Gulf Gourmet: Fort Myers’ Most Flavorful Restaurants

We recently took a trip to Fort Myers and I wanted to share all the delicious restaurants we found! During our visit, we explored Fort Myers Beach, The River District, Bonita, and Sanibel/Captiva areas.

Since it is such a large area, I have decided to break this post up by restaurant location, instead of price like I usually do. We found that locals and tourists agree that these are some of the best places to eat in town.

guide to the best restaurants in Fort Myers

Fort Myers River District

By far our favorite area to eat on this trip was the downtown area. This riverside section is where you can find trendy places and a variety of cuisines.  Though some of the restaurants downtown were upscale, the majority were pretty affordable. Here are the ten must-try spots we loved in the River District!

1. Izzy’s Fish and Oyster: Trendy Seafood

lobster roll and fries from Izzy's Fish and Oyster

Our first, and possibly favorite meal of the trip, was at Izzy’s Fish and Oyster. This spot had me at the nautical atmosphere and the multitudes of seafood options. The food lived up to the expectations too as we loved the succulent oysters, a savory lobster roll, and a zesty poke bowl. We ended up coming here for lunch when there was a plethora of lunch deals, but it is also the perfect date night restaurant!

2. The Lodge: Rustic Barbecue

For a break from the seafood and beachy places to eat, check out The Lodge. This unique restaurant has a mountain theme, complete with a rustic vibe and smokehouse barbecue. They offer all your classic platters of pork, brisket wings, and more with plenty of beer and cocktails to go with. Check out their daily specials for lunch or dinner for $10 or just come for happy hour drinks and a faux mountain view.

3. Shawn & Tony’s Kitchen: Tropical Breakfast and Lunch

Shawn and Tonys Kitchen seating area

About 15 minutes south of the Fort Myers Riverside district, you can find a true hidden gem, Shawn and Tony’s Kitchen. This cozy café is well worth going out of the way for, as locals rave about their sandwiches and coconut rice bowls. You will find they put a Cuban and Belizean twist on tropical favorites, so don’t hesitate the order the Cuban sandwich or the BBQ pork and eggs.

4. Bahia Bowls: Fresh Vegetarian Bites

Another standout on our trip was Bahia Bowls, a mostly vegetarian restaurant.  I got a Cobb Salad wrap that was to die for and Andrew devoured every bite of his acai bowl. They are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with all sorts of tasty, plant-based smoothies, bowls and sandwiches!

5. FK Your Diet: Comfort Food

Most people reading this guide are probably going on vacation to Fort Myers, which is perfect for visiting FK Your Diet. Located half an hour south of downtown, they are open for breakfast and lunch and specialize in indulgent brunch dishes like Chicken and Waffles, savory Eggs Benedicts, sugary French Toast, and of course the original glazed donut.

Chef Doug hopes you walk out of here with Type 2 “Dougabetes” and there are enough tasty treats on the menu to make anyone crave that!

6. Downtown House of Pizza: NY Slices and Pies

If you love pizza, make sure to head to Downtown House of Pizza for the best slices in Southwest Florida! This casual restaurant serves New York-style pies, slices, calzones, and cannolis. With slices starting at $4, it’s an affordable and tasty lunch or dinner restaurant

7. Wally’s Deli: Guilty Pleasure Sandwiches

Another cafe just south of Downtown that we didn’t make it to is the famed Wally’s Deli. I was really hoping to get to this one because the sandwiches look amazing! They have the wildest creations, like a Fried Chicken mac and cheese sub and a French Fry Cheese Steak.  Wally’s is a carb-heavy place of course, but great for grabbing a sandwich.

8. Blu Sushi: Sushi and Japanese

sushi rolls from Blu Sushi

One thing I always crave on vacation is sushi and this restaurant was just what I wanted! We came to Blu Sushi and indulged in a few rolls, salads, and wine. The ginger dressing was unlike any other I have had and was freshly made! The Christie was my favorite with sriracha tuna and roe, but you can’t go wrong with any of the sushi rolls or appetizers at Blu Sushi.

9. Good Ground: Chill Coffee Shop

It’s hard not to want to visit Good Ground Coffee Shop, with its mid-century modern design and cozy vibes. They have the best coffee in town, and serve everything from lattes to pour-overs to matcha. They offer a few snacks, but this is mainly worth visiting for the coffee and the chill atmosphere.

10. Ford’s Garage: Burgers and Brews

For a  restaurant with something for everyone, Ford’s Garage is just the place. This classic, American restaurant is known for burgers and a huge craft beer selection. The burgers are made with Prime Black Angus Beef, come with all sorts of toppings, and are less than $15. The whole place is decorated with a car theme, complete with gas pumps and road signs, making it a fun, casual meal for the whole family!

Fort Myers Beach

During our trip, we stayed in Fort Myers Beach and I have to say, we were not blown away by the dining options here. Many of the restaurants are touristy and offer typical beach eats. However, we did find a few gems that I have included below.

