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Couple Dining in Matlacha

It’s always a good time to enjoy a great meal.

What’s on the Menu in Fort Myers?

We’ve got everything under the sun from caual waterfront dining to upscale wine bars and international plates — so you’ll find something to satisfy every appetite. Here are just a few of our favorite local dishes and drinks to seek out the next time you’re in town. 

The Fort Myers area has a long history in the shrimping industry, which was kicked off by the discovery of “pink gold” Gulf shrimp in the mid-20th century. San Carlos Island, tucked between the mainland and Fort Myers Beach, was an active hub for shrimping boats, and every year the locals gathered to celebrate this prized seafood. The Fort Myers Beach Lions Club Shrimp Festival has endured over the years, highlighted by a 2-mile-long parade and festive shrimp boil supplied by the fleet that arrives at Shrimp Boat Lane on Fort Myers Beach. Though the event was canceled last year, it’s expected to return in March 2024 better than ever.

From October through May, stone crab season is a time that all locals excitedly anticipate every year. You can order stone crab claws with drawn butter, in salads and as part of seafood platters in restaurants and seafood markets across Southwest Florida. Look forward to enjoying these juicy, meaty claws that are harvested sustainably. After harvesting the claws, the crabs are returned to the sea where they regenerate.

Ever heard of a mullet toss? No, it’s not the latest hair trend. It’s a Pine Island tradition that takes place in March, where locals line up to grab a fish out of a basket and toss it as far as they can to be crowned the champion. The Island Fest Mullet Toss & Seafood Festival raises funds and brings together crafts vendors, fishing seminars and food stands for a day full of fun. When mullet isn’t being thrown around, you can find it on menus around Pine Island and Matlacha — fried, pan-seared, smoked, and more.

When you dine out in Fort Myers, you’ll likely be delighted by a dish that you’ll want to recreate the moment you get back home: beach bread! Imagine a thick slice of French bread slathered in garlic butter and layered with multiple kinds of cheese, onions and tomatoes and baked to perfection. Restaurants throughout the region put their own spin on it — maybe throwing on olives, bacon or spicy jalapeños — but everyone agrees that this local favorite is an essential part of their dish.

When it first opened in 2012, Fort Myers Brewing Co. paved the way for Southwest Florida’s craft beer boom and its legacy continues to run strong. Within this brewery and in other bars and restaurants around the region, you’ll spot the famed High 5 IPA — a hoppy, citrus-forward beer served from Fort Myers Brewing Co.’s signature green can.

Cape Coral’s Wicked Dolphin Rum relies on regional ingredients and small-batch techniques to craft its award-winning rum. Using sugarcane sourced from Florida, handcrafted in a copper pot and aged in authentic bourbon barrels, Wicked Dolphin rum has made its mark all around the state. Take a tour of the distillery to see the process firsthand and pick up your own bottle to bring home to create cocktails like a Blue Floridian or a mango kiwi mojito.

What’s your favorite place to dine, drink and celebrate in Fort Myers? Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more inspiration.