Sarasota, Florida is a very beautiful area. The architecture is a mix of post-WW2 concrete block construction with stucco, lots of classic restorations, neo-classic Mediterranean, glass modern and just plain garish frivolities. But it all seems to work. In my travels I have observed that many communities are economically and demographically zoned in what turns out to be a mish-mash of different conditions... Jaguar dealerships next to tattoo parlors next to strip clubs next to high end hotels next to country clubs next to office buildings that have been for lease for years. (not so much like St. Louis which has what I think are very fixed community personalities, ie. the Mercedez Benz dealers are where people who buy those cars live, strip clubs are in east side, low income people live amongst other low income people - NOTE: I am not endorsing this kind of segregation, just noting it exists.) As you drive up and down Highway 41 aka The Tamiami Trail you see all the mixes of a diverse community. There are two colleges, expensive car dealerships, a very stylish downtown area, and then as you cruise north into Bradenton which is contiguous to Sarasota and just a very short distance away you come across the strip clubs and massage parlors, not to mention seeing the occasional hooker looking for a party, and then big classic resorts and the expensive car dealerships again.
Food - Ok, I am going to try to be politically correct here.........the food sucks! We have eaten at several restaurants ranging from pizza to sandwiches to proper dinners and frankly, the food is bland and lifeless. I think it has to do with the very sizable retired population here. (bland food = safe food) To be frank the only really good food we have found at the local restaurants here are the blueberry cake donuts at Bradenton Donut AND THEY ARE FREAKING AWESOME!!! The first evening here we ate at a local pizzeria. The parking lot was full so we figured that if the locals ate there so should we. Well, we have learned an important lesson...the locals may not know what they are doing either. It was really quite tasteless with very little tomato sauce, the cheese was bland, not a hint of any aromatic ingredients such as garlic or onions...or salt for that matter. It wasn't even good cold the next morning. It is easy and justifiable to accuse restaurants of loading up their food with salt and that it would just as good if they backed it off a little but restaurants here go totally the other way. As I said bland and lifeless. Sorry Sarasota. A grade of A+ for locale and natural beauty. D- for food.