One of the best restaurants for burgers and wings in Sarasota and Bradenton is opening a new location.
Locally based Food + Beer owners, Mike Whalen and Casey Daniels, debuted their crowd-pleasing sports bar concept of first-rate pub grub paired with various brews (and now, craft cocktails) in Sarasota’s Gulf Gate neighborhood in 2018. They soon followed it with a location on Fruitville Road. Next came Food + Beer’s Bradenton restaurant in 2021, and then another in Venice in 2022.
Last year, Food + Beer opened a location in downtown Sarasota’s Rosemary District, as well as one in Lakeland. Now, the owners have announced plans to open their seventh location.
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Food + Beer to open new location in East Bradenton
Whalen said their next Food + Beer will be at 4286 53rd Ave E., Bradenton, in the Lockwood Commons shopping center anchored by Publix. The spot formerly housed a Beef ‘O’ Brady’s. The plans are to begin welcoming guests in May or June, depending on how fast the remodel goes.
“It’s a cool area of town with a lot of great neighborhoods nearby and we’re the neighborhood spot,” Whalen said. “We’re in downtown here in Sarasota in the Rosemary District, which is fun and we’re doing good there, but we really do well in neighborhoods. We get to be the cooler neighborhood hangout, using fresh ingredients, and we’re open late and have good people.”
Food + Beer’s menus are all the same, with popular selections including personal favorites such as the burgers and chicken wings, which both pair perfectly with their excellent hand-cut fries. Whalen said that other bestsellers include the “Giant” soft pretzel, the massive mound of nachos served in a tin can, and the stewed chicken “Burrito Bowl 2.0.” Brunch, served Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., is also popular.
Each restaurant offers 16 beers on draft as well as bottled selections. The beers range from fizzy yellow national favorites to popular local craft brews like Calusa Brewing’s Zote IPA, which is Food + Beer’s No. 1 seller. All of the restaurants now serve liquor as well, with popular cocktails including their renditions of classics such as the espresso martini and old fashioned.
Comparable to their restaurant in Bradenton at the Fountains Plaza on 14th Street, the new Food + Beer will feature indoor seating as well as covered patio dining with televisions that will be separated from the parking lot. There will also be an AstroTurf area for playing cornhole.
“It will be similar to our other Bradenton restaurant, but a little better,” Whalen said. “We keep trying to improve and really want to make those outside spaces really cool.”
Food + Beer’s new spring menu includes alligator dishes, new smash burger
For now, Food + Beer fans, including myself, will want to check out the restaurant’s new spring menu. It includes a Chicken of the Swamp sandwich consisting of Crispy Nashville Hot Alligator on a brioche bun with house-made pimento cheese, Southern slaw, barbecue potato chips and Memphis barbecue sauce. There’s also the Reptile Fries dish featuring the Crispy Nashville Hot Alligator served on a bed of house-cut fries with shredded cheddar, crumbled bacon, scallions and pickles, topped with Alabama white barbecue sauce and house-made yellow cheese sauce similar to Cheez Whiz.
“We’re just trying some different stuff,” Whalen said. “The seasonal menu gives us the opportunity to try different things. We’re a Florida sports bar, so we did alligator. We’ve had it since Wednesday (Feb. 1) and it has moved really quick, selling better than we thought.”The third and final item on the spring menu is an Oklahoma Smash Burger. It’s a pair of three-ounce all-beef patties with a mound of sliced onions pressed and grilled into them, topped with American cheese and served with pickles and deli mustard on a grilled brioche bun, with the lettuce and tomato served on the side. If the seasonal items are popular, they might land a permanent spot on the menu.
“We’re just keeping things interesting for our guests,” Whalen said. “Many come in a couple times a week, so we got to keep it fresh for you.”
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Wade Tatangelo is Ticket Editor for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, and Florida Regional Dining and Entertainment Editor for the USA TODAY Network. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. He can be reached by email at [email protected]. Support local journalism by subscribing.
This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Popular Sarasota restaurant Food+ Beer opening new Bradenton location