Skinny’s Place vs. Duffy’s Tavern – Who Has The Best Burger on Anna Maria Island?

Skinny’s Place
3901 Gulf Dr
Holmes Beach, Florida 34217

Duffy’s Tavern
5808 Marina Drive
Holmes Beach, FL 34217

An almost naked, large headed mouse, miles and miles of strip malls, incredible amounts of retirement age folks driving slower than glacial shifts and countless carbon copy chain restaurants offering piles and piles of frozen & re-heated value meals, Jazzed-Up entrees & Triple Dippers, where it’s always Friday and when you’re there, you’re family. You know what I’m talking about, it’s Florida. It’s one of the most popular vacation, retirement and destinations in our country. Florida is know for busy amusement parks, over crowded beaches, packed-in chain restaurants half-empty / half-rented homes. I’m not saying that’s ALL of the state but it’s a hell of lot harder to find the opposite than it is the above. That’s why I loved Anna Maria Island.

Located on Florid’a Gulf side, Anna Maria Island is about 20 miles North West of Sarasota. It’s a tiny little 7 mile stretch of land with white soft sandy beaches, lots of people riding bikes every where, a trolley that will take you from one end of the other and most importantly no party bars, chain restaurants or hotels. In fact, Anna Maria Island is dotted from end to end with interesting local eats. Seafood is the name of the game with fresh locally caught Grouper topping the list.

As I recently found out on a little vacation there with my Step-Mom Liz and my wife Cara, the dining day here revolves around one thing, the sunset. If you’re not in your seat about an hour before sunset on the patio at the Sandbar on the Island’s North end or it’s sister restaurant on the South end, the Beachhouse, you’ll have to stand or take a seat inside. If you are lucky enough to get a table overlooking the water to the West, be prepared to eat from their great Seafood filled menus, as tables are for diners only. If you’re just looking to sip a cold Beer or a Margarita, try out the Gulf Drive Tiki Bar just up the road.

If scenic Seafood is your thing, take a long walk down one of the restaurants located at the end of all 3 long East-side piers; the Rod and Reel, Anna Maria City Pier and the Bradenton Beach City Pier.

I’m not much of a Seafood eater, in fact, I can’t stand the stuff but I was assured by all around by Cara and Liz that the Seafood at both the Bridge Street Bistro & the Blue Marlin was fantastic. I can tell you that the Sirloin and slow braised Short Rib, grilled, then doused with Gravy & Onion jam that I had at either, respectively, was nothing short of perfectly prepared & delicious.

Looking for a more casual experience and or a little entertainment or perhaps you want to watch the game? Head to the end of Bridge Street to the Bridgetender Inn for eats, drinks and music. Not only can you dine in or al fresco but you can also sit at the mini bar The Bridgetender built across the street right on the bay, one of my favorite bars on the whole island. Tell the jovial bartender Ray, who is from Long Island, we sent ya.

Seafood, Seafood, Seafood. But what else? Well people gotta eat in the morning too and while you could have Lox, instead point yourself to the Island Creperie. It’s a well known restaurant owned by a Chef who still also still has a restaurant on the French Riviera. While most people will want to talk about the night Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz took over the restaurant, I’d just point you to the Savory & Sweet Crepe combo on the breakfast menu!

Lastly, while you’re hanging out on Bridge Street, there’s lots of shops to buy hand made and other Island goodies. There’s also a bit of fun waiting for you at The Fish Hole Adventure Miniature Golf. It’s a full 18 holer that’s well kept with native Florida plant life but be careful not to reach into the Koi pond, there’s a Gator waiting for a snack. If you’re as talented as Cara, you can win a free round of Mini-Golf by playing Plinko after your game.

It’s a great place to relax, get some sunshine in a part of Florida that’s heralded for local eats. But hey, this is a Burger blog, not a travel site per se, so let’s get to the meat of it.

