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Nov 14, 2009 04:23 PM

Cape Coral

OK! So, we are a family of 4 adults and 3 teenage children. We will be in the Cape Coral/Lehigh Acres areal next week spending time with family and house hunting. We would love to visit some on the water outdoor restaurants that serve raw oysters along with teenager food (burgers, fries, chicken fingers) as well as a place where we can get hispanic food (chicken, rice, beans, etc). Also, anything that is good but not expensive and please not a chain. We like small family owned places.

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  1. el rincon cubano in cape coral. i'll link my review.
    tip: don't buy in the cape or lehigh. trust me.

    13 Replies
    1. re: alkapal

      OT: Avoid Lehigh like the plague. Many systemic problems that are not being solved with ultra cheap housing. Crime and traffic issues just two. Hideous schools, big drug problems with grow houses, etc. Some areas of Cape Coral are better, but have similar problems.

      It is hard to find decent restaurants on the water here and often Chains like Joe's Crab Shack are the only ones able to afford the cost of waterfront property.

      Oysters: Lazy Flamingo, looks across road to water but not on it.
      Flippers: Fort Myers Beach. Great location. Food pretty good. Probably what you are looking for.
      Doc's Beach House (do not confuse with Doc Ford's) which is down in Bonita but beach front and fun. No oysters but they do burgers and pizza, etc.

      Doc's Beach House Restaurant
      27908 Hickory Blvd, Bonita Springs, FL 34134

      Lazy Flamingo
      6520 Pine Ave Ste C, Sanibel, FL 33957

      1. re: LilMsFoodie

        Pretty strong sentiments against buying in the Cape. Do people still feel this way? I'm going down for vaca week and on here to look for good food, but have to ask - I know lots of contractors and builders are buying things up in the Cape (especially contractors taking advantage of the Chinese drywall situation to get super-cheap house and replace drywall and then sell I guess - what a mess down there). Anyway, thought I'd ask and thanks!

        1. re: LilMsFoodie

          There are some great deals in Lehigh, and some of the older areas are well developed, safe, and have nice roads and schools. Still, housing prices are going to be in the dumps in Lehigh for the forseeable future, so, if finding a house that you will be able to sell for a profit in the next five years or so is important, Lehigh is probably out.

          The Cape is huge geographically. There are neighborhoods in the Cape that are great, and others that are similar to some of the rougher areas in Lehigh as LilMsFoodie states. Generally the Southeast and central Cape Coral area is a better bet than the extreme western or northern cape. As with anything, buying into an already established neighborhood may cost a bit more up front, but it will return more in the long term, and you won't have to drive as far to get to the places you want to go.

          Some of the best deals right now are in the East Fort Myers area outside of the city limits. There are a lot of nice neighborhoods with plenty of infrastructure and stores already around, but lower prices for homes.

          As far as food goes: Rincon Cubano is good, I also like Mambo's in the south Cape at the intersection of Del Prado and Cape Coral Pkwy. El Patio, Acajutla's, and Jalapeno's are also good bets for family friendly hispanic/latin food.

          I've been very happy with the Blue Pointe Oyster bar in the Belltower Shops for Oysters and fresh fish in the past, but there isn't a view of anything there. It's also near the Fort Myer's Villas which is a great older neighborhood if you are looking at houses.

          El Patio Restaurant
          4444 Cleveland Ave Ste E, Fort Myers, FL 33901

          Rincon Cubano
          958 Country Club Blvd Unit A, Cape Coral, FL 33990

          1. re: TuteTibiImperes

            Thank you SOOO much! We aren't interested in profit - just getting something that shouldn't go down too much over time and would be a vacation home for the family for years. So basically investing in the area. Safety a big concern though - the NW area looked good to us as it won't be developed for a while but you're indicating we should stay away from the North. Thank you!!

            1. re: andreaplants

              The lack of development in the NW cape can be considered a blessing or a curse. Because there isn't a whole lot out there yet, and there are tons of empty lots and empty homes, resale values are going to be pretty stagnant in that area for a while. Personally, my idea location in the Cape would be the SE, south of Cape Coral Pkwy, and east of Del Prado, as that area is fully developed, doesn't have as many empty homes and foreclosures, has plenty of homes with direct gulf access, and has a lot of stores and established businesses around, plus easy access across the bridge to Ft. Myers. The downside of that area is higher prices, more traffic, and a few unsavory bits where there are a lot of duplexes and apartments. If you prefer quiet and out of the way to being in the middle of the hustle and bustle the NW cape has certain appeals. The problem is that the crime has been higher in the areas where there are a lot of vacant homes, as the vacant homes make attractive targets for squatters, grow houses, and other ne'er do wells. The rash of A/C unit thefts has also harder hit areas like the NW Cape and secluded areas of Lehigh where the thieves can get in and get out with the AC unit without anyone ever seeing them.

