A lot has happened in Sarasota since I lived here back in 2009. It seems like amazing little coffee shops, sleek modern hotels and condos, and a slew of health and wellness businesses are popping up all over. For those interested in meat-free options for eating out, I checked out a new little place up near New College.
Up on US-41 across from Ringling School of Art and Design is the Leaf & Lentil. This little oasis is exactly that. Perfectly situated in Indian Beach Plaza, it’s a great place to dip into for vegan and vegetarian or gluten-free meals and snacks. There’s a grab and go cooler with a ton of cold beverages like kombucha, tea, and sparkling juices and waters.
First, if you’re reading this and it’s before October, consider grabbing a table indoors unless you’ve brought your four-legged friend with you. Plenty of patio space and a super accessible ramp along with umbrellas to block the sun make it a great hangout spot. The interior is sunny and bright and welcoming. Tables are comfortable and there are spots for about seventeen to twenty people so bring your friends.
Look, I get it. You may not be into a vegetarian restaurant, but it’s not the seeds and beans of the 70s anymore, folks. This is truly creative and inspired cuisine. Chef Mike knows his stuff and happily shares his favorites when asked. (P.S. Everything is his favorite and for good reason, he makes it all so simple and delicious.)
Check the frequently changing menu on Instagram or up on the wall. Don’t be shy! Ask any questions about the dishes you see and you’ll get a list of favorites and details on ingredients or preparation. The chef and staff are as friendly and welcoming as can be.
The Beet Salad is exactly that and a glorious pile of fresh beets with a handful of arugula, walnuts, and a spiciness that will surprise you. Trust me, order this. In fact, everything with a sauce or dressing on it, order it. This is the place for anything drizzled, dipped, topped, or covered. Seriously.
The Polenta Fries with cilantro crema are crispy perfection and light as air. The drizzle of creamy cilantro takes it in a gourmet direction and the small plate is enough for two to share.
Not shown because we ate it too quickly: Hummus plate with Syrian inspired muhammara. Yeah, that’s Syrian for “order this or you’ll regret it.” Ask for the gluten-free cracker if you need to, but the pita bread is delish too.
Serving locally made cold brew from LeLu Coffee and a delicious tea from Local Tea, this may be my new hyper-local favorite place. Perfect portions, super-friendly staff and service, and really truly tasty food. Put this on your list for your next Sarasota visit or lunch meetup.
Parking is in the lot behind and access is super easy from all directions on US-41. There’s really no reason to NOT go…unless they’re closed. LOL
Leaf & Lentil
2801 N. Tamiami Trail
Sarasota, FL 34234