Dining Outside the Home: Bonita Beach Balloon Bar & Grill in Bonita Springs, Florida! On your way back from the beach when you’re feeling as hungry as a shark and parched beyond feeling, make a stop at a friendly bar where open-air dining makes a spirit soar like a hot air balloon, no pun intended. The pub-style grub offers a delicious variety of flavors. It’s family-friendly and sits on the palm-lined main drag on Bonita Beach Road. It’s fairly new, since Covid anyway, but casual enough to feel like a neighborhood hangout. Get the taste of homemade with a southwest Florida twist. Take it from me, the grilled Shrimp Po’ Boy with a tangy Remoulade Sauce, toasted sub roll, fresh lettuce, and salty tomatoes did not disappoint. It’s Shrimpolicious.
Dining Outside the Home: Vergina Restaurant in Naples, Florida! Italians are known for their food culture as well as their leisurely meals. Located on 5th Avenue, a few steps away from the Sugden Civic Theater, is a great place for meeting people. It’s known as Vergina’s. The neo-classic architecture provides lovely patio dining as well as intimate gatherings inside along the u-shaped bar or at tables located throughout. Vergina’s crafted martinis by personable bartenders, an euphoric wine list, memorable cocktails, and leisurely Italian courses are reasons enough to stop by for social interaction or that weekly “date night”. Unwind where the music is lively, without drowning out personal conversations, and the appetite is fully sated.
Dining Outside the Home: Coconut Jack’s Waterfront Grille in Bonita Springs, Florida! Have you ever eaten in a tiki hut along the waterfront? The open air seating is a sought-after request for a stunning tropical view. It feels like being on a river in the tropics the way the trees embrace the shoreline like an island oasis. There’s no doubt atmosphere affects our perception of being carefree and downright sexy. At Coconut Jack’s the local seafood is fresh, the cocktails are thirst-quenching, and the experience is memorable. Oftentimes, the chef features a daily special that will leave you smiling all the way home. If seafood is your go-to choice, there’s plenty to choose from and more to look forward to on a return trip back.
Dining Outside the Home: Rusty’s Raw Bar & Grill in Estero, Florida! Just because a restaurant tells you they offer raw seafood doesn’t necessarily mean you have to order it. They do offer American fare that satisfies the burger-and-fries crowd. This cozy sports bar hangout seems to attract the “regulars” for their favorite brew as well as social connections for casual encounters. Face it, people enjoy small talk while viewing a game. It’s relaxing and comfortable. It’s actually fun to watch the bartender create drinks or talk about her current sunburn or newest tattoo. Alcohol can be a perk, and the comfort food is a bonus. Plus, a pause in the day has advantages. Attitude adjustments come free. If you drive by a place and see a row of cars and trucks in the parking lot, odds are it’s probably a pretty decent place and worth checking out. I did.
Dining Outside the Home: The Pub in Naples, Florida! Direct from London is an unique gastropub on the edge of Mercato, a hotspot destination in North Naples. Craving an English beer with a hearty meal? You chose the right place. View the constant flurry of activity on the outdoor patio while nibbling on the award-winning Fish & Chips platter. The Pub’s beer-battered haddock is so crispy you can hear the crunch in every bite. Dredge a chunk of fish through the homemade tartar sauce. It’s so creamy you may find yourself smacking your lips afterward. That’s where a good beer selection comes in handy. The UK-inspired menu offers quite a variety of pub grub, which doesn’t mean the portions are small. In fact, if you walk away hungry, it’s your own fault. Keep Calm and Brunch On.
Dining Outside the Home: British Open Pub in Bonita Springs, Florida! As you stroll past the life-size armored knight statue at the entrance to this British-themed restaurant, expect some hearty dishes paired with a cold pint or two. Inside the cozy little pub, choose a barstool, patio table, or comfy booth for semi-private conversations. The menu offers a nice selection of British favorites for a bit of the unusual including Fish & Chips, Pot Roast Pastie, Liver and Onions, or Banger & Mashed. Decisions, decisions. There’s quite a nice group of English Sandwedges for something a little different, especially if you add an order of Chips & Gravy. On second thought, better plan a return visit. Portions are generous, so chances are your eyes may be bigger than your stomach. Take a nontraditional trip “across the pond” without the expense of a plane ticket.
Dining Outside the Home: Old Naples Pub in Naples, Florida! Located in the heart of historic Third Street South, atop a winding staircase in an vine-covered brick building, is a cozy gathering place for tasty food, cold drinks, and complimentary dill pickles. That’s right, whole dill pickles. For Free. Whether you slide onto a stool along the bar, a seat near the window where dappled sunlight pours in, or a cafe table on the lush patio overlooking the sidewalk foot traffic… every spot has a jar of pickles within reach. Enjoy the relaxed feeling of an aged pub as you glance around at the historical memorabilia, including a wooden upright piano in the corner. This is definitely Old Naples. The menu has enough to satisfy every mood, especially if you’re hungry. It’s easy to see why stopping by is a favorite among locals and tourists alike.
Dining Outside the Home: Lansdowne Street in Bonita Springs, Florida! Whoever says Time Travel isn’t possible never set foot inside this New England-style pub featuring show stopping sports, gastronomic grub, and bottomless brews. Sure you can still pop in for a cozy table near the fireplace or an open table on the outdoor patio, even if you aren’t a Red Sox fan. It’s all about gathering together for a great meal of Tidbits, Soup, Wicked Huge Salads, Signature Sammies, or whatever the master chef chooses to feature that day. Look around. The memorabilia is as interesting as the patrons. Everyone is talking, laughing, or cheering from one end to the other. Next time you’re up for a lively experience, think Lansdowne Street where everyone seems to be a winner.
Dining Outside the Home: Off the Rock Tavern in Naples, Florida! The cozy laid back atmosphere of this place makes people feel relaxed, whether outdoors at shaded tables or indoors to watch the games. It’s the classic setting for your favorite alcoholic beverage, a place to engage in conversation, binge on bar bites, and linger over dinner. Guilt-free menu options encourage healthy choices with fresh ingredients. Don’t be shy; try something new. The day of this snapshot, a table was set…front and center…marked by American flags and personalized place cards. Its purpose was to honor the US military killed in a suicide bombing at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan. Thirteen bottles of beer sat ghostly untouched as a tribute for the lives of those brave Americans. When a restaurant community of servers come together like this for our military, is it any wonder people gravitate here?