The Best Places for Food in the Fort Myers Area, Florida

| © Visit Fort Myers

Florida, the supersized state, is famed for its mega portion sizes and deep-fried deliciousness. However, there’s also a quainter side to it, in which some of the best food in Lee County can be found. From fresh seafood to alligator tail, here are the must-try dishes and places to eat when visiting Captiva Island in Fort Myers.

Bimini Bait Shack

An all-American affair, this tiki bar highway stop-off spot is more than just your average roadside diner. In the evenings, you’ll find a live band playing on a stage above the restaurant, with a conveyer belt for song requests going up to it. There’s an aquarium bar, floating crocodiles and all-round good vibes; a perfect hangout spot in the evenings. When there, you must try their deep-fried alligator tail and Frisbee-sized onion rings, washed down nicely with a cold local High Five IPA. Top tip – see if you can work out the acronym above the bar to win a free drink.

Sanibel Island Farmers Market

For fresh, local produce – from 1kg tubs of guacamole to ‘Grandma’s chicken salad’ – there’s no better place to go than Sanibel Island Farmers Market, where you can try some of the best produce from the local area. The market was once housed in city hall, but since Hurricane Ian, the community has chipped together to keep it going in a car park. Not only do you get to try some of the freshest food, but there’s also a sense of community and togetherness that you don’t get at any other places.

Choice is bountiful at Sanibel Island Farmers Market

The Mucky Duck English Pub

If, like me, the last thing you want to eat when you’re in Florida is English food, then fear not. The Mucky Duck, despite its name, is as English as beefy jerky. But what you do get at the Mucky Duck is the chance to sit out by the beach and see the best sunset views in the area, all while drinking good beer and eating great food. I would highly recommend the seafood platter of BBQ shrimp, steamed shrimp, crab cake, catch of the day and fried scallops. Make sure to give the Ring the Bull game a go – it’s not as easy as it looks!

The Mucky Duck at capacity during 2019 Island Hopper Songwriter Fest

The Blue Giraffe food van

One of the many victims of Hurricane Ian was the Blue Giraffe, once a bustling breakfast spot, which was completely decimated in the storm. However, the owners had the idea to set up shop in a food van in a car park to continue serving the people of Captiva. It may not be quite as glamorous, but by eating there, not only do you get a delicious breakfast and coffee, but you’re also helping a local business that had everything taken away from them. It’s also a great place to strike up conversation with the friendly locals. Must try: the breakfast bagel.

Rosalita’s Mexican Diner

There’s Mexican food, then there’s Rosalita’s Mexican food – some of the biggest portions I’ve seen in my life. But don’t be fooled by the enormity of the dishes, the quality is incredible. From the appetiser of tortillas and cold, fresh salsa to the moreish salt-rimmed margaritas. There’s a lot on the menu to choose from, from enchiladas to tacos, but I can’t recommend highly enough going for the sizzling fajitas – all I would say is it’s way too much for one person, so sharing is the way to go.

Tutti Pazi Italian

I visited Tutti Pazi Italian just after a travel documentary had been to the restaurant to interview the owner and tell the American viewers to come check out the place. It set the bar high, but I was not disappointed. The venue itself is incredible, a vast two-storey dining hall with an enormous pizza oven blazing as you walk in. Expect friendly service and some of the largest meatballs you’ve ever seen (I went for the spaghetti meatballs, and would recommend you do too!) This is the best American-Italian restaurant in the area by a long shot.

Cabbage Key cheeseburger

One of the must-do activities while in Captiva is heading down to the dock and jumping on a ferry to Cabbage Key. Not only is the journey spectacular: think blue waters and quirky water-houses on stilts amid the archipelago, with pods of dolphins swimming alongside the boat and giant osprey nests on the shoreline. At the other end is a world-famous cheeseburger that, without doubt, was the best I had in my entire trip to Florida (which is saying something, because I ate a lot of cheeseburgers). I’d also recommend the seasonal mud crab for starters, and, don’t forget to keep the tradition alive by pinning a dollar bill with your name on to the wall.

No trip to Cabbage Key is complete without a meaty cheeseburger

Dock Ford’s Yucatan shrimp

There’s shrimp and then there’s Dock Ford’s Yucatan shrimp, quite easily the best I’ve had in my life. The supersized shellfish is served up in a spicy, buttery sauce that can be scooped up with a slice of homemade bread after all the shrimp are gone. You can either order a full or half pound of them, depending on how hungry you’re feeling (or how willing you are to share). Of course, there are other items on the menu at the restaurant, which is named after a famous local author, but it would be criminal not to try their specialty dish.

Shrimp with a seaside view, anyone?

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