Sani­bel

RSWLiving - - Epicurious - 239-472-5111; south­seas.com Mandy Carter is a lo­cal mom with a pas­sion for family travel, a pop­u­lar travel blog­ger, in­clud­ing her own family blog at acup­ful.com, and the man­ag­ing ed­i­tor for TOTI Me­dia.

BLUE GI­RAFFE

Ca­sual Ex­cel­lence. After a re­lax­ing day on the beach or brows­ing Sani­bel’s nu­mer­ous shops, it’s time to treat your­self to some de­li­cious, is­land-in­spired food. Sit at hand-painted tables in­side, or en­joy the gar­den at­mos­phere of Peri­win­kle Place and sam­ple the Cuban Sand­wich for lunch—it’s an is­land fa­vorite! There’s some­thing for ev­ery­one on the din­ner menu, in­clud­ing Sig­na­ture Gi­raffe Cake Din­ner, fea­tur­ing pan-seared crab cakes topped with mango salsa, chipo­tle cream and sweet chili glaze. The break­fast menu of­fers a tempt­ing va­ri­ety of omelets and pan­cakes. Or you can try the Fish­er­man’s Bene­dict: two English muffins topped with poached eggs, salmon, spinach and grilled toma­toes, with Key lime hol­landaise sauce. Come see why the lo­cals love the Blue Gi­raffe! BLD

2075 Peri­win­kle Way, Sani­bel, blue­gi­raffe­sani­bel.com

DOC FORD’S SANI­BEL RUM BAR & GRILLE

Novel Cui­sine. Lo­cal restau­rant folk joined with South­west Florida nov­el­ist Randy Wayne White to de­velop a restau­rant based on a fic­tional char­ac­ter, and it’s a best-seller! The menu of­fers sand­wiches, sal­ads and en­trées. Don’t skip the mo­jito. LD

2500 Is­land Inn Road, Sani­bel, 239-472-8311, doc­fordssani­bel.com

THE DUNES

Not a Mem­ber? Not a Prob­lem! The menu is clas­sic with an in­spired twist. Try the sig­na­ture lump crab bisque, the East­ern, West­ern or South­ern Burger, crisp em­panadas with pulled beef or the seared cow­boy steak. LD

949 Sand Cas­tle Road, Sani­bel, 239-472-3355, dunes­golf­sani­bel.com

THE IS­LAND COW

Bovine Bounty. With a mas­sive menu that fea­tures ev­ery­thing from omelets to fish to pasta, this is no beef joint, de­spite the cow ref­er­ences. The fish din­ners are a good choice, un­less it’s break­fast, when you might con­sider the Loaded Seafood Omelet. Check out the new full bar, of­fer­ing trop­i­cal cock­tails and sig­na­ture drinks, in­clud­ing the home­made White Mango San­gria! BLD

2163 Peri­win­kle Way, Sani­bel, 239-472-0606, sani­belis­land­cow.com

IS­LAND PIZZA

A Slice of Par­adise. A tasty tra­di­tion on the is­land for more than 20 years. Pizza just the way you want it, and be sure to tr y the fa­mous “Crusty Curl Crust.” Pasta, cal­zone and salad are also pop­u­lar. You might try cala­mari or br­uschetta for an ap­pe­tizer, and don’t miss the daily happy hour. LD

1619 Peri­win­kle Way, Sani­bel, 239-472-1581, is­land­pizza.net

LAZY FLAMINGO

Cold Beer, Raw Bar. Come try the plumpest raw oys­ters, steam­ing hot-spiced peel-and-eat shrimp, fresh grouper and in­cen­diar y Dead Par­rot Wings. The reg­u­lar hot Buf­falo wings are your best bet. LD

Four lo­ca­tions: 6520-C Pine Ave., Sani­bel, 239472-5353; 1036 Peri­win­kle Way, Sani­bel, 239-4726939; 12951 McGre­gor Blvd., Fort My­ers, 239476-9000; and wa­ter­front at 16501-B Stringfel­low Road, Bo­keelia, 239-283-5959, lazyflamingo.com

