School is out in Southwest Florida and summer travel is officially underway. If you are joining the tens of thousands from our area embarking on a road trip, it is nice to know where to stop when in need of break. When traveling to and from destinations north, I-75 can get pretty crowded. It’s nice to know about this favorite Florida pit stop for seafood off of I-75 in Manatee County–Anna Maria Oyster Bar.

If you’ve ever taken the exit in Ellenton, where the big outlet mall is, there is a chance you’ve driven by this unassuming spot. It sits across from a gas station on the west side of the interstate. The oyster bar originally opened its doors more than 25 years ago on  Anna Maria Island. It has expanded to four locations, with two more on the way; Sarasota and North Port.

It is surprisingly big inside, light and bright with a large outdoor patio that is pet friendly.

The owners have a long history of giving back and being active in the community. When I visited they had a partnership with Salt Tequila to donate a portion of money from cocktails sold to Mote Marine Lab & Aquarium for conservation. They also support a summer reading program for kids and more.

Let’s get to the seafood

Local seafood including grouper and gulf oysters are among the many items on the extensive menu. Oysters come raw, fried, Rockefeller, garlic parnesean, chipotle grilled, as shooters, and in the restaurant’s signature tequila lime sauce. We did not opt for a full meal, but a quick snack this time. The oysters were fresh and cold and the lobster bisque was decadent and delisious. Fish dip is creamy rather than chunky, and mild. Our server raved about the baby back ribs, for anyone who isn’t into seafood.

Portions are big and so is the hospitality. Put it on your road trip radar. Here are a few photos from this favorite Florida pit stop for seafood off of I-75 in Manatee County.

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