Saying YES in Sanibel & Captiva, Florida

One of our favorite destinations for a couple/few days in the month of December is Captiva Island off of the west coast of Florida. In order to get to Captiva, one must travel through Sanibel Island, “the shell capital of the world”.
There is also certain peace and quiet one finds on this island that is quite unique…and a whole load of restaurants too!
Until this trip, we pretty much followed the same routine. We ate dinner the first night in the South Seas Plantation hotel restaurant and either went to the Key Lime Bistro or the Mucky Duck on other nights. Lunch was the burger, Chinese chicken salad or the chicken Caesar salad within the peace & tranquility of the hotel pool and it’s fountain.
This visit, however, was going to be different. We decided to try some new restaurants, and as timing would have it got our first recommendation while sitting on the beach waiting for the sunset (everyone sits at the beach for sunset). Since I, and most folks, like to go to a restaurant with a recommendation, we were heartened with a two thumbs review for a restaurant in Sanibel by two lovely ladies…
mom Suzie & daughter Mica. As we all marveled at the sunset…they suggested Doc Ford’s (Yes, the same Doc Ford character in Randy White’s novels) in Sanibel. So…off we went!
The place was packed, however the wait was a modest 15 minutes…which gave me time to cruise the floor for possible dinner choices.One dish looked better than the next, so I was forced to interview the waitresses while cruising.
I decided on the Doc Ford’s Original (the word “original” raises my eye brows…Ray’s Pizza in NYC being the exception…and Ill get to that story very soon) Lime Panko Crusted Seared & Baked Fish Sandwich served with a side of rice & beans and slaw. They say it was voted the “best fish sandwich”. By who, I didn’t ask. Why argue with success?
Instead of the remoulade that came with the dish, I asked for a side of pineapple salsa…something I saw being served with a grilled grouper fish dish while cruising the floor for dinner choices.
Sandy opted for the New England clam chowder to start and for the burger…her favorite choice in a new restaurant.
Bottom line…The chowder was fabulous and a burger in a seafood restaurant was a social success along with my Doc Ford’s Original with the pineapple salsa that would have been a winner on just about any of the fish dishes.
The carrot cake was as good as a slice from Billy’s or Magnolia Bakery in NYC.
Thank you to our waitress Cindy for your fabulous service with a smile…and to Manager Elizabeth “Liz” for your social grace and your fine reception. Not only do we look forward to coming back, we will be sure to send others your way.
Thank you Suzie and Mica from the beach of the South Seas Plantation. Please send more suggestions 🙂

Another food find for dinner was “Cantina Captiva” in Captiva. On our way around town, you have to pass  this restaurant all the time, and we never saw it. Sandy wanted to have Mexican or Southwestern and we wound up at this little gem of a restaurant with smiling, happy people like (left to right) Chris, Aldo and THE chef both in and out of the kitchen.
I ordered the soft flour carnitas (pork) taco combination plate and Sandy ordered the ground beef tacos in the crispy corn tortillas. Both were served with refried beans and yellow rice and topped with cheese, lettuce and pico de gallo. Corn chips and salsa also accompanied our meal. A complement of Mexican beer and friendly & helpful servers leaves you pleasantly full and with room for dessert.
On this night, however, we chose to walk about and found a fabulous slice of key lime pie around the corner at Key Lime Bistro and a latte at Latte Da.
One more thing and something you surely don’t see every day is an interior festooned with dollar bills made into art by all who eat there. They give you colored markers to create your own dollar bill work of art and a stapler to find a place to post your artwork. When you leave, you know you have left your mark and will be back again for the fun of it all and the great food.
Aldo…thank you for your hospitality. We look forward to returning soon and spreading the word about our food find!

On our return trip to the east coast of Florida, Sandy wanted to stop at a fast food spot that went by the name of Schnappers Hots in Sanibel…so off we went. We passed it so many times and I always wondered if “hots” meant hot dogs. Never having even gotten out of the car to see, the assumption it was a hot dog the little boy was eating on the sign out front. Frankly (no pun intended), it could have been anything.
Again, the menu says “Voted Islands Best Take-out” without giving credit to the publication.
It turns out hot dogs were their specialty, however I’m not writing about their hot dog.
Plain & simple…and to my totally shocked surprise, their marinated grilled chicken breast sandwich on a fabulous “fresh baked roll” was absolutely, positively, hands down, the best grilled chicken I have EVER tasted. WOW!
I’m sure it had nothing to do with my on the spot mixture of yellow mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise, and sweet relish…condiments offered on the side to enhance every bite of whatever they serve…but everything to do with however they prepared their chicken for the grill.
This most moist and tender breast was seared on both sides and then sliced diagonally from left to right and seared for a third time on the previously unseared side.
Either way you look at it, I know I’ll be back…and…should you ever decide to make Sanibel or Captiva Islands in Florida your destination…trust me on these dishes.
Again, I must remind you that we only tout the virtues of what we ourselves have eaten.
That said…
If you are ever in Fort Lauderdale or Boca Raton, Florida…
Hands down…the best Subs, Hero’s or “Hoagies”,as they call them, I have ever eaten in these United States of America are in these cities. The name you should remember…and make the time to get to…is LaSpada’s.
Trust me that even though I have only eaten the Italian Hoagie…I would venture to say most, if not all, of these “hoagies” will be among the best you will ever have.

                  Mangia Baby!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *