Three new casual eats to check out this summer!
By Cheryl Mandell
Ever since University Village opened in 2018, it has been a popular destination for FGCU students, locals and tourists alike. This conveniently located outdoor shopping center offers a variety of specialty stores ranging from beauty spas to fashion boutiques to fitness in a breezy, Mediterranean atmosphere.
University Village also has become a destination for food lovers. The lineup of restaurants has expanded in 2023 to offer three new casual lunch and dinner options. Whether you are looking for a quick bite or a sit-down meal complete with entertainment, these new restaurants are sure to satisfy.
FAT KATZ SLIDER BAR
Inspired by its immensely popular sister restaurants – Fat Katz Sports Bistro in Fort Myers and Skinny Dogz Brunchery in Gateway – Fat Katz Slider Bar in University Village offers a variation of its counterparts, with smaller-sized burgers and dishes at scaled-down prices. Did someone say $5 sliders? Yes!
The family-owned restaurant, created by husband-and-wife duo Gregg and Krista Buell, prides itself on homemade recipes and fresh, high-quality ingredients. The result is flavorful and unique beef, chicken and fish sliders, hot dogs, wings, salads, starters – like their famous White Hot Shrimp – sides and sweets. This neighborhood spot offers unique pub grub, cocktails and tap brews in a relaxed atmosphere outfitted with TVs for sports fans.
In the mood for a fun, easy brunch? On Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Fat Katz offers weekend brunch specials with menu items like the Philly Brunch Burrito with shaved ribeye, onion, green pepper, mushroom, bacon, fire mayo, American, provolone, scrambled eggs and waffle fries. Or try the HH Chicken Biscuit with fried chicken breast dipped in honey hot sauce on a mini biscuit.
The burger and chicken line-ups are inspired by many of the successful menu items at the Fort Myers Fat Katz, with fan favorites like the Chicken & Waffle Club with arugula, tomato, bacon, cheddar jack cheese and maple mayonnaise on two mini waffles.
“The Bistro Slider is one of our biggest sellers – it is awesome,” said General Manager Adam Paukowits. “The Wagyu Slider is exclusive to our restaurant, it features a wagyu beef patty with fig jam and gruyere cheese, arugula and garlic lime mayo. The sweetness of the jam pairs nicely with the gruyere. I know it sounds cliche, but I could go on about all of them.”
With combo meal deals and weekly specials like Wacky Wing Wednesday, plus live entertainment and a daily happy hour from 2-6 p.m., there’s something for everyone at Fat Katz Slider Bar.
Bistro Slider — A real crowd favorite, the Bistro is Fat Katz’s signature three-meat blend patty, topped with braised short rib, provolone, onion straws, blue cheese crumbles, lettuce and garlic lime mayonnaise. It tastes as grand as it sounds!
Taco Salad– Beautifully presented bowl of lettuce, seasoned ground beef with kidney beans, black olives, red onion, cheddar jack cheese, and tomato drizzled with housemade Catalina dressing, topped with whole nacho cheese tortilla chips.
White Hot Shrimp — Half a pound of hand-breaded shrimp is generously coated and tossed in the Fat Katz signature “white sauce” with sriracha drizzle and garlic bread. A favorite appetizer among patrons – and GM Adam Paukowits.
Fat Katz Slider Bar
19800 Village Center Drive suite 200
Fort Myers, FL 33913
Open every day 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
If the name sounds familiar, that’s because Pelican Larry’s has been a fixture in Naples for the past 25 years, serving seafood and traditional bar favorites in a fun, lively setting. Randy and Kelly Seyler sold the original location on Pine Ridge Road last year and opened their third location in University Village this past January.
“We hit the ground running with a line out the door at 3 p.m. when we opened in January,” Kelly said. “We were so well-received in the community, not only by the campus, but there are many great communities around here.”
