Saigon to Paris cafe
Despite its location on an industrial street in Central Naples, the tiny French-meets-Vietnamese cafe has developed a cult following for its baked-that-morning, buttery croissants and pastries (beautifully displayed in a French-style vitrine); jambon-beurre baguette sandwiches and classic pho; and sweet Vietnamese iced coffee.
The mother-son team behind downtown Naples’ new Uzbek eatery brings years of experience working at Alexander’s Restaurant to their first venture, which honors their native country with traditional dishes like palov (rice with beef, onions and grated carrots) and chuchvara (beef dumplings).
Restaurateur Suman “Sam” Chaniyil, owner of two Fort Myers restaurants dedicated to northern Indian cuisine, switches gears for his latest locale on Pine Ridge Road in Naples. Le Indya offers authentic southern Indian staples like tandoori shrimp along with an extensive menu of vegan fare like vegetable vindaloo, all of which expertly balance the dishes’ intense spices.
The Llama’s House
At Miromar Outlets in Estero, the South American-inspired gastropub modernizes Peruvian, Ecuadorian and Colombian staples. Choose from dishes like tostones bruschetta and mozzarella-filled yucca bites while sipping a classic Peruvian pisco sour.
Industry Beer & BBQ
“A lot of barbecue joints only focus on the proteins. Everything else is secondary. But at Industry, they take the time to actually make all of their sauces and sides in-house. When I go to a new [barbecue] place, my go-to is always the brisket. If you mess it up, it’s dry or turns to mush. At Industry, it’s always succulent and fork-tender.” —Chef Don Splain
What Else is New?
Although COVID-19 slowed the pace for big openings, Southwest Florida’s culinary scene has continued to expand and reinvent itself. In Fort Myers, Luminary Hotel & Co. garnered buzz for its three distinct dining concepts, including Oxbow Bar & Grill, which opened this spring in a revamped building jutting into the Caloosahatchee River. Bamboo, Sanibel’s first new Asian restaurant in decades, brought to us by the folks behind 400 Rabbits, opens this fall. And, on the music front, restaurateur Todd Brooks and country music star Ben Allen collaborated on a new indoor-outdoor dining and entertainment venue, Ben Allen’s Backyard Grill & Pub, in East Naples.
Takeovers and renovations are aplenty, too. Phelan Family Brands bought longtime local favorite The Bay House in North Naples and moved its Naples Park location of Deep Lagoon to the Pelican Bay area, with plans to turn the vacated space into Two Filets Seafood-Steak-Market, which debuts this winter. And tiny-sized, big-on-talent Harold’s added 74 seats and a whiskey-focused bar to its South Fort Myers space.
This season is also strong with second acts. Narrative Coffee Roasters debuted a larger sister location in the Naples Design with space for its roasting operations; Fort Myers’ Peruvian-Argentinian darling El Gaucho Inca opened an Estero location; and organic restaurant and market Food & Thought expands with a new North Naples location this fall. Then, toward the end of the year, Lake Park Diner’s second location, Bonita Beach Diner, comes along this winter, offering more modern comfort food and bombastic milkshakes.
In Bonita, the beer boom continues with two craft breweries, Ceremony and Hopsized, expected to start pouring pints this season. Premier caterer Crave Culinaire—which rebranded to Crave Companies and expanded its service area north to Sarasota—relocated to the city. And Chops City Grill’s Bonita location debuted a $1 million renovation this fall, transforming the space with rich velvet upholstery, silver accents and Italian crystal chandeliers.
Last but not least, La Colmar Bakery & Bistro returns to its original downtown location this fall, bringing back its masterful French breads and pastries.
—Chelle Koster Walton