LIGHT­HOUSE CAFÉ

The World’s Best Break­fast. Res­i­dents and vis­i­tors have been en­joy­ing this Sani­bel clas­sic for six decades, and it’s easy to see why. Start your day with an Ocean Frittata: sea­soned shrimp, scal­lops and crab­meat,

“Let's face it, a nice creamy choco­late cake does a lot for a lot of peo­ple; it does for me.” —Au­drey Hep­burn

sautéed with broc­coli and fresh mush­rooms and topped with an artichoke heart and creamy Al­fredo sauce. Or tr y the Light­house Lo­cal Grouper Plat­ter for din­ner , as you view pic­tures of the is­land’s his­toric light­house that line the walls. Call- ahead seat­ing is avail­able. BLD

362 Peri­win­kle Way, Sani­bel, 239-472-0303, light­house­cafe.com

MATZA­LUNA

Well-Smoked Ital­ian. The Five Cheese with Gor­gonzola, ri­cotta, spinach and artichoke hearts is just one of the pop­u­lar wood-fired piz­zas. Fresh pas­tas, chicken, seafood and veal round out the menu. D

1200 Peri­win­kle Way, Sani­bel, 239-472-1998, matza­luna.net

THE NORMANDIE SEA­SIDE CAFÉ AT WEST WIND

In­dulge Your­self. Banan­aberry French Toast or an Ital­ian Omelet for break­fast? The café of­fers those and much more, in­clud­ing a Florida fruit bowl or Veg­gie Omelet, served with Colom­bian cof­fee or a choice of ar­ti­san whole-leaf teas. Re­lax in the old-world at­mos­phere as you en­joy an Is­land Curry Chicken Salad or Pressed Cuban Sand­wich for lunch, paired with the per­fect wine from an ex­ten­sive list. BLD

3345 West Gulf Drive, Sani­bel, 239-472-1541, west­windinn.com/normandie-restau­rant-sani­bel

PINOC­CHIO’S ICE CREAM AND GEPPETTO’S BEACH FOOD­IES

The In­sti­tu­tion. A Sani­bel tra­di­tion since 1980, Pinoc­chio’s hand­crafts all its frozen con­fec­tions daily right in the Sani­bel store in small batches. This mecca for ice cream food­ies of­fers a va­ri­ety sure to please all palates, in­clud­ing ice cream, gelato, sor­bet, sher­bet, frozen yo­gurts and Ital­ian cus­tards from the 130+ fla­vor reper­toire, ser ved in gen­er­ous por­tions. Stop in for the sig­na­ture Sani­bel Krunch or Dirty Sand Dol­lar . Geppetto’s Beach Food­ies, the sis­ter gourmet shop lo­cated next to Pinoc­chio’s, sur­prises with au­then­tic crois­sant bak­ing.

362 Peri­win­kle Way, Sani­bel, 239-472-6566, pinoc­chiosice­cream.com

THE SAND­BAR

Wel­com­ing. The Seafood Trio, which in­cludes bronzed grouper, scal­lops and crab cake, is a fa­vorite. Fresh seafood and steaks grilled to per­fec­tion are sure to please all palates. D

2761 West Gulf Drive, Sani­bel, 239-472-0305, sani­bel­sand­bar.com

SANI­BEL FISH HOUSE

Tried and True. Fresh seafood en­trées on the all- day menu range from sand­wiches and sal­ads to fried bas­kets and house spe­cial­ties, such as seared tuna with rice cakes and sea­weed salad. The salmon can be or­dered broiled, grilled, black­ened or Ja­maican jerked. LD

Three lo­ca­tions: 1523 Peri­win­kle Way, Sani­bel, 239-472-7770; 4685 Bonita Beach Road, Bonita Springs, 239-495-5770; and 320 Old San Car­los Blvd., Fort My­ers Beach, 239-765-6766, the­fish­house­r­estau­rants.com

SANI­BEL GRILL

Lo­cal Color. Sani­bel Grill ser ves up typ­i­cal pub fare—juicy burg­ers, seafood bas­kets and spicy Buf­falo wings—and more. You’ll find sea­soned bar­tenders and the of­ten-sought-but-nev­er­found neigh­bor­hood bar feel, which ex­plains the pop­u­lar­ity of this spot. D

