Along Anna Maria Island, beachside towns such as Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach and Anna Maria are home to a gathering of beloved local restaurants that have been pleasing palates and delighting diners for many years. We embark on a culinary journey to learn more about these hidden gems.

Photography by Wyatt Kostygan

Blue Marlin Seafood

Anna Maria Island is a barrier island known for its sugary white beaches. Spanning seven miles from north to south, the island is home to three cities: Anna Maria, Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach. In recent years, the historic Bridge Street area of Bradenton Beach has undergone something of a renaissance, transforming into a walkable community bustling with local boutiques, quirky gift shops and eclectic eateries. It is there that you will find local favorite the Blue Marlin. Adam Ellis, the chef/owner of the Blue Marlin, has spent his entire working life in the restaurant industry. At the age of fourteen, he landed his first job bussing tables at the Bradenton Country Club. He would spend the next two decades soaking up knowledge working at prestigious restaurants like the Beach Bistro and Sign of the Mermaid. Ellis and his wife Marianne dreamed of opening their own restaurant one day, and in 2011 the opportunity suddenly presented itself. Marianne’s family owned a 1920s-era cottage on Bridge Street that had been inhabited by a series of businesses including a hair salon and a tattoo shop. When the space suddenly became available, they seized the opportunity to make their restaurant dreams a reality. 

“At the time I was a waiter and my wife was a schoolteacher. We were in no position to open a restaurant,” Ellis says. “But it was the right time in the history of the building. Sometimes, even if you don’t feel prepared, you kind of just have to jump in with both feet.”

Photography by Wyatt Kostygan

Ellis and his wife had just three months to turn a nearly century-old cottage into a working restaurant. They managed to do so without sacrificing any of the inherent historic charm of the building. Original elements like the wainscoting and wood floors were preserved, and the space is adorned with antique ship lanterns and black and white photos of local fishermen displaying freshly-caught fish. Even the tables and benches are crafted out of recycled dock wood. The atmosphere at the Blue Marlin is one of authenticity and simplicity, and those qualities are also evident in the eclectic menu.

“There are no labels on the types of cuisine we serve,” Ellis says. “We just try to get the most local stuff we can and serve it as simply and as fresh as we can. Those are basically the only stipulations we have for our menu.”

Sourcing the best ingredients is of paramount importance to Ellis. Daily specials are built around the fresh fish he obtains directly from the Cortez fishing fleet. During stone crab season, Ellis and his brother-in-law go out and personally catch the crab served at the restaurant. Even the housemade honey butter is made with local honey. One of the most popular menu items, Steamed Clams, consists of locally-sourced shellfish prepared simply with lemon, white wine and garlic butter. Every Florida seafood restaurant has a grouper dish, and the Pecan Grouper at Blue Marlin is exceptional. Grouper is crusted in a mixture of crushed pretzels, honey butter and Pearson Farms pecans and served alongside roasted sweet potatoes and basil pesto. 

As a small, independently-owned business, the Blue Marlin faces myriad challenges from hurricane closures to rising food costs. But Ellis remains committed to serving simply and beautifully prepared cuisine and providing personable customer service.“It’s been tough, but we’re standing our ground,” Ellis says. “We’re going to keep doing it the same way, because this is the way people like it.”

Blue Marlin, 121 Bridge St., Bradenton Beach,941-896-9737,


Photography by Wyatt Kostygan

The Doctor’s Office

As you continue your journey north out of Bradenton Beach, you’ll enter the city of Holmes Beach. Located in the central part of Anna Maria Island, Holmes Beach seems unassuming at first glance. But tucked in amongst practical buildings like a public library, elementary school and local newspaper office, you can also find restaurants serving world-class cuisine. Established in 2016, The Doctor’s Office may seem like a relatively young restaurant but its Island roots run deep. A hip establishment serving light bar fare and craft cocktails, The Doctor’s Office is the latest venture from esteemed restaurateurs Sean Murphy and
Susan Timmins. This husband-and-wife team is responsible for highly-regarded area restaurants like Eat Here and the iconic Beach Bistro. Murphy took a circuitous route into the restaurant business. After graduating from law school in his native Nova Scotia, he worked on large sailing ships. When Murphy was 23, he and Timmins left Canada and traveled around Central America before landing in New Orleans. Because he was an undocumented immigrant, it was easiest for Murphy to pick up work waiting tables. He was soon hired at Arnaud’s in the French Quarter under the tutelage of celebrated restaurateur Archie Casbarian. 

“I learned so much from Archie about how to operate a great restaurant,” Murphy reminisces. “I’d slung beer at a tavern to work my way through college, but I was mystified and amazed by the quality of food and service that was provided by Arnaud’s. I was sort of like a sponge and I learned as much as I could.”  Murphy and Timmins made their way to Florida, where Murphy found another mentor in Murray Klauber. Known to his friends as “Murf” or “Doc”, Klauber was the entrepreneur behind The Colony Beach & Tennis Resort in Longboat Key. Murphy and Timmins were still in the country illegally, but a solution soon presented itself.

