Once again, this is being posted later than I intended. For future reference, please go to our website and search for. "Hungry in Fort Myers,'' to find my most recent list whenever you need it down here. That way you have SOMETHING to work with.
Without further delay......
I'm a bad planner. I had of goal of trying several new places down here in order to jazz up this guide with the latest Fort Myers has to offer. But, alas, the days get away from me. Baseball coverage interferes, and I reach only a few new spots.
Another problem: There is so much to choose from down here now. The dining options are plenty. You can find a good place to grab a bite all over this town. I have readers all over me for excluding their favorite spots. I'm sorry, I just can't get to them all with my schedule!
This guide has been assembled through years of grueling research, and my stomach reflects it.
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 that'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. But Bennett's is my fave when I don't need a big breakfast - and have time to drive downtown
Bennett's Fresh Roast The have great coffee, good breakfast sandwiches, internet access, great music - and they make their donuts from scratch, DAILY, They have a maple bacon one - yes, bacon strips on the donut! - that's is pretty tasty. A new location has opened on Sanibel Island, where I go to get work done in the morning.
Calistoga Cafe There are two in Naples and one in the Gulf Coast Town Center. Roomy, inviting and it has Wi-Fi!! Several people had their computers out when I walked in. It's open all day but I was there for breakfast, and the omelette I had was fluffy and tasty. It came with cheesey hash browns too! I felt no pressure to leave after I was finished eating. A great place to start your day.
Mimi's Cafe finally has WiFi, so it's another option relatively close to the ballpark.
Reese's (no website) NEW ENTRY is located on Fort Myers Beach. So if you're up really early or are out reaallly late this is a very good place grab a bite. The seafood omelette is good.
How about a burger?
Fat Katz Acting on a tip, I rolled into this place a few years ago, which has been converted from some drive through restaurant. Not a fan of the decor - sort of like a new sports bar that has a nice bar but no character. I ordered the mushroom and Swiss burger (which I normally don't order) and it was outstanding! The server told me the burgers are made out of three different kinds of beef that is grounded on site. I'm a fan of the food. Word is the flat breads are good too!
There used to be only one place I would 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. Joe C. likes the lasagna. 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 dinner it home. The preferred location off Daniels Road has expanded and is right down the road from Hammond Stadium, too!
Try the Clams Posillipo. Ask to have it with clam sauce, It's a little lighter.
Two Meatballs in the Kitchen: (New Entry) It's right down the street from where the Star Tribune headquarters are at this year. My guide for the night was the one and only Patrick Reusse. Great location, good service. Felt like a new place. Had the tortellini maria, and it was very good. A fine dining experience worthy of this list. Still give Nino's the edge here.
Il Pomodoro: (New Entry) This is located way down Gladiolus toward McGregor (before a street named A & W Bulb, actually). It's in a building that you'd think would house law offices, consultants and an interior design company, but it's in there.
Look, I don't want to gush too much about this place because of my love for Nino's, but I ordered the Fettuccine Mario, and....Wow....
UPDATE: The place has been sold and there is a new chef. Have not been there yet to see if anything has changed.
Trattoria Mia: NEW ENTRY. Multiple people raved about this place not far from the ballpark that I had to try. Went there for lunch and had the bologna and was very satisfied.
The Lighthouse. A little pricey but outstanding. 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. I had scallops the next year and they were excellent. Highly recommended for you couples.
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. Liked the Herb Rubbed Salmon. They also have a limited sushi menu.
The University Grill. There’s actually a little bit of everything here - plus a good martini menu. Haven;t been here in awhile.
The Bonefish Grill. Order the Bang Bang Shrimp for the appetizer. Had the Imperial Longfin. It was excellent. Again, order the Bang Bang shrimp. Get there early - and order the Bang Bang Shrimp,
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. SOB has changed something in its Oysters Rockefeller that has disappointed me.
The Mucky Duck. If you don't mind a little drive, head out to Captiva Island to catch the sunset here (the island rubes APPLAUD the sunset!). Haven't made it there yet this year but was very good last year. Had the Scallops Au Gratin, yum.
Skip One Seafood I was berated for years by one loyal reader for not trying this place. I've driven past it - it's located off US 41 a couple miles south of Six-Mile Cypress - and have seen lines spilling out into the parking lot. But I've blown it off. I finally went in last year. It's a run-down looking shack with worn-out tables inside. I ordered clam chowder and the fried grouper bites - and immediately kicked myself for not trying the place years ago. The grouper bites are, indeed, fried but are moist and flavorful. And the chowder was very good. Skip One has now opened a new location next to that monstrous mini-golf course you pass on the way to Fort Myers Beach.
Blu. Good sushi. Has become a trendy evening spot. There's some crazy drink special for women on Thursdays that packs the place. Especially the Gulf Coast Town Center location. Lots of funky specialty drinks. They have Zulu Shrimp as an appetizer, which is similar to Bang Bang Shrimp.
Addition: They have an all-you-can-eat lunch special off a limited menu that hits the spot!
Origami Know some people who believe this is the best sushi around.
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 still solid good. UPDATE. Friend went thee recently and said it has digressed. So visit at your stomach's risk.
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. But now he's at the Naples location, waiting for me with a bib. As far as BBQ goes, this comes with my highest recommendation.
