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10 Best Fort Myers Beach Restaurants

SmarterTravel

Located on Estero Island, Fort Myers Beach is both a township and a larger, more colloquial frame of reference. Its restaurants showcase a variety of cuisines and cultures, but many of the best Fort Myers Beach restaurants highlight the spectacular West Coast sunsets, feature outdoor seating, and make as much use as possible of the local bounty.

10 Best Fort Myers Beach Restaurants

Choosing between the best Fort Myers Beach restaurants is difficult, so here’s a list to help you narrow your choices.

The Dixie Fish Co.

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Fashioned after a classic Florida fish house, this favorite Fort Myers Beach restaurant, which began life in 1937 as a market selling mullet, snapper, clams, and oysters, has a stunning view of Matanzas Harbor. It’s not just waterfront dining—the restaurant patio actually sits out over the water. Grab a spot outside on the extensive dock and sup on the “pink gold,” the nickname that was given to the local fresh shrimp that are as plentiful as sunsets. You can also choose among a selection of freshly caught fish including grouper, mahi-mahi, snapper, and other Gulf fish.

With a tin roof and no windows, this open-air restaurant has weathered hurricane winds, tidal surges, and more. The Dixie Fish Co. also offers live music most evenings.

Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grill 

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Named for novelist Randy Wayne White’s well-known character, this sports-bar sibling to The Dixie Fish Co. is a waterfront institution. It’s also now a chain with three locations, but the original spot is within splashing distance of Dixie. Fare is mostly Caribbean-inspired fish and seafood, though there’s an occasional outlier (Maine lobster, Scottish salmon, Texas barbecue ribs). The menu is extensive, so even large groups won’t have trouble feeding everybody.

Randy Wayne White was a full-time fisherman before he started writing, and his personal history is detailed on the menu. Read it while you wait for your meal, or put the menu down, kick back, and listen to the live entertainment; it gives you a great glimpse into what Fort Myers Beach was like before it became a vacation spot.

Flipper’s on the Bay 

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Flipper’s offers peaceful surroundings even in the months when Fort Myers Beach feels inundated with tourists. Here, the tropical-centric menu brings seasonal harvests (citrus, mango, coconut, banana) and aquaculture (grouper, snapper, shrimp), and blends them with Latin staples (corn, beans and root vegetables). Executive chef Juan Cruz, an El Salvador native who trained with Wolfgang Puck and Thomas Keller, serves three squares per day in this lovely Lover’s Key Resort restaurant. His hand with mother sauces ties every dish together as if with silk thread.

Sit outside for a view of Estero Bay—you might even catch a glimpse of dolphins at play.

Fresh Catch Bistro

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You might have noticed a theme about the best Fort Myers Beach restaurants: They all follow a certain predictable equation. Great seafood + gorgeous views = a true winner. But the truth is, it’s easy to produce a superior sunset when you have the location. Just look west. The product, too, isn’t that hard to source—this is the Gulf of Mexico, after all. Putting it together the way Fresh Catch Bistro does is just a bit harder. This fine-dining spot is literally beachside—the sand is mere inches away—yet it manages to pull off table linens, genteel service, and stunning, five-star fare that’s beautifully plated.

Appetizers pull influences from all over the globe, but main courses are mix-and-match—you choose the protein (try the hogfish), the preparation (Caribbean jerk), and the sauce (with tropical fruit salsa). Technique is impeccable, and while an excellent wine list is on offer, the martinis here rock as well.

Heavenly Biscuit

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This cottage restaurant, which appears to have been transported from a Caribbean island, is justifiably famous. As such, it’s always busy—expect to wait in line to try the biscuits. Are they worth the wait? Yes—especially given what’s served alongside them, options that range from your typical eggs, bacon, smoked sausage or honey ham to a salmon steak, ahi tuna, fried chicken, or a country fried steak. 

The Heavenly Biscuit is open for breakfast/brunch and lunch, but only takes cash. Fortunately, there’s an ATM in the restaurant if you get carried away.

Hoosiers in Paradise

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If you’re from the Midwest and visiting Fort Myers for vacation, look no further. This neighborhood bar and restaurant will make you feel right at home, offering pork loin sandwiches and “spudskins” (half-cut potatoes filled with cheese, bacon and scallions, or chili and cheese). But it’ll also give you that home-away-from-home feeling, as it’s known for its fish tacos filled with beer-battered fried cod, homemade broccoli slaw, and sweet-hot habanero sauce. Picnic tables on a patio account for the “paradise” part of the name. Ultracasual and filling, Hoosiers in Paradise is the perfect way to recharge after a day at the beach.

The Lighthouse Restaurant & Bar

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For a dichotomous kind of dining, check out The Lighthouse at Port Sanibel Marina, which overlooks the waters that lead to Connie Mack Island. When you sit outside on the 160-degree deck—which is screened, incidentally, so no need for smelly bug spray—you have a dual landscape of superyachts and native wildlife. Inside, you’ll find a warm, homey lounge with nightly live entertainment, as well as an expansive, plantation-style dining room.

The staff here is stellar, serving sophisticated seafood dishes that take advantage of the regional influences, plus steaks, chops, poultry, and pastas. The Lighthouse specializes in special events, so large family or friend groups don’t throw them in the slightest.

Smokin’ Oyster Brewery

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First fact: The name of this Fort Myers Beach restaurant is mostly a misnomer. It’s neither a brewery nor a smokehouse, though it does serve oysters. Fact number two: Call it S.O.B. like a local. Why? Why not. Fact number three: If you leave a piece of memorabilia from your home to add to the international collection covering the walls, you’ll probably give yourself away as a visitor. But you’ll also be immortalized at this popular joint, which has been collecting such stuff since it opened in 1997. Then order an ice-cold beer, a bowl of chowder, bucket of crabs, or plate of fried seafood, and sit back and listen to the live music.

Like many of the best restaurants in Fort Myers Beach, S.O.B. has an outdoor seating area—in this case, a porch of the renovated home that serves as its locale. Take advantage, especially during sunset.

South Beach Grille

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Located in Santini Marina Plaza, South Beach Grille is named for and decorated to recall Miami’s Art Deco District. A former grocery store, the restaurant’s large dining room makes good use of its space with banquettes along one wall, a decorative bar along the other, an open kitchen at the back, and linen-covered tables throughout—all under a swirling geometric ceiling.

The fare is a global mix of seafood and meats, taking inspiration from New Orleans, Italy, Asia, and beyond. But it all works, given the high quality of the ingredients and the deft hands of the chefs. The staff can help you pair your meal with a drink from the generous wine list or a creative cocktail starring top-shelf liquor. For dessert, consider the fresh Florida citrus crème brulee or one of the spirited “ice cream” drinks instead.

Tuckaway Café

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Traveling with your pup? This European-style café welcomes dogs and humans, and offers free Wi-Fi to boot. Coffee drinks made with Lavazza espresso—not to mention fruit smoothies—are always in high demand, but this spot is more than simply a coffee house. For breakfast and lunch, there are two unique treats: authentic steamed bagel sandwiches loaded with fresh ingredients, and a traditional Liege “wafel,” made from a 400-year-old European recipe and topped with whipped cream.

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– Original reporting by Jen Karetnik

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