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FIRST TIME VISITOR-NAPLES/FORT MYERS

My wife and I will be vacationing next month. In addition to thawing out, we would like some lunch and dinner suggestions in both areas (we are dividing our time). We like all types of cuisine and prefer places that show off what the area does best. I assume fresh seafood is near the top of the list? Not really looking for very expensive gourmet meals, but maybe one for a special occasion. Mostly good solid houndish spots that the locals prefer. Thanks in advance.

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  1. Naples tends to be very expensive, especially the places on the water or on the artsy touristy streets like Fifth or Third. Our favorite place the last couple of visits is actually a bit north, towards Ft. Myers, in Bonita Springs on Bonita Beach Road. It is Wyld's Cafe, in a little strip mall on the south side, west of 41, with parking and the entrance in the rear. Surprisingly nice inside, good service, entrees range from the low to high $20s. I really enjoy their gourmet meatloaf, often if not always available as a special, and enough for lunch the next day. My mom had a wonderful pike. I started with a shredded duck napoleon on puff pastry with mushrooms and a parmagian-cream sauce that was wonderful ($11) and enough to share with the table. Great place, very consistent.

    In Ft. Myers, our favorite is Sasse's, also in a little strip mall on Evans, about midway between Daniels Parkway (which runs from the airport) and downtown. Italian food coming from a woodburning oven -- we love the eggplant parm, the longcooked meats like the lamb shank or osso buco, and one salad is easily enough for three or four to share. Friendly service -- the place really turned around under new ownership about three years ago.

    One other suggestion, since it appears you are from the upper midwest. Definitely try Bonefish Grill -- there are locations in Ft. Myers, Naples, and a couple of other locations in the area. Yes, it is a chain, run by the same folks who own Roy's and Carraba's, but my experiences there have been topnotch and a superior value. Simply grilled fish is fresh and grilled exactly to order -- it is not every place that can give salmon a char while keeping the inside moist. Starters like their corn chowder with crabmeat and sides such as their cheesy potatoes are rich and excellent. Most entrees in the mid to high teens. Really popular -- make a reservation or expect a long wait -- and deservedly so; I wish we had them where I live.

    One last hint -- in Ft. Myers, hit "the orange juice place" (I forget the right name, someone will provide it. Located across the street from the Twins' spring training complex, they sell wonderful fresh-squeezed orange juice, lemonade, and other citrus as well as soft ice cream and baked goods. There is a dispenser in the back corner where you can sample tastes of about four varieties for free. Great, fun place, and the juice isn't much more expensive than the far inferior stuff you buy at the supermarkets.

    1 Reply
    1. From the east coast .(NJ).We really like cin-cin in Fort Myers .good menue .the price fix is a excelent buy ..if you do happy hour they do the right thinG... Oh !..lunch @ Fort Myers county club a must ...seafood cobb salad the best

      1. The absolute best fried grouper is at Grouper & Chips. A close second is on Ft. Myers Beach at a place called the Beached Whale. Great florida atmosphere.
        Pinchers is my favorite crabshack. The Dock, at Naples Pier, also nice.

        Upscale Italian would be Campiello in downtown Naples or Angelina’s in Bonita Springs.

        I prefer Strip House or Capital Grille for Steak.

        Chops is a great place for fusion-it's pricey but has a hip atmosphere and is located both in Bonita Springs and downtown Naples.

        Truluck’s or USS Nemo are my seafood restaurants of choice in Naples. I also like Roy's in Bonita Springs or Naples, but they are now ubiquitous. Bay House, in North Naples, has a wonderful setting overlooking the Cocohatchee River.

        Ingo’s has true Belgian truffles and has a small retail establishment in an industrial park on old 41 in North Naples.

        For lunch, in downtown Naples, Tommy Bahamas has a wonderful outdoor cafe with fried grouper rivaling Grouper & Chips and a killer pork sandwich. You can buy an expensive shirt at the attached store while waiting for your food. Hopefully there will be some cash leftover to pay the food bill. Yabba is a nice alternative with tropical caribbean food and terrific drinks. Gumbo Limbo on the beach at the Ritz is also very nice for lunch. Campiello is open for lunch with outdoor seating across from Tommy Bahamas.

        IM Tapas, in Naples, is a unique restaurant serving wonderful Spanish tapas.

        Tokyo Bay, in Bonita Springs, has the best sushi. The other half of the restaurant is Teppanyaki, but I haven't tried it yet. Blu, in downtown Naples, would be your best bet.

        Café Lurcat is good modern American. Bamboo Café, Bleu Provence, or the Dining Room at the Ritz for French

        6 Replies
        1. re: RevrendAndy

          Thanks to all. This sounds great. Where is Bonita Springs? We will have a car and don't mind driving for dinner. "Florida Atmosphere" is mainly what we are looking for. Also, any breakfast suggestions?

          1. re: sammy o

            Bonita Springs is between Ft. Myers and Naples, a bit closer to Naples. If traffic is moving on Interstate 75, it is about a half-hour from Daniels Parkway in Ft. Myers (where RSW airport is) to the exit for Naples, longer during rush hour. About 20 minutes to Bonita Beach Road, the main exit for Bonita Springs. (Note, there is some highway construction widening going on, even at night, that can cause major delays.) Highway 41, also known as Tsainimi Way (or something like that -- someone please correct me) runs parallel north-south, a couple miles west closer to the coast, and now is wall to wall shopping complexes, strip malls, and golf communities. Slower, but fewer long delays for construction.

            1. re: nosh

              Hey Nosh, it's Tamiami Trail, (Tampa to Miami), based on an old indian trail. LMF

              1. re: LilMsFoodie

                I want to hear more about The Orange Juice Place across from the ballpark. anyone?

                1. re: sarapeater

                  Yes, it is Sun Harvest. As I mentioned, the juice is great and fairly priced. My only complaint is that the line for the soft ice cream cones was too long the last time we stopped there, so I left without one. They give little cards they punch, so after buying a certain number of half-gallons of juice, you get one free. What else did you want to know?

            2. re: sammy o

              For brunch (Sunday only) the Sandy Butler does a 3 or 4 course meal that includes a mimosa for like 20 dollars. They will do thing a la carte as well. They have wonderful salads too. They have a daily happy hour with 5.00 martinis and I want to day 5.00 apps too, but I am not positive. It is a great place on the way to FMB. A more low cost breakfast can be found at the French Roast off 41 and Daniels near belltower mall. They have a great prices and the food is excellent!

          2. USS Nemos in Naples is top notch. Great fresh seafood (not frozen like I imagine some of Trulucks and esp Bonefish to be). Tommy Bahamas def has that Floribbean flair and I would def reccomend it for lunch, followed by a beach stroll (bring sunscreen- 30 minutes could burn any Northerner!).

            3 Replies
            1. re: jme1beachbum

              Agree completely on USS Nemo. We just returned from a week in Naples and it was the best meal we had by far, which was also true last year too. Of the other places we ate, the only one I would recommend unreservedly is D'Amico, which is very reasonably priced Italian, along the same strip of Tamiami as USS Nemo.

              1. re: jme1beachbum

                We went to USS Nemo a few months ago based on recs from this board, and we totally loved that place. From the deco to the bread to the dessert (that plum ice cream was awesome!!) Simply great place. I have been wanting to go back ever since.

                We wanted to try Grouper & Chips too but unfortunately they are closed on Sunday, the day we were there. Went to Randy's fish market instead but it was okay, not great.

                1. re: tarepanda

                  Randy's has some pretty good basic seafood, at reasonable prices, but fried grouper is not one of their strong dishes.

              2. love boat ice cream, fort myers beach