Bill Shumate's career as a restaurateur began in 1964 when he opened a small burger shack that catered to the hearty appetites of University of Oklahoma students. After spending the next several decades opening and operating eateries, Shumate decided that his next venture should somehow honor his burger roots. He partnered with Joanie Corneil in 2006 and developed a concept choosing the name Square 1 Burgers to reflect this full-circle journey. Unlike that original restaurant, though, Square 1 Burgers grew over the years, eventually expanding to several locations throughout west central Florida.
Although the concept was intended to be a return to basics, Square 1 isn't constrained by traditional conventions. Patties of Meyer's all-natural red Angus beef, Kobe, lamb, ground buffalo, and portobello mushroom caps all appear between the buns, providing a wealth of options to consider before even thinking about toppings. This eclectic spirit is also apparent in the menu's selection of appetizers, which includes everything from sun-dried tomato and artichoke hummus to homemade double-dipped onion rings. Even the milkshakes made with Blue Bell ice cream seem like faithful renditions of an American classic at first. However, the grown-up versions with Baileys, vodka, and Kahlua or brandy, cr?me de cacao continue to demonstrate Square 1 Burgers' playful spirit.
When the founders of The Pita Pit opened the doors to their first restaurant, they had high hopes of offering a lighter, healthier alternative to fast food. They traded in heavy sandwich bread and hamburger buns for lebanese pita and swapped out greasy burgers for fresh-grilled meats and crispy falafel. Flash-forward several years, and The Pita Pit has evolved into many, many locations across the continent, each of which offers that same fresh, healthful fare.
Patrons can completely customize their handhelds, starting with the pita itself—the light and fluffy dough comes in both white and wheat varieties. Next come the fillings such as chicken souvlaki, a simple schmear of hummus, or even ham and eggs, served all day long. After crowning the creation with fresh vegetables, premium cheeses, and homemade sauces, the pita stuffers transform the flatbread into a tight, mess-free roll. Though guests can customize sandwiches to meet their dietary needs, The Pita Pit offers a concise list of "resolution solution pitas". Made up of six pre-designed creations, the list denotes the healthful pitas' caloric value right on the menu.
Sandy Stilwell is a Fort Myers native, and as such she has a passion for pouring her time back into the community—she serves on the advisory board for Gulfshore Life Magazine and is the former chairwoman of the Salvation Army's Christmas drive. Sandy brings the same altruistic vision to Sunshine Grille, one of the many local eateries she and her family maintain that give back through organizations such as the Ronald McDonald House.
Sunshine Grille serves its customers first and foremost, offering a menu of wood-fired steaks and seafood. From grilled filet mignon to sesame-crusted salmon and veggie-loaded flatbreads, most of the eatery's cuisine bursts forth unto the palate with a signature smoky flavor. The restaurant's voluminous wine list emanates sweetness, as do the live musicians that coax jazz-inspired harmonies from saxes, guitars, and keyboardists seven nights a week. These musicians work their melodic magic under soft lighting and between walls of auburn and stones stacked like the hundred-dollar bills that form the walls of the US Mint.
At Yanos Restaurant, chefs glean inspiration from global pantries to plate dishes that have been lauded by Florida Weekly as “artful presentations comprised of first-rate ingredients.” Chefs augment the flavor of grilled duck breast with jicama slaw and black-bean puree and coat soft-shell crab in a crispy tempura batter. The wine list is equally broad in scope, with bottles hailing from Spain, South Africa, Germany, and Andromeda.
Yanos Restaurant’s sleek, wood-floor interior complements its contemporary fare: track lighting illuminates a Warhol-esque pop-art print of Marilyn Monroe and powder-blue and yellow walls. Outside, next to a palm-tree-lined cobblestone street, sturdy canvas umbrellas provide shelter from the elements.
Originally from Sao Paulo, Cafe Brazil owner Denise Santos curates a menu of authentic cuisine that speaks to the diverse tastes of her native country with its steak and seafood entrees, fluffed risotto, and house-specialty Brazilian churrasco. Renowned for its all-you-can-eat buffet and a wait staff that speaks fluent Brazilian Portuguese, the intimate hotspot welcomes homesick ex-pats and locals seeking to expand their horizons seven days a week. Flanked by tiled walls, an ornate bar with gold trim, and an Amazonian jaguar ready to pounce on plates, simple wooden tables play host to meals served for lunch or dinner. Palm-leaf ceiling fans call forth gentle breezes to kiss diners’ shoulders, and live entertainment on select nights feeds hungry ears with the sounds of bossa nova, samba, and sizzling orchestras of thin-cut steaks.
“Fisherman Charley,” a wooden fisherman statue in a yellow rain slicker and hat, stands guard in front of Charley’s Boathouse Grill, where chefs have prepared steaks and seafood for more than four decades. The kitchen wet-ages Angus beef for four to six weeks before hand-cutting each steak, which is measured by ounces and seared to taste. Seafood such as locally caught grouper also fills the menu alongside snow crabs, teriyaki chicken breasts, and house-baked breads.
For special events, patrons sup on some of the most popular menu items inside a converted boathouse. Up to 70 people can also gather at the “hideaway,” which has back-bay views of Estero Bay, making it perfect for actually seeing the harbor seals you dressed in tuxedos.