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Sanibel/Captiva & Naples/Marco areas


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I'll be spending a long weekend in Southwest Florida soon and was wondering if anybody had suggestions on where to dine in both the Sanibel/Captiva & Naples/Marco areas. I'm willing to drive a fair amount for a good meal. I eat everything. Any good experiences you have had - ethnic, fine dining - whatever. Thanks in advance! Ironically, I live in Southeast Florida but don't any good spots on the other side.

Thanks,

Rich :biggrin:

South Florida

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Head for Ristorante Fabio, on Hancock Bridge Pkwy at Orange Grove Blvd. in North Ft. Myers. It's a little place in a fast-fading shopping center, stuck between a Big Lots and a mini-storage. The Italian food is stellar, and demolishes anything else in town. Edmondo, the chef, runs the place with his wife and children. It's the kind of place where most of the customers are regulars, and everyone knows them by name. The regular menu is interesting, but the specials are usually what's worth ordering. If there's gnocchi, don't consider anything else. They're so light that they practically float off the plate. They don't take credit cards, so plan on $30 or so a person if you have something from the very modest wine list.

For southern food, there's the Dixie Moon Cafe on Old 41 in Bonita Springs, about 1/2 mile north of Bonita Beach Rd. on the east side of the street. The fried chicken is a true standout, and they have the best rendition I've ever tried of the venerable grouper sandwich.

For barbeque, there's the Hickory BBQ, at the intersection of San Carlos Blvd. and McGregor, on the way to Sanibel. It's a little hard to find, and you'll be best to cut through the bingo hall parking lot to get there. It's a big barn of a place, and the waitresses have been on the job since about 4 A.D. They build a mean hickory fire, though. It's basically dry style, and the sauce is think and vinegar based and I've been tempted to drink it by the glass sometimes. The sliced pork and beef sandwiches, and the half-chickens are the best items, thought the ribs are also good. The corn comes floating in about a half-stick of butter, and is usually good even when not in season locally. This place is also cash only, but you can stuff yourself for under $10.

If you want great Thai food (at least to local devotees of same), there's Siam Hut on Del Prado Blvd. in Cape Coral. It's been here about 25 years, which is positively prehistoric by local standards. For sushi, I highly recommend Mr. Mee's, across from Page Field in the Sam's Club Plaza on US 41 in Ft. Myers. They also have an excellent Korean and Japanese menu. For Mexican, there's Jalapeno's on College Pkwy west of US 41. I like this place because in addition to the usual Tex-Mex items, you'll find some of the lesser-known "peasant" items like menudo (tripe stew).

I can't help you as much with Naples, and I don't get down there all that often, but the food critic in the Naples Daily News (www.naplesnews.com) is reliable.

That should get you started...

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A great bar with terrific seafood is The Lazy Flamingo in Sanibel. I think there's two of them. By no means a fancy place, but when I was there the food and drinks were just what vacation is all about. Great cocktails, cold beer and delicious fresh seafood for decent prices. Definitely a shorts and flip flops kind of place, but well worth the trip. Lots of locals there, which I always think is a good sign.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Hmmm...I'm cheered to hear the Lazy Flamingo outposts on Sanibel are still good. About five years back, they opened three more locations, one in Cape Coral (where I live) which, food-wise, was even better than the Sanibel locations. I'd been swept out of there along with the more valuable debris on many a Friday night. In the past year, it went quickly downhill, closing about a month ago. I'd heard the original owners sold out. With the Sanibel Causeway suffering advancing decreptiude and horrific traffic, I didn't want to hike out there to be disappointed. I'll have to make the trip.

If you do go, I strongly recommend the one at the northern tip of Sanibel, just before the Blind Pass bridge. It's a true hole-in-the-wall, which to me substantially enhances the experience. Be sure to try your hand at the "island game" after having a few Adult Beverages.

Edited by Z28Racer (log)
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If you want to brave the over-developed hell that is Marco Island, there's a small place called Capt. Brian's that has fantastic grouper sandwiches, meltingly-tender roast beef sandwiches, and humongous onion rings. Their signature dessert is called "Lemon Lush," which has a hazelnut shortbread base sprinked with Frangelico, a light lemon cream (I wished it were more lemony, but it was good), and whipped cream on top.

Captain Brian's Seafood & Roast Beef

317 N. Collier Blvd.

Marco Island, Fl.

941-389-6900

In Naples, I stumbled across a restaurant called USS Nemo. From the outside, it looks like a non-descript generic seafood place in a strip mall, but the menu features seafood with Asian influences (e.g., seared tuna with a miso-ginger sauce)

USS Nemo Restaurant

3745 Tamiami Trail North

Naples, Florida 34103

239-261-6366

Edited by ChocoKitty (log)
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If you do go, I strongly recommend the one at the northern tip of Sanibel, just before the Blind Pass bridge. It's a true hole-in-the-wall, which to me substantially enhances the experience. Be sure to try your hand at the "island game" after having a few Adult Beverages.

You've probably been there more recently than I have. I think I was there about 6 years ago, but I sent other friends about two years ago that reported back much of what I had thought of the place (i.e. What a Great Little Dive). However, if the management has changed I can't speak for that. I was only there (repeatedly) on the one vacation and loved the place. It was definitely the hole-in-the-wall one as well. I agree that the ambaince, or lack thereof, was part of the whole experience. Once we found that bar, we went virtually every day for a week!

