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good eats in Naples FL.??

t
thekidd Jan 5, 2007 04:48 PM

will be heading down there for a week/two weeks soon and wanted to know if any boston area hounds had some good recommendations?? have been down before but haven't really explored anything culinary wise.

most rests. seem to be chains, and while that's not necessarily a bad thing, i was looking for some local flavor, i.e. cuban sands., floribbean etc.?? any ideas?? even good deli's, diners, coffee shops, rib joints, anything.

thanks in advance for the feedback.

  1. TomOHaver Jan 13, 2007 10:11 PM

    I live in Naples half the year. You can get good Cuban food a World Cafeteria and Bakery, on the corner of Pine Ridge Rd and 951 (Collier Blvd.) This is functional, zero-atmosphere kind of place that is popular with local workers. They make great Cuban (and especially Pan con Lechon) sandwiches. Nicer-looking places that also get good reviews from locals are Havana's Cuban Cafe and Grill, in Greentree Center at the corner of Immokalee and Airport Rd, and Fernandez the Bull Cafe on south Airport Rd.

    The choice and quality of restaurants in Naples has really improved in recent years. The local paper (Naples Daily News) keeps a large set of restaurant reviews, with added comments by locals, at http://www.naplesnews.com/restaurants/

    9 Replies
    1. re: TomOHaver
      v
      Val Jan 14, 2007 12:47 PM

      Tom, I would agree and disagree with you; have you ever seen such an influx of CHAIN restaurants as down here in Naples?? We're being overrun by them (and runaway development in general!) We do have a few more ethnic mom-and-pop places now but are still lacking any Indian restaurants...I know Passage to India is in nearby Bonita Springs but #1: it's only open for dinner #2: it's quite expensive.

      1. re: Val
        TomOHaver Jan 14, 2007 12:59 PM

        Val, yes, you are right about Indian. And no South Indian at all! (We live the other half of the year near Washington DC, so we really miss the Indian places when we're down here). Sounds like a good business opportunity - Indian restaurant entrepreneurs are you listening?

        The chains and the development don't bother me. It's better controlled here than in most places. I'd rather have too many than two few restaurants. And some of the chains are pretty good. Fortunately the fast-food chains (McD, etc) are reasonably few in number, compared to the more upscale chains.

        1. re: TomOHaver
          c
          chemenglala Jan 26, 2007 07:25 AM

          Speaking of chain restaurants, we were out here last night and with someone who wanted to go to the new Cheesecake Factory. How awful, it was a horrible dinner experience.

          We have had great meals at Brio in Waterside though.

          1. re: chemenglala
            v
            Val Jan 26, 2007 03:07 PM

            Have been to Brio twice now for work-related lunches and it's very good but to me, they have nothing really different and exciting to offer AND their lunches are about $10, kind of expensive for li'l old me. If lunch costs $10 and blows me away, great! I know some folks like CF but I've heard some dreadful things about it plus it would be same old-same old for me. I work with people who CLING to same old-same-old; can't abide it but sometimes I have to, you know?

            1. re: Val
              TomOHaver Jan 27, 2007 03:54 AM

              Now THAT is a real challenge, i.e to find something really different and exciting in Naples, while not spending any more than $10 for lunch. The lunch special at Sushi-Thai is good and cheap, but you might complain that it's same-old-same-old - their menu has all the same types of dishes as any other Thai restaurant. (We live right across the street, so we go there often. Even Thai food could get boring if you eat it too often). Tropical Smoothie Cafe has good made-to-order wraps that are very cheap but probably not unlike the wraps at other places. Calistoga Cafe has $7 soup/salad/half-sandwich deals; good but not really exciting. Where are the Burmese, Ethiopian, and Afghan places when you need them?

