When vacationing in an ocean-side spot like Fort Myers, which is blessed with pure white-sand beaches and waters that turn from turquoise to aquamarine, opportunities to dine on the fruits of the sea abound. Why not amplify the experience of sampling the local seafood with a view of the abundant sunshine glinting on the water, or the moon laying down a path towards the horizon? Here’s our pick of the best waterfront seafood restaurants in Fort Myers.
Elegant and refined, the Tarpon House at Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort & Spa overlooks the serene San Carlos Bay, imbuing a sense of leisure whether you’re dining on the veranda within sound and smell of the water or in the air-conditioned, Old Florida-style dining room. The menu draws from a variety of cultures, from Asian (“Boom Boom Shrimp”) to Bahamian (conch chowder) to create appealing dishes for all appetites, with some of the best offerings pulled from the waters right outside: Florida grouper, done as a sandwich (grilled, fried or blackened) or as a main course with sautéed shiitake mushrooms, cream sauce and tomato aioli.
17260 Harbour Pointe Dr., Fort Myers, FL, 1-239-466-4000
Located near the Sanibel causeway, this casual, Cajun-inspired eatery is a family-friendly favourite among locals and visitors alike. Serving three meals daily, SS Hookers provides patrons with a seafood fix of fried Gulf shrimp with Cajun cocktail sauce, pulled-from-the-Gulf snapper baked with Bienville stuffing (bacon, onion, garlic, shrimp and Parmesan) or even a lobster frittata for breakfast. The restaurant is also happy to cook your catch after you’ve spent a day angling – if you come up short and don’t feel like dining out, hit their seafood market and take it to go instead.
17501 Harbour Point Dr., Fort Myers, FL, 1-239-466-5377
The Lighthouse Waterfront Restaurant
Situated on the Port Sanibel marina, this is one of the most romantic seafood restaurants in Fort Myers, set facing Connie Mack Island. Sit on the screened porch, where breezes can get in but bugs can’t, and sup on the signature lobster bisque, grilled octopus with chili-lemon, garlic and sriracha aioli, or the seafood lasagne with vodka sauce. The menu also indicates every item that’s gluten free, which includes any of the grilled seafood selections that come from both close by, such as the mahi-mahi, snapper and grouper, and further away, such as the Atlantic salmon and King crab legs. Live entertainment in The Lighthouse lounge is a lovely way to extend your evening afterwards.
14301 Port Comfort Rd., Fort Myers, FL, 1-239-489-0770
Doc Ford’s Fort Myers Beach Rum Bar & Grille
This waterfront sports bar has both a real and a fictional history. Partially owned by journalist/novelist Randy Wayne White, its name and character is inspired by his novels’ protagonist, Doc Ford, a globetrotting marine biologist. Thus the menu reflects both Doc Ford’s and Randy Wayne White’s tastes for the tropics, with items ranging from Captiva crab cakes with jicama coleslaw and Key lime butter sauce to Campeche fish tacos with papaya pico de gallo to “Island-style” shrimp and grits (masa-dusted, pan-seared Gulf shrimp, jalapeo-cheese grits and julienne vegetables and green beans accented with Chef Greg’s homemade tomatillo sauce). Expansive dockside seating on Fisherman’s Wharf, coupled with live music, entices guests to linger at Doc Ford’s long after dessert.
708 Fisherman’s Wharf, Fort Myers Beach, FL, 1-239-765-9660
Fresh Catch Bistro Lounge and Raw Bar
When reading the address of Fresh Catch Bistro, note that “Fort Myers Beach” should be taken literally. This contemporary, white-tablecloth establishment truly does overlook the sand and surf, and on mild, sunny days, there’s no better way to enjoy an order of oyster sashimi (a half-dozen on the half shell topped with diced tuna, chives, cucumber, citrus soy sauce, wasabi aioli and tobiko) or Caribbean jerk mahi-mahi with tropical fruit salsa. When the season is too hot, the cool dining room beckons with “Chef’s Favourites” such as “Grouper Caprese,” fresh Florida black grouper with basil, tomatoes and mozzarella, drizzled with a balsamic glaze and served over risotto.
3040 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach, 1-239-463-2600
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Have you been to any of these waterfront seafood restaurants in Fort Myers? Which is your favourite? Let us know in the comments section below.
Written by Jen Karetnick