Escape to Siesta Key – Special Guest Post (Part 2 of 2)

Hello, everyone!  I’m back with Part 2 of Escape to Siesta Key:  the Food Porn edition.  Siesta Key has so many highlights, from the amazing weather to spectacular beach, that it would be easy to overlook the food. That would be a definite mistake, so get ready!

On our first night at Siesta Key 611, we were tired after a long travel day so we were looking for a nice dinner, somewhere close by. We hit the jackpot.  Our dinner at  Clayton’s Siesta Grille  set the tone for the trip.  Talk about wow!  It was perfect, just a 5 minute walk down Midnight Pass Road.  Clayton’s serves bistro food with a Mediterranean influence in laid back atmosphere.  It has a quirky interior decor and a patio from which you can hear the water of the Intracoastal Waterway. You definitely know you’ve arrived in Florida!  Clayton’s prices seemed reasonable for a casual eatery, so we were happily surprised by the high quality of the meal.

Clayton's Siesta Grille

We started with crab cakes and fish tacos made with fresh Mahi, a hard choice because the Bruschetta and Crispy Spring Rolls with duck confit, wild mushrooms and hoisin peanut dipping sauce were also very tempting.   Our appetizers were artfully plated and as delicious as they looked. Then Nicole enjoyed seared scallops on a bed of creamy lobster-sweet pea risotto, which she said was magnificent.  I ordered a medium-rare grilled filet mignon steak with potato puree and balsamic onion marmalade.   Yum!  Our server was prompt and attentive, but not intrusive.  Like so many things in Siesta Key, the pictures don’t do the food justice, so please take my word for it:  our dinner was superb.  No wonder this spot is so popular with the locals as well as tourists.

Crab Cakes from Clayton's Siesta Grille

AMAZING Crab Cakes!

Steak from Clayton's Siesta Grille

Steak from Clayton’s Siesta Grille

Fish Tacos from Clayton's Siesta Grille

Fish Tacos with Fresh Mahi from Clayton’s Siesta Grille

Is your mouth watering yet? Mine sure is!  Next time I’m in Siesta Key, I’m definitely planning to go back to Clayton’s.  This time, I intend to save room for Key Lime Pie.  Clayton’s is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, incidentally.

A few nights later, thanks to Yelp, we were happy to discover another hidden gem.  El Toro Bravo is a little Mexican place, a few minutes drive down Stickney Point Road just before Swift Road, almost hidden away in a little strip mall.   Their slogan, “love at first bite” couldn’t have been truer. We were greeted by Connie, one of the owners, who epitomized southern hospitality.  Connie took care of us like we were long-lost family and made us feel welcome and comfortable. Ruben, her husband, is the chef and that man definitely knows how to cook!  We ordered chili and quesadillas, which were absolutely delicious.  The portions were filling and the price was definitely right.  All told, the bill was under $30 for food & drinks for two.   Next time I head to Siesta Key 611, I will certainly be going back to El Toro Bravo, too.  When I do, I hope to be more adventurous and try something more “authentically” Mexican from their menu such as the jalapenos rellenos, which are battered jalapenos peppers stuffed with cheese.  By the way, El Toro Bravo has a vegetarian menu, too.

A great meal is a about more than just the food. The food is a major factor, of course, but the atmosphere, service and overall experience all combine with the food itself to make a meal really memorable.   We ate out at several other restaurants during our vacation and we certainly enjoyed them.  However, Clayton’s and El Toro Bravo really stood out from the pack.   In a sense, they serve as a great analogy for the whole vacation. Our expectations were surpassed and we enjoyed relaxing, pleasurable experiences.

I’m already counting down the days until I can return to Siesta Key.  Until next time…

Siesta Beach and the ocean

The Ocean and Siesta Beach.

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