Breakfast is considered by many to be the most important meal of the day.  We agree, so we combed through the landscape of  myriad breakfast spots available from Lakewood Ranch to Venice and picked a few of our new favorites from hidden cafés.

Sea Star Café.



Blue Bistro.


Sunnyside Café, Sarasota

Sunnyside Café occupies that stretch of Tamiami Trail between the Airport and Jungle Gardens better known for budget-friendly motels than haute cuisine, but this delightful Hungarian restaurant has quickly become a foodie destination thanks to fresh and flavorful food prepared in the open kitchen by Chef Tamas Benkovics. Chef Tamas and business partner Eva Kurtz are committed to sourcing local ingredients, collaborating with local vendors and providing delicious and satisfying meals to patrons no matter their dietary restrictions or preferences. Take the Savory Chickpea Pancakes, a vegan treat served with arugula, avocado and a zesty Caribbean salsa; these pancakes have amassed a reverent following of vegan and non-vegan devotees because they’re just that tasty. The fresh orange juice actually gets hand-squeezed to order, each egg hand-cracked to order. At Sunnyside Café, cooks make their own breakfast sausage, pita bread, flat bread and panini bread. The waffle batter is made from scratch, as is the goulash. Goulash, you say? Yes, the authentic Hungarian goulash is prepared daily and tastes like someone’s Hungarian grandmother used to make. Eva says there are many Hungarians that visit Sunnyside but mostly for lunch or their special themed dinner nights. The majority of the large breakfast crowd is not Hungarian. “In Budapest, there are 2 million people and maybe two restaurants that serve breakfast. Hungarians stay home and cook breakfast because, to them, lunch is the most important meal of the day.” We think if more people sampled Sunnyside Café’s house-cured Lox (with goat cheese instead of cream cheese) or the Fried Green Tomatoes Eggs Benedict, they might just change their minds. 


Blú Island Bistro, Venice

Chef Alan Laskowski of Blú Island Bistro is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and his beautifully plated and perfectly seasoned food speaks of a sure hand and a passion for the culinary arts. Blú Island remains one of those places where people willingly wait in line without complaint because they know that the wait will be worth it. Chef Alan and business partner Kim make sure even the wait is an enjoyable edible experience by providing complimentary coffee and samples of baked goods, like warm airy cheddar biscuits, for the hungry crowd. Once seated on either the small outdoor patio or inside the bustling beautifully decorated restaurant, one is faced with the daunting task of choosing between one delectably described dish after another. The servers are friendly, knowledgeable and willing to give recommendations but, in our experience, there is no wrong move here. The Blú Burrito is filled with fluffy scrambled eggs, black beans and chorizo sausage, then topped with sour cream, cheddar, avocado and a house-made salsa that could be served as its own delicious dish. The Bacon and Egg Sandwich, a personal favorite of the chef, features pecan-smoked bacon, fried egg, caramelized onions and arugula on fresh ciabatta bread. Chef Alan’s Philly roots are on display with the inclusion of a delicacy known as scrapple, which is akin to the best meatloaf you’ve ever tried, but many guests swear by his ‘famous’ buttermilk pancakes. Venice locals start lining up early for this breakfast destination. Come hungry.

Sea Star Café, Lakewood Ranch

One of the things we like most about Sea Star Café is you have to know it’s there in order to find it. That aspect of discovering a hidden treasure only adds to the appeal of this lovely café run by two families with a love for feeding people and spending time with each other. This is a classic American breakfast place with batches of home-baked muffins cooling in the kitchen window and a staff that wants to know your name. The Eggs Benedict is crowned with delicate buttercup yellow Hollandaise and the Coconut French Toast is served in the shape of a starfish, or sea star, hence the café’s whimsical moniker. The aforementioned muffins are served to you warm and crispy after being cut in half, buttered and then grilled. Flavors range from classic blueberry to exotic Key lime coconut to seasonal favorites like pumpkin and candy cane. Specials change daily according to what’s fresh and what sounds good and something about the beachy casual interior makes you want to stay awhile. Maybe you can order another muffin and call it brunch.