703 Tar­pon Bay Road, Sani­bel, 239-472-4453, the­sani­bel­grill.com

THE SANI­BEL SPROUT

Fresh Is­land Good­ness. Sani­bel Is­land’s pop­u­lar ve­gan and veg­e­tar­ian gourmet take-out restau­rant of­fers a de­light­ful va­ri­ety of meals, smooth­ies and juices pre­pared fresh daily. Chef Nikki Rood uses only 1 00-per­cent or­ganic, gluten-free, non-GMO, farm-fresh in­gre­di­ents in each cre­ation, in­clud­ing the pop­u­lar Smoked Pa­prika Hum­mus & Sprouts. An­other best-

“Good food is very of­ten, even most of­ten, sim­ple food.” —Anthony Bour­dain

seller is the Raw Ve­gan Lasagna. The heart of The Sani­bel Sprout is “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food, ” (quot­ing Hip­pocrates) and this is re­flected in ever y de­lec­ta­ble dish it of­fers. LD

Bai­ley’s Cen­ter, 2463 Peri­win­kle Way, Sani­bel, 239-472-4499

SUN­SET GRILL

Floribbean Gourmet. For lunch, try the crab cakes or black­ened chicken Cae­sar wrap. Morn­ing peo­ple might choose eggs “San­tiva” and “Cap­tiva,” which are vari­a­tions of eggs Bene­dict with either smoked salmon or lump crab cake. BLD

6536 Pine Ave., Sani­bel, 239-472-2333, sun­set­grill­sani­bel.com

SWEET MELISSA’S CAFE

Good Thing, Small Pack­ages. Chef Melissa Tal­mage pre­pares en­trées in full and petite por­tions, giv­ing din­ers the op­tion to sam­ple mul­ti­ple dishes, such as Grilled Oc­to­pus or Smoked Mul­let Frit­ter. 1625 Peri­win­kle Way, Sani­bel. 239-472-1956, sweet­melis­sas­cafe.com. LD

1625 Peri­win­kle Way, Sani­bel, 239-472-1956, sweet­melis­sas­cafe.com

THIS­TLE LODGE

Vic­to­rian Ren­dezvous. Cre­ative cui­sine such as black grouper, oven-roasted co­quelet and herb-crusted lamb rack or black­ened yel­low­tail snap­per mojo adds to the al­lure of Vic­to­rian trap­pings, as do glo­ri­ous beach views from al­most any ta­ble. L D SB

Casa Ybel Re­sort, 2255 West Gulf Drive, Sani­bel, 239-472-9200, thistlelodge.com

THE TIMBERS RESTAU­RANT AND FISH MAR­KET

Dine In or Do It Your­self. Fa­vorites in­clude fried cala­mari, seafood plat­ters and crab cakes (all lump). Fresh fish is al­ways on the menu. Be sure to visit the ad­ja­cent fish mar­ket. D

703 Tar­pon Bay Road, Sani­bel, 239-472-2722, tim­ber­sof­sani­bel.com

TRADERS

A Shop­ping and Din­ing Ex­pe­ri­ence. Traders is a shop­ping em­po­rium and a restau­rant, with live en­ter­tain­ment on Tues­day and Thurs­day evenings. The menu fea­tures fresh Florida gumbo, pan-seared crab cakes and macadami­aen­crusted grouper. LD

1551 Peri­win­kle Way, Sani­bel, 239-472-7242, trader­ssani­bel.com

Cap­tiva CANTINA CAP­TIVA

Na­cho Madre’s Mex­i­can. En­joy lunch and din­ner in the gar­den or in­side, where bright ser­ape col­ors, piñatas, terra-tiled floors and adobe-style walls sub­tly sug­gest that we’ve gone south of the bor­der. LD

