Pinchers is one of the few waterside restaurants in downtown Fort Myers. The views of the sunset from its dining deck and bar are highly sought after. Serving fresh seafood, this local restaurant has several locations but the downtown location is the one has the space. Not only is there a large dining room and lots of seating on the deck, this Pinchers has a large space downstairs if you're big group is a loud one or just wants a little privacy. The space still has a sunset view and offers a great vantage point to see the boats that dock for passengers to dine here.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: Besides a large upstairs dining room, this Pinchers location has a private, waterside room downstairs for easy access.
Gina's expert tip: There's a back entrance from the Edison Ford Winter Estates
Doc Ford's on Captiva is a big, beautiful space at the entrance to South Seas Resort. The front patio is quite spacious and perfect for arranging tables to accommodate large parties. Indoors, there is a main dining room, a space for entertainment that can hold large groups and a private room, if that is your preference. Specializing in dishes with an island or Caribbean flare, the food portions are generous and always delicious. If you like rum, you'll love the selections here; they come from all over the world. You'll often find entertainment here as well as surprise appearances from Randy Wayne Wright, the author of about two-dozen novels featuring Doc Ford as the main character. They are for sale in the lobby.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: This island eatery featuring "island" cuisine, has a beautiful large deck, a spacious area for dining and music, as well as a private room.
Gina's expert tip: The new Doc Ford's restaurant on Sanibel is also a good spot for large parties
University Grill is standard for locals who like a good cocktail, a quality meal and great service. It's a quite popular pre-show stop for theater and concertgoers who have tickets to events at the nearby Barbara B Mann Performing Arts Hall. The back room at the Grill can easily accommodate parties of forty or more. The back patio overlooks a pond and is another good spot for larger dining groups; however, it is true al fresco, with only overhead fans for cooling. Be sure to try the famous crab bisque, black and white sesame tuna or the University Grill salad, all favorites.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: A longtime local favorite for consistently good cuisine, along with a scenic outdoor patio and private room for larger parties.
Gina's expert tip: Bartenders here know how to make a great martini
Divieto's original location in the Miami area packs in the crowds and the reputation has carried across the state to the Coconut Point Mall shopping and dining area. The big deal here is the Routa di Parmigiana; fettuccini Alfredo is tossed in a huge wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano for a rich and creamy finish. The carpaccio is drizzled in white truffle oil, and the portions are huge. Besides Italian specialties, you'll find a hint of the tropics on the menu in the form of jicama tacos and sesame tuna and more. Live entertainment ads a level of class and fun to this large restaurant that also has an spacious side room to accommodate larger parties.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: A quality, approachable Italian restaurant with origins in Miami, Divieto brings great food, entertainment and spacious dining room to the Estero area.
Gina's expert tip: Try the specialty cocktails or a bottle of wine from the international list.
The Fort Myers restaurant home to Stillwater Grille is a neighborhood establishment with multiple personalities under the same roof. The outdoor deck is one of the most picturesque inland spots, with sprawling tropical trees and festive lights, a great location for a large group to commandeer. But if outdoor seating is not in order, Stillwater has a large dining area where you can share space with other patrons and a second space that is almost as big, for private gatherings. The bar is a popular place to gather, with its extensive martini list, more than sixty beers and live entertainment. The menu has something for everyone, from chicken wings and pasta to numerous, juicy chop house selections.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: Stillwater Grille has space, and lots of it; a large bar, a main dining room, a private dining room and popular outdoor deck.
Gina's expert tip: The bar has great choices for craft beer lovers
Blue Pointe specializes in seafood and has discounted prices on their fresh oysters each day for happy hour, order a combo of different species. The chic décor has recently been upgraded and menus come in high-tech tablets. Perfect for large parties are the high-top tables that stretch in a neat row, down the center of the restaurant. Put them together and fit as many as twenty people. Another good option can be found on the outdoor patio, surprisingly tranquil in spite of the parking lot it backs up to. With a raw bar, sushi and fresh catch options, the menu leans heavily on surf, although you can find some savory turf options too.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: A popular seafood restaurant that can pull off serving large parties both indoors and on the outdoor terrace.
Gina's expert tip: Arrive early and do some power shopping at the The Bell Tower Shops
Occupying two old homes dating back to 1902, for years the Veranda has provided a charming atmosphere as well as good service and traditional cuisine. For large parties wanting a little something special, there is a private dining area upstairs. The outdoor patio is also an enticing space for large groups who want fresh air. 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 for a special night out or a casual meal with friends. You'll often find live music in the lounge before or after dinner, the type one might expect from a sophisticated establishment.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: Romantically set in a beautiful, historic downtown Fort Myers house, this restaurant has a private upstairs and a large open patio.
Gina's expert tip: Parking lot full? In the evening you can use the City Hall lot across the street
At DaRuMa, diners indulge on an array of Japanese delights that are as fascinating and fun as they are delicious. Though the main emphasis would seem to be the classic hibachi dishes, unlike other such restaurants, DaRuMa gets sushi right; the rolls are creative and they look spectacular. But it's the Teppan-style cooking that diners love for simultaneous entertainment and eating. Large parties can easily fit around one of many metal grills that quickly become covered in meats and vegetables, while chefs skillfully flip, chop, dice and serve. If Teppan is not your style, the main menu is full of Asian specialties that can be served at the grill or in the dining room. Enjoy a fun, interactive and healthful meal at this lovely restaurant.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: DaRuMa brings food and fun to big dinner parties through its Japanese Teppan-style table cooking or in its more traditional dining room.
Gina's expert tip: The sushi is top rate here