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 and Third Street Sough - 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 Sunset Beach Bar to the backwaters of Little Bar.
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
Known for its fine Italian cuisine, Vergina restaurant also turns into a hot night spot as darkness falls. The bar plays more Motown style music than jazz, but it draws in fans from 8:30 to close nightly. Crowds spill out in the courtyard between Vergina and the neighboring building. Happy hour is all night Mondays and 3:30- 7 p.m. the rest of the week, featuring steep drink specials. Nightlifers can order from the regular dinner menu or a lighter cafe and bar menu. Butternut squash ravioli is the star on the latter menu. The drink menu lists some interesting, tasty martinis - a Vergina specialty. (239-659-7008)
Blue Martini Naples
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)
Pelican Larry's Raw Bar & Grill
You need not be a Green Bay Packers or Florida State University Seminoles fan to enter, but duly note that you will be in the minority here, where Packers and 'Noles memorabilia hang in between dozens of sport TVs. The two indoor and one outdoor bars pour more than 12 draft beers alone. Pelican Larry's, which has a spinoff in East Naples, wins awards for its raw bar and chicken wings. It is also proud of its seven varieties of burgers, sliders, fried baskets, Neapolitan pizza, grouper reuben, Philly cheesesteak and spicy taco queso dip. The three seating areas are spacious but crowded when the big games air. (2396490800)
An out-of-the-box steakhouse, its courtyard seating area turns into a hot music and dance arena as night falls. Opened in December 2014, it also touts its reputation for craft cocktails, some of which fill glass orbs overhanging the outdoor bar. They include the Continental Innovation, blended with Death's Door gin, Cocchi Americano Bianco, Carpano Bianco and grapefruit bitters. Made to order craft cocktails include a Sazarac stirred with Old Overholt rye whiskey, yellow chartreuse, absinthe, and Peychaud's bitters; and The Church Key -- Four Roses small batch bourbon, blueberry-sage shrub and lemon. The Continental's savvy wine menu lists 25 by the glass and devotes one page plus each to "Chardonnay in Every Style," "Burgundian Descendants," and "Reserve List" bottles. Bar and late-night menus serve out-of-the-ordinary bar food until midnight. (239-659-0007)
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)
Sunset Beach Bar
Part of the 100-plus-year-old Naples Beach Hotel, Sunset Beach Bar & Grill 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. Wednesday through Saturday a guitarist entertains. (239-435-4347)
About Chelle Koster Walton
Chelle Koster Walton -- the Local Expert for Naples, Florida and the Caribbean -- 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 was contributing editor for Caribbean Travel & Life for 12 years and has written guidebooks on the Bahamas. 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.