The Best Places to Eat and Drink in Downtown Fort Myers

The picturesque, sun-drenched streets of Fort Myers make for perfect alfresco dining
The picturesque, sun-drenched streets of Fort Myers make for perfect alfresco dining | © Visit Fort Myers

There aren’t many places you’d rather be than strolling around Downtown Fort Myers in the Floridian sunshine. The beautiful architecture of art deco buildings along palm tree-lined streets make it feel like walking around a movie set, all under the soothing soundtrack of street performers and the bustle of people chatting as they sit and eat outside. It’s hard to choose from the abundance of places to eat, so I’ve narrowed down my top picks for different occasions.

Oxbow

This stylish, modern restaurant on the water’s edge was the best dining experience I had during my time in Florida. Not only is it a spectacular place to eat, with ocean views and sun beaming in through the large glass windows (there’s a killer sunset to enjoy when dining in the evenings) but the staff are amazing, and the superb menu is reasonably priced. Seafood is the specialty there, so if you’re not going for the catch of the day, I’d highly recommend the Gulf Coast Ciopinno – a concoction of lobster, mussels, shrimp and fish in a moreish coconut broth.

Farmer’s Market

It doesn’t come more authentic and local than the Farmer’s Market restaurant. Of all the options on this list, this is the one I would say is an absolute must-try. It’s a 10-minute drive from Downtown and pulling up to the container in a car park isn’t anything special. The magic of the place doesn’t hit you until you’re inside. The diner is alive, the beating heart of a community, with super-sized soul food all for low prices. Southern classics make up the menu, and you can’t leave without trying their fried chicken on waffles or Southern breakfast skillet – a hearty pile of potatoes, eggs, onions, peppers and mushrooms all bathed in a delicious sausage gravy. It’s no wonder the place got a mention in Time magazine. And when you’re there, make sure to give 86-year-old Mary, who has been working there for over 30 years, a big hug. The service is (unusually for Florida) authentic and unforced, yet super friendly. Everyone has a smile on their face in the building, and when you go there, you’ll see why.

It’s hard to choose just one thing from the menu at Farmer’s Market

Ella Mae’s

Woken up with a sore head from an evening of drinking cocktails in the many bars Downtown has to offer? Or maybe you’re just in the mood for a classic American diner breakfast experience? Ella Mae’s on the waterfront is your place. It has unlimited filter coffee refills, and a menu spanning from buttermilk biscuits and gravy to the classic breakfast of bacon with eggs served sunnyside up. For a hint of US nostalgia, this is your place.

Veranda

If you’re looking for a slightly more special dining experience, a real treat, then Veranda is your place. This traditional restaurant in an old townhouse has waiters walking around in bow ties, a magical outdoor pool, and the décor of a library. The menu is a little pricier, but the high-end food makes it all worth it. I went for snails and oysters for starters, along with a bowl of cornbread, and had a beautifully tender rib-eye steak for mains, followed by their signature key lime pie. Make sure to stop by if a classy, traditional dining experience is what you’re after.

Treat yourself to some fine dining at Veranda

Capone’s

Capone’s is spectacular from the outside, but just as impressive on the inside, and serves the best Italian food in the area. The menu boasts Mama Capone’s meatballs and sandwiches piled high with Italian meats – true Tony Soprano style – and coal-fired pizzas that are criminally good. And there’s a fascinating story as to why it’s called Capone’s, which you can learn when you’re in there. I won’t spoil the surprise!

Looking for an indulgent Italian dinner? Welcome to Capone’s

Eager to learn more about Fort Myers? Visit www.visitfortmyers.com for all the information you need.

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