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.
Recommended for Bonita Springs' Best Restaurants because: You don't have to be from Philly to appreciate the authenticity and comfort foods.
Chelle's expert tip: For breakfast, the Texas French toast is the bomb. The cheese steak sandwich? The best around!
A leisurely al fresco meal beneath an authentic Seminole-weaved vaulted chickee roof at a place named Coconut Jack's: Does it get any more Florida than that? In fact it does, with fruity drinks, servers' shirts that scream "tropical" and a menu devoted to seafood – from "Old Florida" style baskets to some ambitious creativity. For starters, try voodoo wings, lobster and crab cakes with wasabi buerre blanc, BBQ pork nachos or a salad. The tequila oysters Rockefeller twists a classic with jalapeno melted into Asiago cheese and a splash of tequila. Oysters, shrimp, scallops, calamari, fish and slipper lobster tails get the flash-fry treatment for the baskets. Good entree picks: mahi tacos, pulled pork sandwich, lobster ravioli, baby back ribs, honey-glazed salmon, porterhouse steak, oven-roasted half chicken and lobster ravioli.
Recommended for Bonita Springs' Best Restaurants because: For waterfront dining, Coconut Jack's is the best choice in Bonita Springs.
Chelle's expert tip: Ask for a table on the the chickee deck when weather allows.
Mediterranean cuisine finds a new depth of expression at Fig's Grille. Chef/owner Sam Tadros carries his success at North Naples' Sam-Bucco's Bistro a few countries further at Fig's, adding heavier Lebanese, Turkish, Moroccan and Spanish influences to his repertoire, taking taste buds on a magic carpet ride of exotic flavors. The dining room provides the proper setting for embarkation with veil drapery, rich colors, an orchestra of table and booths, lighting that evokes the Arabian Nights, and an alcove bar. Figs make cameo appearances throughout the menu: in the tuna ceviche appetizer (consorting with pistachios), in the signature salad with baby spinach and fig balsamic vinaigrette, in a chutney with the roasted duck, and as a homemade figs confit with the crème brulee.
Recommended for Bonita Springs' Best Restaurants because: Extremely creative and terribly exotic, Fig's Grille puts a party in your mouth.
Chelle's expert tip: Owner Sam Tadros is an engaging fellow who circulates around the dining room to chat with guests – many of them returning.
New in 2015, DeRomo's is taking over the Promenade shopping center with a foodie-fantasy market, a spacious indoor-outdoor restaurant and a pasta factory. Equally ambitious, the menu covers everything from classic Italian and New York-style Italian to some inventions of its own. To help you narrow down your choices, the fiocchi pera is small pasta purses stuffed with fresh pear and ricotta in an insanely decadent mascarpone cream sauce. The vitello schantinella does a brilliant take on surf and turf with tender veal medallions and shrimp and scallops cooked to delicately moist perfection and served with risotto and sherry cream sauce. Soup, charcuterie, antipasti, "Old Favorites," pasta, risotto, fish and "From Our Butcher Shop" sections offer everything from a fried calamari and zucchini starter and spaghetti and meatballs to gnocchi pesto, grilled Norwegian salmon and peppercorn filet.
Recommended for Bonita Springs' Best Restaurants because: DeRomo is well-loved for its comprehensive and varied Italian offerings and for bringing the Promenade shopping center back to life.
Chelle's expert tip: End on a sweet note with the fluffy ricotta cheesecake – plenty generous for sharing.
Opened in fall 2015, TAG plays its game well. Attention focuses on small plates, appetizers and sandwiches, plus a couple of crazy "Tagline" dishes: #Kamikaze Hot Dog, tempura fried with cream cheese; and #Sushiritto-- an ahi tuna sushi-burrito hybrid. The menu plays with the hashtag theme, but doesn't beat it to death. Hashtags signify the restaurant's favorites, such as the PEI mussels simmered in beer, chorizo, coriander, orange and cilantro – one of four varieties of mussels available. Expectations get shaken – in a good way. The Caesar Cardini for instance, serves a grilled half head of romaine with preserved lemon dressing and grated salt-cured egg yolks, substitutes for anchovy saltiness. The carbonara also plays with a classic. Pork belly replaces the usual bacon or pancetta, while the traditional egg sauce translates as a wine sauce with a poached egg atop the pappardelle pasta. And instead of green peas, pea greens.
Recommended for Bonita Springs' Best Restaurants because: This newest addition to the Bonita Springs dining landscape is making a big splash.
Chelle's expert tip: The Hot Cheeks small plate is the big seller, a Florida play on buffalo wings – fried grouper cheeks tossed with honey Sriracha sauce and served with blue cheese aioli and shaved celery and celery greens.