Lee Roy Selmon's
This place is more like a southern style eatery than BBQ joint. Former Twin and food critic Michael Cuddyer suggested the Sweet Heat Fried Chicken sandwich,and it is very good. Joe C, used to hammer on the pulled pork sandwich. This place has a bunch of TV's around the bar - and WiFi. Again, WiFi is key. I always get a cup of gumbo with the meal.
Fancy's NEW ENTRY: I have been ordered by Patrick Reusse, the only sportswriter I know to take off his shirt in the stands during a spring training game. He loves the chicken and waffles and says there are other excellent items on the roster as well. Located next to Two Meatballs.
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. For happy hour, half-priced wings and flatbread are very good. The daily dinner specials usually are pretty strong. The writers from the Associated Press like the Cuban Whale sandwich. JoeC? Pulled Pork and the Blackened Grouper sandwich. After a brief absence, Oysters Rockefeller are back! 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. Bands used to play there nightly, but they have suspended that activity during spring break, which I objected to.
UPDATE: The Whale has added Lobster rolls to the menu, and they are excellent!!!
Stevie Tomato’s. I wasn't the biggest fan of the food here. The only purpose it serves is that it’s a good place to watch sports. Note: Stevie T's has moved to a location near I-75 - between Hammond Stadium and jetBlue Park - and the food is better. UPDATE: Half price pizzas on Tuesdays!
Pott’s Sports Cafe. Definitely better food than Stevie Tomato’s. Sandwiches hit the spot. A certain father of a certain local superstar loves the wings there. Watch out on Wednesday’s - that’s Karaoke night. Eek. But great to watch NCAA tournament games. And they will look for Wild and Gophers games to turn on,
Shoeless Joe’s. This is located in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in the Bell Tower Shops. Fritz is the manager there. Good guy. Good menu, It also has wi-fi (key!). They have all the sports packages, so the scribes have been meeting here to watch Wolves and Gophers games.
Ron Dao's. Short story. I was looking for a place to get some work done a few years ago 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. This is one of the places to be during the NCAA hoops tournament. UPDATE: I will be here Thursday.
Duffy's (new entry) I guess this chain is popular on the East Coast and is now opening spots on the other side of the state. Tried the Bacon Mushroom burger, and it was good. But this place is known for two other things: A ridiculous amount of huge HDTV's and 2-for-1's all day long. UPDATE: Went there again on Monday. Had Cajun pasta. Just O.K. Service was shaky. So if you are a fan of sports viewing, burgers and two-for-ones, this is your place.
Just down the road from Hammond Stadium is a Sun Harvest Market. Friends have stopped by there and have raved about the fruit and juices. I finally stopped in here last week. The strawberry stand is right near the entrance, so the smells hit you right away. Also...there are FREE juice samples! There's also a U.S. Post Office outlet, for reasons I don't know.
El Gaucho Inca: NEW ENTRY: This is a big reason why this guide is late. This place has been around for a years, and it was an awesome experience. A menu with Peruvian, Argentinean and Italian dishes. Unbelievable. The carpaccio was excellent, we should have ordered more. Had the Pasta a lo Macho, and was not disappointed. I also tried the......blood sausage, just because my buddy Mike Petrich likes to make them. Not bad, it's an acquired taste. i really had a good dining experience that night.
As for my buddy Mike, he's back home after recovering from two strokes suffered about 12 weeks ago. He's had to learn how to walk again and needed speech therapy, but he's well enough to be back home. Way to go, Mike! And your blood sausage is better!!!
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 like Rocky Patel cigars, in case anyone wants to buy one for me! Actually Rocky lives down here and will stop by from time to time. Luis Tiant, who has his own cigar line, stops by every couple of weeks.
Burn Rocky Patel has his own place in Naples. If you want to rub elbows with the beautiful people, there's no other place. A DJ comes in on weekends and the place hops.
If you are looking for dining, shopping and other things rolled into one, here are a few places to remember:
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 but not big on the Miller Ale House) and evening activities.
Connor's Steak and Seafood (Major Update) I've been here three times. The first time the food wasn't that great and the service spotty. The second time was great. The third time came March 14, 2015.
I had six friends down from the Twin Cities. Dinner peaked at the apps. After that service was terrible and a few of the dishes weren't prepared as requested. Let me backtrack. Five of us ordered lobster bisque. One ordered a salad. We were finished with our bisque when the salad finally arrived. Then came the faulty meals. I ordered the parmesan encrusted Alaskan halibut, which was a mistake. That's my fault. But the members of the dinner party weren't happy about the meals and the service and let the manager know about it. And, after investigating, the manager picked up the tab for the food, which was impressive. We had to pay for the wine.
So....we had ordered a bottle of wine that was $39.00. The server screwed up and grabbed a bottle of $140.00 wine! We get the drink bill and ask for the manager again. Again, he agreed and just charged us $39.00.
I was impressed with how management handled this, and will go there again. After all, they gave us a $50.00 gift card as part of the deal, and since everyone was leaving in a day or two, they slid the gift card over to me. I just think we just were paired up with a bad server that night....
UPDATE: I drive past there occasionally, and the parking lot remains packed. So it must be doing something right!
That's it folks! Let me know if you run across any other spots you like down here!