Let’s forget all about these highly charged elections and get back to what’s really important during the fall. College football, the World Series and the all American sports bar!
I bet you feel better already! Whew!
There are a number of really good sports bars in Sarasota, and depending upon your sport of choice, some are more popular viewing spots than others. World Cup soccer? Try Shakespeare’s English Pub on Osprey. Big Ohio Buckeye fan? Head down to Captain Curt’s on Stickney Point Road. NHL Hockey? You’ll have to ask Mart about that one. But if you’re looking for a sports bar with numerous games/sports are playing 7 days a week, a place that serves both ice cold beer and liquor, while offering amazingly good food that’s won more than a few championships on its own, you gotta try Gecko’s Grill and Pub.
Gecko’s roots started in Sarasota in 1992, headed by two easy-going guys named Mike, (Mike Gowen and Mike Quille), whose motto has always been “You can’t buy friendship but you can find it at Gecko’s!” They started with all the necessary ingredients of a solid sports bar – multiple wide screen televisions, a great sound system, ample bar space and multiple booths, as well as a staff trained to serve with a friendly smile and then BANG! Gecko’s whacks the concept of a sports bar over the head with a menu not normally found in a sports bar. Soon, one Sarasota location grew to three, with two more Gecko’s in Bradenton, along with Hurricane Mikes Saloon and the Red Barn Bar – both in Sarasota – still sports bars, but smoker friendly.
So when the yen to watch a game with other folks is on the agenda, you’ll often find the SarasotaFoodies at one of the local Gecko’s, regardless if our fellow diners are cheering for, or against, our favorite team. It’s all friendly smack talk anyway, don’t you think?
When looking for classic football watching food, Gecko’s doesn’t disappoint. In fact, they offer a seasonal ‘Football Menu’ where the most expensive item on the menu is a $15 plate of 20 Buffalo style chicken wings. There’s also a couple ‘football’ specific foods like The Patriots Pepperoni Pizza, the New Orleans Ragin’ Cajun Pita, and the popular Bucs’ Burger – a 1/2 lb. burger with onions, mushrooms, cheddar cheese and bacon served with a your choice of chips, fries or coleslaw for only $9.00. At prices like these we can choose a couple of dishes, since we’ll be sharing mindlessly while we watch the game.
Mart can never resist an order of hot, crispy Buffalo Style chicken wings, so that’s first on our list. Gecko’s serves them up mild, medium or hot, with 6 other sauces available to try. Naturally they come with the required side of celery and blue cheese dressing, though you can order Ranch instead.
For me it’s always going to be an order of Geckos Tuna Nachos; ten individual crispy fried wonton chips topped with Gecko’s famous sesame seed crusted yellow fin tuna, seared rare, with seaweed salad & drizzled with wasabi cream and spicy Asian soy sauce. Garnished with pickled ginger & finished with scallions, these Nachos are nothing like the Tex/Mex alternative. They taste absolutely healthy and because they are served side by side, instead of heaped on the plate, each one is a crunchy delight.
Back on the Football Menu, Mart and I decide to split one of Gecko’s Super Po-Boy sandwiches, which is just what you’d expect. . . a large, fried shrimp sandwich served with chopped lettuce, tomato and mayo served with either an order of their homemade chips, fries or coleslaw. (We ordered their onion slivers which came with a side of spicy horseradish-ranch dressing.) This sandwich was so loaded with shrimp that we actually picked a few off the bun in order to close it tight enough to hold it altogether!
There is a reason Gecko’s has been won numerous “Best of The Best” awards, including Best Happy Hour, Best Sports Bar, Best Burger, Best Take Away, Coldest Beer, Best Lunch, Taste of Sarasota People’s Choice Awards, Best Entrée, Best Appetizers … and more! Maybe they are just . . . The Best!