Check Out These Pages, Too!

"Possibility and promise greet me each day as I walk out into my garden. My vigor is renewed when I breathe in the earthiness and feel the dirt between my fingers. My garden is a peaceful spot to refresh my soul." Meems

Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.

Friday, March 7, 2008

A Little Bit of Paradise PT 2: Cortez Village

My soul always begins to leap with anticipation and delight as the horizon of endless-blue starts to edge into view, with the array of palm trees signaling nearness to the salty air and the gulls flying overhead. Just before you cross over the bridge to get to Longboat Key (to the South) and Anna Maria Island (to the North) there lies the sleepy little fishing village of Cortez.The village is located on the northern edge of Sarasota Bay. It is one of the few remaining working waterfronts left in Florida.

Now I have to tell you, hubby and I thought we were the original discoverers of this wonderful little fishing retail store about 15 years ago. For that many years (or more) we vacation annually at Longboat Key for a couple of weeks in the month of May.

To find the Starfish Co. Fresh Seafood Market you will travel through narrow neighborhood streets dotted with cottage homes that display boats and ropes and anchors and such for "yard art".

The retail Market features fresh local seafood including Grouper, Snapper, Mullet and Stone Crab from local waters and local fishermen.

This is one of those places that if hubby and I get anywhere near this area we make a detour to purchase fresh seafood that I will cook up right away---usually mixed platter style. We've even been known to drive all the way down there just for their fresh seafood on certain occasions- like last Father's Day when the men wanted seafood instead of steaks for their special day.

A little over ten years ago the Seafood Market changed ownership and the new owners ingeniously added an open dockside restaurant (pictured above).

The sign at the order window - which was a good reminder for me - "Hey, Meems, you're on vacation!... no need to be in a hurry." Although I was so hungry I was about to eat my right arm.

It was 2:00 in the afternoon last Saturday and we had to wait in line to order and wait for a table to be vacated before we could eat some lunch.

There isn't a single fancy thing about this bayside eatery. Which is what makes it what it is. As you can see by the open seating and the commercial fishing boats docked every which way next to dockside.
We were so shocked when we pulled up outside the Market and couldn't find a parking place. Shocked and sad all at the same time. Somehow 'the whole world' now knows about this fabulous little joint with fresh cooked seafood served in white boxes by a waiter who 'hollers' out your name from the door of the kitchen.

You can see mangrove islands, Jewfish Key, Longboat Key and Bradenton Beach in view beyond dockside. Add to that the local commercial fishing fleet and you've got one of the most scenic outdoor 'old Florida' eating places found on Florida's Gulf coast.
Add to THAT the natural and abundant wildlife that literally perches in and around dockside within a few feet of patrons. There were several Great Blue Herons which in my observations make great fishermen themselves but if they find a hang-out that offers fresh seafood hand-outs they become the best loiterers (is that word?) as well.

Pelicans can do their share of loitering and perching. This one right next to the wooden picnic table we finally found to enjoy our lunch.

Happy to see the white pelicans are still in town for winter. We saw them in groups last month while staying on Captiva Island. What an amazing bird. With its long pink snout... errrr... I meant to say bill ... I found myself mesmerized by its graceful swan-like movement through the bay in and around the boats and docks as if it were the only bird in the water.

The food was well worth the wait as always. Now don't all of you run right over there to eat - we might NEVER find a parking place next time.


  1. Yum, what a delicious post! I love Florida, I visit my Mom once or twice a year and that's not near enough.

    Your photos were beautiful, I love the way those azaleas look.

  2. Melanie: Thanks ... I love Florida too. Can you tell? If you ever get this way let me know.

  3. I loved the sign in this post and the path in Part 1. AND you won an award! Kudos! I remember way back when...when you didn't even have this "blog" thing. Look how far you've come! Beautiful blog!!!

  4. whenever i visit your post i am always envious as we are still caught in winter with no sign of spring yet


  5. It sounds like you had a wonderful and delicious time! What fun to have an opportunity to capture such beautiful bids. I'd love it!

  6. How I wish I could visit this place - I love seafood and by your description, I'm sure I would have been thrilled by this restaurant. Not to mention its surroundings....

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment - your blog is so nice and I'm so glad I found it. The plants you can grow in Florida...
    Katarina (Roses and stuff)

  7. Very interesting! Beautiful photos :)

  8. mlm: yeah, I got quite a chuckle from the sign. BTW the award was passed out generously to all participants of the geography project... but I am grateful to now have a blue poppy. Thanks for all the cheers to my blog.

    Steve: It does look like Winter will never end for you guys but we know it will eventually. Here's to hoping it is sooner than later.

    Robin: those 'big' birds are much easier to snap than the tiny ones- especially for my camera. Plus they are gorgeous aren't they?

    Katarina: Welcome to HoeandShovel!
    If you love seafood and the water you would love this place... especially now before our weather turns miserably warm.

  9. Marie: Glad you like the photos - your roses are outstanding!

  10. Wonderful photos...makes me wish I was back there.


  11. So many wonderful things to see, especially off the beaten tourist path and away from the chains and franchises.

  12. Oh, what I wouldn't give for a good old-fashioned fish fry plateful right now! We froze again last night, so I had to come back for another look at your beautiful WARM pictures!

    I really love that Great Blue shot. All the white pelicans I've seen this year have been way too far out to even try. I hear there are some pretty tame ones down in Oak Hill. Maybe I'll get a chance for a day trip sometime soon.

  13. Some of the best food is served in non fancy styrofoam contianers. Not fancy in presentation--but more than awesome when it melts in your mouth. I really enjoy touring your area with you. I can tell you love it. It's how I love NC too.

  14. Oh Meems, it warms my bones just seeing all this sunshine and wildlife. Don't worry I won't be able to pop in for dinner any time soon but it looks so very inviting.

  15. It is always warm and sunny somewhere! I guess I will have to enjoy this restaurant through you! So, what exactly did you order? I am hungry right now!

  16. Gail: Thanks I'm glad you like them. I also wish I were back there. :-)

    lintys: It is always good to at least to me to find the out of the way places. Hubby and I usually stop to ask the locals where they recommend eating when we are somewhere we aren't familiar. Well, it's more me doing the asking but hubby doesn't mind.:-)

    Sophie: Yes, my son and his wife had started their spring garden and had to drag some things inside over the weekend. Maybe that was last of it. ;-)

    I DO hope you get close to the white pelicans. There is just something very awesome about their size and their grace all at the same time.

    Anna: I DO love it- thanks for coming with me and enduring all my gushing!

    Lisa: It sure makes me feel good to know I can help send some warmth your way. I would love it if you could pop in for dinner... anytime you can... let me know.

    Layanee: I always get the grouper sandwich and don't eat the sandwich part. It comes with FF and hush puppies... very healthy stuff.LOL Hubby got the smoke mullet and loved it. It's making me hungry just to think about it again. :-)


Have a blessed day,

September 2010

Back Garden: October 2010

Louise Philippe: Antique Rose

Tropical Pathway