14970 Cap­tiva Drive, Cap­tiva, 239-472-0248, cap­ti­vais­landinn.com

OLD CAP­TIVA HOUSE

Old Florida/New Amer­i­can. Chef Ja­son Miller’s al­ways chang­ing menu cen­ters on the bounty of the sea­son with plenty of fresh fish. Wines from an eclec­tic list com­ple­ment the pre­sen­ta­tions, and the view from the Sun­set Room takes the breath away . BD

15951 Cap­tiva Drive, Cap­tiva, 239-472-5161 ext. 4, cap­tiva-house.com

CROW’S NEST BEACH BAR AND GRILLE

Great Food, Great Fun! Take a trip to Cap­tiva for a fun new din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence! The menu is filled with your fa­vorite ap­pe­tiz­ers, in­clud­ing flat­breads, chicken wings and the al­wayspop­u­lar baked goat cheese dip. For din­ner you can choose sa­vory en­trées such as Chicken

“Life is un­cer­tain. Eat dessert first.” —Ernes­tine Ulmer

Sal­tim­bocca, pre­pared with fresh sage leaves, lemon ri­cotta and prosciutto-wrapped chicken over lin­guine. The Crab Races, tak­ing place on Monday and Thurs­day, re­ally keep the room hop­ping! LD

15951 Cap­tiva Drive, Cap­tiva, 239-472-5161, crowsnest-cap­tiva.com

DOC FORD’S CAP­TIVA RUM BAR & GRILLE

The Stor y Con­tin­ues. Build­ing on con­tin­ued suc­cess, this pop­u­lar chain based on nov­el­ist Randy Wayne White’s fic­tional char­ac­ter brings its unique menu to the doors of South Seas Is­land Re­sort. Start with Doc’s Beach Bread while you con­sider en­trées such as panko- fried shrimp and dr yrubbed rib­eye. LD

5400 South Seas Plan­ta­tion Road, Cap­tiva, 239-312-4275, doc­ford­scap­tiva.com

THE GREEN FLASH

A Rare Din­ing T rea­sure. Have a seat and en­joy the beau­ti­ful view of the wa­ter as you browse the de­light­fully di­verse menu. The Grouper “Café de P aris” is the house spe­cialty, baked in white wine, lemon and Worces­ter­shire, fin­ished with a but­ter y herb topping. Or tr y the Vene­tian Plat­ter, which fea­tures salmon, sword­fish, scal­lops and tiger prawn ser ved with sautéed po­lenta. Sa­vory beef and pork en­trées round out the menu for land­lub­bers, and the dessert menu is pos­i­tively deca­dent! LD

15183 Cap­tiva Drive, Cap­tiva, 239-472-3337, green­flash­cap­tiva.com

KEYLIME BISTRO

Changes in Food­i­tude. A white picket fence and cheery blue canopies give this place an is­land set­ting, while daily out­door live mu­sic pro­vides a Jimmy Buf­fett beat. The eclec­tic menu in­cludes wal­nut- crusted snap­per , sausage and pep­pers, and es­car­gots baked with blue cheese and tomato. BLD

11509 Andy Rosse Lane, Cap­tiva, 239-395-4000, cap­ti­vais­landinn.com

LATTE DA COF­FEE AND ICE CREAM SHOP

Once Upon a Time ... Find a wide range of cof­fees, in­clud­ing the ex­tra-strong Red Eye Cof­fee, cap­puc­ci­nos and lat­tes at this cozy spot. Those with a sweet tooth in­dulge in scoops of Quee­nie’s lo­cally made ice cream, milk­shakes and sun­daes. BLD

11508 Andy Rosse Lane, Cap­tiva, 239-472-0234, cap­ti­vais­landinn.com

THE MUCKY DUCK

Quack Up. Start at the bar with a fresh pint from a long list of beers brewed “on the other side of the pond.” The menu is a com­bi­na­tion of Florida cui­sine and English pub grub. Visit the great out­door beach­side pa­tio for live mu­sic and sun­set gaz­ing. LD

