Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Florida >
Jun 16, 2009 06:40 PM

Anything Good in Ft Myers OR Sanibel

I'll be taking a side trip to Ft Meyers area - either right in the city OR on Sanibel Island. Looking for some fun restaurant to go to - a Fish stand, or clam shack, OR a good burger joint, anything fun. I'll only be there for 1 day, probably one afternoon.

Any good suggestions would be appreciated.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Lazy Flamingo was always good for peel n eat shrimp. I like the one closer to Captiva, but there is another on Sanibel closer to Ft. Myers.

    4 Replies
    1. re: edible complex

      reply button doesn't work on original request for some reason. I like Lazy Flamingo in CapSan village...right before the bridge to Captiva Island. They have great oysters.

      I think Risa might be appalled by the Bubble Room which has wretched food and the desserts Jacquelyn remembers are no longer as good. It is a Captiva institution and people remember it from childhood vacations.

      Another possibility on Captiva would be The Mucky Duck. Sunset on the beach, nice beers on tap, food is good but not great. Stick with simple. They are fashioned as a (has the most annoying soundtrack however, THE DAMN DUCK IS STILL QUACKING AS I WRITE THIS


      Another place with wonderful atmosphere is The Dixie Fish Company which is under the bridge on the way to Fort Myers beach. This is an ancient fish house that has been resurrected into a restaurant/bar. Has great views of the shrimp fleet that is stationed in Fort Myers. Henry Ford used to keep his boat here many years ago.

      I'd stick with shrimp or grouper, the fish of choice for the Gulfcoast. No mahi mahi, it all comes from China for the most part. When you see reasonably priced Mahi, know that it is farmed in Taiwan.

      Next door to Dixie Fish is Doc Ford's Rum Bar. They are new and having start up problems. I would avoid this unless you are just having iced tea or a beer.

      The Cottage on Fort Myers Beach is also a possibility. Food is just ok but it is right on the beach and you can watch the action at the Lani Kai next door. Lani Kai is a hideous old hotel favored by college kids. Shake your booty, etc most evenings. One night we were having a drink and watched about 4 dolphins make a run on the beach. It was an amazing sight. Lots of pods go by this area.

      The Gulf Shore Grill is a throwback restaurant. Salad bar, crappy wine, barely acceptable food.

      Have a great trip. LMF

      1. re: LilMsFoodie

        Bubble Room never did anything for me either except to get silly drinks and take out those ginormous desserts.
        agree on Mucky Duck for sunsets, but the wait for dinner after sundown was always way too long.

        1. re: LilMsFoodie

          I just went to Doc Ford's on Sanibel - it was good. I had the fish tacos with mango salsa. My husband declared his grouper sandwich to be the best he's ever eaten and in his 20+/- years in Naples he has eaten a lot of them. Food, service and atmosphere were all good at the sanibel location. I would go back if it weren't such a looooong drive from Naples!

          1. re: sparkalina

            Certainly hope Doc's on FM Beach improves. They have a great building but the service and food were horrible. Management problem probably but to open like that is terrible in this economy. People are not apt to return when they feel ripped off.

            I've always had good food at the Sanibel Doc's as well. After Hurricane Charley, they were one of the few restaurants to keep serving and were great to all the workers that were coming on the island to do repairs, etc.

            Most restaurants try to stake their reputation on their grouper sandwich and most fall short. I would think Randy W White (who was a fisherman) insists that it is actual black grouper on the sandwich and not one of the wannabes that so many people use around here. His involvement in the restaurant is primarily as muse but I think he does have some input.

      2. Hey I haven't lived there in 5 yrs but my all time favorite place growing up was the Bubble Room on captiva island (next to sanibel). It's an amazing place filled with weird whimsical toys and nostalgia. For lunch, try the bubble burger and a piece of their red velvet cake... go hungry!

        1. Rooftop at The Beached Whale on FM Beach for the Buffalo Shrimp appetizer;
          If you are on Sanibel after 5, Sweet Melissa's for fine dining;
          If you do make it to the end of Captiva for the Bubble Room, check out the action with the live music outside across the street...couple of little places to people watch...

          1. What a shame to hear about the Bubble Room food! I did stop by for dessert when my sister got married there last year and the red velvet cake was just as I remembered though a lot of people detest it.

            Last time I was there I ate lunch at the Island Cow which was a cute seafood/burger place. And there's a nice place across from Bubble Room my family goes to called RC Otters that has a guy doing jimmy buffett covers, cheesy but quaint!

