A Bonita Springs legend if ever there was one, Doc's has been an immensely popular place to grab breakfast, lunch and dinner for longer than most locals can recall. The location certainly helps. After all, when a place sits on the water and is right beside the public beach, it's handy for folks who plan to spend their day having fun in the sun. However, Doc's is more than convenient, and the downstairs kitchen just so happens to serve up some of the tastiest breakfast eats around. At lunch, the room upstairs opens and doubles as a sports bar specializing in Chicago-style pizza. If arriving for dinner, get there in time to watch a breathtaking sunset. There's also a free valet parking to help when the beach is booming.
Set in an unpretentious, colorful beach cottage with low ceilings and uneven floors, this darling café dishes up mouthwatering fare that is both affordable and delectable. "Charming" may be the operative word, applicable to every aspect of the Heavenly Biscuit, from the venue to the service, the plating and the ambrosial eats, making it the perfect spot to savor a lovely breakfast or lunch before heading across the street to the beach. There is almost always a line. Order at the counter and pay when you leave, cash only; an ATM is conveniently located on-site. The seating is limited to a few tables inside and a few on the front porch, where bees love to congregate around the trash can, hoping to get a taste of the delicious glaze from the famous cinnamon rolls.
A rustic, al fresco dining spot on Estero Bay, Dixie Fish offers superb views of the fishing charters and gambling boats headed out to or returning from an adventure. The shrimp tacos are a staple, but consider the low land seafood boil, raw oysters, shrimp burgers, or the signature B.L.TAE: bacon, fried green tomatoes, fried egg and avocado sandwich. You can get your fresh catch prepared in a variety of seasonings and styles, including whole and fried. Enjoy Southern sides such as collards and red beans and rice. Dixie attracts great musicians and is a hot spot for live music, especially on Sunday afternoons.
Situated between the Gulf of Mexico and Estero Bay on Fort Myers Beach, the Smokin' Oyster Brewery or S.O.B. has been shucking oysters since 1997. The beach cottage has live entertainment on the recently expanded front porch; the inside is still small and cozy. Besides fresh oysters, the S.O.B. is known for a variety of seafood steamer pots and it's messy delicious garlic crab claws. Get a side of potatoes and let them soak in the bottom for the best flavors. There is paid parking on the street and a few free spots on the east side of the building. Be sure to ask for a signature S.O.B. drink coozie to keep your beer cold. There is quite a selection here along with spirits.
The Gulfshore is one restaurant with three great vibes. The recently remodeled indoor portion, Shuckers, offers the comfort of air conditioning and views of the Gulf of Mexico from every seat. The outside deck, known as The Cottage, serves the same menu, however, shirts are not required here and there is live music almost every night. The Beach Bar is even more casual, directly on the sand. Whether inside or out, you get front row seating for some of the best parties on the beach. Start with the famous Beach Bread then try the Grouper Platter. The Gulfshore Grill is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Take advantage of the valet service as towing companies are active in this area.
If you're looking for a waterfront dining experience that truly has it all, put Bayfront Bistro on your list. Facing the so-called back bay of Fort Myers Beach, this award-winning local spot has dock space for boaters and plenty of parking for those who arrive by land. Bayfront has an expansive terrace with a nice breeze for outdoor dining and every seat in the house has a view of the water. The bar is open and welcoming but the restaurant is known for its great service and expertly plated food. Bayfront also takes great pride in its extensive wine list; it spans the globe and covers all price ranges.
Once a grocery store, this space in Santini Marina Plaza (at the south end of Fort Myers Beach) now houses the South Beach Grille, a restaurant that recalls the stylish, neighborhood eateries you'd find on the side streets along Lincoln Avenue in Miami's "South Beach." Pleasantly appointed with Deco-inspired panache, the restaurant takes full advantage of its spacious digs, and the open kitchen does more than its part to win over palates with dishes like panko breaded oysters, Caribbean-style shrimp, Florida lobster, kurobuta pork chops and the mouthwatering signature dessert of citrus creme brûlée. The bar is large and accommodating with a wide selection of wine and top shelf spirits.
A favorite spot on Fort Myers Beach to watch the sunset and have a meal, residents and longtime visitors will remember this space as the former Anthony's on the Gulf. Diners have a wide open view of the beach and beautiful Gulf waters. The comfortable terrace area is ideal for diners who want to watch the sunset as they enjoy their favorite drinks and appetizers. The menu is loaded with seafood specialties in generous portions. For an appetizer, the oyster sashimi is rave-worthy. But it's the 'fresh catch' that people come for over and over; pick your fish, your preparation and your sauce for YOUR perfect entree. Besides fish, you'll find lamb, pork belly and steak on the menu.
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 the restaurant on stilts. Facing the Estero Bay, you still have a view of the Gulf of Mexico. Open for breakfast lunch and dinner, many items have a Latin flare although the cuisine is worldly with lots of seafood. Try the campechana, a spicy Spanish-style shrimp cocktail. During the day, the beach and dock often fill with boaters and at sunset, the usually calm waters become a playground for dolphins. It's one of the few places you can see both sunrise and sunset while dining.
This beachside dining spot has been an island favorite for the perfect combination of food and ambiance, 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 the staff pays exquisite attention to detail. The menu changes frequently with lots of fish offerings, but also meaty dishes for landlubbers. The bouillabaisse consistently gets rave reviews. Start with a glass of bubbly or another selection from the boutique style wine list that constantly evolves. Sunset seatings fill up fast so, by all means, make a reservation. This is a true, waterside diamond, where shirts and shoes are definitely required.