Ft Myers Beach is best known for its sugar fine white sandy beaches, warm gulf waters and reputation as a fun-loving island. But did you know it also has lots of great restaurants that offer a variety of cuisines? I would like to give you a personal tour of a few of these wonderful eateries that overlook Estero Bay. Estero Bay is the body of water that separates the island(s) from the mainland. The back bay’s beautiful Estuary is covered with lush tropical greenery with plenty of wildlife which includes birds, marine life and island dwelling animals. It’s natural ambience makes for a great backdrop when enjoying your favorite beverage or meal.
The first place I would like to feature is more of a fine dine experience. It’s very quiet and rested in comfort with pampering service. Bayfront Bistro faces a secluded part of the back bay and provides a subtle view of the Yacht Club and Marina. The suggested attire for the upstairs dining is island semi-casual and downstairs is a little more relaxed, but still requires sensible taste.
Bayfront Bistro has a dockside patio that offers a selected menu, open air atmosphere and a full service bar. When the island’s breeze starts to slowly sway the overhead palm trees and the ocean air meets your senses, there is no other place to be for a special occasion or get together.
The maître d immediately recognizes your presence and offers a friendly smile. The upstairs’ dining area offers two choices of seating, which includes inside under a controlled climate or an outdoor southern style covered patio with island fans. If you chose the outdoor patio, your table will be awaiting you with views overlooking the back bay. The tops of the palm trees will provide a tropical feel that makes island dining a dream.
At first glance, the Entrees’ menu seems very limited and simple. Which it is, but simple it’s not. It covers all the main food groups and offers its best dishes for the most selective taste desired. My partner chose the creole Shrimp Primavera and I selected the Cippino. I was eyeing the Lobster Stuffed Branzino, but the medley of seafood in the Cippino made my final decision for me.
The inside dining area and its formal bar setting are seamless to each other. You can enjoy a cocktail before you adjourn to the dining area. No matter which dining area you chose to savor your specially prepared dish, your evening will be a memorable one.
There is a place on the back bay that will sound rather peculiar by name. But believe me you will enjoy the festive atmosphere and casual setting. It offers a variety of dining experiences in a split-level two story building with up and down patios.
Nervous Nellie’s Crazy Waterfront Eatery is the restaurant, dockside patio and full service bar that occupies the first and split-level sections of the restaurant. The inside dining area offers more of a relaxed experience where conversations can be shared easily. A sit-at bar is located adjacent to and sets up a little higher to the inside dinning area. It possesses the same laid back atmosphere and is usually filled with small talk. The dockside patio is where all the excitement happens at Nervous Nellies. It’s views of the Yacht Club and harbors across the bay makes for a boat watchers paradise. Entertainment on the patio is a constant happening. On any particular day or night there could be local acts, a Nashville recording artist or even a chart topping entertainer. Boaters can pull up and dock for free with added assistance from Nellies dock-hands. You can dine, sip on your favorite beverage and enjoy the entertainment and views all in one area.
Nervous Nellies also has a specialty bar that sets on the second floor. It’s called Ugly’s Waterside Bar. It promotes itself as more of a gathering place with a partying atmosphere. It also features an all day happy hour, plenty of flat screen TV’s and host live music on certain days. Its extended patio sets just above the first floor’s awning and provides a broad view of Matanzas Pass and the back bay’s opening to the Gulf.
The inside area is full of windows that allow lots of sunshine in. You can enjoy the view while siting at the nicely finished bar or one of the many tables available for larger groups. The extensive menu is offered anywhere in the building. It has over 215 items that include appetizers, specialty dishes, seafood, sandwiches and salads. Nervous Nellies and Ugly’s offer free parking for its customers. They are also located next to a small parkway with a covered Gazebo that you can sit and watch the passing boats going in and out of the back waters.
The south end of the island with all its high-rises seems to be a little more quieter than its northern counter part. In the midst of the towering giants sets a quaint little restaurant and bar known simply as The Fish House. It has a local feeling that not only attracts the full-time residents, but also the many seasonal visitors that come to the island to escape their frozen origins.
When you first walk through the colorfully painted purple doors, you know you have entered into a true island oasis. The bright colors will lift your spirits immediately. You can sit at the bar where not one of the chairs is painted exactly the same. The walls display a nautical décor that fits the island’s happy go-lucky attitude. You can also select a booth under one of the cooling overhead fans. The service is very friendly and easy going. You will always be treated as a neighbor and not as a customer.
The Fish House has a great Happy Hour that includes beer, wine and mix drink specials. The Happy Hour menu has a hot or cold fresh peel and eat shrimp basket that can’t be beat. There are also other items to chose from like fish dip and hot wings. Happy Hour is 3 to 6 and all day on Saturday and Sunday.
The Fish House offers outdoor dining. Its simple décor provides a casual setting that matches its local demeanor. Its sweeping views across the small harbor and neighboring towers gives a perfect blend to formulate a neighborly dining pleasure. The staff are very friendly and welll-versed for any type of conversation. Their menu covers a wide variety of taste. It has but is not limited to fresh seafood prepared to your liking, salads, sandwiches and an assortment of seafood baskets.
The Fish House sits right next door to the Fish Tale Marina. If you like boating or enjoy being around the boating community, then The Fish House is the dock-stop for you. Captains pull up to the docks and stop in for a quick lunch, snack or dinner. On any given day you can eavesdrop on a few boating stories. You might even hear about the day’s tale of the fish that got away. No matter what day or night of the week it is, The Fish House will provide a laid back island atmosphere for all to enjoy.