A fantastic way to begin a night of romance is with a great meal. Not just mouthwatering food, but also an enticing atmosphere that ignites all of the senses. Perhaps romance to you includes historical settings or dimly lit spaces. Maybe it's linen table cloths and impeccable service; mellow music or water views. The Fort Myers dining scene offers all of this and more.
If vintage charm is your cup of tea, then the Veranda likely has the right dose of romance for you. One of the most established and best known restaurants in downtown Fort Myers, this historic old home also has an inviting courtyard for dining under the stars. The Veranda has a long history of great service; a special occasion kind of place.
Waterside dining is always romantic, especially at sunset and definitely at the Mad Hatter. This beachside gem on the border of Sanibel and Captiva islands is cozy, quant while offering some of the best service in the area. Although the menu changes often the quality never wavers.
Whether your on a first date, celebrating a big anniversary or somewhere in between, check out these 10Best for the most romantic dining options in the Fort Myers area.
Cristof's on McGregor
Cristof's is one of the few dining options on the palm tree lined, historic McGregor Blvd. The restaurant is housed in an old-Florida style building, complete with wraparound porch, which used to be a string of old Cracker shacks. Not only are there tables on the porch but also on the outdoor patio, where you can dine under twinkling lights strewn across the native vegetation. Dining inside is warm and welcoming; you'll find several intimate rooms instead of a big open space. Chef and owner Cristof Danzi aims for a Southern-inspired menu with influences from French, Italian and Cajun cuisines. The result is a unique selection of dishes that delight the palate. (239-791-8473)
Twinkling tree lights, tiki torches and a lovely wine cellar greet your arrival to Tarpon Bay, the fine dining restaurant at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point in Estero. Even though it's fine dining, the atmosphere is casual with Old Key West style décor and architecture. You can cozy up next to your date in a booth, a quiet table or at one of only eight seats at the Ceviche Bar. Other romantic options include dining on the porch at sunset and watching the lighted fountain come to life in the middle of the estuary's lake. The menu places a heavy emphasis on regional seafood, but you'll be able to find other favorites like Maine Lobster and mouthwatering steaks. After dinner, linger around the fire pit and listen to live jazz on the weekends. You may even stay the night. (239-390-4295)
Il Tesoro Bistro
Il Tesoro is tucked off of the main strip of Snaffle. Housed in a small, elevated space with a clean white boardwalk and surrounded by tropical foliage it has the perfect island appeal even though it is not on the water. But don't expect ordinary island cuisine, rather comforting, delicious Italian fare. The inside is comfortable and inviting with wooden floors that feel a bit uneven when you walk, low ceilings and candles. You almost HAVE to order an antipasti after seeing the display of meats, cheeses and olives when you first walk in the door. Try the fuggotini: pasta purses stuffed with goat cheese, roasted pear and sautéed with brown butter and fresh sage. It's a good idea to make a reservation as space is limited here. (239-395-4022)
Brew Babies Garden Bistro
Brew Babies if off the beaten path, just across the Cape Coral Bridge from Fort Myers. When you arrive, you get the feeling of pulling up to a friends home for a fabulous courtyard party. The restaurant has three dining options including a small lounge with a red velvet couch for you to snuggle up on if your table is not quite ready. The restaurant is across the courtyard, cozy and quaint. The garden is the most sought after spot. Tables are interspersed among zen statues, fountains and white lights. Live jazz is offered on the weekends and the food is expertly prepared with selections of fresh seafood, quality steaks and everything in between. ((239) 542-2224)
From the moment you step into the Roadhouse Cafe, you'll forget you're in a small strip mall in Fort Myers. You might instead think you've been transported to a big city jazz and dinner club, offering something special every night of the week. The restaurant is spacious but still manages to keep an intimate touch; especially in "The Cave." It's a chic, semi-private room that can seat as many as six or as few as two. More public but quite fun are the seats around the grand piano. Not only can you dine and drink there, you'll be nice and close to the dance floor and have great access the musicians if you want them to play a special song. (239-415-4375)
Flippers on the Bay
Part of Lovers Key Resort, Flippers On The Bay is a hidden gem between Fort Myers Beach and Bonita Springs. The dining is alfresco and more upscale than one might imagine after taking a gander at restaurant on stilts. The space is more casual during the day, but as the sun goes down, the low lights come on and the soft breeze begins to blow, it becomes amazingly romantic. Flippers is the only spot on the beach giving diners a view of both the sunrise and the sunset, while serving food for both. Sitting on the Estero Bay, you still have a clear view of the Gulf of Mexico and it's one of the best spots to see the dolphin show, presented by Mother Nature. This small space fills up fast on the weekends so call ahead for seating. (239-765-1040)
In the middle of Estero Island, every seat at Bayfront Bistro has great views of the mangroves in what locals call the "back bay". Get there at dusk for the best chance of seeing dolphins at play. Dine inside or on the the breezy, outdoor terrace for romantic views of the moon rising, shimmering across the usually calm water. Bayfront sits above a marina so you can arrive by car or boat. Wine lovers will be in heaven at the great selections offered here. The food is consistent and fresh with an emphasis on seafood. Bayfront is also the proud winner of many coveted local awards including "Best Romantic Dining." (239-463-3663)
Angelina's screams elegance from the moment you pull up to the building. It has plenty of parking but you're on a date, use the valet. If you are dressed beach casual, you may find yourself excluded from eating in the dinning room since there is a dress code, but the bar and patio both have the same great menu and style, still offering a bit of romance. However, if you really want privacy, Angelina's has private booths with curtains, so you can block out the rest of the world. Wine lovers will be giddy over the 4,000 fantastic selections and the thirty foot wine tower. Try the award winning ravioli stuffed with butternut squash and mascarpone cheese, topped with a citrus tomato butter and truffled almonds; to die for. Molto Bene! (2393903187)
Occupying two old homes dating back to 1902 (they were joined by Peter Pulitzer for his long-time fishing buddy, Fingers O'Bannon, in the early 1970s), the Veranda provides a charming atmosphere as well as innovative cuisine. Specializing in regional flavors and seafood, a restaurant favorite is artichoke fritters stuffed with blue crab. The personal yet professional service will enhance your dining experience whether you choose to eat indoors or in the romantic outdoor courtyard. The dining room is in one house, and the lounge is in the other; it features live piano Tuesday to Saturday. This is a perfect place for amore and quiet conversation. (239-332-2065)
This beach side dining spot has been an island favorite for the perfect combination of food and romance, for three decades. With only about a dozen tables, each one has a spectacular view of the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. The vibe is cozy, with dim lighting and exquisite attention to detail. The menu changes frequently with lots of fish offerings, always a hit, and the bouillabaisse consistently gets rave reviews. Start with a glass of bubbly or another selection from the high-end wine list and perhaps order the foie gras. Other tempting specials include lamb, duck and decadent homemade desserts. Sunset seatings fill up fast so by all means make a reservation. This is a true, waterside gem. (239-472-0033)
About Gina Birch
Gina carries the rare title of "Native Floridian". Living in Southwest Florida for 22 years, she is a well known, award winning radio and TV personality.
Besides brandishing a microphone, Gina is good with a camera and computer, publishing a restaurant guide for Lee County called FLAVOR.
Gina is a self-proclaimed Oenophile, traveling to wine regions all over the world to sip what she calls "the nectar of the Gods." When not in the vineyards she loves to explore beautiful beaches and new restaurants.
You can find more of her musings in her blog "The Birch Beat" (www.thebirchbeat.blogspot.com)
Read more about Gina Birch here.
Connect with Gina via: Blog | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Google+ | Pinterest