Fort Myers Beach
For breakfast, Reese’s Restaurant (1661 Estero Blvd., 239/463-3933, 7 a.m.–2 p.m. daily, main courses from 6) is a dependable choice. The setting is far from five-star, but the food is uniformly excellent in a greasy-spoon way. Portions are laughably huge—don’t order more than one pancake unless you’re a glutton for griddle-fried dough—and though you may not see the bottom of your plate, working your way through Reese’s biscuits and gravy or home fries is well worth the effort.
The building that houses the Gulf Shore Grill (1270 Estero Blvd., 239/765-5440, 8 a.m.–2 a.m., main courses from $6) has been right on Fort Myers Beach for nearly a century, and the all-day dining is appropriately classic. Breakfast is a typical selection of traditional American standards, while the lunch menu is a predictable array of burgers (yes, they have a “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” like just about every other beach restaurant in Florida), sandwiches, and wraps with a small selection of Mexican dishes. Dinner gets a little more interesting with filet mignon, prime rib, and seafood platters, but there are better places in town to get dinner. The main reason to visit the Gulf Shore is for a quick beachside bite or a cocktail as the sun sets.
Even though it doesn’t boast a beachfront view, Bobby’s Roast Beef (2201 Estero Blvd., 239/463-7500, 11 a.m.–3 a.m. daily, main courses from $5) is nonetheless a great sandwich shop. Despite the carnivore name and a reputation for excellent roast beef and French dip sandwiches, Bobby’s is also the only place in town to have something remotely resembling a vegetarian lunch. In addition to Boca burgers, he makes a mean portobello mushroom-cap sandwich with sweet red peppers and provolone; organic salads are also available. Home-style sides like mashed potatoes and onion rings and a few draft beers on tap ensure that the place will never be mistaken for a health-food joint.
You’re at the beach, so seafood is definitely on the menu. The comfortable environment and rooftop dining area at the Beached Whale (1249 Estero Blvd., 239/463-5505, 11 a.m.–2 a.m. daily, main courses from $9) make it as good a place as any. In addition to fresh fish and massive sandwiches, the Whale’s relatively diverse menu also has some impressive flatbread pizzas and fall-off-the-bone barbecue dishes.
Another good choice for seafood is The Fish House (7225 Estero Blvd., 239/765-6766, 11 a.m.–10 p.m. daily, main courses from $8). Located right on the marina, the unpretentious open-air restaurant specializes in stone crab claws, fried seafood baskets, and ice-cold beer. Get here early if you want a chance at getting a table…or even a barstool.
A bit more (OK, a lot more) upscale is South Beach Grille (7205 Estero Blvd., 239/463-7770, 4:30–10 p.m. daily, main courses from $13). Also near the marina but incongruously located in the Santini Marina Plaza strip mall, this is one of the only—if not the only—fine-dining option in Fort Myers Beach. The atmosphere, however, is in keeping with the area’s friendly low-key vibe, and the service is unpretentious. The food is classic fare, with steaks, chops, and fresh seafood prepared in a classic but thoughtful manner. If you brought good clothes to the beach, this is where you should wear them.
Located in a horribly ugly orange building right near the bridge on San Carlos Parkway, Edo Thai & Japanese (17979 San Carlos Blvd., 230/466-1885, 4–10 p.m. daily, main courses from $12) is something of a poorly kept secret in Fort Myers Beach. While many visitors are content to scarf down hush puppies and fried-shrimp baskets the entire time they’re on a beach vacation, more often than not a decent, convenient, and reasonably priced plate of sushi or bowl of panang beef would hit the spot; that’s where Edo comes in. Not only is the sushi and Thai fare of good quality, the prices are hard to beat. Edo offers a daily all-you-can-eat special; included are many, but not all, of the sushi rolls and a limited selection of the Thai dishes. There’s no shuffling up to the buffet to scrape through leftovers, as everything is freshly made; the only catch is that you have to eat it all—you’ll be charged full-price for any leftovers.
Located in a turn-of-the-20th-century building in downtown Fort Myers, Veranda (2122 2nd St., 239/932-2065, lunch 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Mon.–Fri., dinner 5:30–9:30 p.m. Mon.–Thurs., 5:30–10:30 p.m. Fri.–Sat., lunch entrées from $9, dinner entrées from $28) has been one of the city’s top dining destinations for more than three decades. The menu is traditional American fare—steaks, chops, and seafood—prepared with a unique touch that combines Italian seasonings and Southern flair. Veranda’s Chicken Orleans combines shrimp, crab, and chicken breast with a spicy Cajun-style beurre blanc, while the decadent breadcrumb-coated veal chops are stuffed with buffalo mozzarella and prosciutto. Meals are served in an opulent historic atmosphere by an attentive and friendly waitstaff.
While the bargains at Edo at Fort Myers Beach are certainly appealing, true sushi aficionados should head directly for downtown’s Blu Sushi (13451 McGregor Blvd., 239/489-1500, 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Sun.–Wed., 11 a.m.–2 a.m. Thurs.–Sat., sushi rolls $5–15). Although they are quite pricey, the sushi rolls are expertly prepared and served in a modern stylish environment that’s unique in Fort Myers. The hip urban vibe extends to Blu’s drinks menu, which features treats like the Frank Zappacino (coffee-infused rum, dulce de leche, liqueur, Frangelico), Zenergy (vodka, green tea liqueur, Red Bull), “saketinis,” and, uh, “saktails.”
© Jason Ferguson from Moon Florida, 1st Edition