To say Walts Fish Market and Restaurant is a Sarasota institution would be an understatement.
To say they have good food would also be an understatement.
And to say service was good, fast and friendly would be another understatement.
Not only is it an institution but a landmark, a fixture on the Tamiami Trail in Sarasota since the 1940s when it moved first as a fish market from Whitaker Bayou.
On a busy February Friday afternoon during “high season” a friend and I rolled into Walts Fish market and Restaurant about 2:30 in the afternoon and were promptly seated at a table under the thatched Tiki Hut roof. (That’s one of the secrets to getting a table right away; go to lunch after the lunch crowd clears. The place was still busy but not waiting-in-long-lines-busy!)
Technically speaking, it’s a Chickee Hut Bar. It was added in 2012 as
well as renovations done to the inside of the restaurant, also that
The room we were seated in at a high top table also doubles as their bar but there is an indoor dining room and fish market as well.
While it’s not a sports bar I did see at least one large screen TV
hanging on a wall within sight, but it wasn’t loud and obnoxious like
true sports bars. It was easy to have a conversation across the table
without getting drowned out by others or
the “sound of the game.“ It was quite a pleasant atmosphere, actually; quite comfortable in the “hut.”
The first decisions were cocktails and appetizers!
With a variety of tropical drinks to choose from my friend chose a “Mai Tai” ($8) and I a “Dark and Stormy” ($7), a sweet dark rum drink made with ginger beer and a lime. Sweet drinks are not normally my thing, but hey, every once in a while
you’ve got to break the mold, right?
It was a good, tasty cocktail.
Chicken wings ($12) would serve as the appetizer with hot sauce on
the side. One of the waiters on our “team” brought a sizable platter of
fresh, golden, delicious, crispy, hot wings to munch on while we perused
the rather extensive listing of seafood dishes on the Walts Fish Market
menu. This was not going to be easy an easy chore to make just the
There is also a wide selection of appetizers either steamed or chilled.
So much to choose from, so little time!
But I chose New England Cod ($15), Grilled with a side order of seasoned rice and fresh seasonal vegetables, included in the price. You may also order it blackened, broiled or fried!Light, flaky, mildly seasoned with a little bit of light “char” on the cod fillet.
There was just enough mild seasoning to give it a little flavor but not enough to distract from the natural, light, mild taste of the cod fillet. Just right!
My lunch companion had Stuffed Flounder ($17) with a baked potato and okra, included in the price. It looked delicious with a nice color to it from the seasoning and broiling. No complaints from my lunch mate!
The only thing that disappoints me when I go out for good, delicious seafood is that I leave always wanting more. That was the case for me at Walts Fish Market and Restaurant! Maybe one time I’ll get up the nerve to double order for myself! LOL!
Other tempting menu items included Wild King Salmon ($17), Chilean Sea Bass ($26), Grouper ($19), Red Snapper (Market price), tantalizing Fried Baskets from the “Sarasota Seafood Platter” with shrimp, flounder, bay scallops, deviled crab, hush puppies and conch fritter ($16) to the “Create Your Own” basket.
If you're into Steam pots you might consider "Justin’s Steamed Seafood Pot" which is dinner for two for
$33 at this writing. It comes with snow crab clusters, shrimp, mussels,
corn and new potatoes.
House specialties include Seafood Scampi with shrimp, flounder and bay scallops broiled in garlic butter and white wine ($18), Seafood kabobs ($18), Seafood Alfredo ($18) and Grouper tacos ($16), Jumbo Lump Blue Crab broiled in garlic
butter and white wine ($18) and a number of more selections!
There is also a variety of shrimp dished throughout the menu as well as soups and salad; everything from Shrimp and Salmon Salads to Caesar Salad!
Walts Fish market and Restaurant also features a nice selection of fish sandwiches with your choice:
Fried, Broiled, Blackened or Grilled, served on a toasted bun with
lettuce and tomato plus one side dish, for example a Grouper Reuben.
If there’s someone along with your party who is not big on seafood there are some nice “land lubber” choices from which to choose including Sirloin Steak ($18), Filet Mignon ($24) (with “Surf & Turf” options available) , Burgers ($10 - $11),
Chicken Tenders, Chicken sandwiches ($10), Popcorn Chicken and Chicken a la Walts. There’s also a Gluten Free menu and daily specials including $3 house Margaritas!
Walts also has a fresh fish counter where you may purchase your selection to take home and cook for yourself.
I was told by my lunch mate that Walts Fish Market is the source of fresh fish for other restaurant chefs in the area.
found our “team” of servers friendly, fast and able to accommodate
quickly any additional requests, especially when my dining companion
asked for some “extra hot” hot sauce for the chicken wings appetizer we
had ordered! They were there in a snap with the hot sauce!
Check it out. Walts Fish Market and Restaurant. If you seriously like seafood, I think I can safely say that they take seafood seriously at Walts!
Enjoy. Bon Appétit!
Walts Market: Mon – Sat” 9 a.m. - 9 p.m., Sunday: 10 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Restaurant: Mon – Sat: 11 a.m. - 9:30 p.m., Sunday: 12 noon - 9:30 p.m.
Chickee Bar: Mon – Sat: 11 a.m. - 11 p.m., Sunday: 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Happy Hour: Daily 4 p.m. - 6 p.m. with specials including $3 House Margaritas!
Live music in the Chickee Hut Bar: Wednesdays - Sundays from 6:00 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Location: 4144 S Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL - (941) 921-4605