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Sarasota, FL dog-friendly restaurant: O’Leary’s Tiki Bar & Grill

I spent the past weekend in Sarasota, Florida with my mother-in-law, who imports all of her opera-loving relatives (i.e., me and her daughter) for the Sarasota Opera season every spring. We see four operas in three days, and then return to Tampa to be resuscitated by my father-in-law.

While we’re in Sarasota, we pretty much only have time to eat between operas, and it’s a testament to my mother-in-law’s good nature that she agreed to have two of those meals at the dog-friendly O’Leary’s Tiki Bar & Grill. It turned out to be a superb choice, despite the name. There were tiki torches, sure, and there were grass huts, but I have a soft spot a mile wide for a tiki torch and a grass hut. Add in a central, waterfront location, very decent food, and a sincerely dog-friendly policy, and you have a fan for life — make that two, since my mother-in-law, not a dog owner, also loved it.

The restaurant is located on the marina (if you’re driving south on Tamiami Trail, look for it just south of the landmark Marina Jack restaurant). It’s within walking distance of downtown. At this time of year, we had no trouble finding parking in the lots right next to the marina, but in the summer season you might well want to walk from downtown.

Here's what you see when you approach O'Leary's from the marina entrance

It’s on the water, so you eat overlooking a little harbor of boats as well as a tiny beach belonging to the restaurant, which dogs can play on. The restaurant itself is a collection of spaces — there’s an indoor area; there’s a large grass hut sheltering tables and, on both of our visits, an acoustic guitar player; there’s another grass hut for the bar; and there are many tables with umbrellas on the restaurant’s beach.

A sun-blasted view of the dog-friendly bar

All of the outdoor spaces, including both grass huts, are dog-friendly. If you plan to eat at the bar, or at the tables next to it, order your meal at the bar (this would be my choice, since your dog can keep you company while you’re ordering). If you plan to eat in the big grass hut or at the beach tables near it, order your meal at the indoor counter (there’s a hook to tie up your dog while you’re ordering). I wouldn’t eat inside unless it was really dreadful weather — it’s harmless, but why would you?

On our first visit, I had a very respectable cheeseburger, but the second time we went I joined my mother-in-law in ordering the grilled fish bun — excellent fish, perfectly cooked, served with a lemon wedge, a tub of tartar sauce, and darned good curly fries. Both times we had Landshark beer (love that name!), and I have no plans to order anything else on future visits. The mid-20’s group next to us on our second trip were from Sarasota (“That canal right there? My parents live three houses up.”), and spoke highly of the shrimp, but we had already ordered when we heard them.

We visited without Chloe, but our neighbors at the outdoor bar tables were accompanied by their excellent dog Mullet (named after the fish, not the hairstyle, her owners assured me).

The lovely and friendly Mullet

There were water bowls sprinkled around the property, and when the bartender saw me studying the posted dog dining rules, she cheerfully summed them up as allowing dogs anywhere outside except on the tabletops. Chloe would have loved it, and she would have loved, too, leaving the restaurant and walking around the waterfront park it’s next to (in the absence of squirrels, she’s perfectly ready to be fascinated by gulls and pelicans).

O’Leary’s Tiki Bar & Grill
5 Bayfront Drive
Sarasota, FL 34236
T: 941-953-7505
Serving breakfast, lunch & dinner

9 comments

  • blanket

    Oooo that looks a welcome break from the weather here in the Pacific Northwest:) I can almost smell the sun lotion 🙂 Mullet certainly looks like she’s enjoying it too!

  • It was wonderful, Cate — I love Seattle dearly, but it sure was nice to pack a tiny suitcase of sandals and skirts. (Of course, I had to borrow a warm sweater for the evening — I was a little over-optimistic!)

  • [email protected]

    We were just in Sarasota a few weeks ago! I wish we’d been there while you were there. It would have been great to get together at a pet-friendly place like this for lunch. As it is, we’ll just have to wait to see you and Walter until this summer when we arrive in Seattle. =)

  • Gil

    One of the things I LOVE about Sarasota is how dog-friendly the town is. Not only O’Leary’s – most of the restaurants in downtown are very dog welcoming. We are part of a group of dog-owners who congregate in the park right near O’Leary’s every afternoon. Our little Cocoa learned very quickly which bench is OURS – if we walk past there & her friends are not there, she starts sniffing around, looking for them.
    Alas, we are Snowbirds, and are no longer in FL – we are back north where it is Not dog-friendly. 🙁

  • Dick

    We live full time in Sarasota. I can not imagine a more welcoming or dog friendly town.

    A new destination for dog lovers AND your dog (well behaved and on a short lead) is the Southeastern Guidedogs Discovery Center downtown on Main St. at the intersection of Orange Ave. You can learn about the guide dogs and sight problems, perhaps see a puppy or guide dog in training, take a tour of the main campus, plus they have a great gift shop with unique dog and people dog-related gifts. It’s staffed mostly with volunteers and is a happy place to visit. Oh, yes, there is puppy hugging (6-8 week old pups) most Saturdays around noon time. The Saturday downtown market, virtuallly a dog parade, is just a block away at Main and Lemon. And, virtually every one of the restaurants within the area is dog friendly.

  • EcoDog

    Thank you for this dog-friendly suggestion in Sarasota! We are traveling to Sarasota with our dog in a couple of weeks to visit my parents and to spend a couple of days on siesta key. We are definitely going to stop by O’Leary’s with our little dog Molly. We found a pet friendly place to stay on the beach and we are looking forward to a couple of days to relax!

    Do you know of any boat tours in Sarasota that would allow a well behaved (AKC Canine Good Citizen) little dog on board? We have taken her on board a tour boat before and she just sits on my lap and enjoys the ride. We usually take a cruise on the LeBarge while we are visiting Sarasota and I will start by talking to them…

  • I don’t, alas! If you find one, please do share its name — and where are you guys staying in Siesta Key? If it’s a winner, I’d love to hear about it. We head back to the Sarasota area at least once a year, and greedily gather recommendations.

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