Situated almost at the end of Captiva Island, the Keylime Bistro serves up some of the best lunches on the island. No one is in a hurry to get to work or anywhere else here; feel free to linger over a glass of wine from their award-winning list, or second or a cup of coffee and enjoy live music on the covered, outdoor patio. The menu has lots of seafood but has quite a selection to satisfy your cravings; from shrimp cocktail to nachos and large pasta dishes to a manageable grilled cheese or crab cake sandwich. The grilled salad is a favorite, loaded with hearts of palm, artichokes, portobellos and goat cheese, then drizzled with tomato-orange vinaigrette.
Recommended for Lunch because: You won't be afraid to linger in this laid back bistro on Captiva Island, with great food, nice drink selections and live music.
Gina's expert tip: The Bloody Marys are a meal on their own, with hearts of palm, shrimp and other goodies.
Ada's is a family-run health food market that has been in the Fort Myers area since the late '70s. It has changed hands a number of times and briefly shut down before coming back bigger and better than ever. The Green Leaf Café at the front of the store offers table service of selections that taste great with half of the guilt. Choose from black bean burgers to grass feed beef dishes including a beef roulade stuffed with spinach, artichoke and goat cheese. The sandwiches and salads here are fresh, flavorful and plentiful. If you don't have time to sit, the pre-prepared options are pretty impressive. This café offers more than veggie and fruit juices, you can also find wine by the glass.
Recommended for Lunch because: The café inside of this health-food/grocery store serves a large selection of dishes that not only taste good but are good for you.
Gina's expert tip: Check out the healthful goodies in the market after you dine, they cover the range of all dietary specialties and some are fully prepared for take home.
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 1960s. The lunch and dinner specials don't come with one side; they come with THREE for $11.95. You also get a basket of cornbread 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.
Recommended for Lunch because: This 65-year-old family-run restaurant serves home-cooked meals in heaping portions, with a side of Southern hospitality.
Gina's expert tip: Try to save room for the homemade desserts, the coconut pie is famous
Part of what draws people the most to this spot is the location. The McGregor Café is housed in an old home in the middle of an established neighborhood, full of old oak trees and other tropical vegetation. It sits right off of the locally famous McGregor Boulevard. The outdoor seating is casual, you won't feel uncomfortable sitting here in your gym clothes. The staff is always friendly and there is indoor seating if air conditioning is a preference. While famous for their quiche, the salad options are numerous and generous. If you're more hungry try a bowl of pasta or go for the Reuben, the corned beef is made in house. If you like breakfast you can still enjoy it here for lunch.
Recommended for Lunch because: Centrally located, McGregor Cafe has an inviting patio where diners feast on large sandwiches and salads, as well as breakfast items.
Gina's expert tip: Reservations are only accepted for parties of six or more during the week. Weekends and smaller parties, first come first serve.
At a place called Grandma Dot's, you almost expect friendly service and delicious homemade food with that extra little touch of something special; you get it here. Owners call it a Seaside Saloon at the Sanibel Marina; locals call it scrumptious. Open for lunch and dinner, the earlier option is much more affordable. Sit with a view overlooking the water and marina, while dining on light refreshing salads, peel and eat shrimp, mesquite grouper and lots more fresh seafood selections. Dot's is also very proud of their homemade chowder. Lunches are served with a side of fruit and a big dose of hospitality.
Recommended for Lunch because: A local waterside favorite serving dishes with that extra little touch, just as you would expect from a place with the name Grandma on the door.
Gina's expert tip: You can arrive here by car or boat thanks to its marina location.
For more than two decades Merrick's Seafood has provided fresh fish to dozens of Southwest Florida restaurants. In 2013, the family opened a restaurant next to the market in Cape Coral. Now patrons can enjoy both indoor and outdoor seating at Fish Tale Grill while dining on affordable seafood fresh off of the boat. The menu has a large selection of salads and the Seafood Cobb is loaded with shellfish. The popular tuna wrap is beautiful as well as tasty with a ginger teriyaki glaze, cucumber, tomato, pickled ginger, mango and wasabi. Other favorites include the lobster roll, grouper sandwich, fish and chips and chowder. You'll even find suitable, live music on the deck many days, weather permitting.
Recommended for Lunch because: Serving some of the freshest and most affordable seafood in the Fort Myers area, with a relaxing deck for dining.
Gina's expert tip: The desserts are delicious and big enough to share. Try the Keylime Pie
This sexy sushi bar sports sleek furniture, mod design and walls that recall the deep blue sea. Blu's lunch is perhaps one of the deals in town with an endless special for only $16.95. You might think unlimited sushi would be limited to the boring, everyday rolls but not at Blu where you get to choose from starters like Edamame and Miso Soup to delicious specialty rolls like Spicy Tuna, Mexican, Volcano and Sugar Mama to name a few. If you're not that hungry, there is a basic lunch special that includes a signature roll and a soup or salad for only $9.95. Who says good sushi has to cost a fortune?
Recommended for Lunch because: Sushi lovers will appreciate not only the quality but also the price for this amazing all you care to eat lunch.
Gina's expert tip: Blu Sushi also has a location downtown, Fort Myers, in the heart of First Street
Bennett's Fresh Roast has a bit of a cult following, off the beaten path in downtown Fort Myers. Owned by a longtime, local radio personality C. David Bennett, his donuts gained international attention on the Cooking Channel's Donut Showdown. That's also where he debuted the donut dog, a popular lunch sandwich. The lunch menu also includes freshly prepared soups and huge salads. The meats for his paninis are roasted in house daily and they're full of flavor. Perhaps one of the best sandwiches on the menu is the lobster roll. Full of claw and knuckle meat, the lobster salad rests in an authentic New England hot dog bun, toasted in butter. Be sure to save room for dessert. Besides the famous donuts, Bennett's also serves a mean praline bread pudding, juicy apple pie and more.
Recommended for Lunch because: This famous local donut shop turns out more than just sweet treats; huge salads, soups and panini's du jour, and a killer lobster roll.
Gina's expert tip: Check the board by the counter or online for daily specials.
This brightly painted teahouse can be found off of the beaten tracks of downtown proper. Housed in a bungalow dating back to the early 1900s, the atmosphere is relaxed, with a feeling of nostalgia. Dine on seasonal salads, homemade soups, and freshly made bread. While most of the dishes are light, if you have more of an appetite, items such as a roast beef panini or meatloaf sandwich can be found on the lunch menu. But the stars of the show are the sweet treats and an extensive selection of teas from around the world. The traditional afternoon tea service is delightful, with tiered trays of expertly prepared small bites. Gluten-free items are also available.
Recommended for Lunch because: A charming place to gather for lunch with a feminine flair, offering a wide selection of tea, sandwiches, salads and more.
Gina's expert tip: Pay attention to GPS as this spot is located on a one-way street leaving downtown proper
The Otherside Bistro (cleverly named as it sits on the 'other side' of a popular pub) is cool and cozy, a great find on a busy stretch of US41 in Bonita Springs. Chef Brian McCarley has a long history of serving great food in the Fort Myers area and has taken his business to new heights at this small bistro. The lunches are particularly pleasant with big salads, savory sandwiches, a juicy burger and a quiche of the day. You'll also find local favorites such as crab cakes and seafood pasta. The interior is modern, with a small outdoor dining area as well. Chef loves wine and is particular about offering a good selection and at a nice price. Cheers!
Recommended for Lunch because: A small Bonita Springs bistro with a talented chef who offers fresh and flavorful lunches in a warm and welcoming setting.
Gina's expert tip: The wine selection is top-notch, with hard to find bottles at reasonable prices.