11546 Andy Rosse Lane, Cap­tiva, 239-4723434, muck­y­duck.com

OLD CAP­TIVA HOUSE

Old Florida/New Amer­i­can. Chef Greg Nel­son’s al­ways chang­ing menu cen­ters on the bounty of the sea­son with plenty of fresh fish. Come check out the new sushi menu, which of­fers an ad­ven­tur­ous va­ri­ety of more than 30 choices of sushi rolls, sashimi, spe­cialty rolls and se­lect sakes. Wines from an eclec­tic list com­ple­ment the pre­sen­ta­tions, and the view from the Sun­set Room takes the breath away. LD

15951 Cap­tiva Drive, Cap­tiva. 239-472-5161 ext. 4, cap­tiva-house.com.

RC OT­TER’S

Ot­terly Beach Amer­i­can. The mul­ti­tude of menu choices may be daunt­ing. Steamed clams, fish bas­kets, que­sadil­las or even meat­loaf are sure to sat­isfy your crav­ings. Din­ers en­joy live mu­sic out­side seven days a week dur­ing lunch and din­ner . BLD

11508 Andy Rosse Lane, Cap­tiva, 239-3951142, cap­ti­vais­landinn.com

SUN­SHINE SEAFOOD CAFÉ AND WINE BAR

In­spired Bistro. This charm­ing, small café of­fers a menu with a Euro­pean touch. Din­ers can en­joy the wood-grilled rack of lamb or black­ened salmon, or per­haps a pecan-crusted goat cheese salad. Out­door seat­ing is avail­able. D

14900 Cap­tiva Drive, Cap­tiva, 239-472-6200, cap­ti­vais­landinn.com

“A bal­anced diet is a cookie in each hand.” —Bar­bara John­son

Fort My­ers BLANC

Food for the Epi­curean. Start with Bread Jenga, a toasted bread tower with cheese sauce, mod­eled after the pop­u­lar game and al­most as fun! Then choose an en­trée from the ro­bata grill, such as Lamb Lol­lipops with roasted gar­lic and rose­mary re­duc­tion, or the Oc­to­pus S&S, served with sweet ha­banero sauce. Blanc’s menu also in­cludes “Al­most En­trées,” de­signed to be en­joyed and shared by the en­tire ta­ble. Re­lax in the clean, con­tem­po­rary am­bi­ence as you sa­vor the cre­ations of Chris Whi­taker and chef Jean Claude Roge, whose tal­ents lift Blanc above its peers. Closed Sun­days. D

13451 McGre­gor Blvd., Ste. 10, Fort My­ers, 239-887-3139, blan­cen­ter­tain­ment.com

BLU SUSHI

Cobalt Cool. An in­cred­i­ble va­ri­ety of sushi and out­ra­geous cock­tails high­light the menu, but there are also tasty choices for din­ers who pre­fer steak and chicken. LD

13451 McGre­gor Blvd., Fort My­ers, 239-4891500; 2262 First St., Fort My­ers, 239-362-2843, blusushi.com

COURTSIDE STEAK­HOUSE AT SANI­BEL HAR­BOUR RE­SORT

Beefed Up. Re­fined with wood, brass, leaded glass and a sub­tle sports theme, this steak­house de­liv­ers some of the tasti­est “butcher’s breed” Black An­gus steaks.

17260 Har­bour Pointe Drive, Fort My­ers, 239466-4000, mar­riott.com

CRAVE

Cozy & Con­tem­po­rary. Modern Amer­i­can cui­sine pre­pared when you or­der it. Break­fast, served un­til 4 p.m., is your choice of omelet or vari­a­tion of eggs Bene­dict. After noon, dishes such as ba­con­wrapped meat­loaf and cedar plank salmon, plus sal­ads and sand­wiches, at­tract hun­gry din­ers. The Sun­day brunch crowd packs the house, so you may have to wait—but it’s so worth it. B L D SB

12901 McGre­gor Blvd., Fort My­ers, 239-4664663, crave­menu.com

DARUMA

Make a Wish! Din­ner is served in tra­di­tional or tep­pan style, which means the chef comes to your ta­ble and pre­pares your din­ner. Clas­sic Ja­panese fa­vorites like shrimp tem­pura are of­fered, as well as com­bi­na­tions like lob­ster Nip­pon and filet mignon teriyaki. D

