Why: In high season, the newish Sarasota location has snowbirds lined up around the block. At the fancier bistro location on Hillsborough Avenue the crowds can get thick, but it’s at the original Waters spot where your mettle may truly be tested. Every table full, I’ve been told by a manager, “We’re full, just go home,” only to persevere out in the rain until a table opened up so I could get my salt and pepper tofu, seafood hot and sour soup and Hong Kong-style roast duck.
What to order: Mix it up with decadent (steamed whole fish with black bean sauce or sizzling honey pepper scallops) and healthy (snow pea tips or other Chinese greens). And when in doubt, ask for guidance.