Here’s the Skinny on “Skinny’s Place”

19 Feb

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I made my first trip to Skinny’s Place today for a quick bite at lunch time. It is a cool little blast from the past burger joint located on scenic Anna Maria Island. Skinny’s (named for founder Carl “Skinny” Freeman) has been in business since 1952 (originally named the Mid-Island Drive In) and they have developed quite a loyal following over the decades.

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As you can see, it looks like someone might actually live above the rickety Old Florida restaurant. Skinny’s is beachy and breezy on the inside — and pretty darn cozy too. Space is at a premium but there is a boatload of good Margaritaville vibe & canned music. The laid back, rustic atmosphere, I must say, is obviously the best part about this coastal dive bar.

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The burgers at Skinny’s (they are actually called “Skinny Burgers”) have been voted the best on Anna Maria Island for many years now, but I have to add that these accolades may simply be by default. Not that it’s a bad burger — it tasted just fine, thank you very much. However, there is really nothing terribly special about it either. A 1/4 pound slab of ground beef with a slice of rather flavorless American cheese on top … toss in a few pickle slices, some fresh tomato, and a leaf or two of iceburg lettuce. Sound familiar? Better than McDonalds? Why, of course. Better than Five Guys or Ruby Tuesdays? Probably not. The buns are grilled on the inside (top and bottom) and that shows some extra effort. But the cheeseburger is not exactly a flaming bargain at $5 a pop.

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The open air bar/dining room is very small yet comfortable. I especially like the hardwood ceiling and the wire cage that encloses the wooden picnic tables from the outer parking lot and Gulf Drive (which runs along the front of the restaurant). You place your food order at the bar and I found the service this day to be fairly prompt and upbeat.   

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This (see photo above) is what I meant by the caging that encloses the inside dining area. There was a nice shore breeze going today and I was quite comfortable even though I was wearing long pants and a button down, long-sleeved shirt.

All in all, Skinny’s is a fine place to grab a cold one and hang out with a few friends. I get a sense that there is probably nothing truly special about any of the grub served here. It’s all about slowing down, getting in that beachy state of mind, and filling your belly with something to soak up the alcohol. And as far as the aforementioned “Best Burger” award, all I will say is that I should seriously consider quitting my day job and open my own classic burger joint. Look out world … “Gary’s Beach Burger” may be in your future. I honestly think I could really show these dudes a thing or two!

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