A Guide to Dining in SW Florida
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.
2500 Island Inn Road, Sanibel, 239-472-8311, docfordssanibel.com
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.
949 Sand Castle Road, Sanibel, 239-472-3355, dunesgolfsanibel.com
Creative American Cuisine. Island sophistication is evident in this restaurant’s tasteful decor and impressive menus.
Start with the signature Blue Cielo-tini, a gin and blue curacao cocktail. F or appetizers consider PEI mussels, calamari or charcuterie. Entrees include osso buco, Dungeness crab ravioli and fresh catch with jumbo lump crab topping the list. Wrap your evening with a selection from the after-dinner drink menu that features fine scotches, cognacs and ports. Scott McDonald is on the piano from 6 p.m.
1244 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel. 239-472-5555, ilcielosanibel.com
IL TESORO RISTORANTE
Pasta with Personality. Chef A.J. Black creates an Italian family feast atmosphere. Everybody’s laughing, eating pasta and sipping wine. Not only does Black inject spirit and heart, he heaps on the flavor starting with the antipasto. All the finest flavors of Italy come together. Penne puttanesca with capers; rigatoni with eggplant, fresh ricotta and cherry tomato sauce; and short ribs with gnocchi are hard to pass up. The seafood specials are equally intriguing. Try the cloud-like tiramisu.
751 Tarpon Bay Road, Sanibel, 239-395-4022, ilteroso.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!
2163 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, 239-472-0606, sanibelislandcow.com
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 try 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.
1619 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, 239-472-1581, islandpizza.net
THE JAC SANIBEL ISLAND BAR & GRILL
Locally Sourced, Artfully Prepared. Light and airy with rustic details such as barn-style doors, The Jac has a fresh island appeal. Chef Philipe
Schroeder focuses on seafood, with chili-rubbed yellowtail snapper and a crab mascarpone risotto with shrimp, scallops and mussels on his menu. But meat lovers score here as well with Jac’s spiced pork belly and the drunken short ribs. 1223 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, 239-4721771, thejacsanibel.com. 1223 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, 239-472-1771, thejacsanibel.com
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. Four locations: 6520-C Pine Ave., Sanibel, 239-4725353; 1036 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, 239-472-6939; 12951 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers, 239-476-9000; and waterfront at 16501-B Stringfellow Road, Bokeelia, 239-283-5959, lazyflamingo.com
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, sautéed with broccoli and fresh mushrooms and topped with an artichoke heart and creamy Alfredo sauce. Or try the Lighthouse Local Grouper Platter for dinner, as you view pictures of the island’s historic lighthouse that line the walls. Callahead seating is available.
362 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, 239-472-0303, lighthousecafe.com
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.
1200 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, 239-472-1998, matzaluna.net
NORMANDIE SEASIDE CAFÉ
Indulge Yourself. Located at the West Wind Inn on the Gulf side of Sanibel Island, this cozy restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Bananaberry French Toast and the Italian Omelet are among the breakfast favorites ser ved with Colombian coffee or a choice of artisan whole-leaf teas. Relax in the cafe’s old-world atmosphere as you enjoy an Island Curry Chicken Salad or Pressed Cuban Sandwich for lunch. Chef Tom Sisson creates a dinner menu with island
flair, and you can pair your food with the perfect wine from an extensive list.
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.
SANIBEL FISH HOUSE
Tried and T rue. 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.
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.
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 100-percent organic, gluten-free, nonGMO, farm-fresh ingredients in each creation, including the popular Smoked Paprika Hummus & Sprouts. Another best-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 every delectable dish it offers.
3345 West Gulf Drive, Sanibel, 239-472-1541, normandierestaurant.com
2761 West Gulf Drive, Sanibel, 239-472-0305, sanibelsandbar.com
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
703 Tarpon Bay Road, Sanibel, 239-472-4453, thesanibelgrill.com
Bailey’s Center, 2463 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, 239-472-4499
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.
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.
1625 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, 239-472-1956, sweetmelissascafe.com
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.
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.
703 Tarpon Bay Road, Sanibel, 239-472-2722, timbersofsanibel.com
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 macadamia-encrusted grouper.
1551 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, 239-472-7242, traderssanibel.com
New island favorite. Opened by the owners of Traders. T2 offers new delicious dishes, like trendy tacos and savory flatbreads, in addition to coastalinspired classics. A full bar with mixology cocktails such as Sanibel Sunset and Elderflower Bloom, a rotating Florida craft and draft beer selection, and a wine list to envy all add to the unique and lively Floridian décor. Outdoor seating, full bar, gift shop, T2 is the perfect place for lunch, dinner and anytime in between!
2340 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, 239-558-8919, T2traders.com
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.
14970 Captiva Drive, Captiva, 239-472-0248, captivaislandinn.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 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!
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.
5400 South Seas Plantation Road, Captiva, 239-312-4275, docfordscaptiva.com
THE GREEN FLASH
A Rare Dining Treasure. Have a seat and enjoy the beautiful view of the water as you browse the delightfully diverse menu. The Grouper “Café de Paris” 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!
15183 Captiva Drive, Captiva, 239-472-3337, greenflashcaptiva.com
Changes in Fooditude. A white picket fence and cheer y 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.
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.
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.
11546 Andy Rosse Lane, Captiva, 239-472-3434, 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.
15951 Captiva Drive, Captiva. 239-472-5161 ext. 4, captiva-house.com.
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 .
11508 Andy Rosse Lane, Captiva, 239-395-1142, 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.
11508 Andy Rosse Lane, Captiva, 239-472-6200, captivaislandinn.com
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.
13451 McGregor Blvd., Ste. 10, Fort Myers, 239-887-3139, blancentertainment.com
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.
13451 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers, 239-489-1500; 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
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.
12901 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers, 239-4664663, cravemenu.com
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.
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 EDISON RESTAURANT
Fort Myers Illuminati. This restaurant honors its legendary namesake genius, Thomas Edison, with a display of historic photos. The menu is steeped in American culinar y tradition, with dishes like the signature chicken potpie receiving raves from diners.
3583 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers, 239-936-9348, edisonfl.com
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.
2224 Bay St., Fort Myers, 239-334-3473, firestonefl.com
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 Kona Big Wave and Goose Island 3 12.
2207 First St., Fort Myers, 239-332-3673, fordsgaragefl.com
Agent Fish. The food here is tried and true. Salads, along with fish, steak and pasta dishes, have been pleasing palates since 1982. Soup or salad accompany all dinners, just like in the good old days. Early diners catch good deals from 4-7 p.m. Cozy booths, fish art and nautical details give this restaurant a seafaring vibe.
13451-16 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers, 239489-2226, prawnbrokerfortmyers.com
Head of the Class. This place gets the business crowd at lunch and the beautiful theatergoers at dinner. They come for a private club atmosphere and a happy balance of seafood and steaks. Early diners will find good deals from 4-7 p.m.
7790 Cypress Lake Drive, Fort Myers, 239437-4377, universitygrill.net