When it comes to dining experiences gourmands will love Florida’s Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel. People flock here for a taste of the original Florida – not only in terms of the landscape and shoes-off philosophy but also for the food. The region boasts an incredible array of farmers, local producers making rum and beer, and even catching fresh seafood. While the world is on lockdown here are some top picks for dining and drinking in the area to give holidaymakers a taste of what’s on offer for the next trip across the pond. So come on out and savor the flavor of Fort Myers and Sanibel.
Dine-in style at Old Captiva House
When it comes to an unforgettable fine dining experience, guests should look no further than Old Captiva House, located at Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa. Recently undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation of the kitchen and dining area, the restaurant boasts exquisite dishes created under the watchful eye of Executive Chef Greg Nelson. The menu includes Florida fresh favorites such as blackened snapper, grouper, and prawn pasta, with fish and seafood, caught fresh from the Gulf waters. Prices start at $38 per person for two courses.
Fish and seafood
No matter the time of year the fishing in Fort Myers & Sanibel is exceptional – both for sport and for eating! Not only can visitors charter their own boat and head out to see what they can catch for their own dinner, but also there are many local vendors selling the freshest seafood around. As well as freshwater fish and seafood from the local area, it is also easy to get hold of Southern Alaska seafood, Maine lobster, and specialty smoked fish. Holidaymakers needn’t worry if they don’t manage to catch their own supper as there are a number of fantastic, affordable restaurants to dine. One hidden gem worth discovering is The Prawnbroker restaurant and fish market. Serving the best Gulf oysters and shrimp platters complemented by a delicious martini, visitors will not be disappointed! The main dishes start from $16.
Don’t be late for a very important date at The Mad Hatter
The Mad Hatter is world-class dining at its finest. The waterfront restaurant offers the best of the best in food and wine. The menu classic boasts Floridian seafood as well as quirky dishes such as strawberry blue cheese salad, goat’s cheese in filo, and roasted vegetable risotto. The desserts are also divine and will certainly satisfy any sweet tooth. A three-course meal starts from $43 per person.
Lee County has an abundance of Farmers Markets throughout the year selling locally grown and homemade produce. Everything from strawberries and tomatoes, to fresh seafood and meat, homemade jams and jellies, bread, pastries, and even dog treats are available at many of the markets. Perfect for visitors who want a go at cooking the local produce themselves, or to pick up a picnic for the beach or a boat trip, many of the markets also make a great day out with lots featuring a schedule of workshops, free classes (arts, yoga, gardening, etc.) and demonstrations. Fort Myers Beach Farmers Market is the perfect place to pick up fresh fruit & veg and local seafood, and visitors can enjoy live entertainment at the Cape Coral Farmers Market too.
Wake up to The Sanibel Island Cow and Eggs Over Easy Cafe
For the most important meal of the day, visitors to the destination are spoilt for choice when it comes to breakfast. When it comes to starting the day right and a cup of coffee won’t cut it, visitors should head to The Island Cow which boasts an array of hearty meals including chicken and waffle, smoked salmon bagels, pancakes, French toast – all the American classics. The setting is very family-friendly, vibrant, with outdoor games to keep everyone entertained. Eggs Over Easy really lives up to its name with different types of omelets, ‘bennys’ (eggs benedict), scrambled eggs, lots of ‘eggstra’ delights, as well as a whole range of baked goods and fruit platters. If visitors prefer they can head here for lunch too and will again find some mouth-watering bites
Norman Love Chocolatiers
Founder Norman Love was inspired to become a chocolatier because of the universal love for chocolate. Norman uses his appreciation of the sweet stuff, and his skills as a chef to create handcrafted chocolates and gelatos right in Fort Myers. After a glittering career as a pastry chef in many luxury resorts including The Beverly Hills Hotel and The Ritz-Carlton, Norman now enjoys international recognition for his chocolate masterpieces. Norman Love Confections was named by the Telegraph as one of the best chocolate shops in the world and has become a destination in itself. Those with a sweet tooth can follow Norman’s recipe to create Brookies – a cross between brownies and cookies
Fun settings at The Bubble Room
The Bubble Room, located on Captiva Island, is an experience like no other. Born in 1979 it started life in the front room of the home of the Farqhuarson family – nowadays it covers two floors and is a multi-themed wonder. They say that every day at The Bubble Room is Christmas Day – evident from the numerous festive articles and decorations that adjourn the walls. As well as the 1940’s and 50’s memorabilia there’s an elf room and old records constantly playing in the background. They serve lunch and dinner – everything from French onion soup and fresh fish, to ribs and roast duck – but it’s the desserts that really pull the punters in. Their famous cakes are served in slices the size of a small dog and all baked on-site – visitors can choose from the very moist chocolate cake, buttercrunch ice cream pie, red velvet, and Jamaican rum cake to name a few. A fun and unique place to savor the flavor of Fort Myers and Sanibel.
We all scream for Love Boat Ice Cream
Love Boat Ice Cream has been serving Southwest Florida’s finest homemade ice cream since 1967. Offering punters over 50 different flavors from classics like chocolate and cookies and cream, to more innovative flavors like banana cream pie, birthday cake, grasshopper, gator tracks and dirty turtle… The perfect way to cool down on a hot Florida day – ask all the locals and they’ll tell you to try it out, too.
Wicked Dolphin Distillery
Made from 100% Florida Sugar and local ingredients since 2012, Wicked Dolphin Distillery is located in Cape Coral and was created to capture a true Florida Rum. The award-winning rum is handcrafted in small batches using an American copper pot and then aged in American White Oak barrels. The distillery offers free tours where visitors can learn more about the distilling process. Widely distributed throughout Florida, and other parts of the USA, visitors can savor a variety of flavors such as spiced reserved rum, coconut, and an apple pie rum shine or even a new creation.
Mr. Tom’s Spirits
Thomas and Renate List have also recently opened List Distillery in Fort Myers. Both originally from Austria, Renate is part of the Bauer family, distillers of premium spirits and liquors including Jäagermeister. The duo now produces Mr. Tom’s Spirits – small batches of vodka, gin, rum, white whiskey, and other spirits using locally sourced crops. The distillery also sells some incredible flavors such as key lime pie rum, raspberry mint gin, and cinnamon whiskey – some true Floridian flavors!
Inspired by the craft beer movement five counties, including Fort Myers & Sanibel’s Lee County, have partnered together to create a guide to craft breweries along Florida’s Gulf Coast. The Gulf Toast “treasure map” features information on pubs and taverns, including detailed descriptions of each stop and information on what each brewery or winery has to offer. Guests can follow the color-coded map to discover unique watering holes, such as Fort Myers Brewing Co., Point Ybel Brewing Co., Palm City Brewing Co., and Crazy Dingo Brewing Co.
Bottoms up at Fort Myers Brewery Co.
Fort Myers Brewery Co., the destination’s first brewhouse has taken the region by storm. Serving beers made with local ingredients, visitors can enjoy the slower pace of life with an ice-cold beer, some incorporating chocolate stout, pumpkin pie, and pineapple infused ale – for those with an inquisitive palette!
So many places to savor the flavor of Fort Myers and Sanibel, it will surely be hard to choose. But you definitely will not go hungry.