Sanibel Island's Local Restaurants Serve Sassy, Sophisticated Seafood

It’s vacation protocol when staying on a tropical island, to dine on seafood at some point during your visit. Islands like Sanibel know this and provide a plethora of places where you can find almost any fish you wish.

It would be hard to find a menu on Sanibel that doesn’t offer some kind of selection from the sea, but there are a few who specialize in all things water related. Offering a more casual, fun vibe, try Doc Ford's, serving fresh fish Caribbean-style. And if you like rum, you will love the selection here with more than 40 to choose from. The Fish House serves tasty baskets and other fresh treats in a family friendly setting.

On the more sophisticated side, Sweet Melissa's is known for having some of the best food on the island with a menu full of selections from both the land and sea.  

While dining at one of these 10Best seafood restaurants on Sanibel, be sure to try the local grouper, lion fish, oysters and Florida shrimp, also known as ‘pink gold.’ 

Sanibel Island
Lazy Flamingo
Photo courtesy of Gina Birch


This is the original Lazy Flamingo where celebrity sighings often occur. Enjoy fresh seafood in an entertaining and nautical atmosphere. Located in a brightly colored stilt building, a game of ring toss is almost mandatory while you wait for...  Read More

Sanibel Island


One of last stops before crossing the bridge to Captiva Island, and one of the few spots serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, the Sunset Grill is both comfy and classy. For breakfast try the crab and spinach omelet and the grouper Rueben for...  Read More



Doc Ford's fame is in the name; a tropical crime fighting character in 20 books written by author Randy Wayne White. White is a silent partner who can occasionally be found in the bar at any of the three area locations. Sanibel is home to the...  Read More

Sanibel Island
The Sandbar
Photo courtesy of Gina Birch


The Sanibel Sandbar is one of the few places to eat on this part of West Gulf Drive. With a beach cottage vibe, this small space serves up food that is big in taste. The fish is wild caught and there is even a small case where you can buy some...  Read More

Grandma Dot's Seaside Saloon
Photo courtesy of Gina Birch


At a place called Grandma Dot's, you might expect friendly service and delicious homemade food with that little touch of something special; you get it here. Owners call it a Seaside Saloon at the Sanibel Marina; locals call it scrumptious....  Read More



The Fish House has both a restaurant and a casual lounge with a back entrance if you want to come in right from your boat. In addition, if you happen to have gotten lucky with a rod and reel, but don't want to cook your fresh catch these chefs...  Read More

Il Cielo
Photo courtesy of Il Cielo


Il Cielo means "the sky" and the stars seem to always shine at this Sanibel Island spot. With a focus on seafood, the menu features preparations with both Mediterranean and Asian touches. The black grouper is legendary, topped with crab, over a...  Read More

Sanibel Island
Sweet Melissa's Cafe
Photo courtesy of Sweet Melissa's


This unique Sanibel restaurant is where foodies like to go while on the island. Award winning Chef Melissa Talmadge sources local ingredients year-round, for a seasonal menu that leans toward small plates. While not a traditional seafood...  Read More

Sanibel Island
Mad Hatter
Photo courtesy of The Mad Hatter


This beach side dining spot has been an island favorite for the perfect combination of food and ambiance, for three decades. With about a dozen tables, each one has a spectacular view of the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. The vibe is cozy, with...  Read More



Open since 1978, the Timbers consistently pleases locals and tourists alike with its award-winning cuisine in a tropical, stilt house setting. One of the most popular items on the menu is the whole fish, cut table side. The catch of the day is...  Read More


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. 

Besides brandishing a microphone, Gina...  More About Gina