Naples, Ft. Myers area - where to eat?
I'm a DC hound in Naples for the week at a meeting at the Naples Grande. I have a car and am willing and wanting to stray afield for good eats; the more local the better. During my last trip I ate at USS Nemos. Not bad, but not quite what I expected.
I'm willing to drive in any given direction for 45 minutes or so, again if it's worth the trip. I'll eat anything, but would like to have some solid, good, seafood. Also, I wonder if there's any Cuban to eat that's worth it in the area?
Thanks for any and all suggestions.
about 20-30 minutes south on the Isle of Capri (almost to marco island, turn right at the stop light and keep going till you see it on the right) is Pelican Bend. One of the best fish sandwiches around (right on the water with cold beer for lunch), or their sauteed grouper with a wedge salad is great for dinner.
Or, you could try Castaways (on Davis blvd near 41) for any of the daily specials written on the board. The owners are greek and italian and the specials change daily. Sit outside if you don't like smoke...hey you are in Florida! Sit outside anyway... Cheap happy hour 4-7 daily and lots of local characters!
First, we really do not have good Cuban restaurants. Save that search for Miami. I think you would be quite disappointed with Fern de Bull.
Bleu Provence is probably Naples finest spot. Very good food, great wine list, and very pretty. Owned by a charing couple from the South of France. Check out Robert Parker's web site where he describes dinners at Bleu Provence. I consider Prestons on of the finest Steakhouses anywhere. Family owned , and he does know how to cook prime beef. Campiellos on 3rd street is happening and good. Get down to Old Naples where these are. Gives you a great taste of the charming Naples. Maybe Lafayette's also.
There is good Cuban food here. Don't give up!
Though too late for Cocinero's post, my Cuban friends recommend Havanas Cuba Cafe and Grill at 2366 Immmokalee Road, (239) 594-5920.
I tried it twice this past week for the first and second time-never really noticed it next to Em-On Thai's place. This is savory, garlicky, and "the real thing". I grew up in Miami, and their cooking makes me homesick no more for my Cuban friends whole pig roasts, that slowly cooked for 8 hours in a pit dug in the backyard. Havanas' meat is as tender as any pulled pork in Miami. The prices are nearly all under 10$ for lunch, not much more for dinner, and portions are large. This family owned place has been at this spot for 5 years-staying power in Naples! I put some photos are on my website. I also have eaten at Fernandez the Bull on Airport, and the World Bakery & Cafeteria 4075 Pine Ridge Rd. Their foods are good, but just don't cure those homesick feelings as well as Chef Oscar's offerings at Havanas does!
I've been visiting Ft. Myers for a week every year for over a decade, so we've eaten at many Naples restaurants. Truluck's was very good, with a formality that reminded me of an elegant hotel restaurant. A very different vibe was at Tommy Bahama's, which has either indoor or patio seating and where I had a pork chop that was thick, well-sauced, and memorable. Off the beaten track is a Carribean-themed place called The Real Macaw, which is boldly decorated, has parrots, and where the quality and prices are unexpectedly high. (Note, get VERY good directions and bring cash -- in my experience they don't take credit cards.)
If you and some of your meeting cohorts are unfamiliar with the Roy's chain, they have a restaurant in an upscale shopping plaza in Bonita. Consistently good, my mom adores their butterfish, and their molten chocolate souffle-cake is scrumptuous. They also have a 3-course option for $33 at last count.
Finally, if you get up to Ft. Myers, my favorite meal in several years was at Sasse's. Only open for dinner, woodburning oven, Italian food. Immense portions, but very well-prepared food. I posted an extensive review this past Spring. But note, even out of season the traffic on 75 can be frustrating. Enjoy and post back.
For seafood and a 45 minute radius, Starting from North and working South, I'd recommend Blue Water Bistro- located North on 41, at the south end of Coconut Point Mall in Estero, just north of Dillards.
In Bonita Springs, wiht boat access is Big Hickory Fishing Nook Restaurant ~ 26107 Hickory Blvd -quaint atmosphere239) 992-0991 good food and not cheap!
Randys at ~10400 Tamiami Trail N has tasty fish and funky atmosphere. Very good nut encrusted grouper at Tropical Reef. I love the yellowtail at Escargot 41, 4300 block in the Kmart/Fresh Narket shopping center. I still enjoy USS Nemo's Curried fish, or the the signature seabass. I am not a fan of Baleens or Wylds as the quality varies from ok to very good. Truluck's on 5th Ave South has fresh fish. too.
Tropical Reef, in north naples, very close to you, has wonderful seafood. Make sure to order their hot and crunchy grouper. Chops, either downtown Naples or Estero has some excellent seafood, escially a pan seared black grouper with mushroom risotto. Grouper and Chips has the best fried grouper. This is the grouper coast!