Nestled along the Gulf Coast, Fort Myers and Sanibel are not just havens for beach lovers and shell collectors; they're also a paradise for food enthusiasts. From fresh seafood to international cuisine, the dining scene in these Floridian gems offers something for every palate. Whether you're looking for a casual eatery by the water or a fine dining experience under the stars, Fort Myers and Sanibel's restaurants are sure to impress. With their unique blend of casual beachfront spots, charming cafes, and elegant dining rooms, these coastal towns cater to a variety of dining preferences. Join us as we explore the top dining destinations that will make your trip to these coastal towns unforgettable, and prepare to indulge in some of the most delectable dishes that Florida has to offer.
At Fresh Catch Bistro, the name says it all. Specializing in the freshest local seafood, this beachfront restaurant offers stunning sunset views and a menu that highlights the best of the Gulf's bounty. Diners can indulge in expertly prepared dishes such as seared scallops, grouper piccata, and their signature seafood platter, all while listening to the gentle waves of the nearby shore. The elegant atmosphere and attentive service make it an ideal spot for a romantic dinner or a special celebration, ensuring a memorable dining experience with every visit.
Inspired by the adventurous spirit of the fictional character Doc Ford, this lively spot serves up a mix of Caribbean and Florida flavors. With a menu that features items like Yucatan shrimp and island-style ribs, Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grille is the perfect place to kick back with a rum cocktail and enjoy the tropical ambiance. The restaurant's casual vibe and sports bar feel make it a great spot for watching the game or enjoying live music, all while savoring the taste of the islands.
Located on the picturesque Periwinkle Way in Sanibel, Blue Giraffe is the ideal spot for a relaxing breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Their diverse menu includes everything from pancakes and omelets to burgers and fresh salads, ensuring that every member of the family finds something to savor. The restaurant's island charm and friendly service create a welcoming environment where guests can enjoy a leisurely meal after a day of exploring the local shops and attractions.
Traders is a unique combination of a restaurant and a shopping experience. After browsing through the eclectic selection of gifts and home decor, diners can settle in for a meal of upscale American cuisine, with options like lobster bisque, crab cakes, and prime rib. The restaurant's sophisticated yet relaxed environment makes it an excellent choice for those looking to combine a love of food with a passion for shopping.
Set on a picturesque channel in Cape Coral, Rumrunners attracts diners who arrive by both land and sea. While the views here might overshadow the menu of basic kinds of pasta, salads, and fried dishes, the vibrant atmosphere more than compensates. It's a prime spot for happy hour enthusiasts and those who enjoy people-watching in a scenic waterfront setting.
Cabbage Key Inn and Restaurant, accessible by private boat or water taxi, is a secluded gem off Pine Island. This charming restaurant is rumored to have inspired Jimmy Buffet's "Cheeseburger in Paradise." It's the ideal spot for enjoying a Gulf shrimp cocktail, Key lime pie, or the legendary cheeseburger in a paradisiacal setting.
The Timbers Restaurant and Fish Market is renowned for its fresh, locally sourced seafood and warm, inviting atmosphere. Offering a wide range of dishes from classic shrimp cocktails to innovative seafood creations, this spot is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. The attached fish market ensures the freshest catch of the day is always on your plate, making it a must-visit for seafood connoisseurs.
The Boat House Tiki Bar & Grill offers a quintessential waterfront dining experience. With its open-air setting and panoramic views of the Caloosahatchee River, this spot is perfect for those looking to enjoy a meal in a truly Floridian atmosphere. The menu features a variety of fresh seafood and classic grill favorites, complemented by a selection of tropical cocktails. The laid-back vibe and live music make it an ideal place to unwind and soak in the scenic beauty.
Tarpon Bay, located in the luxurious Hyatt Regency Coconut Point, offers a sophisticated dining experience with a focus on fresh, sustainable seafood. The restaurant's chic decor, inspired by a classic fish house, complements the innovative dishes prepared by skilled chefs. Highlights include their raw bar and the chef's special creations, which utilize the freshest ingredients from local waters. The serene ambiance and exceptional service make it an ideal choice for a refined evening out.
