Whether you follow a vegan/vegetarian diet or you’re seeking healthier options in town, you’ll find lots to choose from right here in your own backyard. Long-standing favorites as well as newer options focus on locally-grown, organic ingredients, making everything that much tastier. 


WAKE UP IMBIBES O&A Coffee and Supply

Orange. Espresso. Soda. Three things that don’t seem to go together at all. Yet after being introduced about four years ago, the blood orange espresso soda is one of O&A Coffee and Supply’s best sellers. So how did this extraordinary concoction come to be? “Soda with coffee was a weird underground trend a few years back,” says O&A owner, Justin Bannister. “But it was heavy and dark and did not represent Florida at all. We wanted to come up with a unique coffee drink more representative of the Sunshine State.” After playing around with different flavors and profiles, Bannister and his team came up with a cool, robust taste that held up well to espresso. “When you mix orange and coffee together, the acidic properties of both negate each other,” he says. “You end up with a really refreshing, zero acidity drink that’s bubbly, sweet, tart, and a little weird. Kind of like Florida. And, It changes flavors about 2-3 times as the carbonation goes into the espresso, making it that much more unique.” Layered with blood orange on bottom and espresso on top, this strange and unique soda is as pretty as it is odd. For $5 you can pick up a blood orange espresso soda at O&A’s downtown store, or their newest location at Waterside Place in Lakewood Ranch. O&A Coffee and Supply, 1316 Main Street, Sarasota. 941-552-8659.

POWER BREAKFAST Summer Tap Juice Bar

It’s always summer at Summer Tap Juice Bar and the Dragon Raspberry Smoothie is the perfect way to stay cool all year round. Made with dragon fruit, strawberries, raspberries, natural apple juice and a tablespoon of organic agave nectar, this delicious smoothie is one of Summer Tap’s most popular drinks. Owner Galina Naguibine attributes the frozen delight’s success to the fresh and delicious ingredients. “In addition to the health benefits that are important to most adults,” she says, “kids really love it because of its dragon name and its bright pink color!” A perfect pairing in both taste and vibrant colors, the pesto tomato savory toast made with fresh tomatoes and vegan cheese with a basil balsamic glaze is served on multigrain vegan bread. All the ingredients are very fresh and blend together well,” says Galina. “It’s like a salad served on toast!” Summer Tap Juice Bar, 411 S Pineapple Ave, Sarasota, 941-993-1449. 


With one location on Main Street and the other on St. Armands Circle, The Green Zebra Café’s vegan, gluten-free and raw selections are easy to access on the go or for a relaxing sit-down dining experience. The mango thai wrap, made with fresh mango slices mixed with shredded red cabbage, fresh herbs, almond cream and carrot, all wrapped up in romaine is a crowd pleaser that is healthy and refreshing. If you’re in the mood for Italian, you might try the Tuscan lasagna, layered with zucchini noodles, and house-made raw marinara, cashew cheese, basil, pesto and tomatoes­­—just what Nonna would make if she was serving a vegan meal. Rather go with Mexican? No problemo! The Raw Taco Salad with romaine, house-made taco ‘meat’ (walnuts, sundried tomato, spices), avocado, tomato, and house-made cashew sour cream is muy delicioso! “With our new dinner menu veggies and fruits are at the center of the plate, they are not a side or a garnish anymore, they are the stars of the show,” says owner Elena Ianakiev. “The menu is 80% plant based, with very unique dishes. When we craft and test each recipe, we want to create an exciting menu that will appeal not only to vegan and vegetarians but to omnivore diners as well. We want to change the perspective of what vegetables can be,” she adds. All of the menu items at Green Zebra are gluten-free, or can be made gluten free upon request. They also offer a selection of vegan, organic and sustainable wines.Green Zebra Café, Downtown location: 1377 Main St, Sarasota, 941- 312-6707. St. Armands Circle: 476 John Ringling Blvd, 941-388-2848 


Looking for great vegan sushi? Then it’s time to get rollin’ at Lila on Main Street. The captain’s “scallop” roll, made with fresh ingredients like white yam, hearts of palm salad, avocado, rice, spicy mayo and unagi sauce is light and perfect as an appetizer or light meal. Craving some smoky barbecue? The BBQ tofu roll is filled with avocado, rice, Dragon BBQ sauce, smoked tofu cream cheese and toasted sesame seeds. But according to Mariana Cejas, manager of Lila, the mushroom spider roll is the most popular of the rolls, probably because of its crunchy, earthy taste. Made with tempura oyster mushroom, daikon, rice, avocado, spicy mayo, unagi sauce, this is a must-try specialty. All of the sushi rolls at Lila are vegan and gluten free. Lila, 1576 Main St, Sarasota, 941-296-1042. 


Although Ka Papa Cuisine offers 100% plant based and vegan dining, the irresistibly decadent desserts they have concocted are sure to attract all types of diners–from vegan to omnivore. The gluten-free berry crumble debuted this summer and is filled with organic wild blueberries, strawberries and raspberries topped with a rich and buttery oat crumble. For a lighter berry-licious option, the blueberry-red wine sorbet is silky and house-made with whipped ‘cream’ and seasonal fruit puree. And for the cookie monsters in the crowd, the cast iron cookie is a must. This sizzling hot skillet cookie with cinnamon ‘cream’ is available in plain, Belgian dark chocolate or pecan or both. A chocolate lover’s delight, the cake of the night—a chocolate cake consisting of rich Belgian dark chocolate ganache infused with salted caramel and a hint of creamy peanut butter is to die for. Searching for gluten-free options? You’ll definitely want to try the gluten-free carrot cake, which is extra fudgy with toasted walnuts and zesty lemon-‘cream cheese’ frosting. Ka Papa, 1830 S Osprey Ave Ste 104, Sarasota, 941-600-8700