              On a more chowhoundy note, a lot of the great mom&pop style eateries in the cape are located right along (or a little bit off of ) Del Prado or Cape Coral Pkwy. Living out in the NW Cape you are going to be more dependent on the chains that recently popped up on Pine Island Rd, or have a longer drive to get to the older areas of the cape where more stuff is. On the plus side though, you are closer to Matlacha which has some cool places.

              In short, I wouldn't definitively say to stay away from the NW Cape, and your best bet would be to have your realtor show you some places all around, but just keep in mind a few caveats about the area. I personally like older neighborhoods, established foliage and landscaping, and lots of nearby businesses, but I will admit that brand new construction, peace and quiet, and lower price of entry have their benefits as well.

              1. re: TuteTibiImperes

                Tute - you've given us a lot to chew on!! We aren't boaters (although if we look at future value even as inheritance, etc - it's smartest to get a house with gulf access or near it...) - and we very much prefer mature, established areas - but we prefer more rural ones that aren't going to be developed. (our current and last house were near farms, technically "rural" but just outside cities, in protected areas - our area is currently prime fruit land, some of the last in Canada so fingers crossed it won't be developed) Basically all the benefits of the city but just a few blocks outside (well/septic), lower taxes, lower cost, more space, less traffic, etc. Thank you so so much for such a balanced and helpful post - We're going to start looking at listings soon, and we are staying near where you mentioned - we'll be a little north of the 8 lakes area, just north of cape coral parkway near the publix - it will be easy to hop over there - looks like a relatively small area on the map - and check out what sounds like a great neighborhood.

                Hard to know what the NW will become, though, right? - don't like the sound of chains coming in - but wonder if it could have great potential and we may someday think "thank goodness we got in here 20 years ago, and just had to buy an AC lock and worry for that first five....."???!!!

                I can't wait to come back and share my experience - I grew up in the concrete jungle and tend to really need to be somewhere with space but close to a main highway, and rural - ie not feel totally landlocked. Since the cape has so many canals, it will be interesting to see how it feels - must be completely different than what I'm used to.

                1. re: TuteTibiImperes

                  Tute - to make sure I'm looking at the map correctly, are you talking about Bikini Ct, Sandy Cir, Edith Esplanade, Normandy Ct area? Thanks!

                2. re: andreaplants

                  I live in the NW Cape and love it. It's QUIET. We can sit outside at night and listen to the birds. No traffic. I'm not surrounded by homes, there are empty lots behind me and to one side so more privacy and fewer people driving through the neighborhood than in the South. We're close to Pine Island which is a huge plus. Our house is practically brand new - built in 2006. I have the option of going through N Ft Myers so no bridge tolls. And if I want a burger and a cold one I'm close enough to Burt's that I can run on over.

                  1. re: Bumstead

                    Bumstead - awesome! Thank you so much. Have you found any issues with crime? Where do you think the area is headed (NW) - do you have any advice on where to look/where to avoid (besides encroaching on your quiet!! ) :-)

                    Thank you!

                    1. re: andreaplants

                      There were many more vacant homes 18 months ago than there are now. Hence the rash of A/C thefts, squatters, and grow houses has run it's course. 3/4 of my neighbors own their homes while the rest are renters. I don't see that changing. If you want an investment property then buy waterfront, preferably Gulf access. Your property in the NW will not depreciate and in 5 years will probably be worth more than you paid for it. Crime is no better or worse than anywhere else in the Cape. There are no bars north of P.I. Road (unless you count the Moose) so we don't have problems from that. Anywhere you buy in Florida you should consider an alarm system. That's just the way it is down here. The area west of Burnt Store rd is nice but will cost you more.
                      For interesting dining and night life the River District of Ft Myers is close by. We recently had a very enjoyable evening with a great meal at the Twisted Vine and show at the Repertory Theater. Much nicer than anything you'll find south of Cape Coral Parkway.

                      1. re: Bumstead

                        Bumstead - thank you!!! That was my sense - so great to hear your experience. If you still don't mind answering questions - we see several little parks on the map, including one on 36th ave and 39th lane. Do you happen to go to any of the parks and know if they are nice to walk to with little kids? We don't need fancy playgrounds but just a big open area to run around in is really nice (that's not covered in dog poo).

