Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Florida >
May 10, 2009 08:56 AM

Sanibel Island Restaurant Help

Going to S.I. in about a month and desperately need dining advice. While trolling through past boards, I've noticed a few names that keep on popping up - but I'd like to narrow it down to 2 criteria: 1) 'Romantic' (i.e. Cocktails without screaming kids), and 2) Relatively Quiet (being able to hold a conversation without raising your voice). My picks so far:

1) Il Tesoro (not mentioned on Chowhound, but menu looks great)
2) Mad Hatter
3) Ellington's
4) Dolce Vita
5) Sweet Melissa's
6) Greenhouse Grill

Our only experience in Fl. dining scene is Key West. Love La Trat, Santiago's, Antonia's, LaTeDa, and Square One.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Oh, yeah:

    1. I don't think Sweet Melissa's is there anymore. Mad Hatter fits your bill, although the bill will be a very high one at that. The food is really good and the service is great. It's very pricey. You will definitely be able to hold a conversation without raising you voice. In fact, I felt like I had to keep mine down because the place was so quiet. I would also characterize it as romantic for sure.

      1. We just had a nice meal at the Thisle Lodge at Casa Ybel.

        1. Ate at Il Tesoro for the first time a couple of weeks ago and the food was fantastic! Also love Mad Hatter, but i do agree that it's pricey. I thought Ellington's was good, but not great. I'm not sure if Sweet Melissa's is closed, but drove by on Saturday and the sign is still there, although it looked closed. You may want to call and check if it's open.

          6 Replies
          1. re: NiKoLe1625

            Mad Hatter has been called pricey a lot on these boards. That implies that the food is very good, but not THAT good to justify the cost. Example: Plain salads over $15, Simple Pasta Entrees over $30. Also when you've enjoyed a great meal and get the check and do a double take at the total. So, in effect, Mad Hatter has got to get real.

            1. re: frk040

              Since the Mad Hatter is the only fine restaurant with a full beach view on either Captiva or Sanibel, it will always command higher prices. Those are NYC or SF prices, kinda nervy of the Hatter. The last time I was there, I thought the interior was a little dumpy and it wasn't crowded as it should have been for mid-February.

              I'm a local, so if I want a romantic beachside dinner, I drive down to Naples to Baleen where the atmosphere is equal to the food, at least most of the time.

              Rev's rec for Thistle Lodge is good. I have had several good meals there, just none lately so I won't recommend since things can turn on a dime, especially in today's atmosphere.

              I was told that Sweet Melissa's didn't make it through season, but I haven't driven by lately.

              1. re: LilMsFoodie

                Sweet Melissa's did quite fine during season, and is very much alive and cookin!
                They moved in February to; 1625 Periwinkle Way, where La Vigna used to be. 472-1956

                Il Tesoro is now in Sweet Melissa's old spot. A J Black, from Naples who ran Viva, Cafe Roma, Opera Ristorante, and several other spots, runs it-he knows quality.

                Mad Hatter is said to be pricier than its quality now deserves.

                Thistle Lodge is consistently very good, and the view and beach walk can't be best!

                1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                  Sweet Melissa's is great!! I could have eaten there every day. Fish stew is to die for! Possible to order half an entree and mix it up a bit. Very creative menu, delicious and priced fairly.Chef greeted us and talked with us at our table for a while.

                  Green Flash, except for oysters rockafeller , is very boring.

                  Island Cow great family place. Wonderful value, varied menu, and good food. Very noisy though!

                  1. re: ferrett1

                    Love the oyster pots at Lazy Flamingo--2 locations, mid island and blind pass, both funky old florida but we like blind pass. They dump a plastic bag of ice in your pitcher of beer for that homey touch.

                    1. re: jayne47

                      We go to the beach at Blind Pass frequently to shell, (right now it is a mess as they open the pass and do all sorts of things to control the water there). A mission there is not complete without about 3 dozen oysters, shucked for us, and a few icy cold beers. Perfect ending to a day of shelling. Lazy Flamingo is my favorite. I actually have never been to the Sanibel one and probably never will go there. No atmosphere.

          2. The original comment has been removed