Seashell collecting in the “Sanibel Stoop” position is a world-renowned beach pastime on the Southwest Florida island. Where to eat on Sanibel Island is almost like shell collecting, there are many colorful gems to choose. Following are four restaurants with personality to enjoy.
Where to Eat on Sanibel Island, Breakfast at The Island Cow
Serving “udderly great food,” The Island Cow has a bovine theme. Cow mementos including sculptures, paintings, and toys are found throughout the restaurant. Metal milk jugs and oversized ceiling lamps similar to those found in a barn, wood floors and bright yellow walls with white and baby blue trim add a relaxing farmhouse feel.
Breakfast entrees are served fresh and portions are generous. Sample menu items include “Be Crabby,” a crab cake topped with scrambled eggs and cheeses, blueberry pancakes, and the tropical fruit plate.
The Island Cow serves breakfast daily beginning at 7 a.m. until 11 a.m. and Sundays hours are extended until noon. Located in downtown Sanibel, lunch and dinner are also served and take-out is available. (2163 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel Island; Tel: 239-472-0606)
Where to Eat on Sanibel Island, Lunch at The Mermaid Restaurant
Like The Island Cow, The Mermaid Restaurant drips with everything mermaid from whimsical paintings to kitsch little figurines. History of Sanibel and nearby Fort Myers can be found on the walls, too. Restaurant patrons can sit inside to take in the mermaid magic or outside on the patio to enjoy tropical breezes.
The Mermaid Restaurant’s lunch entrees are masterpieces and perfect portions. Entrees include coconut shrimp, cold poached seafood sub, and an Angus beef burger. The restaurant is open between noon and 9 p.m. daily and serves Sunday brunch between noon and 3 p.m. (2055 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel Island; Tel: 239-472-1242)
Where to Eat on Sanibel Island, Dinner at Courtney’s on Sanibel
Restaurants associated with hotels are hit or miss and Courtney’s on Sanibel is a hit. Located next to the Holiday Inn Sanibel Island Beach Resort, the restaurant serves up delicious entrees in a relaxed setting. The dining room’s focal point is a large Australian-pine tree trunk with roots tickling the ceiling.
Courtney’s on Sanibel dinner entrees are generous portions of popular dishes. The menu includes an array of pastas, seafood, poultry and beef. Dinner is served Monday through Saturday, 5 to 9 p.m. and Sunday 5 to 8:30 p.m. Lunch is served daily at the tiki bar between 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. (1231 Middle Gulf Drive, Sanibel Island; Tel: 239/472.4646)
Where to Eat on Captiva Island, The Bubble Room
For a trippy, nostalgic dining experience head to nearby Captiva Island and The Bubble Room. It’s as though Father Christmas married a classic Hollywood starlet and the two have merged their belongings. Waiters and waitresses are called Bubble Scouts and dress in khakis adorned with patches looking like camp counselors.
Opened in 1979, there are more than 3,000 photographs, toys, bubble lights, and artifacts on three levels. Dining tables are shadow boxes sharing Christmas cheer. Downstairs a toy train chugs throughout the dining area and upstairs an aquarium sets an aquatic ambiance. Black and white celebrity photographs transcend diners to Hollywood’s glamorous years of the ‘30s, ‘40s, and ‘50s.
The Bubble Room’s food presentation and taste is just as interesting as the décor. Popular dinner entrees include “Cluck Gable,” skewers of chicken; “The Eddie Fisherman,” grouper topped with a Ritz cracker and pecans prepared in a brown paper bag; and buttermilk battered shrimp. Top a meal off with The Bubble Room’s signature dessert, orange crunch cake.
The Bubble Room is open Monday through Thursday and Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4:30 to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. (15001 Captiva Drive, Captiva; Tel: 239/472.5558)