Season runs Oct. 15 through May 15

Stone crab season is October 15 through May 15, so it's time again for our annual list of best places to eat the delicious claw meat, which can be enjoyed pretty much guilt free because these crabs grow back their claws, in Sarasota and Manatee counties. Remember to call first, though, because a limited supply means restaurants can’t always carry the delicacy. 

The Beach House

200 Gulf Drive N., Bradenton Beach

A beautiful beachfront spot where you can enjoy your seafood, and perhaps a craft cocktail or glass of Lola wine, right on the sugary white sand while watching the sun slowly ease into the Gulf of Mexico. Beach House is part of the Chiles Restaurant Group that also owns the nearby Sandbar and Mar Vista mentioned later in the list. “We have every intention of serving stone crabs,” says Robert Baugh, the chief operating officer for Chiles Restaurant Group. “We will be broadcasting via social media and our website as soon as stone crabs are available.” Info: 941-779-2222; beachhouse.groupersandwich.com

Big Water Fish Market

6641 Midnight Pass Road, Siesta Key

This purveyor of fresh seafood is near world-famous Siesta Beach by the south bridge on Siesta Key in the Crescent Beach Shopping Center.  Info: 941-554-8101; bigwaterfishmarket.com

Blue Marlin

121 Bridge St., Bradenton Beach

Occupying a historic cottage in Bradenton Beach with a funky outdoor area featuring live music, Blue Marlin is co-owned and operated by Cortezian Adam Ellis, who always seems to get the freshest stone crabs and other goodies arriving straight off the commercial fishing boats. Plus, Blue Marlin now has a liquor license to go with its craft beer and wine list. Info: 941-896-9737; bluemarlinami.com

Captain Brian’s Seafood Market & Restaurant

This full seafood market and restaurant is a great spot for lunch or dinner, or grabbing claws to go. Open Monday through Saturday, stop by for happy hour drink and appetizer deals from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Info: 941-351-4492; captainbrians.com

Captain Curt’s Crab & Oyster Bar

Pair your stone crab with Captain Curt’s popular clam chowder (or beach-y cocktails) at this good-times seafood house featuring a tiki bar and live music on Siesta Key. 1200 Old Stickney Point Road, Siesta Key; 941-349-3885; captaincurts.com 

Casey Key Fish House & Tiki Bar

Located on a stretch of sand surrounded by the Intracoastal between Osprey and Casey Key, this restaurant and tiki bar occupies one of Southwest Florida's most gorgeous settings. 801 Blackburn Point Road, Osprey; 941-966-1901; facebook.com/caseykeyfishhouse

Cedar Reef Fish Camp

Multiple locations

The locally owned and operated Cedar Reef Fish Camp has two great locations in Sarasota County: 775 U.S. 41 Bypass S. Venice; 941-244-2249: and 4167 S. Tamiami Trail Venice. Info: 941-451-8564; cedarreef.com

Chef Rolf’s New Florida Kitchen

2001 Siesta Drive, Suite 101, Sarasota

“We are serving up fresh, locally sourced prime seafood in a sophisticated coastal setting” is the motto at Chef Rolf’s New Florida Kitchen. The restaurant, which opened earlier this year, is the culinary creation of TV cooking show chef Rolf Zahnd, who had been at Saltwater Café in Nokomis for about two decades. Info: 941-806-6820; chefrolf.us

Cortez Clam Factory

10104 Cortez Road W., Bradenton 

Don’t let the modest exterior fool you. Inside you’ll find a spacious seafood and smoked meats destination with a raw bar, large full liquor bar, dining area and stage where bands play most nights. Info: 941-798-9898; clamfactory.com

Cortez Kitchen

4528 119th St. W, Cortez

Located on the water, smack dab in the middle of Cortez Village with a consistent breeze from the bay, this open-air restaurant is where the locals go for good eats, strong drinks and to see our favorite bands. Info: 941-798-9404; thecortezkitchen.com

Crab & Fin

420 St. Armands Circle, Sarasota

Enjoy your stone crab in the classy indoor dining room or the equally appealing alfresco setting, in the heart of the St. Armands Circle shopping and dining district. Info: 941-388-3964; crabfinrestaurant.com

Crow’s Nest

1968 Tarpon Center Drive, Venice

A South County landmark overlooking Venice Inlet that includes a luxurious marina, the restaurant’s crabbers deliver the fresh stone crab claws right to the dock. Info: 941-484-9551; crowsnest-venice.com

Columbia Restaurant

411 St. Armands Circle, Sarasota

Savor stone crab at the St. Armands Circle landmark Columbia restaurant served chilled, steamed with butter, mustard sauce and lemon, or broiled with Latin spices. Enjoy your meal with a glass of wine, a pitcher of sangria or mojitos. Info: 941-388-3987; columbiarestaurant.com

