Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Mar Vista: Dockside Pub in Historic Longboat Village

The charming waterside Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant and Pub is located on the north end of Longboat Key in the heart of historic Longboat Village. Arrive by boat and moor at Mar Vista's docks the or arrive by car to enjoy fresh Florida seafood, hot burgers and cool sangria inside the quaint dining room, on the outdoor covered deck or on one of the coveted tables on the beach overlooking picturesque Sarasota Bay.

View from Mar Vista overlooking Sarasota Bay

Originally built in 1912, Mar Vista was spared when a hurricane in 1921 wiped out large chunks of the Island, and as a consequence, this Old Florida-style restaurant is considered one of the twelve oldest surviving structures on Longboat Key. Known more familiarly by locals as 'The Pub', Mar Vista is owned by the Chiles Restaurant Group, which also owns the Beach House Restaurant on Bradenton Beach and the Sandbar Restaurant on Anna Maria.

Mar Vista's dock is a beacon for boaters and sailors who can arrive by water and 
feast on oysters, stone crab, Florida Shrimp or even the famous Mar Vista Burger

The dock's pleasant for stroll after lunch offering panoramic views of the Bay

Looking back towards Mar Vista from the dock

The menus at each of the restaurants are pretty much the same, serving a vast array of fresh seafood, sandwiches and salads, but one feature in which they all excel are their waterfront locations and spectacular views. Everything just tastes better when you can squish your toes in powdery fine white sand, soak up the sun and become mesmerized by the bright blue water. A glass of sangria doesn't hurt either.

Light and delicious White Sangria

Known for their fresh Florida seafood, we decided to start with a dozen pink Peel & Eat Florida Shrimp, poached and tossed with Old Bay seasoning and served over ice with fresh cocktail sauce and wedges of lemon. We followed with Seared Tuna, which was sushi-grade tender slices of seared rare tuna served with pickled ginger, angel hair cabbage, wasabi and soy sauce, and Mar Vista's Burger, a 1⁄2-pound of grilled Angus beef topped with swiss cheese, 
tomato, lettuce and a pickle served with crisp potato fries and mayonnaise.

Mar Vista's Peel & Eat Shrimp with a dozen pink Florida shrimp, poached and tossed with 
Old Bay seasoning and served over ice with fresh cocktail sauce and lemon

Sushi-grade tender seared sliced rare tuna served with pickled
ginger, angel hair cabbage, wasabi and soy sauce

The Mar Vista Burger - 1⁄2-pound of grilled Angus beef topped with swiss cheese, 
tomato, lettuce and a pickle served with crisp potato fries and mayonnaise

Other tables around us were enjoying other enticing Mar Vista treats such as their utterly decadent Gourmet Tater Tots made with mashed potato, onion, jalapeno and Monterey jack cheese, rolled into golfball size mounds, deep fried and served with a chipotle honey mustard sauce, Florida Gulf Grouper Quesadillas with cheddar cheese on a grilled flour tortilla and served with guacamole, lettuce and sour cream, my father's favourite, Coconut Shrimp Salad, made with fried coconut shrimp served over mixed greens with orange segments, candied walnuts, tomatoes, onions and cucumbers with a raspberry vinaigrette, and Mar Vista's famous Grouper Sandwich which can be prepared grilled, blackened, or fried. With an equally inviting Specialty and Frozen Cocktail Menu to tantalize guests, it's much too easy to pass a long very happy afternoon at Mar Vista.

A true slice of old Florida, Mar Vista's restaurant is rustic, woody and quaint, 
and is considered to be one of the twelve 

You're never too far from nature on Longboat Key, for even up the street from Mar Vista, peacocks, peahens and wood storks saunter and squawk, having taken up residence on many local's front lawns, feasting on their flowers, carousing in their campanulas, and breeding within their borders, much to our delight and local resident's chagrin. Such is the price of living in paradise, although maybe they've heard about Mar Vista's Fish Fry, which this year featured authentic Florida favourites like local fried fish, cheese grits, hushpuppies, collard greens, coleslaw and of course, key lime pie serenaded with foot stomping, knee slapping music provided by the Blues Pig Band.

Long Boat Key wood storks - part prehistoric looking, part goofy

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