Todd Brooks has worked nearly every angle of the restaurant industry, starting out as a dishwasher and eventually settling in as the vice president of a chain in Kansas City. But after several vacations to Naples with his wife, Sandra, who also has a background in food service, something about the city stayed with them. The couple decided that was where they needed to be—so they sold all of their belongings, moved to Florida, learned to speak Alligator, and began setting up shop in the space previously occupied by the Naples staple Lindburgers, which they bought and made their own. Todd was also a finalist for "Best Burger" in the "Best of the Gulfshore 2011".
It didn’t take long for Todd, who had grown accustomed to working with food from inside his own office, to reacquaint himself with manning a grill. Incorporating some favorites from the Lindburgers’ menu, Todd and Sandra put together a list of more than 20 gourmet burgers and sandwiches. Each burger patty is hand-formed from all-natural black Angus beef, and topped with fresh veggies from the nearby Cooper Farms. Todd’s namesake burger, Todd’s Way, is a client favorite, boasting a fried egg, bacon, and cheese, and other adventurous options include the Cajun, a blackened patty with onion, jalapeños, and pepper jack cheese.
Before moving to Naples in 1994, Lisa and Philippe Boët spent nine years in Paris, retreating to the French countryside on weekends for traditional, home-cooked meals with ingredients from the gardens and farms of family and friends. The duo re-creates that authentic experience at Chez Boet French Home Cooking, where a culinary staff headed by Lisa whips up French classics such as french onion soup, bouillabaisse, steak frites, and fondue made with imported French and Swiss cheeses. The Boëts' commitment to using locally sourced seafood and locally grown, organic, and seasonal ingredients has since earned Chez Boet the distinction of being the Naples' first certified green business.
Meals commence in the restaurant's 2,000-square-foot facility, which houses a main dining room, bar salon, and a covered outdoor terrace. Tones of raspberry, eggplant, and pomegranate grace the walls alongside wallpaper that depicts classic Piero Fornasetti portraits, which guests can admire and mimes can challenge to lifelong no-speaking contests. Along with live tunes by pianist Bob Terri on Thursdays, Chez Boet hosts special events and themed luncheons throughout the year, which have included jazz brunches, author-attended book launches, and a Moroccan-themed dinner with live belly dancers.
Tiki torches cast a flickering light across The Real Macaw's outdoor patio, where guests divide their attention between plates of Caribbean cuisine and picturesque views of the nearby waterfall. Named for the real macaw parrot whose occasional squawks add a colorful soundtrack to each meal, the restaurant has earned local renown for its fusion of Floridian ingredients and Caribbean flavors. This fusion is fully apparent in the macadamia-nut-encrusted goat-cheese salad, which culls its featured ingredient from the Turtle Creek dairy farm in Palm Beach county. Other exemplary dishes include Trinidadian-style crab cakes, wild salmon roasted over cedar wood, and salsas brimming with tropical fruits. On certain nights, the percussive sounds of alligators chomping on roasted duckling join with live music to drown out the parrot’s incessant requests to not allow alligators in the restaurant.
At Jaegerhaus, just about everything is imported from Germany: the age-old family recipes, the curtains, and perhaps most importantly, the man who cooks the food. Chef Sebastian Heyer and his family moved to the United States in 2009 to fulfill their dream of opening a German restaurant.
The Heyers soon transformed a local Naples establishment into an old-time Southern German café, and established a business that has earned multiple Naples Daily News Readers' Choice awards in the categories of "Best German Food" and "Dishes Most Fun to Pronounce Incorrectly." Inside, dirndl-clad servers deliver authentic German eats, such as wiener schnitzel, or schweinehaxe—a skinless roasted-pork shank. Visitors can get cozy amid the intimate dining room's curio decor, or slide up next to the trellis-lined, exposed-brick bar while sipping on domestic and imported beers.
Inside Del-Mel Restaurant's tropically themed walls, owner and chef Pauline ladles hearty rations of authentic Jamaican fare onto dinner plates. Oxtail meat tenderly greets taste buds, and jerk chicken ignites drool receptors with varying states of spiciness, prepared according to the diner's preference and the availability of fireproof mouth guards. Pauline also fixes up specialty seafood dishes such as coconut shrimp and steamed grouper, and any of the eatery's zesty morsels can pair with sweet sips of housemade sangria.
At the back of the restaurant, an ocean mural abuts warm yellow walls depicting fish, a scuba diver, and a drawn-to-scale pistol duel between a whale and giant squid. Overhanging palm fronds shade countertops, and on Friday and Saturday evenings, house reggae music pulses as guests peruse stockpiles of Bob Marley apparel.
When morning falls on the town of Naples, Joe's Diner's chefs begin whipping up the homestyle skillets, blintzes, and frittatas that earned the diner a place among the Naples Daily News' top breakfast spots. They shower fluffy biscuits in sausage gravy, potatoes, cheese, bacon, and egg to craft the Joe's Challenge—their signature breakfast dish. The chefs continue to serve breakfast throughout the day, adding custom burgers, specialty sandwiches, and juicy steaks to the mix when lunchtime rolls around. Servers bear plates out to the bright '50s-style dining room, where guests sip milk shakes at checkered tabletops and in big red booths.