By Laura J. Cummings
Hungry boaters often travel by sea to the restaurant at Fish-Tale Marina, but it’s also well worth the drive to the southern end of Fort Myers Beach. Tucked behind the Santini Marina Plaza Shops, Fish-Tale Waterfront Dining is a bit of a hidden treasure on the bay side of Estero Boulevard.
With guests arriving by both land and sea, the vibe is casual in this mostly open-air eatery. One side of the restaurant is topped by an expansive tiki canopy, creating a casual climate for mingling near the bar, which is also accessible from the main dining area. There, the ambience is more suitable for quiet conversation — still with the same great views of the marina. A smaller patio area offers private dining for large parties and is often booked for special occasions. It’s also optimal for enjoying outdoor concerts at the marina during the high season.
In the summer months, the vibe is a bit more relaxed. Dolphins, manatees and many varieties of fish — such as snapper, redfish and jumping snook — frequently are sighted from the marina, which lies in a protected wildlife area. On the evening we dined, the temperature was moderate, the sea breeze delightful, and the atmosphere relaxed. We were primed for a plentiful seafood meal.
The pleasantries began with cocktails and appetizers: terrific shrimp ceviche and traditional Oysters Rockefeller. Next came the salads, which were both refreshing and unique. The Garden, Caesar or Grilled Watermelon salads are tasty and ample enough to serve as a light meal, especially when topped with “add-ons” like Diver Scallops, Cold-water Lobster Tail, Salmon, Mahi-Mahi or Grouper.
Fish-Tale Dining prides itself on being an Ocean Friendly Restaurant, a designation bestowed by the Surfrider Foundation to restaurants committed to making sustainable choices for our ocean and its aquatic inhabitants. This includes not using styrofoam, plastic bags or plastic straws. The marina also recently purchased 40 artificial “mini-reefs” from Flordia nonprofit Oceans Habitats, Inc., installing them beneath docks to provide additional habitat for sea creatures like mu
The marina’s restaurant previously was a casual eatery (Fish House Restaurant) serving mainly fried seafood platters, but Fish-Tale Waterfront Dining (now open for two years) offers finer dining options. Plates are beautifully presented, and the quality of every dish we tried was excellent. There is still an extensive sandwich menu for those wanting a quick but tasty bite during a day on the water. Hand Breaded Seafood Baskets and Fish-Tale Tacos also are popular casual dining selections.
However, don’t overlook Fish-Tale’s dinner plates, offering high quality seafood, as well as superb pastas, baby back ribs and steaks. This waterfront restaurant is committed to both excellent dining and the local ecosystem. A win for all!
7225 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach
- Traditional Oysters Rockefeller
Sometimes classic is best. This holds true for Fish-Tale’s Traditional Oysters Rockefeller. Appetizers are meant for sharing, but who could blame you for devouring this one solo? Freshly shucked oysters are stuffed with a house recipe of spinach, bacon and cheeses, then baked to perfection.
- Peach Caprese Salad
Caprese salads are common in summer, but have you ever had one with grilled peaches? Neither had we! That’s why we love this unique salad, also featuring heirloom yellow and red tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and cucumber ribbons with balsamic dressing.
- Grouper BLT
This tasty take on a grouper sandwich has been one of the most popular menu items at Fish-Tale since its opening. Fresh-caught, local grouper can be ordered grilled, blackened or fried. It’s served on a toasted Kings Hawaiian roll and topped with a huge, fried green tomato slice along with savory apple cider bacon. Order onion rings or sweet potato fries to dip in the tasty Old Bay Aioli.
- Bone In Ribeye
While most people visit Fish-Tale for seafood, don’t discount the steaks. The 14-ounce, Blackened Bone-In Ribeye is delicious, served on a bed of succulent, candied-bacon smashed potatoes. The dish is complemented with a side of sautéed zucchini in sweet red pepper-butter sauce. Yum!
- Seafood Pasta
Can’t decide which kind of seafood to order? Get it all in this tasty pasta dish: Prince Edward Island Mussels, shrimp, Diver Scallops and lump crab meat. It’s all sautéed with linguine in roasted tomato sauce with garlic, basil and white wine. The parmesan garlic bread is an excellent way to sop up every last bit of sauce.
- Peanut Butter Mousse Pie
Order a cappuccino to go with this decadent dessert. Ground Oreo crust is topped with creamy peanut butter mousse and covered in rich, chocolate ganache. It’s served atop an eye-catching (and tasty!) drizzle of white-and-dark chocolate and garnished with strawberry, whipped cream and mint.