As restaurants everywhere adjust to the “new normal,” we set out to find the best casual eateries in the area. Burntwood Tavern, Tommy Bahama Marlin Bar and Skillets are three restaurants with distinct offerings; however, they all represent the relaxed culture of Southwest Florida by serving up scrumptious food in an environment of leisure. With the safety of customers in mind, each of these establishments has implemented new regulations to help them continue to thrive.

BURNTWOOD TAVERN

Comfortable and inviting, Burntwood Tavern provides its guests with a casual, yet sophisticated, dining experience. The eatery opened in January 2020 as one of several restaurants under parent company Chef – Art – Pour.

Burntwood TavernOwner Bret Adams created the brand to offer a variety of delicious foods and specialty beverages in an environment of artsy, rustic décor. Comfort food leaves diners feeling satisfied, while aged wood and uniquely crafted glass chandeliers and candle holders offer a sense of ambience that isn’t found at most casual restaurants.

To top things off, the tavern crafts its own vodkas infused with vanilla, garlic, citrus and many other flavoring agents. The flavorful Pear A Cucs is a pear-infused vodka, muddled cucumbers and fresh lime juice.

For Sunday brunch, guest can opt for a Bloody Mary or sip a mimosa with savory Nashville Hot Chicken or the sweetness of S’mores French Toast. Burntwood Tavern also offers two happy hours (3-6 p.m. and 9 p.m. to close).

General Manager Sasha Muske wants the community to know his team strives to provide a comfortable environment and great value with reasonably priced, high-quality entrées. Since the restaurant opened near the beginning of the pandemic, it has already overcome many struggles and is quite committed to the safety of its guests. Workers wear masks and are temperature tested, menus are disposable, and tables are socially distanced with patio dining available.

MUST-TRY:

Panko Crusted Grouper

Grouper sandwich at Burntwood TavernThis delicious take on the classic grouper sandwich features a giant slab of flaky, fresh grouper, lightly sautéed and encrusted in Panko breadcrumbs. Sandwiched in between a brioche bun, the grouper is paired with a tasty lemon aioli sauce and topped with arugula and spicy dill pickles. This satisfying lunch is priced at $14 and comes with a side of the tavern’s hand cut fries.

HOURS & INFO

Monday – Thursday, 11:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Saturday & Sunday, 11:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Sunday Brunch: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Gulf Coast Town Center — 10035 Gulf Coast Main St.

burntwoodtavern.com

TOMMY BAHAMA MARLIN BAR

Echoing the easygoing lifestyle that Southwest Florida is known for, the Marlin Bar presents a friendly hang-out space where regulars are known on a first-name basis. Guests are encouraged to enjoy a cocktail at the bar and leisurely shop Tommy Bahama’s latest fashions. The casual eatery opened in 2016 as an outgrowth of the Tommy Bahama clothing store locTommy Bahama Lump blue crab and avocado saladated in Coconut Point Mall.

Menu items are designed to be light, yet satisfying, making the Marlin Bar the perfect destination for a girls’ night out. Healthy ingredients such as papaya, avocado, baby greens, red quinoa and artichokes are used to enrich each dish. As a vegetarian and gluten-free friendly restaurant, there are a variety of options on the menu, and employees are willing to accommodate special requests. The bar is also environmentally conscious, as evidenced by its sturdy, but biodegradable, disposable plates.

Fun drink offerings include frozen mai tais and  local microbrews. Happy hour is daily from 3-6 p.m.

District Manager Arturo Coronel, Jr., is very conscious of the health and safety of his customers and employees. To be respectful of everyone during this time, he has implemented hand-sanitizer stations, social distancing and cashless payment throughout the facility. Additionally, workers are required to wear face masks and gloves and wash their hands every 30 minutes.

Guests can enjoy drinks and menu items on the Marlin Bar’s spacious patio. End on a sweet note with a Key Lime Pie Pop, or try the house-made cheesecake.

MUST-TRY:

Jerk Chicken Tacos

Jerk chicken tacosFeeling tropical? Enjoy two hearty portions of jerk chicken teamed with mango salsa, island slaw, avocado and lime sour cream. This tantalizing blend is quite flavorful, without being overwhelming. Priced at $9.50, this dish is sure to become a favorite for any jerk enthusiast!

HOURS & INFO

Sunday – Thursday, 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Friday & Saturday, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Coconut Point Mall — 23150 Fashion Dr., Estero

tommybahama.com/restaurants

SKILLETS

For locals who want a “home-cooked” meal but often find themselves lacking the time to prepare one, Skillets is the place to be. This breakfast and lunch diner offers customers the perfect home-away-from-home, with a relaxed atmosphere, fresh-baked bread and healthy meals made from scratch.

Skillets owners Ross and Noreen EdlundIn 1995, husband and wife duo Ross and Noreen Edlund opened the first Skillets location in Naples. As a former baker in Chicago, Ross leveraged his skills to create a restaurant which would become a local gem. By making each customer feel at home, the couple has expanded to nine locations across the Southwest Florida region, including a restaurant at the new University Village Shops.

To ensure the comfort and safety of every guest, Skillets has increased sanitation measures and is requiring all employees to wear masks. Customers are also encouraged to wear masks whenever they are not eating.

Skillets’ “goal of excellence” hinges on four things: premium ingredients, always fresh, everything scratch-made and a “passion to please.” Offering both breakfast and lunch options, Skillets offers something to satisfy everyone at the table.

The No. 1 seller for lunch is the Power Salad. “It has its own fan club because it’s a vegetarian delight, brimming with nutrition that defines healthy eating and is part of our Blue Zones menu,” says Ross. With caring staff, delicious, homestyle menu items, and generous portion sizes, Skillets is the ultimate breakfast and lunch place.

MUST-TRY:

Avocado Grilled Tomato Benedict

AvocadoGrTomBenedict at SkilletsFor a filling breakfast with a variety of nutrients, try the Avocado Grilled Tomato Benedict, priced at $11.95. This tasty dish features a jumbo grilled English muffin topped with grilled tomatoes, two poached eggs, sliced avocado and a homemade, sun-dried tomato Hollandaise sauce. The plate is served with Skillets’ potatoes and a fruit ramekin.

HOURS & INFO

Open 7 a.m. -2:30 p.m. daily

University Village Shops — 10950 Eagle Village Dr., Suite 330C

skilletsrestaurants.com

By Autumn Gates