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Best Places to Nosh on Tapas in Naples, Florida



Tapas, like most culinary dishes when introduced into the American culture, have become a diluted interpretation of their old World Spanish origins. The word has come to mean any small plate presentation of food that allows diners to share and sample many different dishes at one sitting. Fortunately a few places in the Naples area – such as IM Tapas Spanish Resto Bar and the new Lamoraga - keep the Spanish tradition intact with wonderfully executed, labor intensive samplings of Spanish cheese, charcuterie, olives, seafood and meat dishes. In fact, true tapas cuisine seems to be on the upswing these days locally, as witnessed by the popularity of the new Lamoraga and more common inclusion on non-Spanish menus. This list includes Naples' inventory of authentic Spanish tapas restaurants, but also some of the other non-Spanish restaurants around town that include a good selection of plates you can share among several diners. The latter category includes restaurants and cafes with American, Peruvian, French and even Persian cuisine. Refer to this list when you are looking for a place to socialize over drinks and noshes with friends and family. Each restaurant listing was selected for its extensive and varied menu of plates for sharing and mixing and matching. 


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Wine Loft of Naples
Photo courtesy of Chelle Koster Walton

The gorgeous parlor setting at the Wine Loft Bar & Restaurant feels at once elegant and homey. Of course fine wines are the tipple of choice, but it carries a full stock of beers and liquor. The restaurant serves meals until the bar closes, which is midnight on week days and 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. The menu keeps it light with appetizers, salads, sandwiches, flatbreads, small plates and desserts. Dishes such as the aged artisanal cheese plate, crab and spinach dip, strawberry salad, fig and prosciutto flatbread, tenderloin medallions with blue cheese and turtle lava cake pair well with wines.

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BHA! BHA! Persian Bistro
Photo courtesy of Bha! Bha! Persian Bistro


The name means "Yum! Yum!" in Iran, Chef Michael Mir's homeland. He fuses his native background with his experience in fine American kitchens to present an intriguing menu that maintains the authenticity and boldness of Middle Eastern cuisine while employing a few tricks of classic Continental and experimental new American styles. Prepare your palate for a magic carpet ride. The aash, a peasant-style herbed bean and noodle soup, introduces the complexity of the cuisine. Best bets for entrees: the spicy kermani beef, char-broiled lamb kebab, garlic eggplant chicken and duck fesenjune. Dine indoors in a chic setting with subtle Middle Eastern nuances or at a sidewalk table.

Recommended for Tapas because: Nosh on "mazzeh" - small bites - and warm appetizers.

Chelle's expert tip: End your meal with Turkish coffee service - a true delight.

Read more about BHA! BHA! Persian Bistro →


Tarpon Bay at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa
Photo courtesy of Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa


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 scampi are signature on the entrees menu. Alternately, you can design your own seafood dish – from diver scallops to mahi mahi-- by choosing from the different preparation, sauces and sides options.

Recommended for Tapas because: Tarpon Bay's ceviche, raw oysters and selection of 11 starters make dining tapas-style a seafood orgy.

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.

Read more about Tarpon Bay at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa →


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Pelican Bay
Bites
Photo courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton, Naples


Dining in the Ritz's lobby feels glamorous no matter what. The quality of the tapas style "shared experiences" at Bites elevates it to the finest degree of dining. Each small plate reflects brilliant imagination and time- and labor-intensive love. Choose from a few selections under simply stated categories: Cold, Hot and Dessert. Plus daily special Big Bites appear.The chicken waffle sweetbread is an inspirational spin on the Southern fried chicken classic with sweet grass dairy pepper jack. Truffled salmon spread, roasted beet salad with sheep feta, octopus couscous, bison chili cheese fries and creamy cinnamon rice: You will want to try them all!

Recommended for Tapas because: Shared plates and appetizers include charcuterie, tapenade, mussels and Asian steamed buns.

Chelle's expert tip: Share the charcuterie or cheese platter for a connoisseur's delight.

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La Bazenne on Fifth
Photo courtesy of Chelle Koster Walton

The accent is authentically French at this new sidewalk cafe in Old Naples. Lunch menu items range from quiche du jour to mushroom crepe and steak frites. Dinner entrees come in two sizes - tapas and full size meal: warm asparagus with coddled eggs and Parma ham, octopus with lemon verbena pesto, salmon with caper berry sauce and short ribs with kohlrabi potato puree. On the weekend brunch menu, you will find lobster eggs benedict and more truly French breakfast fare such as croissants, crepes and brie. Bar offerings include beer, wine and hard cider. Seating is indoors or outside.

