Best Value Restaurants in Naples: The Best Bites for Your Dollar

Naples, Florida, has a reputation for fine dining, a reputation that put it at #17 on Conde Nast Traveler magazine's 2014 Top U.S. Cities for Foodies list. The town and its surrounding communities are not all about sticker-gasp pricing and fancy dining rooms, however. Away from downtown's vaunted shop and dining scene, you can find plenty of restaurants that won't put you in the red.

This list finds local restaurants that give you the best bites for your dollar. It takes you to commercial fishing capital Everglades City to eat right on the dock at City Seafood. In Bonita Springs, it points the way to inexpensive dining with a view of the Gulf of Mexico at Doc's Beach House. Right in Naples proper, it directs you to gourmet eats at affordable prices at the new Celebration Park Naples food truck assemblage and samples inexpensive Peruvian cuisine – all the hot trend these days – at Inca's Kitchen.

Other listings take you off the beaten path, where less glamorous addresses mean lower price points for the bargain-seeking consumer. You need not sacrifice quality for affordability in the Naples area. Follow this list away from the downtown, resort and shopping center hot spots. In the bargain, you will discover new parts of the Naples region. 


Spanky's Speakeasy
Photo courtesy of Chelle Koster Walton

As its name suggests, this is an old-school kind of place that still does a soup and salad bar and throws back to the classic comedy series "Spanky and Our Gang." It has been a Naples fixture since the '80s. Happily, the prices are a bit of a throwback as well, thanks to its location well east of downtown and the beach. Serving all-American specialties, Spanky's offers an extensive menu of burgers, cold sandwiches, wings and a nice selection of salads at lunch. Dinner adds steaks, ribs, seafood, pasta and chicken to the menu. There are a few tables on the back porch overlooking a canal, but most take to the cool dining room decorated with memorabilia.

Rodes Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Chelle Koster Walton

Rodes began as a rickety roadside stand and has grown into a fish, produce and gourmet market and restaurant complex known as Rodes Fresh & Fancy, now in business for nearly 30 years. Purists go for the steamed clams and shrimp, mussels, stone crab and other raw bar items. And they know full well to leave room for the key lime pie. If you're more interested in the "fancy" part of the equation, order swordfish piccata or seafood stew. The "fresh" part weighs heavier on the menu, which specializes in Old Florida style fried seafood and fresh fish with your choice of preparation.

Tacos & Tequila Cantina
Photo courtesy of Chelle Koster Walton

The original of now three storefronts, it's not just all about tacos. But Tacos & Tequila Cantina's menu does list nearly 30 different flavors from traditional carnita to Buffalo, po' boy shrimp and veg out tacos. Sauces and ingredients all taste fresh in this indoor-outdoor garage chic setting that looks as though it could do some partying. Other traditional and inventive food offerings include grilled corn on the cob with ancho chilies and Cotija cheese, huevos rancheros and Mexican burger. It's not all about tequila, either, although the drink menu lists 30-something different kinds of Blanco, Reposado and Anejo tequilas. Choose also from 20 flavors of margaritas and other fruit drinks.

Old 41 Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Chelle Koster Walton

Open for breakfast and lunch only (until 3 p.m.), it tastes like eating at home - especially if you are from Philly. Then you will likely order the Philly Breakfast with Taylor pork roll or scrapple or the Philly cheese steak served on genuine, Philly-imported Amoroso rolls. Even non-Philly guests will love Old 41's made-from-scratch offerings: fresh-ground Colombian coffee, corned beef hash homemade from Boar's Head meat, an incredible Texas French toast with homemade caramel and pecans, Carbon's malted Belgian waffles, Boar's Head hoagies, hot roasted turkey or beef sandwiches and homemade rice pudding. The setting is a simple strip mall storefront - bright, clean and friendly.

Doc's Beach House
Photo courtesy of Chelle Koster Walton

Now, this is what a beach restaurant should look, feel like and charge like. You will find a number of resort restaurants that overlook the beach, but to get the real thing, travel north to Bonita Beach where you can walk right off the beach and into this beer-and-burger joint for a break from the sun. Sit out back, right on the beach, if you can't bring yourself to drag your toes out of the sand. Or sit inside, where there's shade. If you're looking for air-conditioning on a hot summer day, head upstairs to order your breakfast, lunch or dinner and watch the game. The kitchen is famous for its Chicago-style pizzas, served after 4 p.m. Day-long there's seafood, burgers and key lime pie.

