GULF DRIVE CAFÉ on Beautiful Anna Maria Island
I know I am going to be accused of bragging, but I live in Paradise!!! This is not something I take for granted. I am extremely grateful that my parents had the wisdom to move to Sarasota some 70 years ago!!! As a result, beaches, beautiful sunsets and succulent tropical food have all played an integral part of my lucky life! When you are fortunate to live here, you can play ‘tourist’ ANY day of the week in your own hometown without packing your bags or paying for a plane ticket!
Recently, this ‘tourist’ made a visit out to Anna Maria Island and had lunch at the Gulf Beach Café. (www.gulfdrivetiki.com) It has been a few years since I had dined at this quaint ‘little’ café so I was flabbergasted when I saw that there was nothing ‘little’ about this venue anymore! The Café is now adorned with Tiki Huts & seating for drinking & dining on a vast stretch of white sand beach. A visitor to the Gulf Drive Café is afforded so MANY options to enjoy the beautiful view. Upon entering the ‘complex’, you pass through two (2) different Tiki Huts!! Actually, the word ‘hut’ is not a sufficient description. The main building (known as the Kokonut Hut) is a HUGE open-air structure. The day of my visit, they were preparing to cater a wedding, and chafing dishes, clothed-tables and flowers were beginning to emerge. This is also the location for many of the LIVE Entertainment events that they do on a regular basis. Adjacent to this is a Tiki ‘Hut’ complete with a friendly bartender and plenty of bar stools. Making a path along the water’s edge to the original ‘café’, I passed by happy diners seated at a variety of tables selections. Since the original Café was my initial destination, I elected to dine there. There are both indoor and outdoor dining options in the café. The outdoor option is actually a covered area with a spectacular view of the beach through the rustic wood-framed openings.
Heading to the air-conditioned dining room (hey, I’m NOT really a tourist; I like AC), I discovered it was going through some renovations. However, this did not deter me, as it was nice and cool and I could STILL see the beach! The Gulf Drive café has an extensive menu and many tropical & seafood options available as you would expect. For some reason, when I saw the “French Onion Soup Gratinee” and the description that included two (2) kinds of cheese, my mind was made up!!! My dining companion, who is a ‘burger guy’ pretty much wherever we go, ordered the “Onion Ring Burger w/Fries”. As unimaginative as this might sound, I am always happy to have him along. In this ‘reviewer’s’ way of thinking, a good burger on ANY restaurant’s menu is a MUST!
Well the burger did not disappoint!! It was cooked as requested utilizing quality meat and was both flavorful and juicy!! My onion soup was COVERED with cheese with substantial portions of onion in a very tasty broth.
The truth be known, even ‘mediocre’ food would have been thoroughly enjoyed with a VIEW like that!!! I’m happy to say, however, that we both thoroughly enjoyed our food selections.
Resisting the urge to just make a ‘day of it’, we departed to continue to do a little more traveling on Anna Maria as ‘tourists’. Our NEXT visit was to Joe’s Eats and Sweets www.joeseatsandsweets.com for an after-dinner Sundae!!! Sitting in their upstairs dining room ‘with a view’, I enjoyed chatting with a few REAL tourists and bragging about the fact that I actually LIVE here!!! (Yes, I am spoiled rotten and LOVE it)!
Stay tuned for my next article about the Bar on Anna Maria that BABE Ruth owned!
Leslie Hinsz Marron (aka LeslieSRQ) is a CRACKER!! Yes, she was actually born in Sarasota. In her early 20s, despite the sunshine, the palm trees & the beaches, she wandered off to Memphis to dabble in architecture & construction and to consort with the likes of Elvis & BB King. Predictably, like a fish to water, she came back home to Sarasota and has been swimming upstream ever since! Promoting & Praising the Paradise she calls ‘home’, her passion for all things Sarasota, is expressed on her website www.LeslieSRQProductions.com Whether it is the creation of unique and inspiring Videos, or Special Events, or exciting Graphics & Photos, Leslie promotes people, places & events in Full, Vibrant Color!! Please visit her site to see how she can help promote YOU or call 941-748-4252.