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.
“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.
In 1977, Sam and Zlata Savich opened their first storefront, where they showcased pastries from their native Yugoslavia alongside international delicacies picked up throughout their baking careers. These days, Sam and Zlata's pastry legacy continues to rise with an expanded menu that now features full breakfast and lunch alongside poppyseed danishes, Eastern European cookies known as kalochis, individual cheesecakes, and fudge brownies. They also make fresh bread by hand every day—without any preservatives—before transforming slices of their rustic sourdough or banana bread into pillowy servings of French Toast for breakfast or a mid-marathon snack.
With its huge grass-roofed patio, The Sandy Parrot looks as though it ought to have ocean waves lapping up against the surrounding sand. The echoes of the sea are even louder on the menu, which features a huge collection of grouper, crab, shrimp, tilapia, and mahi-mahi dishes rounded out by prime rib, sandwiches, and chicken. Preparations span the globe, drawing in such flavors as garlic teriyaki sauce, parmesan-laced lemon butter, and mango-papaya salsa. Live musicians take the restaurant's stage six nights a week, performing tributes to Motown and Elvis, hits from the '60s through the '90s, and sweeping arrangements of the dessert menu.