By  Mike Miller   Updated May 1, 2023

Cortez, Florida Things To Do, Lodging, Dining, & Real Estate At End Of Article

Cortez is a living remnant of Old Florida.  It is a small working fishing village located on a peninsula in Sarasota Bay.  The population of this unincorporated community is 4,377.

It is on Cortez Road (State Highway 684) that connects Bradenton with Bradenton Beach and Anna Maria Island.

Vintage Postcard of Cortez, FloridaVintage Postcard of Cortez, Florida

Cortez is not a trendy place, but a living community of weathered old houses and fish companies, fish nets, crab traps, floats and all kinds of boats, old and new.

It is fitting that several good seafood restaurants can be found in Cortez including Starfish Company, Cortez Kitchen, Swordfish Grill and Seafood Shack.

These restaurants are able to serve fresh fish every day of the week, year round.

Cortez Aerial Looking North, 1950sCortez Aerial View Looking North, 1950s

Cortez was founded about 1890 by several families from the waterfront town of Beaufort, North Carolina. These families are still represented in modern day Cortez.

Some of the names are Guthrie, Bell, Taylor and Fulford.

Cortez Fisherman StatueCortez, Florida Fisherman Statue

This maritime heritage is showcased in The Florida Maritime Museum located in the restored 1912 school house at the Cortez Nature Preserve.

Cortez is also home to FISH (Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage), a non-profit group set up in 1991 to help preserve the heritage of Florida Gulf Coast fishing communities.

Cortez, Florida at Starfish CompanyCortez, Florida at Starfish Company

Among events that also help preserve this heritage are the annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival, first held in 1981, and the recently initiated Ben Gullet Mullet Invitational.

MulletMullet, a Favorite Florida Eatin' Fish

The mullet event is a cast net only tournament that helps raise money for FISH and the Cortez Historical Society.

It is named after the late Ben Gullet of Bradenton, who was well known as a cast net fisherman and mullet smoker (a man who cooks mullet in a smoker).

For those of you who don't know much about mullet, take a look at this Youtube drone video of a giant mullet run along the Florida coast.

Cortez Florida Recommended Restaurant


12306 46th Ave W
Cortez, Florida 34215
Tel:  941-794-1243

Starfish Company Dockside Restaurant is on the waterfront in Cortez, one of Florida's last remaining genuine fishing villages. 

Starfish Company Cortez FloridaDockside at Starfish Company

It was founded way back in the early 1920's as a wholesale seafood market.

Over the years it evolved into a retail seafood market and finally included a kitchen and small outside dining area.

It is a great place to eat, especially if you like fresh fish, usually fried. Most of the fish is caught in local waters along this beautiful stretch of west coast Florida.


Artist's Rendering of Cortez Fisherman StatueArtist's Rendering of Cortez Fisherman Statue


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