Best Bars in Naples, Florida: From the Beach to the Streets
By Chelle Koster Walton
Naples Local Expert
Nightlife is not the first thing that comes to mind when Naples pops up as a vacation option. Yet surprisingly enough it has quite the vibrant bar-hopping scene downtown on and around Fifth Avenue South - particularly on weekends - and in North Naples at the Mercato Shops entertainment and shopping complex.
In those two spots, you will find the largest concentration of fun bars, with live entertainment going on at some. However, many of Naples most popular watering holes are well-loved for their views and day-life rather than music and nightlife.
Where ever there's water in Naples - which is practically everywhere - you will find a bar that takes advantage of the view. These range from the sandy, barefoot scene at Doc's Beach House to the sophisticated Bayside Seafood Grill and Bar and resort bars such as H B's on the Gulf.
This list siphons out the best bars by scoping the range of types, price and location. Some make the list because of their fine selection of beers,liquors and mixed drinks; others because they reflect the true party spirit of Naples - yes, a little more restrained than you will find in some Florida towns, but nonetheless indicative of the destination's location and demographics.
10 MASA Grille
Brought to you by the folks who introduced D'Amico & Sons and Campiello to Naples, this restaurant and tequila bar takes you South of the Border with stylized authentic cuisine and a connoisseur's selection of tequilas. Categorizing its tequilas under headings such as crisp and luscious, bold, silky, rich and juicy and La Lista del Capitan, the tequila menu describes the nuances of each with the exquisite detail you find on a fine wine list. Drink and dine streetside among lush greenery or inside where it's properly festive, but not in your typical tacky Mexican restaurant motif. The handsome bar dominates the interior with drama and style. (239-598-0887)
9 The Pub Naples
A modernized, Americanized notion of the British pub institution, it nonetheless is popular among lovers of beer, fine liquors and pub food. It lies along a strip of bars at Mercato Shops, a lively and youthful shopping and entertainment complex. Like many of the others, this is a chain, and it feels a bit cookie-cutter. It does take its tipples seriously, however, featuring more than 22 English, Irish, Belgian and American beers on tap, including rotating craft beers. Its selection of single-malt scotches and small batch and single barrel bourbons is also quite impressive. In the food department, you will find classics such as Shepherd's Pie and Bangers & Mash, but also burgers, salads and sandwiches. ((239)594-2748)
8 Little Bar
You could sum up the fishing town of Goodland in one word: idiosyncratic. Likewise the Little Bar, one of three watering hole restaurants that tourists love as much as the (idiosyncratic) locals do. Many visitors arrive by boat during the daylight hours for some typical Everglades eats such as frog legs and stone crab claws. Come nightfall, the scene becomes more of a local party, with live music and drinking on the bayside porch or indoors. The interior is cobbled together with salvaged wood from a historic boat, pieces of pipe organ, stained glass and various components with an interesting past. (239-394-5663)
7 Sunset Grille
Located at the base of the Apollo Condominium complex and adjacent to the access for South Marco Beach, it has the proper casual beach bar feel. It actually has two bars. The outdoor bamboo bar serves guests who prefer drinking and dining al fresco. But keep a close watch on your food: Seagulls like to zip through and help themselves. There's access to Sunset Grille right from the beach, so it gets a lot of hungry, thirsty beachers. Inside where it's cooler, the other bar encompasses sports televisions. Most people come for finger food, sandwiches, burgers and seafood baskets, but the menu also tackles seafood, ribs and pasta. (239-389-0509)
6 Blue Martini
One of a chain of upscale bars nationwide (but mostly in Florida), Naples' Blue Martini has bars both outside and inside that fill nearly every night. Happy hour from 4 to 8 p.m. discounts all drinks 50 percent. Live bands typically play from 7:30 to 11 p.m., at which time the house DJ takes over, spinning the hits until 2 a.m. The bar also offers weekly specials such as Wednesday Girls Night Out and Champagne Saturdays with specially priced high-end bubbly by the bottle. The over-sized Blue Martini is the signature drink - made with blue curacao and Cointreau and served with a glow stick. It matches the flashy glow of the inside bar, where the dance floor fills with party people all night long. Food from light nibbles to full-blown dinners are available throughout the night. (239-591-2583)