Cip's Place is a cozy restaurant that invites diners to enjoy a meal in a serene garden setting. Their menu, which includes favorites like the Island Steak Tips and the Cip's Chopped Salad, is complemented by a selection of fine wines and craft beers. The intimate atmosphere and friendly service provide a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle, making it a hidden gem for those seeking a quiet dining experience.
Famous for claiming to serve the "world's best breakfast," Lighthouse Café is a must-visit for early risers. Their extensive breakfast menu includes everything from pancakes and waffles to benedicts and omelets, all prepared with a special touch that has kept patrons coming back for years. The café's charming interior and proximity to the historic Sanibel Lighthouse make it a popular spot for both tourists and locals.
Il Cielo offers an upscale dining experience with a focus on creative Italian cuisine. The elegant ambiance, coupled with dishes like the truffle-infused mushroom ravioli and the pan-seared snapper, make for a memorable evening out. The restaurant's commitment to using fresh, local ingredients and its romantic setting make it an ideal choice for a date night or a celebratory dinner.
For a casual and fun atmosphere, the Lazy Flamingo is the perfect choice. This laid-back joint is known for its "Flamingo Wings," ice-cold beer, and the "Dead Parrot Wings" challenge for those who dare to try the spiciest sauce on the island. The vibrant atmosphere and friendly banter among patrons create a lively dining experience that's great for unwinding after a day at the beach.
Sunset Grill's location at the western tip of Sanibel ensures diners have a front-row seat to some of the most breathtaking sunsets. Their menu, which features a blend of American and Floridian cuisine, is the perfect complement to the natural beauty of the surroundings. The grill's commitment to fresh, locally sourced ingredients and its stunning views make it a sought-after location for both dining and special events.
Perched on the waterfront, The Green Flash captivates diners with its panoramic views and exquisite seafood dishes. The menu, which includes specialties like the stuffed grouper and the shrimp scampi, is complemented by a fine selection of wines. The elegant yet comfortable setting makes it an ideal spot for a romantic dinner or a sophisticated gathering with friends.
No visit to Sanibel is complete without a stop at Pinocchio's Original Italian Ice Cream. This beloved ice cream shop serves up homemade gelato, sorbet, and ice cream in a rainbow of flavors, with the signature "Sanibel Krunch" being a must-try. The shop's nostalgic charm and dedication to quality make it a delightful treat for those looking to satisfy their sweet tooth.
The Mad Hatter Restaurant, with its whimsical Alice in Wonderland theme, offers a fine dining experience right on the beach. The menu is a showcase of culinary creativity, featuring dishes like the "Queen of Hearts" beet salad and the "Cheshire Cat" snapper. The restaurant's intimate setting and exceptional service make it an enchanting choice for a special night out, where the fantasy of the decor meets the reality of exquisite cuisine.
Over Easy Café is a quaint breakfast and lunch spot where comfort food reigns supreme. Their menu boasts a variety of homemade dishes, including the popular "Mom's Meatloaf" and the "Eggs Over Easy" breakfast platter. The café's homey feel and dedication to serving hearty, flavorful meals have made it a staple for those seeking a comforting start to their day.
The Mucky Duck is an iconic beachfront pub known for its stunning sunset views and classic British pub fare. With a menu featuring fish and chips, shepherd's pie, and a selection of draft beers, it's a slice of the UK in Florida. The casual atmosphere and beachside location make it a popular spot for a laid-back meal or a drink at the end of the day.
Dixie Fish Co. brings a taste of Old Florida to the table with its rustic charm and seafood-centric menu. Diners can enjoy their meal on the waterfront deck, where the views are as impressive as the food, including favorites like the blackened mahi-mahi and the seafood gumbo. The restaurant's historical roots and commitment to simplicity create an authentic dining experience that honors the rich fishing heritage of the area.