St. Armand’s Circle, Sarasota, Florida

St. Armand’s Circle is basically an outdoor mall of stores and restaurants. Each time I visit Sarasota, I stop by the circle to eat or shop. There are always new places popping up, but these are my favorite so far:

1) Shore and Shore Diner: On the first floor, Shore has plenty of clothes for men and women, a few skateboards, backpacks, shoes, and jewelry. Don’t be surprised if the first thing you see is a sky blue tank top worth $98. I would never pay so much for a tank top, but if you continue walking throughout the store, you will find something you like at a more reasonable price. The quality of the items sold at Shore is great. Most recently, I bought a cobalt blue Hershel and Company backpack that I know nobody at school will have :). Upstairs is Shore’s modern restaurant. The decor is unique, the selection of low background music makes for a great vibe, and the service is good. I recommend the Shore burger and truffle fries. Delicious.

2) Kilwin’s: Kilwin’s has locations all over the U.S., but I can never resist walking by without entering the shop. It’s one of those places where you go in and order what you desire, then sit outside and watch sweets being made in front of you. Whether you are craving peanut brittle, fudge, or ice cream, Kilwin’s will definitely satisfy your sweet tooth.

3) Key West Hammock Company: We found this little store a while ago and went in to sit in the appealing variety of hammocks. We ended up buying a classic hammock. We really needed one since ours broke. The hammock is of top quality and we all love it and use it often. If you’re not looking to buy a hammock, at least walk in a take a seat or lay down in one.

4) Sarasota Yogurt Company: This is a new business I stumbled upon on one of my recent visits to Sarasota. My brother likes donuts and we first bought the bucket of 20 mini donuts. He chose the glazed donuts (out of many other types), which were hot and freshly made. Last weekend, we were in the circle and a friend of ours was in the mood for a hot dog. Sarasota Yogurt Co. has a regular size hot dog and a quarter pounder. The hot dogs were delicious. Pick your toppings and eat up. Another friend of ours liked the donuts and recommended they sell “donut sundaes,” donuts with ice cream scoops on top (kind of like a banana split). Guess what? One of the workers there told our friend that they sell donut sundaes and proceeded to give our friend a donut sundae on the house. What great service! It was pouring rain, so we stayed inside and chatted with the employees for a while. I had the cake batter frozen yogurt which was sweet, like I wanted. I just weighed and paid. Peanut butter, watermelon, and raspberry frozen yogurt, among others, are also available. Side note: the owner (a middle-aged woman) of this place visibly loves her business. Last time I was at the shop, her friends were there to give her their ideas. This yogurt company is great for a pit stop– grab a snack, lounge on the neon orange couches, and continue your walk through the circle.

5) Tango Steakhouse and Sushi Bar: I found this restaurant on our most recent trip to St. Armand’s. We went with two of our friends and their 8 month old son. It was July 4th weekend so the circle was packed and we couldn’t find a restaurant. Tango’s hostess sat us quickly at one of the several tables available and we were immediately approached by the manager. He welcomed us and our introduced us to our (terrific) server, Reynaldo. The menu is not just steak and sushi, there are other options. I had the chicken penne pasta and it was delicious. Reynaldo chatted with us throughout our dinner. When the food arrived, Reynaldo asked nicely if he could hold the baby. Reynaldo gave him a tour of the restaurant and even played music for him– the baby was loving it. It was nice act because it was perfect for the baby’s mom to eat without being interrupted. Overall, Tango was quiet and relaxing. We will be back, for sure.

Photo from ticketsarasota.com

Photo from ticketsarasota.com

Other places of note in St. Armand’s include Wyland Art Gallery (known for its glass sculptures of ocean waves and beach-themed paintings) and Columbia (classic Latin restaurant with plates such as paella or empanadas).

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