In 1952, Skinny and Janice Freeman, returned to Anna Maria Island, 18 years after they had visited 16 years before on their honeymoon. Their quest was to open a small restaurant on the beach. When it opened across the street from the Manatee Public Beach, it was called the “Mid-Island Inn” named after its position on the 7 mile stretch of land upon which it lived. Skinny passed away at age 84 in 2001 and that’s when their children renamed it “Skinny’s Place.” It re-opened as a easy going, beach comber friendly, no shoes needed spot for good laughs and fresh a Hamburger. It’s the kind of restaurant that almost makes you feel like a Beer is mandatory with your food. In their words; a “Jimmy Buffet Cheeseburger in Paradise” kinda place. Even though it’s been since named (not sure by whom) “Old Florida Original #1 Burger,” it’s not the original Burger on the island.

Claude “Duffy” Whiteman, a big band trumpet player, opened Duffy’s Tavern in 1954 selling mugs of Beer and Sandwiches. The place was bought by Pat “Miss Duffy” Geyer in 1971 and whose daughter still owns and operates the place today. They’re known for cold beers and fresh Burgers but not French Fries, it’s Potato Chips only at Duffy’s. The reason their so well known is thanks to USA Today. In 1989 the national News Paper voted Duffy’s one of the top 10 “hamburger heavens” in the country. In 2003, the Tavern moved slightly North, across the street from the Holmes Beach City Hall and Skatepark. As a result of losing their lease, they had to move from it’s former location, across the street from the Manatee Public Beach.

As a member of the Burgeratti, it was my civic Burger-Duty to eat them both and see what’s what in this unspoken Burger rivalry on the tiny island of Anna Maria.

Skinny’s Place
I loved the vibe at Skinny’s and although they don’t serve craft beers, I felt like I could sit there all day knocking back cheap coldies on their patio (AKA parking lot with sand & tables.) It’s a standard, exactly what you imagine, beachside Burger. Served on a toasted White Bun, it’s not too greasy nor is it too dry with Lettuce, Onions, Tomatoes & Pickles. The lettuce was a little skimpy and the Onion was a little too much. I suggest removing have the Onions & getting a double Patty as one is just not enough. Be sure to pair up your Cheeseburger with an order of Skinny’s Tater Tots. They were fried just right with a crunchy outside and an inside that still tasted of creamy Potato. The longer I sat there, the more I enjoyed the entire experience.

7 out of 10 Ounces

Duffty’s Tavern
Duffy’s feels is a tavern that could exist anywhere in America. It’s the kind of place people head to right after work for a cold Beer & a Burger to unwind from the day. Mugs of Beer are only about $1 – $1.50 so there’s no need to hold back. Grab a seat at the counter, a table or out on the patio but either way, you’ll need to place your order at the bar. I felt like it was only fair to compare Apples to Apples in this game of Burger to Burger and ordered the exact same thing at Duffy’s: Cheeseburger. I removed the Pickle and Tomato and even though I asked for “no Mayo” the Burger still came with it. The Burger had a good meaty flavor inside of it’s soft Sesame Seed Bun. It was juicy and messy, so much in fact that it seeped through my white paper tray and onto the table. This was a good thing. No need to order a Double here, the single Patty is just enough.

7 out of 10 Ounces

So which was better? Who was the winner? Well besides Cara and her free game of Mini-Golf, the other winner was me! Why? Not only did I get to eat both tasty Burgers, spend a bit of vacation with two people I love but moreover, I taught a Parrot to say the word “Hamburger.”

When you get the chance to try both Burgers for yourself, be sure to stop by the Sun & Surf Lifestyle Apparel Store & say “hello” & “hamburger” to Buddy the Parrot.

485 Burgers

Feb 22, 2012 – 3:51 pm
Feb 24, 2012 – 4:33 pm

The Rev Meter for Social Community
The Rev Meter” is a social community meter for assessing how optimized a bar or restaurant is with social networking. By taking what I consider to be the 10 most important social networks and creating a point system, I can accurately asses how well your business is using social networking as a tool. My goal here is to educate and assist great business to better effectively use these tools.