                        1. re: andreaplants

                          I think that is more of an empty lot that would have become a park oneday ...
                          Cape Coral (and Lee County) have a fantastic park system. Here is a link to Cape Coral:

                          For kids there is Sun Splash Water Park.

                          In Ft Myers check out Lakes Park:

                          a great all around facility where you can even get a gourmet taco off the Nosh Truck. Check out his facebook page to see where he will be:

                          1. re: Bumstead

                            Thank you, again - that is so helpful!

                            Cammie - that's hilarious that you found this -see what you've created? :-)

                            Thank you so much for the recommendations and congratulations on your successful move!

          2. So funny! I wrote the original post over a year ago! Happy to report we have been living in NW Cape since August and love it!! Our road only has 2 houses on it and that is fine with us. We came from a very rural area so we were used to having to drive a little ways to get to civilization anyway. As far as restaurants go we try to avoid chains like the plague and we have been able to find quite a few we enjoy......there is a little tiny Italian place on Pine Island road in the same plaza as Stevie Tomato's called Little Sicily that we really like. The owner personally greets everyone and his Mom is visible cooking in the kitchen. Love Burt's in Matalacha and Bubba's for huge portions of ribs. El Mambo is great for cuban food and there is a place called Cape Seafood shack across the street from the hospital that has Peruvian food that is really good.

            5 Replies
            1. re: cammie810

              wish you'd have come back to report sooner.

              1. re: cammie810

                I've seen coupons for Cape Seafood at or here at

                $50 coupon for $20 looks like a good deal.

                1. re: Bumstead

                  Thank you!!!! We're down here - went to Monkey Play House on Pine Island today (Well, MIL did with toddler) - awesome!!! Staff there recommended Tropical restaurant nearby for cuban and Mel's Diner on Pine Island Rd. ???

                  1. re: andreaplants

                    Pollo Tropical is a chain on PI Road. I like the grilled chicken. Mel's Diner is good. My brother likes the burgers there. Try the Reuben if you go.

                    1. re: Bumstead

                      mel's has a brand new breakfast specials menu.

              2. I like Burt's on Pine Island- lots of character and right on the water. On Fort Myers Beach, Matanzas Inn Resort under the sky bridge has the best water view and the grouper is great. Best Pizza on the Island as well and a local's favorite. SOB's on the Main Downtown Street near the bridge has good Oysters.

                Matanzas Inn Restaurant
                416 Crescent St, Fort Myers Beach, FL 33931

                8 Replies
                1. re: dougflorida

                  it has been about three years now, but i loved the stuffed grouper at matanzas inn. mr. alka liked the conch fritters, but as a florida native, i thought they were tough and rather boring flavorwise.

                  1. re: alkapal

                    Is Burt's that people talk about on here the same as "Bert's" on Matlacha? Thanks!!

                    Oh and completely off topic - has anyone ever purchased from Sandbill realty - specifically a property they have renovated (cleaned up)?

                    1. re: andreaplants

                      Just a remonder that discussion of real estate is off-topic, thanks

                      1. re: andreaplants

                        i don't know about burt's. was that asked of me only inadvertently?

                        1. re: andreaplants

                          I don't know of a Burt's but I do know Bert's and have gone there on and off for 15 years. Matlacha calls it's self a cute little drinking village with a fishing problem <G> I think of Bert's as a place for a cold beer and house-made potato chips. This is not gourmet dining. LMF

                            1. re: Bumstead

                              Yeah, Bert's was OK - I didn't try the burger but my sense from DH was it was fine - nothing phenomenal but not bad. I got corned beef on rye (not a whole reuben) and it was fine, again.

                              Nino's in Ft Myers - Yum!! We stopped there ( on the way to the airport to go home - we called ahead and ordered and they were so accomodating. The food was awesome! Stromboli, margherita pizza (lots of garlic), garlic rolls - great "fast food" - the cheese calzone was a mistake for us though - several pounds of cheese with ricotta - just too much.

                              Next time I'll ask for pizza sauce as dipping sauce for the stromboli/calzone - it seemed like it was a spaghetti sauce and I didn't really like it. Loved the sauce on the pizza, however! (will be funny if they are the same sauce and it's just different by itself)

                              1. re: andreaplants

                                good to hear about nino's, i didn't realize that it had moved from its original location on cleveland, but thought it had sold to a new owner. someone told me that the new italian in nino's original place is also good (it certainly looks better from the outside than nino's had come to look at that location in its later years there).