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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A couple of weeks ago I had lunch at the Snook Inn in Marco, which is right on the water next to the marina. It was a gorgeous day and the water traffic in and out of the marina was always interesting. The food was OK; I had a grilled grouper sandwich, made even more pleasant by the location.

The Bubble Room in Captiva is always a treat, a very kitschy decor with lots of Xmas decorations (bubble lights, in particular, hence the name) and terrific desserts.

There's a bar in Captiva, too, whose name I've forgotten, but I remember using the men's room there. It's right behind the bar, and as you stand at the urinal you're looking out at the patrons from behind the bar through one-way mirrored glass. A very weird sensation.

Neil

Author of the Mahu series of mystery novels set in Hawaii.

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The Bubble Room in Captiva is always a treat, a very kitschy decor with lots of Xmas decorations (bubble lights, in particular, hence the name) and terrific desserts.

The Bubble Room isn't what it used to be food-wise. That used to be my special-occasion place, but there are others on which I would rather spend my money. If one's never been, though, it's probably worth the trip. The Red Velvet cake is still as good as ever, though.

There's a bar in Captiva, too, whose name I've forgotten, but I remember using the men's room there.  It's right behind the bar, and as you stand at the urinal you're looking out at the patrons from behind the bar through one-way mirrored glass.  A very weird sensation.

That's the Green Flash, which I understand is a pretty good seafood place as well. I can't quite warm up to it, as it sat on the site of Timmy's Nook, which was a total dump on the outside, but quite a memorable place otherwise. When it was demolished, old-island people were in mourning.

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  • 4 weeks later...

So I am here to report back on my dining experiences in Sanibel/Captiva and Naples. Or at least what I can remember.

Sanibel/Captiva

After 9 Sanibel/Captiva shuts down almost completely. The only thing open late is the Lazy Flamingo. We got a late start and by the time we were driving to most of the restaurants discussed on this thread in Sanibel/Captiva, they were all closed except the Lazy Flamingo and the Bubble Room. I drove the entire barrier island(s) and nothing else was open.

The Lazy Flamingo was your typical Floridian seaside restaurant/bar. You place your order when you walk in and they ring a bell when your food is ready to be picked up. No servers. I had a grouper sandwich - I'd say it was slightly better than the average ubiquitous Southwest Florida Grouper sandwich. My wife had a burger, which was tasty, and a very large portion. Conch fritters were fried balls of batter lacking conch. The place has a nice mellow atmosphere and certainly doesn't feel touristy at all.

Naples

Tommy Bahama Restaurant - Now I am not sure if this qualifies as a theme restaurant; being in the same category as Planet Hollywood and Rainforest Cafe. If it does, then I like theme restaurants. It's situated in the middle of a retail clothing store.

The pulled pork sandwich was simply divine. Served with fried yuca chips, something more commonly seen in Southeast Florida and tropical fruit and cabbage slaw.

Sushi at Fujiyama wasn’t as successful. Actually, it was probably some of the worst sushi I have ever had. On top of that it was overpriced. I was shocked to find that no locally caught fish were even on the fresh fish menu. It was recommended to me by someone who is not a foodie and eats rice-a-roni out of the pot nightly. I guess I’m partly responsible for taking the advice of a Neanderthal..

South Florida

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After 9 Sanibel/Captiva shuts down almost completely. 

Most of southwest Florida closes at 9. About the only place with any activity is "downtown" Ft. Myers, and that just the club scene. Finding a good place to eat after 10 is nigh impossible.

The Lazy Flamingo was your typical Floridian seaside restaurant/bar. You place your order when you walk in and they ring a bell when your food is ready to be picked up.  No servers.  I had a grouper sandwich - I'd say it was slightly better than the average ubiquitous Southwest Florida Grouper sandwich.  My wife had a burger, which was tasty, and a very large portion.  Conch fritters were fried balls of batter lacking conch.  The place has a nice mellow atmosphere and certainly doesn't feel touristy at all. 

I went to the "Santiva" Lazy Flamingo about three weeks ago on a spur-of-the-moment thing. The, um, decor maintains its genteel dilapidation, but the food's not what it was. The conch fritters and chowder used to be stuffed with conch. The menu's also about half the length and twice the price of what it was in its heyday. Lots of folks talk about places the "locals" go as being a mark of authenticity. Since Sanibel is mostly over-moneyed part-time residents, that doesn't really obtain. The best places were where the hotel employees went after work, as those usually were good values. Real estate being as valuable as it is on Sanibel now, they've just about all vanished.

Naples

Tommy Bahama Restaurant - Now I am not sure if this qualifies as a theme restaurant; being in the same category as Planet Hollywood and Rainforest Cafe.  If it does, then I like theme restaurants.  It's situated in the middle of a retail clothing store. 

The pulled pork sandwich was simply divine.  Served with fried yuca chips, something more commonly seen in Southeast Florida and tropical fruit and cabbage slaw. 

I'm really glad you found this on your own. I was hesitant to recommend it as there's sometimes overwhelming negativity towards chains on this board. I took my folks there (at their request) on my father's birthday and was very pleased. The shrimp-BLT is also excellent, should you return. I also like the fact that the bartender didn't treat mixed drinks as an excuse to brain you with alcohol, and that balance is key.

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