Skinny’s Place scores a 3 on The Rev Meter.

Duffy’s Tavern scores a 4 on The Rev Meter.

4 points or less You’ve missed the 5 basics and are less than optimized
5 points You’ve covered the basics, which is better than most but far from optimized.
6 to 9 points You’re doing better than most and on your way to becoming a well respected social community whiz.
10 points Congrats on a perfect score!


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10 Responses to Skinny’s Place vs. Duffy’s Tavern – Who Has The Best Burger on Anna Maria Island?

  1. Bruce Davenport says:

    I would have licked that burger juice up. Right on the table in front of everybody. Love burgers that are not over cooked. Oh, I made that burger. Thanks for the kudos!

  2. Clark Freeman says:

    Thanks for trying us out, giving us your opinions, and nice comments, we appreciate it! The “Old Florida Original” is because the “Mid Island Drive In” was built in the 50’s. Since renamed Skinny’s, after Carl Freeman’s nickname, it is now back & run by the original family who started it. Back in the 50’s they had burgers & fresh onion rings among other things. It was est. in 1952 by Carl and Janice Freeman. Claude did not take over in 54, it was actually in 1960. It hasn’t changed(the little shack) and is still the little place the Freeman’s built back then, and is one of the oldest places still owned and operated by an original family on Anna Maria Island.. Old Florida Original 😉 and Voted number 1 Burger for years by Local people voting in the newspaper!
    Thanks again..

  3. Jane says:

    My name is Jane and I’m with Dwellable.
    I was looking for blog posts about Holmes Beach to share on our site and I came across your post…If you’re open to it, shoot me an email at jane(at)dwellable(dot)com.
    Hope to hear from you 🙂

  4. ted bateman says:

    Burgers were undercooked. The burgers are overrated. Probably hype. Duffs was closed on Tues. Will try them next time.

  5. ted bateman says:

    Burgers were undercooked. The burgers are overrated. Probably hype. Duffs was closed on Tues. Will try them next time. This place didn’t look very clean.

  6. Ted Bateman says:

    Finally got to try Duffys. They are a winner hands down!

  7. Jill Von Pier says:

    DUFFYS, by all means, gets my vote. Love pat and Polly. Been going there since I was 23 and in a week I will be 75.

  8. Namaste Suz says:

    No question… Locals know it’s Duffy’s all the way and has been since 1971. And now, since this review, they also offer a great new selection of gourmet choices with bleu cheese, brie and pepper jack for when regulars want a change of pace from the tried and true original.

    For the record, a lot of us locals refuse to set foot into Skinny’s (or even use their outside restroom) after they pulled that fast one on the Duffy’s folks by not renewing their lease after some 40 years and then being less than honest in their intentions for the property. Seriously doubt that Carl Freeman would be very proud of the way his heirs handled the situation by misrepresenting and then attempting to ride on the coat tails of Duffy’s with a deceptively similar sounding name and slogan lingo, intended to fool toursits. Frankly, they should have named their weak imitation Sneaky’s based on their actions. But, if all is fair in love and burger wars, the proof is in the product and Duffy’s is far superior in all respects.

  9. Sooo sorry Duffy’s Fans….Skinny’s is the one & only, hands-down winner!!! I’ve eaten at both and I won’t be going back to Duffy’s! Their burgers tasted like those “Bubba Burgers”!!!
    I love the freshly made burgers, the frosty cold beer & the “old Florida” atmosphere at Skinny’s…but that’s just me & my wife’s opinion!!!
    I say this to everyone….go try them both & make up your own mind!

  10. Jay Peterson says:

    Duffy’s wins hands down! Been going there for 30 years now. I like to eat, I like burgers, BUT I LOVE a Duffy’s burger — always eat more than one! Every person who works there is the bomb dot com.

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