La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

It's here! LEN3's 2010 Fort Myers guide to gluttony

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: March 10, 2010 - 8:37 PM

The food committee (me) was given an extension this year by the powers that be (me), due to a flood of suggestions and unforeseen circumstances like Joe Nathan's elbow, Joe Mauer's contract and the appearance of the Jersey Boys at one of the games.

Here are my picks (and some popular suggestions) for dining around Fort Myers if you're headed to spring training!

Breakfast

There’s an IHOP and a Perkins off Cleveland Ave. (it’s also called US 41 and is the main north-south drag in town). But one of my favorite breakfast places I’ve ever been to is First Watch.  It offers more than the standard breakfast options.

I have been wearing out the Denny's not far from Strib HQ down here..... because it has free wifi. And free wifi is important in today's never-ending newsgathering cycle. 

Italian

There’s only one place I go to down here - Nino's. Great service. If you see a round, smiling Italian man walking around, that’s the owner, Graziano.  He treats every customer like family. 

The Shrimp Aurora and Lobster Ravioli are excellent. The pizzas are very good. The trap is eating all the salad and a couple pieces of bread before the main course arrives. You’ll end up taking half of it home. The preferred location off Daniels Road has expanded and is right down the road from Hammond Stadium, too!

Seafood

The Lighthouse. A little pricey but outstanding. A group of us went out there last week. One friend said it was the best calamari she's ever had. A buddy said he had the best ribeye he ever had. I had the yellowtail snapper and it was very good. Highly recommended.

The Blue Pointe. This place  is a little pricey too but very. very good. Located in the Bell Tower Shopping Center, located at the intersection of Daniels Road (the main road coming out of the airport) and Cleveland. About three miles from the park.

The Prawnbroker. This spot and Nino’s were the first places I was told to go to during my first spring training here ten years ago. Here’s the menu.

The University Grill. There’s actually a little bit of everything here - plus a good martini menu.

The Bonefish Grill. Hadn't been here in awhile but went last week. Order the Bang Bang Shrimp for the appetizer. Had the Imperial Longfin. It was excellent.

Yabo I have never been here, but readers claim it's a must.

SOB Very good food. Former Beached Whale employees work here, so it's a lively atmosphere!! There's a place two doors down called the Yucatan that I've never been to but it's supposed to be good. And it's always busy.

Sushi 

Tim’s Magic Wok . Located next to Nino’s. Very friendly staff.

Blu. Good sushi. Has become a trendy evening spot. Especially the Gulf Coast Town Center location.

Mexican

Cantina Laredo. Excellent. One of my favorite places in the area. You can order the guacamole to be made right at your table!

Iguana Mia. It’s no Cantina Laredo but very, very good..  

BBQ 

If you want something in town, Rib City has a few locations to visit. And Wednesday is quarter beer night.

But if you want top BBQ, I strongly urge you to head down to Naples one night and dine at Michelbob’s.

They import their ribs from Denmark, and it comes off the bone so easily and I’m salivating as I write this. The owner is from Minnesota and I’m friends with his son-in-law, Lou Bavaro. Lou has worked hard the past couple of years to get Michelbob’s available at Byerly’s and Lund’s in the Twin Cities, so some of you might recognize the name.  As far as BBQ goes, this comes with my highest recommendation. Lou has recently struck a deal to sell Michelbob's at Target Field

Joe C. had Michelbob's a few days ago and remains in post-gluttony hubris.

Lee Roy Selmon's

Another new addition, this place is more like a southern style eatery than BBQ joint. Michael Cuddyer suggested the Sweet Heat Fried Chicken sandwich,and it is very good. Joe C, liked the pulled pork sandwich. This place has a bunch of TV's around the bar - and wifi. Again, wifi is key.

Sports Bars..or sort of

The Beached Whale. This was the first place I visited the first time I drove over  to Fort Myers Beach. Looks like a burger joint but is a little more than that. The daily dinner specials usually are pretty strong. I love the Oysters Rockerfeller. The writers from the Associated Press like the Cuban Whale sandwich. The deck is a great place to hang out. There are TV’s everywhere to watch sports. Some of my favorite staff members have left The Whale, but it’s still worth a visit, especially if you are on the beach during the NCAA hoops tournament. If Tico is working there on the day you visit, watch out. He’s nuts.

Stevie Tomato’s. To be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of the food here. The only purpose it serves is that it’s a good place to watch sports.

Pott’s Sports Cafe. Definitely better food than Stevie Tomato’s. And they have even more TV’s than last year. Watch out on Wednesday’s - that’s Karaoke and Beer Pong night. Eek.

Shoeless Joe’s. This is located in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in the Bell Tower Shops. Had a personal pizza there last week while watching Illinois beat the Gophers in men’s basketball. It was pretty good - the game and the pizza. Fritz is the manager there. Good guy.

Ron Dao's. Short story. I was looking for a place to get some work done while watching soccer. Did a search and found this place - with wifi!!! Walked in...and it is huge! TV's all over the place. I ordered a pizza with shrimp on it, and it rocked! The only drawback is that it's out of the way. But if you want a good pizza and want to watch sports, this is worth the visit.

Other

Just down the road from the Hammon Stadium is a Sun Harvest Market. Friends have stopped by there and have raved about the fruit and juices.

Cigars

I enjoy a good cigar now and then. And there’s no better place to have one than The Cigar Bar. There are two locations in town. In recent years, I can be found at the Gulf Coast Town Center location. I prefer Rocky Patel cigars, in case anyone wants to buy one for me! Actually Rocky lives down here and has been know to stop by The Cigar Bar. Dino is one of the managers there and is a great guy.

Checked out  this place . Not bad.

More options

If you are looking for dining, shopping and other things rolled into one, here are a few places to remember:

Belle Tower Shops. This is where the Blue Pointe is, but there are other options as well as a movie theater.

Coconut Point. Opened a couple years ago and is south of Fort Myers. Lots of shopping. The Blue Water Bistro is excellent.

Gulf Coast Town Center. A very popular place just one exit south of Daniels Road off of I-75. There’s a movie theater, plenty of dining (I like P.F. Chang’s and Carraba’s but not big on the Miller Ale House) and evening activities. There’s Bar Louie, where the beautiful people go to. Blu sushi is across from Bar Louie, so the beautiful people bounce between the two locations, then the older members of the beautiful people club wander around the corner into The Cigar Bar.

That's it folks! Let me know if you run across any other spots you like down here!

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