The Best Restaurants in Port Charlotte, Florida

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A. J. Samuels

Although long marked as an area filled with chains that cater to snowbirds and retirees, Port Charlotte is host to some of the best restaurants in southwest Florida. Local spots produce a pleasant mix of fine-dining, global food and hearty, southern plates. Here’s our guide to dining out at one of the best restaurants in Port Charlotte.

JD’s Bistro and Grille

JD’s is a classy jazz joint with some of the best steaks and seafood in town. A rotating cast of musicians perform on the small, intimate stage most nights of the week, and the dining room serves gourmet food in a casual, comfortable environment. The stage can be seen from any seat, including the bar – where you can enjoy cocktails and a separate bar menu. Burgers, flatbreads, and the unexpected scallop B.L.T. highlight the smaller menu. For full dinner service, enjoy the venison tenderloin or the pork osso buco that falls off the bone.

Prime Serious Steak

Prime serves prime Iowa beef, which is wet-aged for 28 days and hand cut in-house. The entire meat process is on display, as they have an open kitchen and a special window in the dining room that looks onto the house butcher preparing the cuts. Beyond the standard steak and baked potato, Prime has a contemporary feel, serving mac ‘n cheese, a wild rice blend, and the house hasselback potatoes – baked and then fried accordion style – beside thick cuts. On Sundays, they offer brunch burgers, including the Eiffel Tower option topped with brie. For non-beef eaters, Prime also has expertly prepared chicken and seafood.

The Celtic Ray Public House

The Celtic Ray, a traditional Irish Pub downtown, offers delicious fare true to its roots. Irish-native Kevin Doyle has created an incredible atmosphere to enjoy pub food and imported beer. Enjoy a Guinness and dig into the best fish and chips in Florida, or try the array of pasties, shepherd’s pie and spicy curry. The pub also has live music and trivia, making for a casual night out with one of the best meals in the area. The exposed-brick bar adds to the already unique set-up, born out of the devastating Hurricane Charley of 2004, and representative of the city’s resilience.

The Perfect Caper

The Perfect Caper serves an interesting mix of upscale dishes and gourmet takes on local favorites. Seared foie gras and Moroccan spiced lamb appear next to fried chicken and lobster mac ‘n cheese. For one of the most high-profile dining experiences in the area, it’s got to be The Perfect Caper.

Hurricane Charley’s Raw Bar and Grill

In remembrance of the storm that ravaged the area in 2004, Hurricane Charley’s provides an extensive menu and an incredible harbor setting. Located in the Waterfront Hotel overlooking Charlotte Harbor, Charley’s includes both an indoor dining area and outdoor tiki bar, which has a full menu and nightly entertainment. Enjoy jambalaya, crawfish or a grouper sandwich while sipping on a tropical drink and watching the sun go down on the harbor. Charley’s also serves burgers, sushi and a satisfying late night menu.

John Ski’s House of Breakfast and Lunch

A local favorite for breakfast, John Ski’s is a no-frills restaurant with generous portions and small bills. Large and filling breakfast dishes are served all day, including the unbelievable Big Tim Ski – a half pound burger on ultra-thick Texas toast topped with bacon, kielbasa sausage, egg, and cheese. Along with omelets, breakfast platters and John Ski’s house-made biscuits and gravy, this spot also offers equally filling lunch entrées. For those looking for healthy fare, the menu is divided between gargantuan entrées and dishes on the lighter side.

Leroy’s Southern Kitchen and Bar

Leroy’s serves new takes on classics. The country fried chicken and shrimp and grits are familiar comfort foods, and the roast bone marrow and pork belly steamed buns are bound to become new favorites. Try the rich man’s po’ boy: traditional New Orleans shrimp and oysters are topped with foie gras and truffle mayo.

Bella Napoli Pizzeria and Restaurant

Bella Napoli includes a good variety of Italian dishes. Simple favorites like chicken parmesan and spaghetti and meatballs are offered alongside gnocchi bolognese and veal. While unassumingly located in a strip mall and presenting a simple decor with checkered table clothes, Bella’s incredible food speaks for itself.

Sam’s Subs and Soups

Sam’s Subs is a local lunch spot that serves house soups, salads, and sandwiches unmatched by any chain. For a quick bite that doesn’t skimp on quality, enjoy homemade chicken and dumpling soup or cheeseburger chowder, with one of the best burgers in Port Charlotte, or a tasty reuben. Cheap and generous portions keep locals coming back. East-coast transplants will appreciate Philly cheese steak and chicken parm sandwiches, making Sam’s an unexpected find in Port Charlotte.

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