Mel’s Diner in Bonita Springs, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Mel’s Diner in Bonita Springs, Florida! Flashback to the 1950’s where American Bandstand was popular for the best rock and roll music. Car Shows meant shine-up-your-car and put-it-on-display in the local park. Drugstore soda fountains served thick chocolate milkshakes, tangy lime phosphates, and cherry syrup-flavored cokes. Fast forward to current day where nostalgia is still popular at Mel’s Diner, a food joint popular from the movie “American Graffiti”. The menu highlights several burger options, pot roast platters with mashed potatoes smothered in brown gravy, beef liver and caramelized onions, black angus meatloaf, fried chicken, or anything else you can imagine for a taste of the “good ole days”. When you’re in the mood for comfort food, stop by for a meal that is worth the cost.

Off the Rock Tavern in Naples, Florida

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?

Celebration Park in Naples, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Celebration Park in Naples, Florida! Food trucks are all the buzz. Think about it. Resident chefs tend to zero in on specialized foods, are typically fresh, and often prepared on the spot when you place the order. They offer unique combinations for trying something new as well. In the mood for seafood? Try the lobster roll. Care for a cocktail? Permission granted. At Celebration Park an added bonus is a waterside table, a seat at the open-air tiki bar, or picnic table-style dining. With over half a dozen stationery food trucks, order a bite to eat or a complete meal. Happy Hour is often highlighted with live music. Green space encourages lawn games for friendly competition. An atmosphere filled with memories that encourage hanging out for relaxation turns an ordinary outing into a contagious destination.

Cibao Grille in Naples, Florida

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.

Tacos & Tequila Cantina in Fort Myers, Florida

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.

Three60 Market in Naples, Florida

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.

La Tavola Restaurant and Bar on Marco Island, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: La Tavola Restaurant and Bar on Marco Island, Florida! Have you ever stopped by a place and been so intrigued by the sleek lounge that you never made it to the restaurant? One peek at the wall of blue lights showcasing liquor offerings and spotless barware practically guarantees a remarkable cocktail. Choose your spirit and the bartender will create the libation. A short menu of tasty foods encourages patrons to linger awhile until live music fills the room with entertainment. This is how to keep the party pumping. Before you know it, another cocktail is ordered and the evening stretches out a little bit longer.

Fab Foodstuff

In a world of instant gratification, it may be tough to come up with new ideas for meals in a flash, let alone prepare them at home before someone in the house hits “pizza” on the speed dial. Truth is, there’s a world of fabulous options available. Let me help you, since I think about meal-planning practically all the time. If you open your mind to flavorful combinations, I promise you won’t be disappointed. Time flies on this journey of the palate. Thanks very much to all my followers on the website http://snapshotsincursive.com for the uplifting support, award nominations, and moving words of encouragement. Follow me on Facebook at Gail Dorna, on Instagram @gail_dorna and Twitter @ Snapshotsincursive. What’s cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? It’s as simple as A-B-C. One of my passions is being at home in my own country kitchen. No matter how much we travel, I relish the thought of returning there to create something delicious. I adore time-honored traditions using tried-and-true recipes. Yet, I often never think twice about tweaking old favorites or modifying others to suit the inner craving of the moment. The recipes you will find here in the next several weeks can be prepared very easily. Feel free to contact me with questions. Now take a deep breath, inhale the aromas, and join me on a tasteful journey entitled, “EATING MY WAY THROUGH THE ALPHABET: FAB FOODSTUFF!”

Margarita’s Restaurant on Marco Island, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Margarita’s Restaurant on Marco Island, Florida! For authentic Mexican food, you sometimes have to rely on a navigation system to find the place, especially the first time. After that, trust me, you’ll remember exactly where they’re located. Seating inside is available, but tables outside are nice without feeling crowded. It’s convenient enough for attentive servers to come and go, but specious enough for private conversations. The decor reflects the Mexican connection with carved chairs, vibrant artwork, and colorful tiles. Immerse yourself in the cultural experience with tasteful dinners, icy margaritas, and salsa that is just-right spicy. The Beef Rice Bowl is loaded with savory shredded beef, Mexican black beans, roasted corn salsa, diced tomatoes, and sour cream. Chopped cilantro can be sprinkled across the top, by request. Enjoy every bite down to the crispy flour tortilla bowl. Muy Bueno.