Dine in a postcard-perfect setting right on the beach with your toes twirling soft white sand at The Turtle Club at Vanderbilt Beach. Share oysters “Turtlefeller” or the rich seafood chowder. Two must-haves are roasted Gulf grouper and lump crab drizzled with citrus beurre blanc and pan-roasted jumbo sea scallops with zingy apricot-horseradish sauce. The rhythm of the waves is relaxing. Linger by candlelight over the chocolate nemesis’ layers of rich chocolate and moist chocolate cake or a buttery crusted wild berry tart, then stroll barefoot along the moonlit beach. 9225 Gulf Shore Drive, Naples, 592-6557, vanderbiltbeachresort.com/dining
Relaxing on the Sunset Grill Restaurant’s shaded porch as waves lap the nearby shore is just pure bliss, Sanibel-style. It’s hard to beat the Maine-lobster-and-lump-crab cakes with vanilla rum sauce and mango crème fraiche or the savory garlic-herb stuffed fried baby artichokes. Seared macadamia nut-encrusted redfish topped with coconut rum butter and a drizzle of Key lime beurre blanc is a classic. Savory apple and brie bread pudding is a major magnet. Finish with the warm butter-sautéed pear tart’s gooey-luscious center. 6536 Pine Ave., Sanibel, 472-2333, sunsetgrillsanibel.com
Lee Roy Selmon’s is my Southern cooking go-to spot and a terrific sports bar, too. The oh-so-tender chicken wings are the best—marinated, slow smoked, grilled and topped with spicy Oklahoma sauce. Share delicious pulled pork, beef brisket and cheeseburger sliders. Watch your favorite teams while enjoying Selmon’s steak, topped with melting garlic-Parmesan butter. Bacon and cheese grits and the cornbread casserole are wonderful. Raisin-bread pudding has stolen my heart with peach cobbler close behind. 5056 Daniels Parkway, 690-3287, leeroyselmons.com
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