11. MoJoe’s Coffee Café: Classic Breakfast

Our favorite breakfast of the trip was definitely had at MoJoe’s Coffee Cafe, a cute café by the ocean. The breakfast burritos were so flavorful and the rest of the menu looked so enticing. MoJoe’s is open daily for breakfast and lunch, whether you want coffee or a full meal.

12. Felipe’s Taqueria: Tacos with a Twist

taco trio from felipes

Felipe’s is an excellent taqueria with high-quality tacos, margaritas, and more. The highlights for me were the Jalapeno Poppers, which were gigantic and lightly fried, and the super spicy hot sauce. All the tacos and drinks we had were super flavorful and the outdoor atmosphere was a bonus.

13. The Charro Brothers: Authentic Mexican

Another spot by the beach we loved was The Charro Brothers, which serves authentic Mexican food. Now a food truck, this is the perfect place to find for post-beach margaritas and tacos. You can find delicacies like molcajete, chimichangas, and shrimp fajitas that will make anyone say “¡Ay, caramba!”

14. TaKote: Fast Casual Tacos

For a more casual taco restaurant than Felipe’s, TaKote is another FMB option. This is more for takeout or a quick meal as opposed to a margaritas and appetizers experience, but the taco quality is also excellent.

They have traditional options, like Fajita Steak or Chicken tacos, as well as trendy tacos, like Birria ones! Best of all, they are open for breakfast, so make sure to get some huevos rancheros here!

15. Heavenly Biscuits: Homestyle Breakfast

bacon egg and cheese biscuit from Heavenly Biscuits

I was skeptical about visiting Heavenly Biscuits because of the long line we saw there every morning, but it was worth the wait! However, the line moved pretty fast and we were chowing down on the best breakfast sandwich and a fried chicken biscuit I have had within half an hour. Post-Ian, this food truck still makes the best biscuits and cinnamon buns around!

16. Doc Fords: Waterfront Fine Dining

A waterfront restaurant that everyone raves about is Doc Ford’s. It’s intended to be more of a fine dining option, with entrees starting at $25, but there are some affordable options for lunch too. The surf and turf, especially the grouper, are some of the best bites on the menu. Check it out for a celebratory meal, especially on nights with live music!

IPA from Doc's by the water

Bonita Beach and Estero

For oceanfront dining, we found the Bonito Beach and Estero area to have the best options. This is the more laid-back beach area compared to Fort Myers Beach. Most places have a very casual setting and the food is ideal for eating by the water. Here are six restaurants in Bonita Beach and Estero that I recommend!

17. Coconut Jack’s Waterfront Grille: Beachy Seafood

If you are looking for a casual beachy lunch or dinner, Coconut Jack’s Waterfront Grille is a cute place to dine. Located next to the bay, they specialize in seafood dishes like coconut shrimp and stuffed grouper, but also serve baby back ribs, rice bowls, and lobster ravioli! Whether you want a small meal or a big feast, there is plenty to choose from here, all freshly made to order!

18. Fresh Catch Bistro: Waterfront Date Night

shrimp pasta with tomate base dish

We wanted to go somewhere special for dinner on our fourth anniversary and Fresh Catch Bistro met the mark. This beautiful Estero restaurant is right on the bay and not far from Fort Myers Beach. We both got seafood pasta dishes and a bottle of rose that made for a quintessential date night. I highly recommend the scallops and any fettuccini specials offered.

19. Flippers: Upscale Seafood

Another popular oceanfront restaurant near Fort Myers Beach is Flippers, for lunch or dinner. You will definitely want to sit outside for amazing ocean views and a romantic dinner. It is worth indulging in the Scallops or Shrimp Scampi especially, as they serve high-quality seafood. However, there are also some options for land lovers, pasta and salads.

20. A Table Apart: Global Cuisine

The inland area of Bonita Springs offers some unique restaurants, like A Table Apart. This is a Hawaiian fusion restaurant with a variety of seafood, barbeque, and vegan dishes to choose from. The inside is a small and simple dining room, but the cuisine is anything but. It is only open for dinner, so if you want to indulge in Takoyaki Grilled Octopus or Roasted Saffron Shitake Mushrooms, make sure to take a drive down for a date night meal!

21. Enzo’s Italian Restaurant: Cozy Italian

linguini dish from enzos ristorante

We went all the way to Bonita Springs on our last night looking for a less crowded restaurant and came along Enzo’s Italian Restaurant. It is mainly indoors with a wine cellar vibe and the menu is filled with Italian classics like pasta and pizza. This place is great for family dinners or date nights, especially if you have a big appetite!

22. Doc’s Beach House: American Crowd Pleaser

rose wine with waterfront view

A big favorite of the trip was Doc’s Beach House. We were so happy to sit upstairs and have a glass of wine with a view of the beautiful blue water. That would have been enough to put this spot on the list alone! However, the food was also excellent and you can enjoy it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Whether you want pancakes, burgers, or Mahi Mahi, Doc’s has you covered.