Dockside Waterfront Grill

509 N. Tamiami Trail, Venice

Michael Quillen and Mike Gowan, co-owners of the Gecko’s Hospitality Group, purchased Marker 4 and reopened the popular place as Dockside Waterfront Grill, which offers gorgeous views of Roberts and Dona Bays and a fun menu largely focusing on authentic Florida seafood. Info: 941-218-6418; docksidewaterfrontgrill.com

Dry Dock Waterfront Grill

412 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key

A multi-story, recently renovated restaurant boasting panoramic views of Sarasota Bay, Dry Dock has been a favorite among locals and tourists alike for more than two decades and is also part of the Gecko’s Hospitality Group. Info: 941-383-0102; drydockwaterfrontgrill.com

Duval’s

1435 Main St., Sarasota

A top destination for seafood as well as superb sandwiches and happy hour deals, Duval’s is right on Main Street in downtown Sarasota. Info: 941-312-4001; duvalsfls.com

Element

1413 Main St., Sarasota

Part of American Dreams Restaurant Group that includes nearby Duval’s, Element excels at steaks, seafood, craft cocktails and much more in a chic setting. Info: 941-724-8585; elementsrq.com

Feast Restaurant

5406 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach

This hidden gem offers casual fine dining with an emphasis on fresh seafood as well as steaks, pastas and gourmet pizzas, plus an impressive wine and craft beer selection. Info: 941-778-5092; thefeastrestaurantami.com

Fins at Sharky's

1600 Harbor Drive S., Venice

Enjoy upscale dining in casual attire on the beach here at Sharky’s fancier sister restaurant. Info: 941-999-3467; finsatsharkys.com

Harry’s Continental Kitchens

525 St. Judes Drive, Longboat Key

Pair your stone crab with a creative cocktail in an enchanting setting, just a short walk from the water, that looks plucked from the pages of “Coastal Living.” Info: 941-383-0777; harryskitchen.com

Left Coast Seafood Co. Oyster Bar

385 N. U.S. 41 Bypass, Venice

Venice favorite established in 2002 serves fresh seafood at reasonable prices with lots of weekly specials, including happy hour deals. Info: 941-485-5064; leftcoastseafood.com

Mar Vista Dockside

760 Broadway St., Longboat Key

Part of the Chiles Restaurant Group that includes the Beach House and Sandbar, Mar Vista is also a waterfront beauty, nestled along north Sarasota Bay on the Manatee County side of Longboat Key. Info: 941-383-2391; marvista.groupersandwich.com

Phillippi Creek Village Restaurant & Oyster Bar

5353 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota

“There’s no other crab like stone crab,” says Chef Pedro Flores. “It’s delicate, sweet and tender. And nothing can compare to a cold stone crab claw paired with our key lime mustard sauce. The fact that it’s only available certain times of year makes us want it even more.” Info: 941-925-4444; creekseafood.com

Sandbar Restaurant

100 Spring Ave, Anna Maria

Like its sister restaurant the Beach House, Sandbar is an amazing Anna Maria Island location, right on the sand offering postcard views of the Gulf to go with your seafood and libations. Info: 941-778-0444; sandbar.groupersandwich.com

Seafood Shack

4110 127th St. W., Cortez

Plant yourself on the outdoor patio or indoors and watch the boats, seabirds and perhaps dolphins go by on the Intracoastal Waterway while devouring fresh seafood and sipping on a tropical cocktail. Info: 941-794-1235; seafoodshack.com

Star Fish Company

12306 46th Ave. W., Cortez 

Casual seafood dining really doesn’t get any better than at Old Florida icon Star Fish Company. Located along Sarasota Bay in Cortez Village right next to where the boats deliver their goods to sister company A.P. Bell, Star Fish not only serves the claws but a totally delicious bowl of stone crab chowder. FYI: It's cash only. Info: 941-794-1243; starfishcompany.com

Swordfish Grill

4628 119th St. W., Cortez 

Another Cortez Village favorite, Swordfish Grill offers patrons outdoor and indoor waterfront dining with live music regularly heard on the back patio featuring the tiki bar. Info: 941-798-2035; swordfishgrillcortez.com

Turtles on Little Sarasota Bay

8875 Midnight Pass Road, Sarasota 

This beloved Siesta Key spot on Little Sarasota Bay has been serving stone crab claws, boat drinks and more since 1986. Info: 941-346-2207; turtlesrestaurant.com

Walt’s Fish Market, Restaurant and Chickee Bar

4144 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota

This local seafood institution has ties to Sarasota dating back to 1918 and just keeps getting better, with the chickee/tiki bar addition and smartly made cocktails, including a masterful margarita to wash down that crab claw meat. Info: 941-921-4605; waltsfishmarketrestaurant.com

Have a suggestion for a great place to eat, drink, play or stay in Southwest Florida? How about a pop culture topic? Email me at wade.tatangelo@heraldtribune.com. You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.