It may or may not be open now, but when it officially enters the busy stripe of flashing lights cutting across Cape Coral, Backyard Beer Garden (239-540-5454, bybgarden.com) is destined to stand out. The pergola-covered terrace with hanging lights and lounge seats on Cape Coral Parkway is just one small part of the appeal. More than 20 craft brews plus a craft cocktail list will join a fully functional restaurant promising on-trend bao buns, shishito peppers and fried oysters.
There already were two hot launches of the day-to-evening drinking variety over the summer in Fort Myers: a second location of The Boathouse Tiki Bar & Grill (239-332-2628, theboathouseusa.com) far up north on the Caloosahatchee, with a swimming pool and faux beach, as well as the thatched-roof Bimini Bait Shack (239-360-2248, biminibaitshack.com), barely a lazy river’s length away from the Sanibel Causeway. Both serve food and are on-par with Margaritaville for a 5-o’clock-somewhere ethos. Bimini, disguised by a party-hardy tiki vibe, belies excellent Floribbean numbers like lime-kissed conch ceviche, plantain nachos and Gulf shrimp po’boys.
Down in Naples, the Bone Hook expansion is what’s up. A low-key, Cheers-y Chatterbox II (239-434-9600) also opened on U.S. 41 south of The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, and everyone is on the edge of their varnished picnic tables for the debut of Ankrolab Brewing Company (facebook.com/ankrolab-brewing-co), the latest in a string of premium microbreweries. Early renderings imply Ankrolab is destined for beer-garden greatness with a glass-fronted warehouse spilling onto a scenic terrace near Naples Botanical Garden.