            Either way, Ft Myers is definitely worth skipping over to go to Sanibel/Captiva. A lot of my friends from NYC vacation there in the summer because it's so beautiful. A must see!

            4 Replies
            1. re: Jacquelyn

              Doc Ford's Rum Bar on Fort Myers Beach has been sadly having big problems delivering more than mediocre food and beverage quality, and service for months, since they opened. I and other friends who live nearby have been there on different nights on different weeks, and we've been disappointed. It's pretty, but food's not overall tasty. Some items are not good, some are. It's Doc's Restaurant Roulette. Even some of the Rum drinks are bad, and they call themselves a Rum Bar. I do like the Doc's on Sanibel, that has a different chef and staff.

              I went last weekend to the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce Annual Taste of the Beach, held for the last 14 years. This is where Fort Myers Beach spots wait all year, to strut their stuff. People were VERY surprised that Doc's didn't even have a booth, let alone enter the food competitions, to suport the local Chamber of Commerce. That snubbing says a lot, in a small island community, when you don't even show up for your backyard local competition!! While other restaurants, from hotdog spots to high end places entered, and some won in various competitions, it make it somewhat less potent on "bragging rights", when Big Dog, 300 seat Doc's is afraid to even show its face in competition against a Hot dog stand, and their next door Dixie Fish House, which won the Best Soup competition! Sad.

              This was Fort Myers Beach Doc's long awaited chance of the year, to show some improvement to food writers and locals, especially after earning a very negative review from the Fort Myers News Press, headlined as "Food Mysteriously Less than Mediocre" , which is pretty hard to get.


              That followed a negative set of experiences noted at:


              Doc's absence from competition pretty much confims their "mediocre" food quality. It's pretty, but just not ready for prime time. I have great hopes that it improves. Doc's, with their location alone, is profitable from tourists dollars alone, without the local's business. Their boycotting the food competition says they do not need to earn your or my satisfaction, or business.

              The Island Cow on Sanibel is great for the price and the kid friendly ambience.

              Bubble Room food is um, "yucky". Place is noisy. Your friends "Detestable" is an accurate assessment. Desserts are big, and, best for 6-10 year olds taste buds for a birthday party, with the Bubble Scouts.

              I really like Sanibel's Sweet Melissa's-great quality food, great quantity, for solid prices, all under $29.
              Sunset Grill is also a favorite on the Island.

              1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                Heading up to FMB this weekend with my girl and wondered if there may be a link or listing of this year's winners?

                Also thanks to all for comments!

                1. re: y2ksrvivr

                  Here's nearly all of the categories and winners.
                  Best soup/chowder: Dixie Fish Company- seafood bisque
                  Best crab: The Fish house-crab cakes tied with The Sandy Parrot’s tiki rolls
                  Best shrimp: Jo-Jo’s at Pink Shell Resort- margarita shrimp
                  Best beef: Bayfront Bistro- marinated beef satay
                  Best pork: The Sandy Butler- pork tenderloin
                  Best pizza/flatbread: Parrot Key- beef flatbread
                  Best chicken/gator: Yucatan Beach Stand- tiki chicken tortellini
                  Best fish: Bayfront Bistro- Asian seared grouper
                  Best sweet: The Sandy Butler- flourless chocolate cake with stewed berries
                  There was also a smaller Chef's Competition; not many chefs competed. I do not have those results with me.

                2. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                  If I were Doc's, I'd do a complete recheck of all their systems, if they have them, do a taste test of every single menu item and have a big reopening maybe in early October when the snowbirds begin their migration to SWFL. If they don't fix this now, they won't be around then, deep pockets will only go so long.

                  I have a theory on the Bubble Room. It goes something like this:

                  You are 6 or 7 or 10 or 12, you go to Captiva for a family vacation. You go to a restaurant with all sorts of cool toys, where no one cleans up so it is like your room, and you can have a ginormous slice of cake with about 2 inches lard like frosting on its dry dry cake. You get your picture taken in front of this fun colorful building and you remember it forever. Time marches on and your return with your own children and a magical haze comes over you so you don't see the dirt, you don't taste the ghastly food, and the ginormous cake slices are still there brought to you by your Bubble Scout. It is a restaurant that people who go for the first time as adults usually hate. As a pilgrimage in adulthood, well, you've read the reviews. <G>