              1. re: TomOHaver
                v
                Val Jan 27, 2007 10:20 AM

                Tom, I hear you...Sushi-Thai is among my favorite restaurants in Naples! It's just hard for us to go to lunch from where I work and be back on time--well, it would be impossible, actually, especially with the high season traffic. And, it IS affordable and different! I love the place & am happy they opened a second one. Pelagos is closer to where I work and has some reasonable gyros & souvlas and their falafel is delish! I love to cook at home so I usually bring in leftovers that are "exciting"--to me, anyway! Thanks--let me know if you hear of any of those restaurants opening up, especially an Indian restaurant...my e-addy is in my profile.

              2. re: Val
                sparkalina Apr 9, 2007 09:50 AM

                Lunch under $10 blew me away last week at Larry's Lunch Box (Airport Rd across from the courthouse.) Had a toasted italian sub and italian wedding soup (split the sub with my hubby beacuse portions there are HUGE). It is a mom & pop place that makes practically everything from scratch. I defy any average human being to eat a whole sandwich and not be uncomfortably stuffed! Portions are huge, and while a sub might be $8.95...there are homemade lunch specials every day for like $6-7.

                They have breakfast too, now. I have not tried it, but my hubby said the latkes are delish.

                1. re: sparkalina
                  v
                  Val Apr 9, 2007 09:58 AM

                  Sparkalina, thanks for reminding me about Larry's...it's a bit far out of my way from where I work to go to lunch but they've been there for a long time and it is very reliable and inexpensive, true!

                  1. re: Val
                    sparkalina Apr 9, 2007 01:58 PM

                    I think they deliver too, becaue they fax the lunch & b'fast menu to my office every day.

      2. l
        lexpatti Jan 8, 2007 01:38 PM

        I can't wait to try Naples Tomato now. I go in March and haven't been to this place. My folks always take us to Booca Da Peppa (sp?) but I just saw the website for Naples Tomato and can't wait to find out if they have tried it.

        1. i
          Idineout Jan 7, 2007 11:25 PM

          Laid back and good is Docks its a local hang out on a Marina, raw bar and the best bloody mary bar on Sundays.
          For really good food Campanello on 3rd, I like this old Naples better then 5th street.
          Steaks chops on 5th is good and has a great happy hour

          1 Reply
          1. re: Idineout
            v
            Val Jan 8, 2007 12:08 AM

            Idineout, gently suggesting that you mean Campiello on 3rd? For someone from out of town or in town for that matter, they would not be able to find any such restaurant as Campanello...just trying to help and I love Campiello for Italian food also!

          2. c
            chriscinfl Jan 7, 2007 10:43 PM

            I'm going to second Randy's for lunch (Seafood is very good, mac and cheese and hushpuppies with honey butter are divine! Go for lunch though because they tend to run out of things by dinner.) and Naples Tomato for dinner (Everything is homemade with nice twists on old favorites. The meat lovers ravioli is to die for and make sure to save room for the Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding.) Also, if you are looking for a steak house try Preston's. It's a tiny little place. The owner does the cooking and everything is top quality. The menu is classic steakhouse fare. Save room for his wife's homemade chocolate cake. All in all, pricey, but excellent! One other spot we like, if you are into fried shrimp, Grouper and chips has the best I have ever had.

            Enjoy!
            Chris

            1. l
              Linda VH Jan 6, 2007 08:11 PM

              Naples Tomato for Italian (don't let the name put you off - it's terrific!), Chops for steaks and asian (high end), Truluck for seafood and Chrissy's Wild Side for breakfast!!!

              1. v
                Val Jan 6, 2007 08:06 PM

                For a great (to me, the BEST) cuban sandwich, please visit Fernandez the Bull Cuban Cafe (family-owned) at 1265 South Airport Road, Naples; they marinate and roast their own pork. And ask for a small container of their homemade hot sauce to go with the sandwich, totally delicious. Another seafood place to consider is Tropical Reef on U.S. 41 North, not far from Randy's. Oh, Nemo's is also awesome for fresh seafood.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Val
                  Angel Food Apr 9, 2007 04:36 AM

                  Spent last weekend in Naples and as usual picked up some good recs from fellow 'hounds. Just wanted to point out - to my dissapointment - the Cuban is only available for lunch at Fernandez the Bull. I got the roast pork dinner instead, which was good, but had really, really been looking forward to the sandwich. The service here was very gracious. And there was a party of 2 older Cuban (i think) couples who had the waitress show us their paella - it was gorgeous and I wish we had tried it (unfortunately it was after we had finished our dinner!). They said it is the best around - even better than anything they had tried in Miami, they made a point of telling us.

