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: La Sorpresa Latina Cuban Cafe in Naples, Florida! For the real taste of Cuba, you go to the source. But if a journey 90 miles from the southernmost point of Florida is not in the near future, no worries. Thanks to La Sorpresa, a family-owned place for a quick bite and a signature coffee, you can get a killer Cuban Sandwich stateside. This popular sammie is stuffed with shredded pork, sliced ham, Swiss cheese, dill pickles, and yellow mustard. Go ahead and add some hot sauce for extra kick. Everything is pressed together like a panini, making it the perfect handheld option. Because the crusty bread is bakery-made, you might think about sharing. Cuban bread is formed in the shape of a baguette, only with plenty of air pockets, so it could be over twelve inches long. It has a touch of sweetness that makes you crave another bite. We ordered two Cuban Sandwiches the first time and ended up cutting one in half for lunch. ‘Course that meant we got to eat the same thing the next day. By the time we left the café, we had an order of plantains and an extra loaf of Cuban bread. After all, dreams do come true. You just have to believe it.
Dining Outside the Home: Tacos & Tequila Cantina in Fort Myers, Florida! If going South of the border gives you illusions of adventurous Tex Mex meals filled with bold ingredients and health benefits, this is the place to try. Keep in mind the focus is on tacos. After all, it’s their specialty. With over two dozen ways to fill a taco with meat and seafood, vine-ripened tomatoes, shredded lettuce, sautéed onions, Mexican cheeses, grilled tortillas, pico de gallos, and more, there’s something for every funky craving you can think of. The decor is fun and quirky. Look up to see hanging chandeliers made of empty tequila bottles. The walls are covered with vibrant sugar skulls as well as fiesta “Day of the Dead” custom pieces, making every visit a celebration. Be daring. Try something new. And for goodness sake, be brave enough to try the spicy margarita. That’s kinda the point.
Dining Outside the Home: Bistro La Baguette in Naples, Florida! When craving traditional French food without the cost of a plane ticket, look for a place that is tied to its roots. Bistro La Baguette offers classic French fare. The kitchen is a bounty of fresh ingredients for traditional dishes as well as decadent pastries, which are featured in a glass showcase at the counter. A shaded porch, surrounded by hanging draperies and green plants, offers open-air seating steps away from the dining room and wine cellar. The velvety green salads are overflowing with garden produce and topped with a heavenly house made dressing. Whether you’re nibbling over lunch or in for a gourmet experience, taking time is the secret to living like a Francophile.
Dining Outside the Home: Alice Sweetwater’s Bar & Grille in Naples, Florida! When you’re in the mood for a fabulous eatery defined by fresh ingredients, flavorful cocktails, and decades-old cooking with a modern twist, look no further. Ask for seating on the outdoor deck; it’s worth the wait if you enjoy being on the edge of a party. Start off with a salt-rimmed Jalapeño Margarita. Sip it slow or you may find yourself seeing pink flamingos. “Take a walk on the water side!” Lobstah-lovers will certainly appreciate the Lobster BLT sammie on a grilled baguette with crunchy fries and creamy coleslaw. If you are a foodie looking for a variety of tasty dishes, plus an inviting vibe beckoning locals and tourists alike, then give Alice Sweetwater’s a try.
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.
Dining Outside the Home: Mr. Tequila Authentic Mexican Restaurant in Naples, Florida! When one restaurant owner boasts about an additional place to try, my ears usually perk up. Mexican food is one of my favorites, especially authentic family-owned restaurants with a story to tell. Rafael Romo, born in Guanajuato, migrated to the United States as a teenager. With a good work ethic, he understood the commitment required for a successful business. His journey progressed into a food truck where he sold Mexican food infused with family traditions. Over time he gained more knowledge and experience. Then Mr. Tequila was born. Now popular as a farm-to-kitchen cantina, people flock here for grilled specialties that are bound to become favorites. Some of the drool-worthy dishes include crispy flour shells, grilled seafood and veggies, gooey melted cheese, creamy guacamole, marinated meats, and always fresh pico de gallo. Happy Hour margaritas definitely make late afternoon quite satisfying. For a dining experience rich in culture where people are greeted by name, this place fits the bill.