Fresh and Fabulous: Southwest Florida Seafood Pleases the Palate



Fort Myers has had much success in cultivating great restaurants where seafood has a strong presence. You'll find everything from fried fish served in a basket, to grilled crustaceans drizzled with gourmet sauces served on fine dinnerware. Whether you are dressed in high heels or flip flops, there are plenty of locally owned restaurants committed to serving only the freshest catches. 

For the sun burned beach, goers with sand still in their shoes, the S.O.B. or Smokin' Oyster Brewery, is no fuss and all fun. Visitors love picking up S.O.B. memorabilia after a few drinks. For the freshly showered, out for a special occasion crowd you can’t beat the long established Prawn Broker for consistently good quality and service.

Two things you must try while dining in the Fort Myers area are locally caught shrimp and grouper. You'll find it on the menu of almost every restaurant, in some form or fashion. Two seasonal items to look for are stone crab and Florida spiny lobsters.

Although the area is surrounded by water, you'll find some of the best local seafood haunts nowhere near it, tucked in obscure strip malls. Don’t be afraid of what you’ll find inside. 10Best has your back and some extra tartar sauce to boot.



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The Clam Bake Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Gina Birch


 

New Englanders will feel right at home at the Clam Bake, but you don't have to be from the northeast to appreciate the fresh seafood and fun atmosphere the restaurant offers. Once you've tasted the crowd-pleasing lobster roll, you'll think you're on the coast of Maine, not in a nondescript Southwest Florida strip mall. The clam chowder, lobster bisque and fried haddock are other mouthwatering favorites that aim to please. The Clam Bake offers lots of happy hour drink specials as well as select daily specials until six. You can't beat this deal; an entree, chowder or salad, and side for just $11.99.


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Prawnbroker Restaurant and Fish Market
Photo courtesy of Mark Blust


 

The Prawn Broker has a long-standing reputation for delivering freshly prepared seafood favorites as well as unique specialty items. There's even a small fish market inside. Enjoy a cocktail at the cozy bar then move to a table on the covered patio or a comfortable inside spot. Be sure to start with the house made Smoked Fish Dip. Then consider the Grouper Matanza; a fresh, local fish, egg dipped and sautéed then topped with crabmeat and a lemon beurre blanc. The Prawn Broker's award winning cuisine as well as the owner's and manager's deep commitment to community keep both the tourists and locals coming back season after season.


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The Gulfshore Grill is one restaurant with two great vibes. The indoor portion provides quiet, the comfort of air conditioning and views of the Gulf of Mexico from every seat. The outside deck, also called The Cottage, serves the same menu, however, shirts are not required here and there is live music almost every night. 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.


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Open since 1978, the Timbers has pleased locals and tourists alike with its award-winning cuisine and entertaining owners and managers. Known for having the largest oyster selection in Southwest Florida, you can order them in flights, raw baked or just about anyway you wish. Have have the chef grill or blacken the catch of the day to your liking, or choose from the many seafood specialties on the menu. The platters are more than filling and the kitchen can accommodate those in your party who would rather dine on things from the land than the sea, with hand cut steaks. This two-story island style restaurant is casual and fun, with a seafood market for DIY cooking.


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South Fort Myers


 

A fish market and restaurant on US41 in Fort Myers since the 80's, the restaurant serves lots of "pink gold" AKA Florida shrimp. Owner Dennis Henderson also operates one of the largest fleets of shrimp boats in the state, so you know the catch at this restaurant is fresh. Henderson is big on truth in labeling so if you order a grouper sandwich, you can rest assured in knowing it is indeed grouper, pulled fresh from the display case at the entrance of the small restaurant with low ceilings. There is a larger fish market in the back. Be sure to try the fish tacos and ask about the daily specials. You'll experience good Southern hospitality here.


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Blue Pointe Oyster Bar & Seafood Grill - Ft. Myers
Photo courtesy of Gina Birch


 

Blue Pointe specializes in seafood and has discounted prices on their fresh oysters each day for happy hour, order a combo of different species. With chic d�for and comfortable seating, menus come in high-tech tablets. Ideal for large parties are the high-top tables that stretch in a perfect row, down the center of the restaurant. Put them together and fit as many as twenty people. There is outdoor dining on two sides of the restaurant, the front patio is surprisingly tranquil in spite of the parking lot it fronts. The side option offers good people watching with an option for smoking. With a raw bar, sushi and fresh catch options, the menu leans heavily on surf, although you can find some savory turf options too.


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Smokin Oyster Brewery, SOB
Photo courtesy of Smokin Oyster Bar


 

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 small and cozy. Besides fresh oysters, the S.O.B. is known for it's 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. 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.


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Lobster Lady Seafood Market and Bistro
Photo courtesy of Gina Birch


 

Diners pack into the Lobster Lady Seafood Market and Bistro like sardines, pun intended. In an unassuming strip mall, just over the Caloosahatchee River in Cape Coral, The Lobster Lady's popularity has exploded. Multiple tanks full of lobsters line one wall, a case of fresh seafood lines the other. Lobster is king here, try it in a delicious hot dip, a New England style roll, stuffed or in a steamer pot. On Friday and Saturday nights expect a crowd to gather on the sidewalk, waiting for a seat. Good thing there is a well stocked bar and someone to take a drink order while you wait. Lobster Lady has live entertainment nightly and also serves late.


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For more than two decades Merrick's Seafood has provided fresh fish to dozens of Southwest Florida restaurants. The owners finally decided to take advantage of the their fresh catches by serving them, not just selling them. In February 2013 they opened a restaurant right next to the market, calling it the Fish Tale Grill. Enjoy both outdoor and indoor seating while dining on affordable seafood fresh off of the boat. Start off with a dozen raw oysters. The Seafood Cobb salad is loaded with shellfish and the lobster bisque is rich and creamy. If you're a lobster fan try it here in spring rolls and sliders. The menu is extensive and presentation at Fish Tale looks as good as the food tastes.


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Flippers on the Bay
Photo courtesy of Lovers Key Resort


 

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 restaurant on stilts. Sitting on the Estero Bay, you still have a clear view of the Gulf of Mexico and it's one of the best spots to see a dolphin show, presented by Mother Nature.Start with the campechana, a Spanish-style shrimp cocktail with a kick. The sea bass served in a citrus miso is delectable, while the salmon in a pesto cream will leave you wanting more. Chef Cruz is as entertaining as his food, be sure to say hello.


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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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