4 days in Bonita Springs
We are coming for a long weekend to stay at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point which I understand is near Bonita Springs, about 30 miles south of Ft. Myers. We'll have our kids aged 5 and 7 yrs with us. Our past trips to Florida (Sanibel, Captiva, Naples) have been great except for the food (we end up in touristy kid-friendly places w/ horrific fried grouper fingers and that too, overpriced). So...would love recos for good food, real food, but in a kid friendly environment. Our kids go out to eat a lot and have fairly sophisticated tastes (i.e. they don't need a kid menu and love nearly all food) but they are also boisterous boys and can't be in tableclothed environments where they can't make noise. Grateful for any suggestions for dinner, lunch, etc., we'll rent a car so should be reasonably mobile and will travel for good food!
Please search the board -- there have been several threads lately on Bonita Springs in particular, as well as food from Ft. Myers down to Naples. Revrend Andy and Val are two local posters who have extensive local knowledge and good recommendations. I know that there have been a couple of recent discussions with several suggestions for Mexican food in the area, and for the best casual fried grouper the place to go is Grouper and Chips down towards Naples.
While it is a limited chain, I really like the food at Bonefish Grill. Run by the same corporation that runs Roy's, it offers the same butterfish that is the standout there at a much more affordable price, and they grilled my salmon absolutely perfectly -- charred and crusty outside, still medium to medium-rare inside. Tasty "bang bang" fried shrimp as a starter that the kids will probably like as well.
I must post a disclaimer that I don't really know child-friendly places, my sons are 28, 26 and 24! Pincher's Crab Shack is a place a co-worker really likes when she and her husband want to take their 4 year old out but also have good seafood, it's very child friendly, on US 41 in Bonita Springs, close to Naples, but it may be one of those touristy places that you are trying to avoid. There may be a new Grouper and Chips, very casual, in the Coconut Point area (??) and at least you'll be actually eating grouper there (there have been reports of restaurants in Florida claiming to serve grouper when it's really some other cheap fish just so you know why I said that.)
I have a 2ed home right near the Hyatt, and I have a perfect suggestion for you. I almost hate to tell poeple about this place it is so good. Za Za's in the Albertsons shoopping center is much more than a pizza place. Dont get me wrong the pizza is amazing ( by far the best in Florida, and just as good as our favorites in NY) but their entrees are terrific. It is a very friendly place and the food is really exceptional. It is very small so call ahead for a reservation - if you cant get one take out!! Also right in the hyatt Tarpon Bay is very kid friendly and the food is very good. Try the whole red snapper, or the many varieties of cerviche, they also have a kids menu. If you kids like Japanese Toyko Bay is the best in the area - we go to the sushi bar but the also have the table where they cook. A great very low key place for seafood is The fish house on Bonita Beach Rd ( near Bonita Beach). Sit outside on the dock they have great fish sandwiches and steamed calms , tuna bites.
Coconut Point has so many options - any would be fine for kids except Ruth Chris.I think they might enjoy Ted Turner's burger place - Ted's Montana Grill.
I went to ZA ZA, based on your advise and your right AMAZING, WOW, everything we had was taste treat..We've been 7 times already and cannot help oursleves, just gluttens, we've taken 8 people there and everyone says it is their new favorite place. The Pizza is over the top, the pasta's OMG, the Eggs in Purgatory appetizer, who does that? Nobody but them..Thank you for the recomendation, Exceptional is right and hush-hush has left the building here jammed packed
Our kids, who are now in their late teens, have always liked going to The Fish House on Bonita Beach Rd. It's not fancy, by any means, but they have decent food and kids can be kids there. We try to go on Sunday when they have 25 cent oysters. They also enjoy going to the Beach Theater on Ft. Myer's beach, not too far from your hotel if you go by Bonita Beach Rd. They serve dinner, which isn't bad, and you get to watch the movie at the same time. That has always been a hit with our kids. Cash only.
Our all time favorite for kids has been Roy's. They have a kids menu that is served in courses and a wonderful menu if they don't want the kids menu. As a family they have never disappointed us. For just a good beach burger try Doc's right on Bonita Beach you can sit on the beach and eat.
I know some of the Chowhounds will disagree with me, but we've been going there for eight years now and while my kids can find something to eat anywhere, i have to keep in mind that they are also on vacation and those are the places they like to frequent.
I've posted alot of my favorites but like Val, I'm not qualified to recommend kid friendly. However, I believe that by exposing kids to good food, they may grow up to be foodies. My parents took my brother and I to some nice restaurants and by not forcing us to eat anything, we were more open minded about the food, not having to be rebellious. They would say, "just taste it. It won't hurt you. If you don't like it don't eat it." I will offer no other advice on parenting.
having a 5 year old and a 19 month old - kid friendly doesn't mean food, it means attitude. and not that others are rude. just a place where a 19 month old acting like a 19 month old isn't the end of the world. if he's bad we leave. both my kids eat ALL kinds of food - indian, japanese, middle eastern, etc. they are easily bored with chicken fingers.
again it's just that i don't want to ruin anyone else's dinner who came there for a nice night out and i don't want attitude. on vacation we have to eat out with them more than other times...
thanks though everyone for all the suggestions here and on my post. coconut point is where we are too so this is great.
oh and to the poster - i second tarpon bay and roy's. we did doc's and while i liked the place it was hard with ones as little as mine were last year - think it would be better 8-10ish. although i have a little girl so for a 4 year old things like having milk and any veggies and the cleanliness of the bathrooms mattered! i'd go back for the atmosphere as a grownup or teen!