Tyler Cowen wrote in An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules for Everyday, “Food is a product of supply and demand, so try to figure out where the supplies are fresh, the suppliers are creative, and the demanders are informed.” Well, we have delicious news! OpenTable’s list of the top 100 hot spots for epicurean delights, ridiculously perfect cocktails, a lively bar and a relaxing atmosphere includes not one, but TWO, local eateries! Diving into their extensive diner reviews, OpenTable said Top 100 Hot Spot Restaurants in America reflects the combined opinions of more than 10 million restaurant reviews submitted by verified OpenTable diners for more than 25,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Florida ranked well as one of four states with the most winners!
OpenTable, part of The Priceline Group, is the world's leading provider of online restaurant reservations, seating more than 17 million diners per month via online bookings across more than 32,000 restaurants. According to a report in the New York Business Journal, OpenTable said the list includes restaurants with “buzzy, engaging ambiance, many of which feature interactive dining experiences, live entertainment and appealing playlists.”
Curious to know which local favorites made the top 100 Hot Spot restaurants in the USA?
Let's start with Selva Grill, a Latin restaurant in Sarasota specializing in Nuevo Latino cuisine. Selva’s Exec Chef celebrates cultural cuisine as he blends Latin American and American flavors, perfectly plating intricate dishes his team then presents as works of art. The New York Times said Selva is, “serving possibly the best food in Sarasota,” and that “everything on the menu is worth trying.”
Known by locals for their tantalizing ceviches including Wahoo, Tuna, Shrimp, Lobster, Octopus and more it's also rich appetizers and entree selections like the New Zealand Rack of Lamb with a truffle chive risotto, roasted asparagus, macadamia nut herb pesto and rosemary demi-glace that keeps diners coming back. Selva's food is beautiful to look at and delicious to eat!
The wine list is extensive, including a reserve section featuring hard-to-find older vintages if you want to splurge. Selva bartenders mix a classic Mojito that is undeniably one of the best and their list of signature cocktails includes my all time favorite, difficult to find, Caipirinha (Muddled limes with simple syrup and Cachaca Rum).
Inducted into Florida Trend's Golden Spoon in 2016, dining options at Selva include inside or outside tables until 11 p.m. on weekdays and 1 a.m. on weekends. The chic South Beach themed lounge serves up custom cocktails, and a late night menu where you can discover a deliciously interesting new lite bite. Curl up on one of the comfy couches and enjoy your night, the DJ takes requests, spinning weekends until 1 a.m., it's time to relax and unwind at Selva Lounge.
Shore at St. Armand's
OpenTable Chief Dining Officer Caroline Potter said in a statement to the New York Business Journal, "If you're looking for a spot where fun is always on the menu, look to one of these honorees.” Shore at St. Armand's fits her description beautifully. Shore is designed around an
Shore taps into several local farms and farmer's markets to create a host of exciting fresh choices on their menu. Specializing in creativity they serve delicious eats in a fun, modern environment that falls, "nothing short of a beach day makeover, with laughter, and a cool vibe." They source locally for nearly all of their menu items, including brunch, lunch, and dinner. At Shore, you enjoy the taste of what’s seasonally local and never worry if you are eating clean. This means you can enjoy fresh shrimp and mango ceviche without any preservatives or a Lobster Cobb Salad knowing that it’s made with fresh ingredients. We recommend the Maine Lobster sliders with a yuzu-coriander aioli, for starters (we split them with a Nice Salad, yup, that's what it's called and it is nice!). You cannot go wrong with any dish on Shore's menu. My extremely picky gourmand friend ordered the St. Louis Jenga Ribs with a Mongolian glaze, chopped peanuts and a Chinese chopped salad. It was delightfully served, and just like Jenga, the ribs came piled high in a criss-cross stack. Fun to eat and delicious the meat fell off the bone and the flavor profile ran from sweet to spicy. She rarely orders the same menu item twice, yet said she might break her rule on this one! Brunch can be boozy or not, and is our next planned trip to Shore!
A bourbon girl from way back I had to try Nice Guy Mike's barrel aged bourbon cocktail, Old Forester infused with grilled peaches, vanilla beans, Peychaud bitters, and French peach liquor. Infused for 5 days it is then barrel aged for 2 weeks. I sipped slowly, savoring every drop of a heavenly distilled spirit lifting mine. The craft cocktail list is complete with favorites like a Manhattan, and a beachy Mai Tai. Nice surprises included the Ruby Red made with grapefruit and Campari, and the Shore Cocktail, a cucumber and gin concoction that proved to be as light and refreshing as the bar. We saw a Bloody Mary go by, it looked spectacular, hence the return to Shore for brunch where you design your own!
Catch the vibe, head for the couches, high tops or smaller tables on the second-floor patio where you people watch al fresco, dine under glass in the cooled atrium, or grab a seat at the bar, the atmosphere is fun, vibrant, and alive throughout Shore. The wait staff is friendly and helpful, OpenTable diners definitely got this one right! Do yourself a favor, dine at Shore!
How lucky are we to have TWO of the Top 100 Hot Spot Restaurants in America right here in Sarasota? If you've never been, go! If you live outside the 941area, these are destination restaurants offering not only fine dining but interesting shopping nearby. Shore even has its own clothing store! Shop, Dine, Relax, Repeat is my motto! Do it all, then let us know in Comments below what you thought of the experience. We look forward to hearing from you!