Season Preview / Hot Tables

SWFL’s 6 Most Anticipated Restaurants for Season 2023-2024

Look for a reservation at these new and upcoming spots.

BY November 1, 2023
Warren Naples
The hotly anticipated Warren Naples plans for a fall opening at The Collective in Naples.

Crow’s Nest Steakhouse

’Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa on Captiva Island ups the ante on its dining options with a new, panoramic second-floor restaurant overlooking the Gulf. Former Doc Ford’s chef Greg Nelson dishes haute surf-and-turf, like whiskey-cured pork belly, crab-stuffed cold-water lobster tail and Prime steaks dry-aged in-house for 30 days. For tipples, the bar stocks nearly 50 mostly American whiskeys, which are stirred into classic and inventive cocktails. The old-fashioned made with smoked cinnamon bitters, for instance, gets theatrically finished tableside with a flourish of smoke and flame.


Front Porch Social 

Front Porch Social adds to Cape Coral’s growing roster of spots for drinks and shareable plates. Opened by Jungle Bird Authentic Tiki’s Jeremy Vincent, the restaurant has one of the region’s best new bar programs (think effervescent, tea-infused rum cocktails and rose-dust martinis). But don’t overlook the food, which puts playful spins on familiar dishes, like street corn-topped deviled eggs and a beer-cheese-smothered cannelloni filled with brisket burnt ends.   


Le Colonial 

Following long-running locations in Chicago, Houston and Atlanta, French-Vietnamese Le Colonial opens on Fifth Avenue South this month after a two-year wait. The vibe is Old Naples meets 1920s Saigon with heavy, retro-chic mahogany millwork, louvered shutters, and palms positioned about the dining room and sidewalk patio. The cuisine and cocktails lean modern, with upmarket interpretations of Vietnamese flavors, like shaking beef made with filet mignon and lime-pepper vinaigrette, steamed sea bass in a delicate ginger broth and easy-drinking lychee martinis.   


Old Vines Naples at Mercato

At her small, tasting-menu-only East Naples restaurant, Old Vines Supper Club, chef Brooke Kravetz quickly built a reputation for innovative plates, like cacao-infused pork ravioli with nectarine and fennel consommé. Now, she and Michelin-pedigreed chef Daniel Swofford are expanding the seasonally driven, technique-forward ethos with a 190-seat restaurant at Mercato. The sunny patio, lush alley seating, and sexy dining room make for a plush setting.

And, for oenophiles, there’s a 300-label wine cellar, including more than 30 by-the-glass pours, and a wine-locker program that promises members first dibs on events, monthly tastings and highly sought-after bottles. 



Access to chef Vincenzo Betulia’s new, speakeasy-style steakhouse requires some flexibility. A text to (239) 315-3368 unlocks the next availability for the restaurant’s 18 seats. Once inside the red velvet-draped space, tucked into an alleyway behind The French Brasserie Rustique on Fifth Avenue South in Naples, lucky diners are in for a bit of a bacchanal, with juicy Prime and Wagyu steaks; Alaskan king crab legs, Nova Scotia lobster and foie gras; and wines from cultish producers like Opus One and Mouton Rothschild, curated by in-house sommelier Marcello Palazzi.   


Waxin’s Restaurang & Bar

Yes, there are Swedish meatballs in savory cream sauce with tart lingonberry jam, but that’s just the start of Waxin’s Scandi charms. The Gulf Coast location features a sleek design and a menu divided between Swedish fare—like caviar service with dill and crème fraîche and butter-bathed cod—and New American plates that embrace a similar approach to uber-fresh ingredients and elegant plating. And, while the wine vault has plenty of options, cocktail connoisseurs may want to try the Nordic Negroni, which swaps gin for fiery aquavit, a centuries-old Nordic spirit.


What Else is New?

As seasonal residents flock to Southwest Florida, so, too, are restaurant concepts from beyond the Gulf Coast. Warren American Whiskey Kitchen, which has a location in Delray Beach, opens this month in the Naples Design District, with more than 600 whiskeys, a from-scratch menu and a private cocktail club. Early next year, Palm Beach’s LoLa 41—which draws its culinary inspiration from destinations along the 41st parallel—opens in Old Naples. And Philadelphia export Estia brings the flavors and aesthetic of the Greek isles to North Naples this spring.  

Local chefs and restaurateurs are launching new concepts, too. The owners of Two Meatballs in a Kitchen opened Stones Throw in Cape Coral in May, with seafood, steaks and more than 20 taps for big-name and local craft beers. Chef Kayla Pfeiffer, who’s helmed the kitchens at Bar Tulia’s Mercato location and PJK Neighborhood Chinese, is transforming North Naples’ Fit & Fuel Cafe into contemporary American Bicyclette Cookshop (look out for the smash burger with raclette and kimchi remoulade). And Bayfront is abuzz with a new opening: LowBrow Pizza & Beer owner Chris Jones transformed Industry Beer & Barbeque into Pizza Jones, slinging sourdough pies.

Further east, John Colón, of Bodega Olé and El Basque, recently debuted Espíritu Nuevo Peruvian in East Naples—the first of three Latin fine-dining restaurants coming to the region. Following a $1.2 million build-out, Casa Blanca Modern Mexican Tequila Bar opened in Fort Myers in August, with vibrant murals by Mexican artists and a seafood-heavy menu that reflects the owner’s native Jalisco. Still to come is Unidos—A Latin Kitchen & Bar, a sister restaurant to Unidad, a modern Latin eatery in Chicago.

In Lee County, Bay Street Yard has its sights set on being the new Downtown Fort Myers hotspot with food trucks, live music and games such as corn hole and ping pong. Elsewhere in the City of Palms, breakfast-and-lunch-only Dutch Way Café is a bastion for Amish recipes, like molasses-laden shoofly pie and scrapple, and winery-restaurant chain Cooper’s Hawk opened its second Southwest Florida location. Bonita Springs should finally get the long-awaited second outpost of Lake Park Diner this season (and a third iteration recently broke ground at Naples’ Founders Square).  

While some restaurants were expanding, others were changing hands. Naples restaurateur Skip Quillen sold his Culinary Concepts restaurant group to Phelan Family Brands, which owns The Bay House, Pincher and Deep Lagoon. Chops City Grill and Pazzo! Cucina Italiana have remained largely unchanged, but Yabba Island Grill closed over the summer with plans to reopen as Keewaydin’s, serving casual Floridian fare  

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