We ate at Sweet Melissa's twice during a recent week in Sanibel. Loved it. Excellent food, excellent cocktails. Loved the duck leg confit and husband raved about fish stew. They do small plates and "petit portions" of regular mains, which I love because I would prefer several smaller things than one big dish. We ate one night at Mad Hatter which seems to get love-hate reviews, but we had an excellent meal. Went early for sunset. Got bottle of wine and went out back to the beach, watched sunset from beach and then dinner.
Doc Ford was just ok by our estimation. Would return, but didn't thrill us. We had a wonderful breakfast at Over Easy Cafe and can recommend. Tried Lazy Flamingo for lunch. Blech. Conch fritters, conch chowder, all awful. Bland, gummy. Yuck. Went to Schnapper's Hots for lunch one day. While it was good I thought it was very overpriced for hots dogs and fries.
my picks would be: Over Easy Cafe. Just excellent breakfasts. 3X better than Island Cow.
Sweet Melissa's. If you are a foodie this should be on your list.
Thistle Lodge: historic home, lovely ambiance. On the Casa Ybel property.
Doc Ford's: fun rum bar, great fish tacos. If you haven't read Randy Wayne White's mysteries, you can pick them up here. He is an owner and fixture around Sanibel.
I have been getting oysters at the original Lazy Flamingo in CapSan village (near blind pass on the way to Captiva) for years. Very beachy.
I would avoid Island Cow myself, but others obviously differ. I find their food rather pedestrian and using cheap ingredients.