At Pelican Larry’s, you’ll find a new indoor/outdoor horseshoe-shaped bar that is perfect for mingling or watching the game from wherever you’re seated. Dining options are also indoor and outdoor, maximizing the large space with design elements that are unique to this location, while keeping the same ambiance as their original locations.
The menu features classic sports bar food like Larry’s award-winning wings, burgers, wraps and fresh seafood sandwiches, along with Larry’s Originals – elevated options which debuted on the first menu in 1998 like Opilio Snow Crab Legs and Lobster Mac and Cheese. Not to be outdone is their award-winning raw bar with live Blue Point and Gulf Coast oysters shucked to order, peel-and-eat shrimp, Littleneck clams and more.
Enjoy live happy hour entertainment with the rockin’ band Smoke & Shine this summer, along with daily summer specials like 8-for-$8 Mondays, where eight menu items are available for $8 each for eight hours, or Thirsty Thursday with Buck A Shuck – $1 Gulf oysters and 2-for-1 draught beers, house wines and single well cocktails from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The restaurant has hosted watch parties for the recent FGCU Women’s Basketball tournament and provides catering to local sports teams. The Seylers are active within the Collier County school system and plan to bring that same energy to Lee County in the coming years. Being a part of the community is integral to the “Larry” way of life.
Pelican Larry’s motto follows them to University Village: “Tourists Love it. Locals Live It!” If someone calls you a Larry, it’s a compliment!
Lobster & Crab Seafood Roll — Delicious fresh lobster, crab and cream cheese stuffed in a light and flaky fried crust and drizzled with sweet Thai chili sauce. There’s a reason this savory-sweet appetizer is ordered often.
Mango Shrimp-dilla – Generous 10-inch flour tortilla quartered and filled with sauteed, seasoned shrimp, delectably sweet house-made pineapple mango salsa, melted Monterey jack cheese and a side of pineapple-coconut dipping sauce.
19800 Village Center Dr, #235B
Fort Myers, FL 33913
Open Sunday – Wednesday 11a.m. – 12 a.m.
Thursday – Saturday 11a.m. – 2 a.m.
OFF THE BONE BBQ + RIBHOUSE
The original Off The Bone restaurant on Logan Boulevard in Naples opened in 2020, just as the pandemic was beginning. That didn’t stop the restaurant’s success – it just inspired some creativity in regards to delivery methods. The new Off The Bone BBQ spot in University Village provides counter service with a fun, relaxed vibe, sharing space with Pelican Larry’s and under the same family ownership.
All of the meats are smoked on-site and presented in a simple, backyard barbeque style – with ribs sold by the bone; signature barbeque dishes like the smoked half-chicken with choice of sauce and a side of cornbread; and sandwiches such as the Carolina On My Mind. The Sloppy Q, a unique version of the Sloppy Joe, contains Grandma Ruth’s secret ingredients.
In the mood for variety? Off The Bone offers generous two- and three-meat samplers, complete with sauces of your choosing: Honey BBQ, Carolina, Jack Daniels, Texas, Fire Alarm – or Sweet Inferno for the brave-hearted. There are plenty of options for sides – the more you order, the better the value! Choose from mac and cheese, brussels sprouts, brisket baked beans, buttered corn and more. Close the meal with homemade peanut butter pie or another delectable dessert.
Place your order and take a seat among friends and family, just like the backyard barbeques you remember.
5 Bone Squeezer — Slowly smoked in-house and served with a choice of BBQ sauce, these ribs are the reason they call the restaurant Off The Bone. Enjoy it simple and “dry” with no sauce, or choose from the array of saucy options that are sure to please any palate.
Texas Style Brisket Sandwich – Slow-cooked beef brisket served open-faced on Texas toast, topped with Texas BBQ sauce, onions and pickles. It’s one of Kelly’s favorites and customers love it, too!
Off The Bone BBQ + Ribhouse
19800 Village Center Dr, #235B
Fort Myers, FL 33913
Sunday-Thursday: 11a.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Friday-Saturday: 11 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.