Fort Myers' Homestyle: Big on Portions and Big on Taste



At the end of a long day, there is nothing like sitting down with a big plate of hot food surrounded by friends and family. Food speaks to the soul. While the trendy, gourmet restaurants have their place; there is something to be said for homestyle cooking, homestyle serving and a good old homey atmosphere. Whether its biscuits and gravy, pot roast, a big plate of pasta or a giant piece of pie, everyone has a dish that can magically melt all your cares away after just one bite. 

Comfort food, although not always healthful for the body, is always healthful for the spirit. At Old 41 the owners aim to serve foods that remind you of home, no matter where that is, geographically speaking. They make no excuses for the extra cream, butter and cheese that makes some dishes oh sooooo good. 

If you like a big plate full of food in the middle of the table begging for everyone to dig in, Ginger Bistro offers whole roasted duck and mouthwatering dim sum for all to share. 

If you want that homestyle feeling, try one of these 10Best restaurants on for size. Warning, you will need to loosen that belt a notch or two. 



10
Koreana
Photo courtesy of Gina Birch


 

At most Korean BBQ places, you cook your own meats and vegetables. That's not the case at Koreana. Similar to a Japanese-style hibachi but with individual grills, your Korean specialties are cooked for you by the expert staff. Gather the family, sit around the burners while trying the traditional dishes of bulgogi and galbi, and enjoy multiple sides of specialties such as kimchee, veggies, potatoes and more. Not limited to the variety of BBQ meat choices, your party can order Korean soups, stews, noodles, rice and more, for a healthful meal. A sister restaurant to the popular sushi bar, Origami, ensures rolls and sashimi are also done right.


9
Two Meatballs In The Kitchen
Photo courtesy of Damian Hanley


 

Owner Sal Basile has been at the helm of a number of successful Italian restaurants in Fort Myers and definitely has a following. He is unapologetic about his big portions of Italian American cuisine that are perfect for putting in the middle of the table and digging in. The hand tossed pizza is a specialty and the garlic rolls are infamous, just remember to save room for your sizeable main course. You'll find almost all of the Italian staples here along with things like grilled chicken topped with goat cheese sun-dried tomatoes and a lemon butter sauce, served with potatoes instead of pasta. Gluten free fans will be glad to know that this restaurant can accommodate you. They also do a great lunch.


8
Ginger Bistro


 

There is no shortage of restaurants in Fort Myers but there are very few serving traditional Chinese fare. Ginger Bistro not only sets the bar high for this area, but makes it affordable to try a variety of dishes, especially with the wide selection available for dim sum, perfect for homestyle eating so are the whole ducks, slow roasting behind a wall of glass; don't be embarrassed if you start salivating. The pork belly is so popular, it often sells out. This Asian bistro serves almost a dozen different kinds of dumplings, pan fried noodles with savory sauces and stir fried meats and veggies served in hot, clay pots for sharing or keeping all to yourself. Be sure to try the green papaya salad with carrots, peanuts and a spicy dressing to top it off.


7
Page Field
Mel's Diner


 

Mel's Diner has been serving home cooked comfort food for nearly thirty years and has expanded to five locations in the Fort Myers area to meet the demand. You don't have to wait until Thanksgiving to get a satisfying meal of freshly roasted turkey with cranberry stuffing and mashed potatoes and gravy. Other specialties include meatloaf, liver and onions, corn beef and cabbage and BBQ baby back ribs. Don't miss the Friday fish fry and the roasted pork special on Sunday. And if that's not enough to warm your belly, all meals are served with Mel's famous chicken noodle soup: good as Mama's.


6
Bonita Springs


 

The food philosophy at Old 41 is to serve the stuff you grew up with, regardless of it's health benefits. Want creamed chipped beef like Grandma used to make? You'll find it here, along with sausage gravy, roast beef and true Texas Toast. The Philly Cheesesteak wins local awards year after year. Have you ever seen the Pennsylvania Dutch classic, scrapple, on a restaurant menu? You'll find it at Old 41 where they serve breakfast all day. The Belgium waffles are huge and the French toast is cooked just right. The portions are big, the prices are low and the service is inviting


5
North Fort Myers
Go-Go Diner


 

Just over the Caloosahatchee Bridge, across from downtown Fort Myers, you'll find the Go-Go Diner in a strip mall next to a Bingo Hall. The chef and owner is a Culinary Institute of America graduate who has made local headlines with his homemade, corned beef hash. The Reuben's are piled high and the juicy burgers are $6.99 for unlimited toppings. For breakfast, the biscuits smothered in a sausage gravy are full of flavor; you can also get the same gravy over hash browns with an egg in the middle. Be sure to order the Red Velvet Pancakes for a sweet treat. They are topped with whipped cream and tiny chocolate chips. Comforting, filling, affordable and fantastic; don't be fooled by the outside appearance.


4
South Fort Myers
Fancy's Southern Cafe
Photo courtesy of Gina Birch


 

Sometimes in Florida, it can be easy to forget you're even in the South. A trip to Fancy's Southern Cafe will most certainly remind you. "Southern Sophistication" is the name of the game at Fancy's. Its rustic decor cleverly uses old doors, windows and more. But it's the authentic Southern cuisine that people really come for. Entrees include comfort-food favorites like pot roast, shrimp and grits, and their signature Chicken-n-Waffles, while the appetizers cover classics like fried green tomatoes, deviled eggs and frog legs. Even the traditional salad gets a Southern twist with the addition of "grit croutons." The large portions ensure you'll leave with a full belly, while the warm feeling of a home-cooked meal will ensure your return.


3
Bubba's Roadhouse & Saloon


 

If you like big portions of meat and BBQ makes you swoon, you need to visit Bubba's. You can see the grill from the dining room, the sparks flying as the chefs expertly tend to steaks like a 25-ounce ribeye. The ribs are award winning and so is the 46-ounce Bubba Rita to wash down the home fixins. Other comfort foods include chicken fried chicken, hand cut French fries, nachos and a grilled cheese, tomato and bacon sandwich. Check out the daily specials such as the all you can eat Fish Fry for $9.99, with soup or salad, Jalapeno cornbread and a side, now that's homestyle. Bubba's also has After Church Specials on Sunday starting at just $6.99 so mom won't have to cook.


2
Oasis Restaurant
Photo courtesy of GIna Birch


 

Offering breakfast seven days a week and all day long, the Oasis Restaurant in downtown Fort Myers has a little bit of everything to offer. The "hangover" omelet is a house specialty with Italian sausage and vegetables covered in melted cheese. The skillet creations aren't far behind and the biscuits and gravy are as good as Grandma's. Other comfort food includes chili, burgers, meatloaf and liver and onions. Good for your belly and your soul, be prepared to be "loved on" by the friendly staff. They give hugs freely, call you sweetie and make you feel like your part of the family. It's no wonder this is a local favorite.


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The Farmers Market is the oldest continuously operating restaurant in Lee County, located off the beaten path in an industrial area that you might drive right by. The no frills, homey eatery serves the same big portions and same great quality of a Southern Grandma, and has been doing so since the 1960's. The lunch and dinner specials don't come with one side; they come with THREE for $11.95. You also get a basket of corn bread and rolls. Enjoy comfort food like mashed potatoes and gravy, southern favorites like country fried steak, fried okra and collard greens. You'll need a "to go" box so you can save room for the sinfully good, homemade desserts and pies.


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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. 

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