Known for its beautiful beaches, warm sunny days, and more shell varieties than anywhere else in the continent due to its shallow water plateau, Fort Myers is a vacation hotspot and a popular place to live for those who love the outdoors. With a population of just over 90,000, many have already made the choice to call the area home and these locals always know where to eat in Fort Myers. Though they may not be some of the trendiest places in town, these restaurants are certainly worth a visit–especially if you want great food in a relaxed atmosphere. Ready to discover what the locals already know? Try one of these spots for your next meal.

FANCY’S SOUTHERN CAFE

It’s easy to overlook this gem of a restaurant as it’s hidden in a strip mall, but Fancy’s Southern Cafe is certainly worth finding. From the vintage decor to the iconic Chicken n’ Waffles, Fancy’s won’t stay a hidden gem for long–especially since it was recently featured on Food Network’s “Extra Mile”. Better get there while you can to enjoy shrimp n’ grits, a Craw Daddy omelet, or traditional Southern breakfast. If lunch is more up your alley, you can stop in for fried okra, Florida hot chicken, or a meatloaf sandwich served with black-eyed peas and spicy coleslaw. Fancy’s also serves dinner (pot roast and chicken pot pie are local favorites) as well as cocktails, wine, and beer by the bottle.

THE LODGE

Local sports and beer lovers know the best place to go in the area for a game is The Lodge. With its fun lodge decor, self-poured craft beers, and excellent BBQ, the locals are even willing to put up with some of the downtown tourists to enjoy a meal here. If you do have plants to go, make sure to check out the nightly specials. Tuesday, for example, features BBQ pork or chicken tacos for just $3 each while Sunday is unlimited Bloody Mary and mimosa day (just $15 from 11 am to 2 pm). You can also stop in for The Lodge’s two different happy hours: either 11 am to 3 pm or, if you want two for one beer, wine, or cocktails, 3 pm to 6 pm. Both are offered Monday through Friday. As for the menu, expect to find BBQ nachos, chili, smoked chicken and apple salad, and all manners of BBQ combos served with a choice of sides and sauces.

FRESH CATCH BISTRO

Those who live in Fort Myers love supporting locally-owned businesses. That’s why many of them choose Fresh Catch Bistro when they want their fresh seafood fix. Located right on the beach, Fresh Catch offers outdoor waterfront dining starting with happy hour from 2:30-4:30 every day but Monday. The happy hour menu features small bites like mussels, chargrilled octopus and coconut shrimp as well as specials on wines by the glass, cocktails, and signature martinis. Stick around for dinner and you can feast on prime rib, crispy duck, grouper caprese, or day boat scallops served with bok choy, mushroom risotto, or a loaded baked potato. You can also create your own fresh seafood dinner by choosing the type of fish, how it’s prepared, what type of sauce tops it, and two sides. The bistro’s original location was closed due to Hurricane Ian, but the restaurant has since reopened at 4761 Estero Blvd.

LA TRATTORIA CAFE NAPOLI

La Trattoria Cafe Napoli is a charming culinary gem that captures the essence of authentic Italian dining. Nestled in the heart of the city, this quaint restaurant beckons with its warm ambiance and tantalizing aromas. The menu is a delectable journey through Italy, featuring classic dishes like homemade pasta, Spanish tapas, and flavorful seafood creations. The skilled chefs source the finest ingredients to craft each dish with passion and precision, ensuring a memorable dining experience. Whether savoring a romantic dinner for two or gathering with friends and family, La Trattoria Cafe Napoli's welcoming atmosphere and delicious cuisine make it a must-visit destination for Italian food enthusiasts in Fort Myers.

BRUNO’S OF BROOKLYN

Bruno's of Brooklyn, located in Fort Myers, is a culinary gem that brings the flavors of Sicily and the rich Italian-American heritage of New York City to the Sunshine State. With recipes that are over a century old, this restaurant is a testament to tradition and authenticity. The menu is a delectable journey through Sicilian-based cuisine, offering classic dishes that capture the essence of Italian-American cooking. From hearty pasta dishes to savory meatballs and other Italian favorites, Bruno's commitment to quality and heritage ensures a truly authentic and memorable dining experience.

LIBERTY

Small plates, an interactive atmosphere, and high energy are what you’ll find when you eat at Liberty. This unique little restaurant is reservation-only for parties of two or four and is focused on treating guests to a diverse experience of dining and enjoying beverages. Their menu is constantly changing and typically consists of a choice of 10-12 small plates like steak tartare served with egg pate and bone mayo, fatty duck breast with sweet potato and spicy maple, and shrimp toast with new-style sweet chili. Liberty also has a curated wine selection to pair with your small plates, or you can bring your own wine (corkage fee applies).

Though Fort Myers has plenty of tourist-friendly dining destinations, it’s fun to live like the locals and try out hidden gems that may not be on everyone else’s radar. If you are trying to decide on where to eat in Fort Myers, you simply can’t go wrong with any place on this list.

HOPING TO MAKE FORT MYERS YOUR HOME?

Looking for a new home in the Fort Myers area? Reach out to the experienced Fort Myers real estate agents at The Guillette Group. They’ll be happy to answer any questions and show you what’s currently on the market.