Best Bets for Boaters
SWFL’s waterside restaurants offer great food and live music
Attention, boaters! Whether you’re ending a long day on the water, or heading out to seek a bite to eat, you’ll have fun motoring across Southwest Florida’s waters to get to these restaurants—and enjoy their live music, too.
Cactus Jack’s Waterfront Bar & Grill in North Fort Myers has menu items ranging from seafood to Mexican cuisine, and features a musical mix of Motown, dance party, the 1950s and karaoke. Cactus Jack’s is open Monday to Saturday 11 a.m. to “late hours,” and Sunday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Moor at any empty slip (no charge when dining) at Marinatown Yacht Harbour.
Bayside Seafood Grill & Bar in Naples is well known for its delicious seafood and excellent service. Multiple levels all offer great views of Venetian Bay. Live music plays year-round on the Upper Deck and Outdoor Lounge. The restaurant is open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch; times vary. Park Shore Marina and Boat Rentals has two public boat slips (no charge when dining) at the north end of the dock.
Boat House Tiki Bar & Grill in Cape Coral is where you’ll enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner—while taking in beautiful views of the Caloosahatchee River and listening to live music such as rock or country rock. The restaurant has a “Hook and Cook” option: You catch it, they’ll cook it. Open daily 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. When dining, there’s free docking on Flamingo Canal at Marker Red 78. A dock lines the canal, offering plenty of slips, depending on boat lengths.
OLDE FLORIDA DINING
Olde Fish House in Matlacha is where fish are unloaded right from the boats to the docks. Boaters can call ahead to place to-go orders. Regular live entertainment includes bluegrass, country and classic rock. Open Saturday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Friday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. On the northwest side of Matlacha Bridge, take the little channel leading to Matlacha. Free docking on its eight slips when you dine here.
MOJITOS & MORE
Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille on Fort Myers Beach is one of those friendly spots on Estero Bay where the rum flows and the flavors of the Caribbean delight. The restaurant prides itself on offering some of the best mojitos, and the freshest seafood, including Campeche Fish Tacos and Panko Fried Shrimp. Local favorites Deb & the Dynamics play every week, along with other rock and pop bands. Stop in for lunch or dinner, daily 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. There are multiple docks out back and deck hands to assist. Low tide docking works for most vessels.
CLASSIC AND LOW-KEY
Original Shrimp Dock Bar & Grill on Fort Myers Beach is a historic spot—it was once a shrimping shanty. Favorite items include the Shrimper’s Bloody Mary and the Shrimp-Cargot. Live music ranges from early rock to classic, and is featured on two stages. Open Friday 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. At Salty Sam’s Marina, floating docks make it easy for boaters to tie off. Free docking when dining; dock master can be hailed on channel 16 for instructions.
TROPICAL AND TIKI
Parrot Key Caribbean Grill on Fort Myers Beach is known for its Permanent Vacation Cocktail, a tropical rum drink with fresh fruit juices, and also for its Coconut Shrimp with Raspberry Melba
Clockwise from top: At the Tarpon Lodge & Restaurant in Bokeelia, boaters enjoy sunset vistas and dinner featuring the fresh catch of the day ; Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille in Fort Myers Beach has docks extending into Estero Bay; fish tacos top the list of favorites at Doc Ford’s.
Clockwise from top left: Shrimp are the stars on the menu at Parrot Key Caribbean Grill; its Fort Myers Beach location on the water’s edge is ideal for boaters; Bayside Seafood Grill & Bar affords great views.