From a threesome sampler of ceviche to a flight of ice cream finale, a meal at Tarpon Bay is all about dabbling in the fine art of gastronomy. Built in the style of the old fish houses and cottages that once populated this jut of land, it somehow seamlessly meshes Old Florida and new. It has a raw bar, as all good fish-house restaurants should, but besides the usual raw oysters, it spins out eight varieties of ceviche. Crispy whole snapper, bacon wrapped grouper and seafood linguine are signature on the entrees menu. Alternately, you can design your own seafood dish – from diver scallops to wahoo – by choosing from the different preparation, sauces and sides options.
Recommended for Bonita Springs' Best Restaurants because: The old fish house style setting and modern cuisine combine for a powerful Southwest Florida experience.
Chelle's expert tip: Try a sampler of ceviche (two to eight varieties) – it's too difficult to pick just one out of the eight flavors.
The small, modern, sparsely decorated space along Bonita Beach Road matches the size of the menu. But good things come in a small package here - intrigue and deft flavor pairings attract a devoted following that regularly fills A Table Apart. The menu's entrees fall under Earth and Water headings and one titled "Jeff Turned Guiseppe," which refers to Hawaiian born chef-owner Jeff Acol's love of Italian. Hawaiian and global influences surface in such dishes as fillet of triple tail with sticky white rice, Asian aioli and citrus beurre blanc. The Kurobuta pork ribeye is grilled and complemented with a caramelized onion soubise-style sauce. The Kobe "Baseball" Steak has a Middle Eastern flair: a round cut served with quinoa tabbouleh and spicy yogurt sauce. Asian soba noodle salad and Chinese red vinegar dipping sauce inject the whole fried yellowtail snapper with Pacific Rim dash.
Recommended for Bonita Springs' Best Restaurants because: A Table Apart truly does set itself apart from any other Bonita Springs restaurant with quality and artful flair.
Chelle's expert tip: First-timers may want to try the three-course prix fixe menu to sample some of the restaurant's favorites from 5 to 6 p.m.
Roy's does not limit its kitchen to Asia and the South Seas. Its Euro-Asian style flashes continental and nouvelle in the most delightful places. The restaurant exudes an energy and friendliness, an air and excellence that effectively achieve hauteur without haughty. Roy's menus venerate seafood that swim waters from Hawaii to France, such as Blackened Island Ahi with spicy soy mustard sauce and the local chef's spicy "TNT" Crusted Corvina. Meat-lovers, too, find artful, gratifying selections such as Grilled Wagyu Meatloaf, Braised Short Ribs and Thai Style Chicken. For dessert, try the The crème brulee, infused with lemongrass and elderflower and served with a blueberry scone; or the pineapple upside down cake with coconut ice cream.
Recommended for Bonita Springs' Best Restaurants because: Here's a chain that deserves to be listed as a best because Roy's gives its individual chefs the freedom to design a local menu.
Chelle's expert tip: If you think all Mai Tais are overly sweet concoctions created equally boring, try this surprise.
The menu changes with the seasons at Wylds, but the tenderloin saga remains a constant. Wading in a pool of demi-glace, the grilled filet mignon gets piled with shards of pommes frites and the glue of melted saga blue cheese. A take on steak frites that one-ups the French. Just one example of how this Bonita Springs favorite creates buzz. Some other examples? Enigma Salad – tenderly sauteed duck, shiitake mushrooms, tomato, avocado, capers and romaine with parmesan-peppercorn dressing;roast duck Napoleon layered with shiitakes, spinach in garlic b�chamel and puff pastry; parmesan-crusted walleye pike; roasted duck and foie gras sausage with cavatelli pasta, shiitakes and sage butter sauce. So don't be put off by the strip mall location and plain dining room. This place is the toast of local foodies.
Recommended for Bonita Springs' Best Restaurants because: Rich and wonderful food makes this one of Bonita Springs' most popular fine restaurants.
Chelle's expert tip: Never pass up on the cinnamon bread pudding when it shows up on the dinner menu.
The kitchen's excellence stems from exquisite attention to detail – from a house-cured cherry in the Manhattan cocktail in the convivial bar to fanfare touches such as baby kale tucked in among the Caesar salad's romaine lettuce, citrus tomato butter with Angelina's long-favored butternut squash ravioli and slow-roasted pork belly with the pan-seared scallops. Other stellar dishes: Caprese Moderno salad, mussel Puttanesco, agnolotti pasta stuffed with slow-roasted veal and topped with wild mushrooms, and pan-seared cobia with cauliflower puree. An award-winning selection of wine occupies a three-story glass tower in the elegant, Old World-style dining room. The final superlatives go to the staff - friendly, unflappable and uncommonly capable.
Recommended for Bonita Springs' Best Restaurants because: Angelina's serves the finest Italian cuisine and widest wine selection in Bonita Springs.
Chelle's expert tip: Step out of your comfort zone with the Caprese Moderno salad - burrata cheese and blood oranges plus other twists on classic caprese.