Best Bets for Boaters

SWFL’s wa­ter­side restau­rants of­fer great food and live mu­sic

RSWLiving - - Features - BY ANN MARIE O’PHEL AN

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 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.


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.


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.


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.

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