It’s no secret that one of our favorite things to do when traveling is eat. Actually, it’s just a favorite thing all the time, who am I kidding. And we have such a great selection of pretty much everything we could ever want in DC, so while I won’t say we are picky about food we are particular.
Of the many places we have traveled, I find the restaurant reviews on Sanibel and Captiva to be probably the worst batch of reviews. Some are utterly ridiculous (there was a mosquito in the restaurant!), and Sanibel and Captiva attract a really wide range of guests so it is hard to guage–for lack of a better word–what their experience with food is (and what their expectations are). You aren’t going to find fancy tapas with foam here, but you can find a great meal. So here are our favorites, what we go there for, and why we like them. These are the old standbys when we visit each year…
1. Island Pizza
Are you looking for good, un-frilly pizza that isn’t a chain? Island Pizza (Sanibel) is a great option for dinner. I actually like their pizza more than any pizza I get in DC, mainly because it reminds me of Tony’s in Wyoming which is what I grew up on. While we usually order pizza, we ordered calzones this year and they were quite delicious, large, and contained plenty of toppings. They deliver on Sanibel too, which is a bonus if you are feeling too lazy–I mean too much in vacation mode–to go pick it up. Plus, this way we can watch the ocean from our balcony while eating. Menu is here. I’d estimate between $10-$20 per person, depending on whether you eat 1 slice or 6…
2. Doc Ford’s
Also good for dinner, with multiple locations (see their website) you can head to Doc Ford’s whether you are on Sanibel or Captiva. They have some cool saltwater fish tanks which captivate children (and adults) as well as lots of seating. In addition to lots of menu options ranging from seafood, to tex mex, to steak, they also have one of the better selections of local craft beer on draft anywhere on the two islands. We’ve tried lots of things here, and the only disappointment we had was the oysters. They were fine, but not as good as elsewhere. Two thumbs up for shrimp flatbread, fish, tacos, and DH approved of their ribeye as well. Cost is between $25-$40 per person, depending on how many courses and how much alcohol.
3. Mucky Duck
We haven’t eaten dinner here in probably 15 years, but frequent the Mucky Duck for lunch and beer by the beach. With a prime location, the Mucky Duck on Captiva can get crazy busy, so heading there earlish or later (kitchen closes at 3) is a wise idea. They have a great selection of beer, including the Mucky Duck Red Ale, as well as delicious beach-bar food for lunch. DH goes for the clam strips, I’m a fan of the duck duck shrimp, that are a bit spicy but utterly delicious. Good clam chowder as well. Click here for their website; lunch is between $15-$20 with one beer.
4. Bubble Room
Again, we have been here for dinner, and while I haven’t had a bad meal, it’s not our favorite place to eat. What it is our favorite for is…CAKE. The Bubble Room on Captiva has famous desserts. While there are many options, our standby selections are the chocolate torte, the cheesecake, and the red velvet. We like the Bubble Room so much we opted for their cakes for our wedding desert, which was a universal success. The slices are HUGE, and they will serve you usually anytime after 11am. We did have someone refuse us cake at 4:45pm this year, which was bizarre, and we had to wait until 5pm. It was worth those 15 minutes. Nom nom nom. Cake is about $8 a slice: website. Yes, the website plays super annoying music.
5. Blue Coyote
Relatively new to us, the Blue Coyote is a great choice for either lunch or dinner on Sanibel. Our lunch was delicious, with some of the best fish tacos I’ve had and a burger I would order again in a second. The ceasar wrap was also a great option. We’ve only been here for lunch due to their slightly bizarre dinner schedule, but I would not hesitate to return. Plus, the coyote art is pretty fascinating. Trust me on that. Lunch is $15-$25 per person, depending on number of courses and entree, without drinks (menu).
6. The Lazy Flamingo
Whether you want a quick bucket of peel and eat shrimp or a larger meal, the Pink Flamingo is a great place to go for consistently decent food without fuss. There are two locations, one at either end of Sanibel. Seating at the Blind Pass location near Captiva is short and can be very hard to come by; but the beer is cheap (in either location)! They have the best oysters we have found on the island as well as conch fritters and conch chowder if that’s what you are looking for. Don’t expect frills, expect simple, properly prepared seafood. They do offer some chicken options as well (no experience there, sorry). You can find their menu here; meals are $10-$20 for large portions.
In addition to these favorites, we have some other restaurants that have usually been pretty good, though we’ve had one or two misses with them and go there slightly less frequently, like The Timbers (great seafood market though), The Green Flash, and the Sunset Grill. There are a few places left we’ve never been, including the Madhatter (#1 on our priority list) and Il Cielo, which looks pretty tasty as well. While I won’t call out the restaurants we’ve been unhappy with by name, I’ll just say that we were not impressed with some places that were serving “fancy” or “complicated” food items; they were wildly overpriced and no where near the quality we get in DC.
The real problem? Always too many places to try, too much food to be had, and never enough time!