5 Bayside Seafood Grill and Bar
The longtime waterfront fixture makes for a most pleasurable afternoon and early evening party spot for those looking to drink in a great view with their cocktails. This bar's upstairs locale affords patrons incredible views of Venetian Village, the bay and its waterfront homes as they sip their favorite libations. The downstairs Cafe venue is perfect for an early or late supper, and diners have the pleasure of being serenaded by a pianist on Friday and Saturday nights. The Upper Deck Bar affords a casual, laid-back atmosphere in an open-air setting and also features live entertainment every day but Monday and Tuesday. Well-rounded menus both upstairs and downstairs cover all the culinary bases for nightlifers looking for sustenance. The clientele is mostly mature adults, so don't expect late-night revelry. (239-649-5552)
4 Doc's Beach House
Now this is what a beach bar should look and feel like. You will find a number of resort bars that overlook the beach, but to get the real thing, travel north to Bonita Beach, where you can walk right off the beach and into this beer-and-burger joint for a break from the sun. Sit out back, right on the beach, if you can't bring yourself to drag your toes out of the sand. Or sit inside, where there's shade. If you're looking for air-conditioning on a hot summer day, head upstairs to order your cold one and watch the game. There's just beer and wine in the adult beverages department. The kitchen is famous for its Chicago-style pizzas, served after 4 p.m. Day-long there's seafood, burgers and key lime pie. (239-992-6444)
3 Sea Salt-Naples
The bar at Sea Salt circles from outdoor patio to interior bar space at this downtown darling, famed for its creative cuisine. The cocktails get equal time in the creativity and quality department. The house barrel-ages its bourbons and infuses its own vodkas with fruit, veggies and herbs. The bar staff creates seasonal taste sensations such as pineapple mojitos, coconut water cocktails, blood orange refreshers and watermelon martinis in summer; spiced pear martinis, apple cinnamon tequila and blueberry rosemary bourbon. The wine list is carefully curated to include some rare Italians, but really reflects the global scope of the restaurant's cuisine. The bar serves a small menu of quality burgers and delicious sandwiches such as the lobster reuben. (2394347258)
2 Alto - Live, Jazz, Kitchen
Hot and new on the downtown Naples' nightlife scene, Alto -Live Jazz Kitchen opened mid-February 2014 in a jazz club atmosphere inspired by the late, legendary Zanzibar Blue in Philadelphia, where co-owner Chef Charles Mereday served as executive chef back in the 1990s. Located at Bayfront Naples, the club opens for dinner and entertainment nightly, including jazz greats and other live entertainment groups of three or more performers. Friday and Saturday nights, the club jams until midnight. They take the dramatically lit stage to entertain during the dinner hours and beyond. Small plates such as fontina bechamel crepes, creative flatbreads and main dishes the likes of porterhouse with Yorkshire pudding hit a high note with foodies who love a side of tasty licks with their dinner. (239-261-2586)
1 H B's On the Gulf
Part of the 100-plus-year-old Naples Beach Hotel, H B's draws fans from beyond the resort for drinking and dining with a fabulous view of the beach, gulf and sunset. For nearly 10 years, its wine list has earned the Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator magazine, plus the bartenders have a flair for tropical drinks. Have a seat at the bar with a clear view of the sea or get even closer at a row of chairs lined up outside the flung-open windows on the porch. Hungry? Lunch and dinner menus offer a variety of small plates, salads, sandwiches and entrees. ((239) 435-4347)
About Chelle Koster Walton
Chelle Koster Walton -- the Local Expert for Naples, Florida -- has been covering the destination for 30 years. Her top-selling Sarasota, Sanibel Island, and Naples guidebook (Countryman Press) is in its sixth edition. She also contributes to the destination's Web site and annual visitors guide. Chelle especially loves Naples' beaches, shopping, and restaurants. For more than 15 years she reviewed restaurants for Naples Illustrated magazine and continues to do so for Naples News. A veteran travel writer, Chelle has published thousands of articles for Miami Herald, USA TODAY, Latitudes; has written/contributed to a dozen guidebooks, and produces travel shows for the local PBS station.
Read more about Chelle Koster Walton here.