Photography by Wyatt Kostygan

“At that point in time, the fastest way to get citizenship was by opening a business,” Murphy says. Thus, the Beach Bistro was born. Murphy and Timmins opened the Beach Bistro in 1985 with a shoestring budget, sweat equity and plenty of help from their friends. Despite its humble beginnings, the restaurant is widely credited with elevating the local dining experience to new heights. 

“At that time, people didn’t even know what bistro even meant,” Murphy says. “The word was generally not used in our area.” Like the mentors that encouraged him, Murphy made it a point to foster young talent at the Beach Bistro. Over the years, many talented individuals passed through the kitchen doors including Adam Ellis from the Blue Marlin.  While the Beach Bistro is still thriving, it does so under new ownership. In 2022, after 36 successful years, Murphy and Timmins made the decision to sell the venerated establishment. They haven’t fully divested themselves from the restaurant industry, though–their culinary influence lives on at The Doctor’s Office in Holmes Beach. In addition to innovative craft cocktails, diners can graze on elevated bar fare like Kimchi Deviled Eggs topped with bacon and caviar or Duckling Mousse Pate layered with a Port reduction. The menu even contains some Bistro favorites like Lobstercargots, a decadent twist on escargot composed of chunks of Nova Scotian lobster baked in a crock with garlic butter. 

The Doctor’s Office, 5312 Holmes Blvd., Holmes Beach, 941-213-9926,

The Waterfront Restaurant

Photography by Wyatt Kostygan

At the northernmost end of Anna Maria Island, you’ll find the city of Anna Maria. With its sugary white sand beaches, Anna Maria is a popular travel destination for visitors from around the world. While Anna Maria has changed some over time, local preservation efforts have ensured that the city retains its charming small beach town appeal. Located across the street from the historic Anna Maria City Pier, The Waterfront Restaurant embodies all of the qualities that make Anna Maria so special. 

The site where The Waterfront Restaurant now sits is steeped in local history. In 1922, a builder constructed one of the original homes on the Island which he dubbed the “Lorraine Cottage” after his daughter. Several families called the Lorraine Cottage home until the 1970s when it was reimagined as a commercial space. A handful of businesses came and went over the years, including an art gallery, an old-fashioned ice cream parlor with a player piano, and a family-owned Polynesian restaurant called Ato’s. In 1999, an English couple took ownership of the property and christened it as the Waterfront Restaurant. In 2002, Jason and Leah Suzor purchased the restaurant and it remains under their care to this day. 

Just like Euphemia Haye and the Blue Marlin, the food at the Waterfront can’t be neatly categorized as a particular type of cuisine.  “If I had to describe our food in one word, it would be fresh,” Jason says. “We are, I would say, 98% a scratch kitchen. We make almost everything in house, from sauces and dressings to baking our own bread.” 

Photography by Wyatt Kostygan

The Waterfront has always been a little ahead of its time. In 2013, it was perhaps the first restaurant in the area to implement a craft cocktail menu. The team has been utilizing local, sustainable ingredients and eco-friendly restaurant items for over a decade. Suzor, who has celiac disease, also ensured that the restaurant was ahead of the curve in accommodating patrons with food allergies.  

The Waterfront had to be rebuilt after a 2004 fire destroyed most of the original cottage, but the space still has a cozy, vintage vibe that honors the spirit of the building. The original fireplace, one of the few elements that could be salvaged, serves as a focal point in the space. Diners can enjoy the ambiance inside or dine on the deck to take in the picturesque view. Wherever they decide to sit, they can enjoy signature dishes like the Fried Green Tomatoes which are breaded in a light cornmeal crust and served with pimento cheese or the Baked Brie which is wrapped in delicate phyllo dough, drizzled with honey and accompanied by crackers, toasted almonds, fresh grapes and crisp slices of apple. To complete the experience, patrons should sample a craft cocktail like the Smoked Margarita or The Waterfront Gin and Tonic which is served with fresh rosemary and juniper berries.

The Waterfront Restaurant, 111 S. Bay Blvd., Anna Maria, 941-778-1515,


Beach House, Mar Vista and Sandbar

Photography by Wyatt Kostygan

It’s impossible to discuss Island dining without talking about Ed Chiles. This celebrated restaurateur has made his mark on the area with three different restaurants. He opened his first restaurant, the Sandbar in Anna Maria in 1979. In 1988 he opened his next venture, Mar Vista, in Longboat Key. Finally, in 1993, he launched his third restaurant, the Beach House, in Bradenton Beach.