Everglades Area
City Seafood
Photo courtesy of Chelle Koster Walton

A dozen or so picnic tables on the dock outside the fresh seafood market afford guests the best catches and views. Some of the tables at deck's edge have seating only on one side for the optimal overlook of the river and its working waterfront. There's also upstairs air-conditioned seating (no handicap access) with table service for breakfast. In season (November through mid-May), it's open for dinner, too. The rest of the year the restaurant and cafe close at 6 p.m. For other meals, you must place your order in the fish market. Order up generous servings of soft-shelled crab, cracked conch sandwich, soft shell crab sandwich, oyster po' boy, pulled pork sandwich (for landlubbers) or baskets of cracked conch, clam strips, frog legs or fried 'gator.

Little Bar
Photo courtesy of Chelle Koster Walton

You could sum up the fishing town of Goodland in one word: idiosyncratic. Likewise, the Little Bar, one of three watering hole restaurants that tourists love as much as the (idiosyncratic) locals. Because besides the usual frog legs and seafood Everglades fare, its dry-erase board menu lists some Old World folk foods such as liver and onions, kielbasa and kraut and marinated herring. There's yet another dimension to its menu - finer fare such as crab cakes with lobster cream sauce and blackened mahi-mahi. The setting is every bit as quirky. Outside, the view is bay waters, fishing docks and crab traps. The interior is cobbled together with salvaged wood from a historic boat, pieces of pipe organ, stained glass and various other components with a past.

Food & Thought
Photo courtesy of Chelle Koster Walton

It's thoughtful that a restaurant would strive to serve the best possible food for our good health. But it's even better that Food & Thought's dishes reflect the kind of creative thinking that raises them above typical health food juice-bar fare. Like most of its kind, Food & Thought's service is order-at-the-counter. It serves all the typical veggie juices, including wheatgrass, and fruit smoothies, plus your standard hummus wrap and tabouli salad. It breaks the mold, however, with its daily hot entrees, soup and side dish menu. These are served cafeteria-style, but somehow manage to taste made-to-order. On the regular menu, you will find breakfast items such as quiche and sprouted pancakes, plus chickpea salad and chicken salad wrap or sandwich. Everything is certified organic and homemade, and the indoor-outdoor setting is as fresh as the food.

Inca's Kitchen
Photo courtesy of Chelle Koster Walton

And the award for the best new "greet-and-eat" breadbasket alternative: Inca's Kitchen's fried corn with a trio of dipping sauces. This Peruvian favorite starts off diners with this fun taster of yellow pepper sauce, red pepper sauce and another remoulade-like native sauce. Corn is a rivet (stronger than a staple) in Peruvian cuisine, and this starter is an original and flavorful way to launch diners down the path to authentic dining. Next in line, if you're determined to try favorite Peruvian specialties: ceviche, which originated in Peru. Inca's sells various versions of the raw fish dish dressed with citrus. You will also find seafood in other dishes such as the traditional tacu tacu - beans and rice - and parihuela - Peruvian bouillabaisse. There are also tapas, chicken and meat dishes, vegetarian options and wonderful desserts.

Celebration Park Naples
Photo courtesy of Chelle Koster Walton

Opened in December 2018, the brainstorm of the owner of Three60 Market across the creek, Celebration Park celebrates the food truck boom that has been sounding across the nation these past few years. About 10 food trucks and stands park permanently (or at least seasonally) leading up to a stationary covered bar at Celebration. Some tables, high-tops, bar stools, and high chairs at a bar overlooking the creek providing seating. Choose from curry, barbecue, seafood, Greek dishes, gourmet burgers, hot dogs and mini-beignets at the different trucks. Smith Organics is the highest end with a kimchi burger, orange-cauliflower bowl and Korean Beef Tacos, along with Dilly's Seafood, whose spiny lobster roll is probably the most expensive thing you will find at $19.


Meet Chelle Koster Walton

Chelle Koster Walton – the Local Expert for Naples, Florida and the Caribbean – has been covering the destination for 30 years. Her top-selling Sarasota, Sanibel Island, and...  More About Chelle