13499 South Cleve­land Ave., Fort My­ers, 239344-0037; 241 Cen­ter Street North, Naples, 239-591-1200; and 5459 Fruitville Road, Sara­sota, 941-342-6600, daru­marestau­rant.com

THE FIRESTONE

Four lev­els of fun. Brick and wood pro­vide a warm at­mos­phere, and tires mov­ing along the walls re­mind you why it’s called The Firestone. Try the filet mignon or paella in the Grille Room or tapas in the Sky Bar, or dance to live mu­sic in the Mar­tini Bar on Fri­day and Satur­day. D

2224 Bay St., Fort My­ers, 239-334-3473, fire­stonefl.com

FORD’S GARAGE

The taste is in the details. The dé­cor takes you back to the 1 920s, when Henr y Ford walked these parts, and the menu in­cludes burg­ers such as the Model “A” and the Low Carb- ure­tor. Fresh Black An­gus beef topped with ever ything from arugula to fried egg will make your mouth wa­ter , and the craft beer menu in­cludes such names as K ona Big Wave and Goose Is­land 3 12. LD

2207 First St., Fort My­ers, 239-332-3673, fords­garagefl.com

The 4.5-acre la­goon-style heated pool oa­sis in­cludes a 182-footh­igh wa­ter­slide, wa­ter­falls splash­ing over moun­tain rocks, an el­e­vated jet­ted spa, hot tub and pool­side restau­rant. 1 Semi­nole Way, Hol­ly­wood; 866-502-7529; semi­nole­hardrock­hol­ly­wood.com

6. Le­goland Beach Re­treat

The new­est Le­goland re­sort opened in 2017 with a fan­tas­tic beachthemed, zero-en­try pool. The large Lego soft bricks float­ing in the pool are a fun ad­di­tion. The ex­pan­sive sandy area is per­fect for build­ing sand­cas­tles and has a gi­ant play struc­ture for kids to run off some en­ergy. Daily ac­tiv­i­ties in­clude dance par­ties, and bean­bag toss and chalk-art com­pe­ti­tions. 100 Le­goland Way, Win­ter Haven; 888-690-5346; legoland­beachre­treat.com

7. South Seas Is­land Re­sort

En­joy the is­land life with a pool day at South Seas. There is no bet­ter way to en­joy a pool than to be beach­front as well, and at this Cap­tiva re­sort the beach is never far away. The prop­erty’s three pools, two wa­ter­slides, lux­u­ri­ous ca­banas and tiki bar al­ways cre­ate a mem­o­rable day. 5400 Plan­ta­tion Road, Cap­tiva;

8. Hil­ton Or­lando

The tem­per­a­ture-con­trolled swim­ming pools and lazy river at the Hil­ton Or­lando make you feel like you are in a wa­ter par­adise in the mid­dle of a crazy theme-park des­ti­na­tion. This Hil­ton has more than 10,000 square feet of pool deck, with plenty of lounge chairs that guar­an­tee you a spot to re­lax and en­joy the beau­ti­ful sunny weather. If you are with the kids, you will want to hang out at the main pool for its ze­roen­try ac­cess and wind­ing wa­ter­slide. If this is a grown-ups’ get­away, some peace and quiet can be found at the adult­sonly pool. 6001 Des­ti­na­tion Park­way, Or­lando; 407-313-4300; the­hiltonor­lando.com

9. Uni­ver­sal’s Ca­bana Bay Beach Re­sort

By far, my kids’ fa­vorite ho­tel pool—and my wal­let’s choice—is Ca­bana Bay in Or­lando. This rea­son­ably priced re­sort has two spec­tac­u­lar pools that will tempt you to skip the theme parks. The ca­bana rentals have a great price tag. At the Ca­bana Court­yard, there is a tower wa­ter­slide, kids’ splash pad and sandy play yard full of out­side games. The Lazy River Court­yard fea­tures a zero-en­try pool with a sandy beach, as well as a lazy river with wa­ter­falls and wa­ter can­nons. Each pool has its own pool­side bar. 6550 Ad­ven­ture Way, Or­lando; 407-503-4000; loew­sho­tels.com/ ca­bana-bay-ho­tel

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