 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 the Gulf Coast Seafood Trail and Best Florida Grouper Sandwiches.

Beach Bistro

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 a select group of USA restaurants to score 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 Gulf Coast seafood items), this particular dish might be the best seafood I have ever had along the US Gulf Coast.

Nova Scotia style lobster appetizer at Beach Bistro
Beach Bistro on Anna Maria Island is one of the best USA restaurants

Expertly prepared entrees and desserts arrive accompanied by exotic and elegant drinks.

McCool Travel tip: As one of the few Anna Maria Island restaurants on the water, Beach Bistro hosts nightly Anna Maria Island 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.

eclectic interior of Ginny's and Jane E's in Anna Maria Island
Ginny’s and Jane E’s in Anna Maria Island

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? I may have to include Ginny’s and Jane E’s on the 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 one 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 another visit!

Perhaps an upcoming McCool Travel article will focus on the best Anna Maria Island key lime pie. See another place below but also let me know your favorites.

McCool Travel note: I love the manatee in a coffee mug mural here at Ginny and Jane E’s. Do you know of a more fun art display on the Gulf Coast?

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 AMI sunsets. Plus, the Kokonut 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.

tiki hut on beach in Anna Maria Island
dining on the sand at Gulf Drive Cafe

Island Fresh Market

Our favorite Anna Maria Island market 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 (I prefer the red bag, 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.

fresh seafood at Island Fresh Market Anna Maria Island
Key West pink shrimp at Island Fresh Market AMI

Pizza Social

Looking for the best pizza in AMI?

We arrived a little too early to check in to my latest AMI vacation rental place so I headed over to Pine Avenue to try someplace new. And I loved the pizza at Pizza Social.

The dough and sauce are made in-house every day and you can tell they are fresh. I tried the large Community Garden (veggie) pizza and it was delicious. Once the pizza hit their beautiful imported Italian pizza oven, it only took four minutes until it was ready.

veggie pizza from Pizza Social in Anna Maria Island
Pizza Social AMI veggie pizza

McCool Travel note: try the Post Beach Italian Ice, made in small batches by one of the Pizza Social workers. I bought and enjoyed the mango version.

The Porch

One of AMI’s newest restaurants is The Porch Restaurant; it replaced The Sign of the Mermaid. While burgers and the rib eye are popular, you know I came here for the local seafood.

And The Porch’s blackened grouper sandwich is one of best I had in AMI.

Bonus is that sides include asparagus or Brussels sprouts (both of which I tried and were excellent), in addition to French fries (which looked incredible).

grouper sandwich at The Porch AMI
grouper sandwich at The Porch AMI

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 my blackened grouper sandwich and fried oysters (and $1.50 draft beers) on my last visit, I watched a local fisherman catch several fish, including a wicked cool, alien looking bat fish.

Rod and Reel Pier in Anna Maria Island FL
Rod and Reel Pier in Anna Maria Island FL

Sandbar Seafood and Spirits

Ironically there are far too few places along the Florida Gulf Coast where you can eat with your toes in the sand.  Sandbar Seafood on Anna Maria Island is an epic Florida waterfront restaurant and as a bonus they have one of the most fun gift shops!

McCool Travel tip: the grouper fish tacos cost $9 less than the grouper platter and has about the same amount of grouper. Better deal! But I have also had mixed results with the grouper sandwich; sometimes amazing and sometimes tiny and dry.

fish tacos at a Florida beach restaurant
delicious grouper fish tacos at Sandbar AMI

The Ugly Grouper

The liveliest AMI restaurant along Marina Drive also has phenomenal grouper dishes. Ugly Grouper might be the first restaurant I have been to with a dedicated menu section for Grouper items. Brilliant.

Ugly Grouper AMI menu

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 one of my favorites on the Florida Gulf Coast Grouper Trail.

The Waterfront Restaurant

Chef William Hermenau of The Waterfront Restaurant serves astounding seafood items. I had Anna Maria Island’s best blackened grouper sandwich (that I have tried) and maybe the Florida Gulf Coast’s best blackened grouper sandwich. See all of my choices at Best Florida Grouper Sandwiches.

The Waterfront Restaurant AMI grouper sandwich
The Waterfront Restaurant AMI grouper sandwich

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 the shrimp and grits here?

We head just a few miles off island for my 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.

blackened grouper at Starfish Seafood in Cortez
Star Fish Company in Cortez is one of best places to eat along the Florida Gulf Coast

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.

blackened grouper sandwich at Tide Tables, Cortez

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.

waterfront dining in Bradenton Beach
Anna Maria Oyster Bar is a wonderful waterfront Florida restaurant

McCool Travel tip: order the Hangover Sandwich. Ha!

Mademoiselle Paris French Restaurant

Mademoiselle Paris AMI is the third location of a local family-owned authentic French restaurant and bakery.

I stopped in to buy a French baguette (excellent) to go with my She crab soup from Island Fresh Market. But, of course, I also had to buy an eclair (really good).

Next visit I hope to try their excellent looking breakfast options, dinner, or even a $6 glass of fine wine during happy hour.

Wicked Cantina

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. Live music usually starts about 4pm every day.

McCool Travel Note: Wicked Cantina also makes a decent blackened grouper sandwich.

Skinny’s Place

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 Anna Maria Island experiences.

Cookout at Your AMI Beach House

Preparing my own feast at my Anna Maria Island vacation house is always a highlight of 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 my above fishing trip with Egmont Key Adventures.

Ice Cream in Anna Maria Island

There seems to be a thousand ice cream shoppes (and shops!) in Anna Maria Island and a worthy quest is to try them all. If you have, let me know.

We like the Small Town Creamery because they carry Ice Cream Club products, which is an award-winning Florida ice cream maker.

best ice cream in Anna Maria Island Florida

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 best ice cream at Two Scoops

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. My wife and I 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?

Cheesecake Cutie AMI

The Doctor’s Office

Experience an extensive menu of house blended or custom craft cocktails at The 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 also serves small plates. I hear the lobster cakes are delicious.

The Doctor's Office, Holmes Beach, Anna Maria Island
The Doctor’s Office is a favorite place to drink in Anna Maria Island

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 my favorite 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. Unfortunately, I heard that they have new non-Florida flight boards. Ugh.

beer flight board in the shape of Florida
try delicious Florida craft beer at 3 Keys Brewing in Bradenton

Do you have a favorite among my outstanding Anna Maria Island restaurants? Or one we have not listed? Let me know.

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These amazing Anna Maria Island restaurants offer the freshest US Gulf Coast seafood, the tastiest key lime pie, and everything in between.

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