                  Our first night we went to the Docks - was great to sit in the open air & check out the boats at the docks after. I, for some reason, got the most boring dish on the menu, but all my DCs had great meals (banana crust grouper was the highlight).

                  The best meal of the trip was The USS Nemo. Had a sake flight with dinner (fun), everyone one of us LOVED our meals and the plates were practically licked clean. It was a great room too, loved it.

                  We tried Pazzo on 5th too. Food was good, split 2 pastas and a salad, plus the crabcake to start (which was meaty and had a nice mango salsa on it); however the service was practically absent which was a real distraction for the meal (ie empty wine glasses, not even asking if we wanted another glass).

                  For our happy hours we picked up snacks from Publix - gotta recommend their spinach dip - so good.

                  We also went to Breakfast Bowling at Beacon Bowland, which was a bargain and a fun breakfast. $10 for b-fast, 3 strings and your shoes! Would be great for a family with kids.

                2. l
                  lexpatti Jan 6, 2007 04:26 PM

                  An excellent seafood place "Randy's".

                  http://www.randysfishmarketrestaurant.com/

                  and although it's a chain, I wish they would bring one to New England, I absolutely love Bone Fish Grill. Check out their website - it doesn't feel like a chain.

                  http://www.bonefishgrill.com/home.asp

                  If you love mexican, there is a really good one. It's a small chain but very good:
                  http://www.cilantrotamales.com/home.htm

                  Looking for a fun buffelo wing place - Buffelo Chips - crazy fun place.

                  We go to bonita beach every year for a week so we know the area and eat out a lot.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: lexpatti
                    gwn400 May 27, 2007 10:57 AM

                    I'd have to second the call on Randy's. I just had a fried 'triple-tail' (am told it's a relative of yellowtail and hangs out near the stone crab pots, for what it's worth) sandwich with fries and slaw for lunch and thought it was outstandingly fresh and tasty. Possibly the best fish sandwich I've ever had. We've sampled a lot of places in the Olde Naples area and were shocked at the quality of the food, the friendliness of the staff and the reasonable price point. As Americans who spend most of our year in London, we get excited about a quality crab or fish shack experience. This one is worth a try, no doubt.

                    1. re: lexpatti
                      gwn400 May 27, 2007 11:11 AM

                      Thanks for the recs. We tried Cilantro Tamales (on the Tamiami Trail in Naples) last night and thought that the food was very fresh, seemed to be authentically prepared (based on my handful of trips to Mexico and a lifelong love of the genre) and the service efficient and polite. As far as the decor and general atmosphere were concerned, it was in a strip mall and looked like it had formerly been a pizza parlor. If you can look past that you'll get some worthwhile Mexican chow at reasonable prices. We've tried Meson Ole (on Hwy 41 just North of Olde Naples) and were very unimpressed with the dark, unoriginal decor (and the food was no better). I'd give that one a miss. Until we found Cilantro Tamales, we had pretty much written Naples off as a wasteland for Mexican food which is surprising considering the demographics.

                      1. re: gwn400
                        j
                        Jamie B Feb 23, 2009 07:06 PM

                        Have to try Flaco's next time you're in Naples. Very Good Mexican!

                      2. re: lexpatti
                        s
                        steakrules85 Feb 23, 2009 10:06 AM

                        I am gunna need this gudie for my vacation.

                      3. t
                        thekidd Jan 5, 2007 04:55 PM

                        got it. was hoping for some new england snowbird feedback which is why i posted it on the boston board. thanks for the heads up.

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