If it’s been awhile since you explored downtown Bradenton, may we suggest that you re-acquaint yourself with the area?
It’s a lot of fun. You can stroll along the Riverwalk and take a peek at the history museum. There’s also an aquarium and a planetarium. Shows are always coming through the performing arts center, and you have the Manatee River right there in front of you. Explore the marina and start saving for your own boat. You can also visit art galleries, shop in unique and locally owned boutiques. On Main Street, you’ll find bars and breweries. Outdoor festivals can usually be found, including live music and entertainment.
Don’t forget there’s even baseball. The Pittsburgh Pirates have a spring training stadium in downtown Bradenton.
While you’re having all of this fun, you’re likely to get hungry.
With food in mind (food is always on our minds), we decided to put together a list of the 5 best restaurants you can find in downtown Bradenton.
This list is of course subjective. We know that everyone has a different idea of what makes a great restaurant. In fact, we’d love to hear your favorites if you don’t see them on this list.
The next time you’re looking for a great place to eat, whether you’re local to Bradenton or visiting from out of town, try one of these spots. You won’t be sorry.
1. Sage Biscuit Café
Details: 1401 Manatee Ave W Bradenton, FL 34205
So there are two locations for Sage Biscuit Café. The downtown location is on Manatee Avenue and the other location is on Cortez. This spot consistently ranks high among locals, and it’s perhaps one of the best places in Bradenton to have breakfast, lunch, or something in between (some people call that brunch).
Lose yourself in sausage gravy and smothered biscuits or choose one of the vegetarian and vegan options. You have a lot of choices, and we don’t think you’ll regret any of them.
This is a family-owned business that’s on a mission to serve quality homemade food. Owners Jose Moreta, Nicole Praessel, and Joseph Moreta have years of experience in the restaurant business, and they’re offering something fresh and inventive at Sage Biscuit Café.
Menu items include eggs, biscuits, burritos, salmon, and shrimp and grits for breakfast. There are also simple choices, like oatmeal and omelets. You can try one of the many eggs benedict options, select a breakfast skillet, or go for something sweet like a bananas foster waffle or apricot stuffed French toast.
The lunch menu includes soups and salads as well as a homemade chicken pot pie complete with the flaky crust served inside a skillet. Burgers and sammies cover everything from a salmon BLT to a meatloaf sandwich. You can order fries as a side or go with something different – like a cucumber chickpea salad. Yum.
Save room for dessert. There’s coconut cream pie, peanut butter pie, southern pecan pie, and a flourless espresso cake.
2. Pier 22
Details: 1200 1st Ave W.
Bradenton, FL 34205
Pier 22 is the place you want to take your out-of-town guests. Not only does it offer outstanding food and stellar service, you’re sitting in one of the most desirable parts of downtown Bradenton. The restaurant is on the water, overlooking the Manatee River. There’s plenty of outside seating so if the weather is nice and you’re feeling like an al fresco experience, choose a table on the patio. You won’t regret it, especially if you happen to be there at around sunset time.
But let’s get to the food.
The menu is full of high quality ingredients and it’s also huge; you might need a bookmark if you see something you like. Diners enjoy a wide selection of dishes, many of which embrace local flavors and others that reach out to international palates. There’s a lunch menu, a dinner menu, and a sushi menu on its own.
What should you try? Everything. But, since that’s likely not possible in one sitting, maybe select the rack of lamb or the stuffed lobster? There’s a crab sandwich that’s hard to beat and if you’re a fan of sushi, you’ll like what’s prepared at Pier 22. Prime rib is the specialty on Friday and Saturday nights, and it will be cooked perfectly to your liking.
A lot of people come to Pier 22 for brunch on Sundays. It’s on from 11 am until 3 pm. Enjoy some raw oysters, a Bloody Mary, and maybe a selection of small plates if you’re feeling like you want to graze.
Another reason this is one of our 5 best? There are special events here. All. The. Time. Wine dinners, tasting menus – it’s a lot of fun and they book fast, so don’t wait too long before making a reservation.
3. O’ Bricks Irish Pub and Martini Bar
Details: 427 12th Street West, Bradenton, FL 34205
Winning a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence in 2019, O’ Bricks Irish Pub and Martini Bar gets a lot of buzz, and you’ll understand why after just one visit. It’s fun. It’s delicious. It’s modern and cool.
While the vibe is totally contemporary – there’s some history here. The restaurant and its banquet room and event space are in two of downtown Bradenton’s oldest buildings. The structure has been around since the turn of the century (19th turning to 20th, not Y2K). Original construction was in 1901, and the place has been renovated many, many times since then.
This restaurant endeavors to pay its respects to downtown Bradenton’s charm and heritage. You’ll find a bit of a tropical element in place, too. The wood is hand-carved and from Costa Rica.
People don’t just love this place for the history and the architecture, however. There’s also the matter of food and drink.
Lunch and dinner menus are available, and brunch is served on the weekends. You have to try the Lobster Mac-n-Cheese and if you’re feeling like a steak, go with the filet and top it with gorgonzola. If you’re feeling like you want to be more in touch with the pub side of the menu, it’s impossible not to love the wings, a burger, or a flatbread.
There’s a great wine list, and you can order by the glass or the bottle. Beers are available, too, but what you really want is a martini. The menu includes martinis galore. Flavors you haven’t even thought of are available and tempting, like a Key Lime martini, Almond Joy martini, or the Palmettopolitan, with Grand Marnier, Peach Schnapps and pineapple.
4. Arte Caffé
Details: 930 12th St W, Bradenton, FL 34205
Lots of great Italian restaurants can be found in Bradenton, but if you’re looking for great food plus a unique experience, we want to send you to Arte Caffé in the Village of the Arts.
Remo Mambelli owns the place, and he came to the U.S. from Italy in 1990. Inspired by his mother’s cooking, he managed restaurants in New York for 15 years before settling in Bradenton and bringing his authentic flavors and family recipes to the restaurant he opened with his wife, Meridith.
It’s tempting to make a meal out of the salumi selections, the cheeses, and a few tasty hunks of focaccia. But save room for some of their specialties. Pastas include fettuccine with pesto, rigatoni with the house meat sauce, lasagna, and ravioli. Pizzas are also popular. The margarita is lightly topped with fresh tomatoes and cheese as well as home-grown basil. The Bianca has no sauce but four cheeses and a salad of arugula on top.
This restaurant includes daily specials not on the menu (always try those), and there’s an outdoor garden that’s perfect for a party or a special event.
5. Central Café
Details: 906 Manatee Avenue East. Bradenton, Florida 34208
It’s kind of an industrial space, with brick walls and super-cool lighting. The building was once the historic Manatee Hotel. It’s chic and pretty and a place you wouldn’t mind using as a backdrop in your Instagram posts. But, it’s more than that. The Central Café is also great with the food they serve, and it’s one of the most popular local spots in downtown Bradenton.
There’s a distinct west coast set of flavors happening in the menu. For lunch, you’ll want to try the tomato soup and the Caprese board. There are sandwiches, salads, and pizzas. You can order a gourmet taco with braised pork, ahi tuna, or rock shrimp. For dinner, you might try the crab cake or the French cut pork chop.
Drinks are also a big part of the menu. People seem to love the inventive mixed drinks and cocktails. Start with the Siesta Key Coconut Mojito or the Stoli Mule. The wine and beer list will also impress.
These are five great restaurants to start with when you’re looking for something good to eat in downtown Bradenton. Tell us where you’re eating these days. And, if you’re looking to rent a vacation home down here, don’t forget to contact us at Anchor Down Vacation Rentals. When you book with us directly, you save money and have a better experience.