Sanibel Island's Local Restaurants Serve Sassy, Sophisticated Seafood

It’s vacation protocol when staying on a tropical island, to dine on seafood at some point during your visit. Islands like Sanibel know this and provide a plethora of places where you can find almost any fish you wish.

It would be hard to find a menu on Sanibel that doesn’t offer some kind of selection from the sea, but there are a few who specialize in all things water related. The Thistle Lodge at Casa Ybel has that ‘old Florida’ feel, with a serene view of well-manicured lawns, gardens and the Gulf of Mexico.

Also on the more sophisticated side is Sweet Melissa's, known for having some of the best food on the island with a menu full of selections from both the land and sea.  

Looking for something a little more casual and laid back, try Doc Ford's, serving fresh fish Caribbean-style. In addition, if you like rum, you will love the selection here with more than 40 to choose from. The Fish House serves tasty baskets and other fresh treats in a casual setting, inviting to the entire family.

While dining at one of these 10Best seafood restaurants on Sanibel, be sure to try the local grouper, lion fish, oysters and Florida shrimp, also known as ‘pink gold.’ 

Sanibel Island
Sweet Melissa's Cafe
Photo courtesy of Sweet Melissa's

This unique Sanibel restaurant is where foodies like to go while on the island. Award winning Chef Melissa Talmadge sources local ingredients year-round, for a seasonal menu that leans toward small plates. While not a traditional seafood...  Read More

Traders set their standard high for great food, an appealing environment and professional service. The casual atmosphere coupled with gourmet food has made this a popular destination for both locals and tourists for years. Enjoy dining on...  Read More

Doc Ford's fame is in the name; a tropical crime fighting character in 20 books written by author Randy Wayne White. White is a silent partner who can occasionally be found in the bar at any of the three area locations. Sanibel is home to the...  Read More

Sanibel Island

One of last stops before crossing the bridge to Captiva Island, and one of the few spots serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, the Sunset Grill is both comfy and classy. For breakfast try the crab and spinach omelet and the grouper Rueben for...  Read More

Sanibel Island
Thistle Lodge

Serving Florida cuisine with a littler touch of Asian here and some European there, the Thistle Lodge is a mix of elegance and 'Old Florida' charm. Found at the popular Casa Ybel Resort, the elevated restaurant gives diners a great view of the...  Read More

Sanibel Island
The Sandbar
Photo courtesy of Gina Birch

The Sanibel Sandbar is one of the few places to eat on this part of West Gulf Drive. Recently renovated and with a beach cottage vibe, this small space serves up food that is big in taste. The fish is wild caught and there is even a small case...  Read More

Grandma Dot's Seaside Saloon
Photo courtesy of Gina Birch

At a place called Grandma Dot's, you might expect friendly service and delicious homemade food with that little touch of something special; you get it here. Owners call it a Seaside Saloon at the Sanibel Marina; locals call it scrumptious....  Read More

Sanibel Island

Not only can you dine on some of the island's best seafood here, the Jacaranda is also popular for its live, nightly entertainment. Called "The Jac" by locals, this award-winning establishment has a variety of personalities. There is a...  Read More

The Fish House has both a restaurant and a casual lounge if you want to come in right from your boat. In addition, if you happen to have gotten lucky with a rod and reel, but don't want to cook your fresh catch these chefs will do it for you....  Read More

Open since 1978, the Timbers consistently pleases locals and tourists alike with its award-winning cuisine in a tropical, stilt house setting. One of the most popular items on the menu is the whole fish, cut tableside for you. The catch of the...  Read More


Meet 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...  More About Gina