Recommended for Tapas because: On its dinner menu, French tapas offer flexibility for portion size and sharing.

Chelle's expert tip: Join La Bazenne's social club for priority invitations to wine tastings and other special events.

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Bella Maria Cafe
Photo courtesy of Chelle Koster Walton


With its festive patio tables and umbrellas and cozy interior dining room, Bella Maria Café feels like a tiny escape from the streets of Naples to the tapas cafes of Spain. Its menu, however, travels beyond those borders to offer quiche, an extensive selection of interesting salads, sandwiches in both Spanish and American style and entrees such as chicken corn pie, chicken scallopini, beef lasagna and Chilean sea bass. From the tapas menu you can sample such Spanish specialties as Spanish omelet, shrimp with garlic and olive oil, homemade meatballs, octopus vinaigrette and the empanada of the day.

Recommended for Tapas because: Bella Maria Cafe offers a large selection of tapas for lunch and dinner.

Chelle's expert tip: Order sangria - white or red. It is homemade and tastes that way.

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HobNob Kitchen & Bar
Photo courtesy of HobNob Kitchen & Bar


A few generations ago, this restaurant location was known as Zoe's, named after local restaurant owner legend Michael Hernandez's daughter. Hernandez is back on the Naples scene with HobNob - a clever name for a perfect place to do just that in a rustic-chic setting of unfinished wood and funky art. Nothing rough or funky about the food, however. Chef Tony Biagetti prepares a well-crafted selection of bar bites, small plates and dishes under headings "Ocean," "Farm," "Pasta," and "Greens & Soup." Everything is fresh and homemade from the pickles to pasta and desserts. Perfect for hobnobbing at the bar's communal table, try the deviled eggs with tomato jam, the truly original shrimp & grits and arancini stuffed with jalapeno cheddar. For serious appetites there are wild "smokey" salmon with cucumber crema, two-way duck with cornbread stuffing and peach and Meyer lemon short ribs. The tres leches bread pudding comes with homemade rumchata ice cream.

Recommended for Tapas because: HobNob's bar bite and small plates menu give you plenty of options for sharing and sampling.

Chelle's expert tip: The shrimp & grits small plate combines the flavors of the lowcountry with a Buffalo-style sauce. Brilliant!

Read more about HobNob Kitchen & Bar →


Inca's Kitchen
Photo courtesy of Chelle Koster Walton


And the award for the best new "greet-and-eat" bread basket 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 dishes in other dishes such as the traditional tacu tacu - beans and rice - and parihuela - Peruvian bouillabaisse. There's also tapas, chicken and meat dishes, vegetarians options and wonderful desserts.

Recommended for Tapas because: With its Spanish cuisine roots, Inca's Kitchen offers a number of options for mixing and matching ceviche and other small plates.

Chelle's expert tip: The wahoo ceviche is divine, accompanied with a shot glass of its own tiger milk.

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IM Tapas Spanish Resto Bar
Photo courtesy of Chelle Koster Walton

From its Spanish wine and beer selections to the arroz con leche dessert made with rice grown in the mountains of the Spanish province Murcia, this off-the-beaten-path restaurant is the real thing - a place to dine, unhurried, on the finer things español. With only about a dozen linened tables, some bar seating and objets d'art occupying the walls, the décor is minimalist but warm. The menu is divided by soup, salad, cold tapas, hot tapas and platos grandes. The latter includes duck breast and lamb T-bone. Cold tapas range from olive mix to venison tenderloin carpaccio; hot tapas from artichoke hearts filled with Serrano chile and Manchego to mussels in a spicy sherry and chorizo reduction.

Read more about IM Tapas Spanish Resto Bar →


Lamoraga Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Chelle Koster Walton


Based on an Andalusian concept that roughly translates as "barbecue on the beach," Lamoraga opened in April 2014 mid-town as a vision of clean, modern design and cuisine. Its Spanish origins insure that its tapas are the true, authentic thing. Although you will find a balanced selection of full meals, most of the menu devotes itself to tapas in three categories - classics, from the sea and from the land. Start with a traditional tomato gazpacho or one infused with black cherry. Cuttlefish croquettes and basil wrapped shrimp come from the sea; lamb skewers and carpaccio from the land. There are also sushi and salads. Full meal entrees include seafood paella and beef short ribs.

Recommended for Tapas because: Lamoraga is a true tapas restaurant with roots in Spain.

Chelle's expert tip: When your server tells you this is the best beef slider you'll ever taste, believe her.

Read more about Lamoraga Restaurant →


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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

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