Sanibel and Captiva

It’s not uncommon to take a day trip to Sanibel or Captiva when staying in Fort Myers Beach, so I wanted to include some of the best restaurants here on this list. Both islands include some quirky and nostalgic spots that locals recommended to me again and again so I had to include those too. For anyone checking out the nearby islands, here are some ideas for where to eat.

23. Mucky Duck: Beachy Pub

bloody mary from the Mucky Duck by the beach

We went to Mucky Duck for lunch during our Captiva day trip, and were able to have lunch with our toes in the sand staring out at the gorgeous water The ordering system was a bit chaotic, with drinks being ordered at a bar and waiters taking your food order.

However, everything was delectable, especially the Captiva sandwich I got. Make sure to get here early before parking fills up if you plan to eat here!

24. Lazy Flamingo: Casual Seafood

A local favorite on Sanibel is the Lazy Flamingo. There are two locations so you can’t miss it. This is a tropical restaurant known for peel-and-eat shrimp, grouper, and other Florida cuisine. Like many places to eat on this island, it is a bit overpriced, with entrees varying from $15 to $30 per person. However, the food is fresh and the atmosphere is enjoyable, so Lazy Flamingo is great for a vacation meal.

25. Boop’s by Bubble Room: Bakery Treats

The Bubble Room is a kitschy spot known for its crazy décor, including Christmas decorations, and fun atmosphere. Unfortunately, the Bubble Room is still closed due to hurricane damage. However, you can still enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dessert at Boop’s. This stand sells all their famous cakes, as well as breakfast and lunch sandwiches daily.

26. Bleu Rendezvous Bistro: French Fine Dining

For a meal without traditional tourist food, Bleu Rendezvous French Bistro is the restaurant to visit. Here, you can get sophisticated fine dining with dishes like Duck a L’Orange, Seafood Vol AU Vent Boeuf Bourguignon.

Entrees are all under $50 and pretty reasonable considering the excellent quality. They even offer a 4-course prix fixe menu for only $55 per person. Between the French cuisine and the outstanding wine selection, Bleu Rendezvous is an impressive place for a date night.

27. Joey’s Custard: Ice Cream and Dessert

chocolate and vanilla custard with sprinkles

One other cute stop we made in Sanibel was Joey’s Custard. After a day at the beach, this ice cream was just what we needed! They have all sorts of flavors and the prices were reasonable for being in such a tourist spot. If you are looking for an ice cream place in Sanibel, this one has my seal of approval!

28. Huxter’s Market: Classic Deli

One of the best spots for affordable dining on Sanibel is Huxter’s Market and Deli. They are known for having the best sandwiches and fried chicken on the island. This counter-service spot offers all sorts of types, from egg salad to corned beef, and is open daily for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

29. Cielo: Farm-to-Table Cuisine

With so much greasy food and ice cream, many people are craving a meal at Cielo during their visit. This is a farm-to-table spot open for lunch and dinner. Here you can order salads, pasta, and seafood dishes. For a handcrafted meal with live piano music, plan for dinner at Cielo.

30. Mudbugs Cajun Kitchen: Southern Style Seafood

Another beloved Sanibel restaurant is Mudbugs Cajun Kitchen. This café is open for lunch and dinner and has a menu that rivals the size of The Cheesecake Factory. They have everything from jambalaya and catfish platters to roast beef sandwiches and a rack of lamb. Seafood seems to be the biggest hit here, so I would recommend it for a memorable Sanibel meal.

sanibel lighthouse from the shore

Know Before You Go

I hope that people traveling to the area and locals looking for a new place to eat find this guide helpful for choosing a restaurant in Fort Myers, FL! Between the touristy beach areas and the trendy Riverside District, there is something for everyone here. For those on vacation, I recommend venturing to at least two of the areas on this list to fully experience what Southwest Florida has to offer. Here are a few other tips to keep in mind when visiting:

  • It is customary to tip 20% in Fort Myers and most do not include this in the final bill unless you have a large party.
  • Many restaurants here take reservations, often on Open Table. Check out the restaurant’s Facebook page before going to avoid a wait, especially with a large party!
  • The best way to save money when going out to eat is to go during Happy Hour when many places have deals on drinks and appetizers. Near the beach, early bird specials can frequently be found as well.
  • This area is very casual as far as the dress code goes. There are a few spots on this list that you may want to put on a cute outfit for, but flip-flops and beach attire are common everywhere.
  • Most areas have free parking, but if you plan to enjoy drinks with your meal, taking an Uber/Lyft is safe and convenient. The Riverside district is one exception, where there are a few paid lots if you can’t find street parking.

Let me know if your favorite restaurant made the list if you have! For more tips for visiting Fort Myers, check out my past posts, including my Trip Report, Airbnb Reviewand Things to Do Guide. 

where to eat in fort myers
Where to eat in fort myers beach