Each one of Chiles’ restaurants has its own distinct identity. The Mar Vista is housed in a historic building that once served as a fish camp, and Chiles has prioritized preserving the classical bait shop feel. With its prime waterfront location and stunning sunset views, the Sandbar is the quintessential beach restaurant. Meanwhile, the Beach House has a more contemporary feel. The restaurant industry has gone through many changes since Chiles opened his first restaurant over forty years ago. Over the last decade or so, the industry has become more focused on sustainability, a change that Chiles has embraced wholeheartedly.

“I really feel like if you live here in paradise, whether you were born here or whether you moved here, you have a responsibility to be a steward of the land,” Chiles says. “Everybody has the responsibility to do everything to protect these fragile ecosystems so our grandkids can enjoy them.”

Photography by Wyatt Kostygan

Chiles has gone above and beyond in his efforts to make his restaurants more sustainable. In 2016, he established Gamble Creek Farms which provides produce to all three of his restaurants. In turn, the restaurants send their food waste back to the farm for composting, ultimately enriching the nutrient levels in the soil. Chiles also pays close attention to the origins of any products sourced by the restaurants. 

“We buy local grouper out of Cortez because we know our regulations are strong and our fisheries are in good shape,” Chiles says. “We want to help our local fishermen and we want to promote Cortez because they’re doing it the sustainable way. We feel that every single seafood item we sell fits into our sustainability model.” This attention to detail has taken the food served at Chiles’ restaurants to a new level.

“Some items at the Sandbar that are popular are our grouper collars, which we serve with grilled octopus and a green papaya slaw from our farm,” Chiles says. “My favorite has to be our hard-shell clams that we source from local bivalve farmers. We sautee them with a touch of garlic, a splash of wine, and some wild boar bacon from Shogun Farms that we cure in-house. We serve them with lour house-baked bread to soak up the fabulous broth.”

Beach House, 200 Gulf Dr. N., Bradenton Beach, 941-779-2222,

Mar Vista, 760 Broadway St., Longboat Key, 941-383-2391,

Sandbar, 100 Spring Ave., Anna Maria, 941-778-0444,

Euphemia Haye

Photo 10

Located just twelve miles from downtown Sarasota, Longboat Key is a sleepy, secluded barrier island nestled between Sarasota Bay to the east and the Gulf of Mexico to the west. This narrow key is largely residential, with charming historic homes giving way to sleek, contemporary condominiums. It is also home to the world-renowned restaurant Euphemia Haye. Euphemia Haye was originally established in 1975 by an electrical engineer named Leslie “Les” R. Buntin, who named the one-room restaurant for his grandmother. In 1980, Buntin sold the restaurant to Chef Raymond Arpke and his wife, D’Arcy Arpke, who would run the flourishing establishment for the next 41 years. Under their stewardship, Euphemia Haye eventually grew from 28 seats to 76 seats and received accolades from publications including Zagat, Wine Spectator and Frommer’s Travel Guides

Amy Whitt joined the Euphemia Haye team in 2007 as an administrative assistant before transitioning into the bookkeeper position. When the Arpkes decided to retire in 2021, she jumped at the chance to continue their legacy. 

“They wanted to preserve everything they’ve built over the last 40 years, from the old Florida environment to the cozy feel,” Whitt says. “I plan to do just that. I’ve made a few small tweaks, but I don’t want to change what they built and have made so successful.”

Whitt isn’t the only longtime employee dedicated to upholding the traditions that make Euphemia Haye great.

“I’ve been there 16 years and I’m still considered one of the new ones,” Whitt says. “A lot of our team have been there for 20 or 30 years, from their teenage days all the way up to now. So the core family is still there, along with the values and the morals. The only thing that’s really changed is I’ve put mints on the front table.”

Loyal clientele have returned to Euphemia Haye year after year to enjoy classic yet creative continental cuisine with a global influence. Under the new ownership they can still enjoy their favorite entrees like Euphemia’s Prime Peppered Steak, a pan-fried strip steak served with an orange and brandy butter sauce, and Roasted Duckling, a signature dish of crisp roasted duck packed with bread stuffing and accompanied by a sweet and tangy sauce made with seasonal fruits. People in the mood for something sweet after dinner can venture upstairs to Dessert Room to enjoy treats like decadent Chocolate Mousse with fresh whipped cream or homey Apple Walnut Crumble Pie.

Ambiance can be just as important to the dining experience as the food, and Euphemia Haye delivers on all fronts. With glossy dark wood furnishings, leather upholstery and brass accents, Euphemia Haye has an elegant and upscale vibe. But while dressy or business casual attire is required, the restaurant still has a surprisingly relaxed feel. It comes as no surprise that after almost fifty years in business, Euphemia Haye is still going strong. 

Euphemia Haye, 5540 Gulf of Mexico Dr., Longboat Key, 941-383-3633,