The food scene in Southwest Florida is diverse and delicious! During our dining adventures in 2019, we uncovered some truly outstanding dishes…and we’re calling out Our Favorites!

 

STANDOUT STARTER: FRIED AMERICAN ALLIGATOR

Islamorada Fried American alligatorWhere? Islamorada Fish Company at Bass Pro Shops, Gulf Coast Town Center

Why? A unique appetizer, the fried alligator is tender with a slightly spicy, hand-breaded coating for full flavor. Sweet jalapeño cream sauce makes a perfect dipping sauce.

What else? The newly renovated patio dining area now features festive string lights, roller shades and lush landscaping. Inside, the attraction is a massive, 11,500-gallon saltwater aquarium filled with exotic fish.

 

SUPER SUSHI: MAGURO LOVER’S ROLL

Sushi-Thai Too_Maguro Lover's RollWhere? Sushi-Thai Too in Bonita Springs at the Prado at Spring Creek

Why? This eye-catching sushi roll is made with spicy, bluefin tuna, tempura flakes, avocado and cucumber, topped with seared tuna and eel sauce. Tasty!

What else? Thai and Japanese cuisines are diverse and provide an interesting Asian duo. Owners Todd and Torong Boonyavairoj live in Estero and manage a well-organized, largely Thai staff.

 

 

SUPREME STEAK: CARNE ASADA

Agave Carne AsadaWhere? Agave Naples Better Mexican on Vanderbilt Beach Road

Why? This tender, grilled sirloin is served perfectly rare with a flavorful chimichurri sauce and a tasty medley of potatoes, bacon, andouille sausage, bell peppers and sautéed onions.

What else? Agave offers a fine-dining fiesta! Find nearly 100 tequilas and enjoy live entertainment in a lively atmosphere.

 

 

PREMIUM PASTA: SHRIMP, SCALLOP & LOBSTER PASTA

Naples Coastal Kitchen_Shrimp, Scallop & Lobster PastaWhere? Naples Coastal Kitchen at Gulf Coast Town Center

Why? This complex pasta dish is simply delicious. Penne pasta is tossed with shrimp, scallops, baby lobster, squash, bell peppers and other veggies in a garlic-white wine sauce. Add asiago cheese and a hint of basil. Divine!

What else? Naples Coastal Kitchen partners with local fishermen and uses local produce. The specials are whatever is caught that day!

 

 

INCOMPARABLE COMFORT FOOD: CHICKEN & MUSHROOM PIE

British Open Chicken & Mushroom PieWhere? British Open Pub on Tamiami Trail in Bonita Springs

Why? Served fresh from the oven, this savory pie offers a crown of puff pastry surrounding a creamy medley. It’s an old-fashioned favorite of England.

What else? The British Open is known for its friendly staff and great cocktails. It’s been going strong in Bonita Springs for 18 years. All food is freshly prepared from scratch.

 

 

SUPER SANDWICH: GROUPER BLT

Fish-Tale Grouper BLTWhere? Fish-Tale Waterfront Dining on Fort Myers Beach

Why? 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.

What else? Hungry boaters often travel by sea to this open-air 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).

 

SENSATIONAL SEAFOOD: BUTTER SEARED SEA SCALLOPS

Roy's Butter Seared Sea ScallopsWhere? Roy’s Restaurant at the Promenade at Bonita Bay

Why? These super-sized, Georges Bank sea scallops are tender, buttery deliciousness. Served over Creamy Coconut Black Rice with lobster essence, this entree is simply scrumptious!

What else? Roy’s recently expanded, enhancing the bar area and adding a modern dining space which invites casual conversation among friends and strangers alike.

 

BEST BREAKFAST: BISCUITS & GRAVY

FK Your Diet Biscuits & GravyWhere? FK Your Diet on Tamiami Trail in San Carlos Park

Why? It’s a “taste of home” — gravy chock full of Jimmy Dean sausage served over dense, buttery biscuits, fried on the griddle. Fried eggs go on top, and it’s served with a side of hand-cut, fried potatoes.

What else? “FK” is an acronym for “foster kids.” In its first six months, FK Your Diet donated more than $50,000 to help children (and some adults) in need. They also employ foster kids.

 

GREATEST SUPER GRAIN: SOUTHWEST QUINOA BOWL

Naples Flatbread Southwest Quinoa BowlWhere? Naples Flatbread at Miromar Outlets

Why? Lettuce is topped with spicy quinoa, layered with avocado, black beans, corn, peppers, onion, tomato and pico de gallo for lots of flavor.

What else? Guests will see several menu items highlighted with the “Blue Zones Inspired” checkmark, indicating healthy (and great tasting) plant-based options.

 

 

FIRST-RATE FRIES: TEXAS CHEESE FRY BASKET

Get Fried Texas Cheese Fry BasketWhere? #getfried Fry Cafe at University Village Shops, Estero

Why? Thick-cut “Texas” fries are topped with bacon and drizzled with cheese. One of seven tasty, topped-fry baskets on the menu!

What else? This growing franchise is the brainchild of FGCU Alumnus Chris Covelli. It’s “gourmet quick-serve” and everything is made to order.

 

 

PREMIUM PORK: FIRE-ROASTED KUROBUTA PORK CHOP

KC American Bistro_Fire Roasted Pork ChopWhere? KC American Bistro at University Village Shops

Why? We’ve never had a pork chop so tender and delicious! Kurobuta is a heritage breed, originating in Japan but now raised on select U.S. farms. This succulent chop is glazed with Hoisin sauce and served with shrimp fried rice.

What else? At KC American Bistro, every dish invites an educational journey into the culture that inspired it. “American” cuisine is often not what you would expect. You’ll not only eat well but also increase your culinary IQ as you dine!

 

DELICIOUSLY DAINTY DESSERT: BABA AU RHUM

The French_Baba Au RhumWhere? The French Brasserie Rustique on Fifth Avenue, Naples

Why? This dessert may look small but packs delightful flavor. Vanilla sponge cake is paired with rich mascarpone cheese and served in warm, rum-butter sauce. Perfect to enjoy with a cappuccino!

What else? The French invites you into the ambiance of a Parisian bistro of the “Beautiful Age.” Seafood is fresh-caught, meat and produce come from local farms, and specialities like cheeses and dried fruits are imported from artisanal producers in France. Sausages, pastas, pastries and desserts are made in house.

 

TRADITIONAL ITALIAN: SALTIMBOCA

Marsala's SaltimbocaWhere? Marsala Italian Ristorante & Pizzeria at Shoppes of Grande Oak, Estero

Why? This is a standout veal entree offering rich flavors. Veal is lined with prosciutto and rolled up with spinach and mozzarella, then cooked in wine. It’s served over pasta and bathed in a delectable, brown wine sauce.

What else? Everyone is welcomed with a huge smile from the Sicilian-born founder and patriarch, Charlie. Marsala’s famous marinara sauce is his grandmother’s recipe.