Dining Outside the Home: Tavern on the Bay in Naples, Florida! Imagine yourself on a sunny afternoon, perched at the edge of a patio, under a swaying palm tree, sipping on a refreshing beverage with a panoramic view of Naples Bay. Ahhh. These are the moments when Time stands still. Notice the Mediterranean-style architecture, the brick-laden pathways, the gurgling fountains, and the waterfront activity. It practically feels like an oasis in the middle of paradise. Feeling hungry? The Tavern on the Bay menu has you covered. The freshest ingredients are used in an ahi poke bowl, chopped salad, prime rib slider, snapper sammie, or shrimp taco. It sure makes choosing something a tough decision. No worries. There really isn’t a wrong choice. Sit back and enjoy.
Dining Outside the Home: Island Gypsy Cafe & Marina Bar in Naples, Florida! Take a side turn off the main drag and you’ll find yourself on a winding road to the magical Isles of Capri, a charming waterfront community as sought after as a coveted treasure map. The Island Gypsy Cafe is recognizable by its weathered bar, salvaged from the stern of an original sea vessel destroyed by a hurricane years ago. Once upon a time the Island Gypsy was a 65-foot fishing boat. Absorb the history of yesteryear among the ambiance of present day. The outdoor Café serves a delightful array of fresh seafood, including coconut shrimp, citrus crusted tuna sashimi, and macadamia nut mahi-mahi. Anyone who has a taste for onion rings will want to add a basket of hand cut batter-fried onion rings to share. The cocktails are as tropical as the desserts are famous. Find your path for hidden riches. And don’t forget to pack your appetite.
Dining Outside the Home: Pier 22 in Bradenton, Florida! Perched on the edge of the Manatee River since the 1920’s, with a panoramic view of the marina and beyond, Pier 22 is a road trip destination to Historic Bradenton that culminates in a fabulous meal on the riverside deck. From casual occasions on the patio to formal celebrations in the ballroom, time spent here becomes a memorable experience. The building itself resembles a charming Mediterranean villa with bobbing bateaux against the distant skyline. Meals are made from scratch, creating art-on-a-plate presentation worthy of the crown. Take your time by enjoying the seafood bounty, the gussied up entrées, the summery cocktails, and the fabulous desserts. No matter the hour or weather, Pier 22 transforms the entire scene into one of life’s perfect moments.
Dining Outside the Home: Naples Flatbread Kitchen & Bar in Estero, Florida! Whenever people get the choice to dine outside among potted palms and waterfall fountains, they choose it. The feeling of nature creates a calming atmosphere for casual conversation. Food seems to taste better, too. In essence, it’s almost like a mental vacation to embrace the ambiance. The food choices encompass cravings from Appeteasers to Gourmet Salads to Triple ‘B’ Burgers, Wraps, and Famous Flatbreads. But that’s not all… NFB spotlights a Tap Wall with over 50 domestic and craft beer choices available on a self-serve draft system. You’ll find beers, wines, hard seltzers, ciders, nitro cold brews, meads, and kombuchas. Seriously, if you’re a food and drink enthusiast, it’s time to check this place out. What have you got to lose?
Dining Outside the Home: Griggsby’s Station in Greenfield, Indiana! Located within walking distance from the museum home of Hoosier poet, James Whitcomb Riley, Griggsby’s Station is a farm-to-table gastropub open for homestyle dining at your leisure. It got its peculiar name from one of Whitcomb’s poems by the same title. Outdoor dining encourages a spirit of camaraderie where everyone is either your neighbor or your friend. Check the blackboard for daily specials on gourmet food and spirited drinks. What you see written there promises to be robustly flavored and go well together. On occasion, live music is a treat for the evening, especially as the weather becomes warmer and people like to mingle. Look for the bright lights and the buzz of excitement. It’s right there on Main Street.
Dining Outside the Home: Deep Lagoon Seafood in Naples, Florida! What is “Real Florida”, you wonder. Ummm, good seafood. Whenever a restaurant is crowded, we default to a seat at the bar. Rule Number #1, the drinks come faster and Rule Number # 2, you can order food from the menu. Here’s another secret, bar space at most restaurants has become de facto dining. Singles love it, couples are intrigued, and bartenders become your new best friend. That was our first experience at Deep Lagoon. No matter how rushed and harried a bartender may appear, grabbing a drink is easy, ordering a snack is fun, but eating a full dinner is elation. The guy on the stool next to you attests that the Chilean Sea Bass is phenomenal. “You should get it.”, he says. Decision made. Grilled asparagus comes with it; like icing on a cake. Be friendly, but not over eager and you’ll create memories that are worth writing about.
Dining Outside the Home: Cibao Grille in Naples, Florida! Don’t let the formality of the fine dining restaurant in the Neapolitan Way Shopping Center intimidate you. There’s a cozy table for two in the bar where you still receive the personal touch for some of the best Caribbean food to cross your lips. Attention to detail, by the master chef, makes every entree frame-worthy for your next social media post. Go ahead, try something out of the ordinary like the pan seared sea scallop medallions. The slightly crunchy outer layer reveals a soft and chewy center that will practically make your eyes roll back. The succulent sweet taste has a tender, buttery flavor some people actually refer to as the “candy of the sea”. Notice the large size. This is good. Keep in mind, though, the larger the scallop, the higher the price. When you want the best dining experience, Cibao Grille is worth every penny.
Dining Outside the Home: Three60 Market in Naples, Florida! Ever wonder how a business chooses its name? Word is, Three60 Market is the talk-of-the-town for “offering world class wine for sale by only marking up each bottle $3.60”. Their website confirms it. As if that isn’t enough of a reason to drop by, imagine this. As you pull into the parking lot, you are greeted by swaying palm fronds bordering a charming plantation-style cafe with a backdrop of Haldeman Creek. Freshly prepared meals can be enjoyed under shaded umbrellas on the open-air decks. Because who doesn’t love waterside dining? Might I suggest a pecan sticky bun to accompany your morning cuppa joe? The buttery cinnamon and brown sugar sweetness is perfect with the nutty crunch. Dress is casual in this cozy pet-friendly environment. Before you head out, better pick up some wine and cheese for later on. Island getaways are hard to find.
Dining Outside the Home: Mr. Big Fish Seafood Grill in Naples, Florida! When a city thrives bordering on the Gulf of Mexico, seafood restaurants are a natural choice. One glance at the menu brings assurance that the fish is either freshly caught by local fishermen or flown-in daily. The casual vibe invites patrons to gather around the bar, choose a table for two, or dine alfresco surrounded by activity. Either way, the wait staff is attentive. Specialty cocktails, like the Ultimate Bloody Mary, include fresh garnishes for snacking. Tasty. As for the menu selections…raw, seared, grilled, or smoked, each entrée is prepared to perfection. The Chilean Sea Bass is critically acclaimed and reasonably priced. You should try it. And before you leave, snap a photo of the big fish in the waiting area. It’s postcard-worthy.