Sweettooth dishes out more than 250 varieties of sugared, salted, and candied treats by the pound. Cocoa-bean aficionados can get their fix with a chocolate bridge mix ($7 per pound), and licorice lovers can gorge on handfuls of cherry licorice bites ($9 per pound). Bring back fond memories with nostalgic candy such as Good & Plenty and Jujyfruits ($6 per pound). Sweettooth also offers an array of saccharine souvenirs to celebrate weddings and baby showers. Trail mixes are better used to fuel nature hikes and frisbee recovery missions.
Nestled among the palm fronds of Sanibel Island, PocoLoco takes visitors on a taste safari with its selection of fair-trade coffees, fresh smoothies, artisan gelato, and other delicious treats. The shop's organic, shade-grown blend of Kenya AA, Costa Rica Tarrazu, and Sumatran Mandheling coffees—available in light, medium, and dark roasts as well as decaf ($1.55 for 12 oz., $1.75 for 16 oz.)—banishes yawns and cuts short rambling soliloquies. Those seeking an extra boost can swig an espresso-spiked Shot in the Dark ($2.95 for 12 oz., $3.50 for 16 oz.) or sip an elegant Caffe Romano, a cup of espresso topped with citrus curls ($1.75 for 12 oz., $1.95 for 16 oz.). When they're not moonlighting as stoic sandwich sculptors, friendly blender tenders concoct all-natural fruit smoothies such as the Snowbird, a blend of peach, pear, and apricot with low-fat yogurt or milk from soybeans, rice plants, or cows' private reserves ($2.99 for 12 oz., $3.99 for 16 oz.). Preservative-free artisan gelato ($2.49 for a single scoop in a cup or standard cone, $2.75 in a waffle cone) comes in a rainbow of flavors, triggering competitive-eating contests and impromptu hunts for pots of gold.
The Caribbean Pearl's staff deftly crafts island-influenced dishes and libations with fresh MSG- and preservative-free ingredients. Enticing smells fill the thatched-roof patio and envelop the welcoming tiki bar, increasing appetites. The extensive menu showcases tapas, sandwiches, and signature entrees. Guests can demonstrate a belief that sharing is caring by opting for small plates ($7–$15) such as the Bahamian conch fritters with raspberry-chipotle sauce, which sound like the ocean when held to the ear and taste like delicious seafood when fed to the ocean ($10). Banana and panko encrust the signature grouper Caribe, which braves its crème-de-banana flambé to repose on a bed of island rice, nestled beneath a frizzled sweet-potato garnish. The jerk-marinated free-range chicken, accompanied by a coconut-curry aioli, delights taste buds in either half portions ($13) or full portions ($18). A gorgonzola cream sauce shines atop the grilled 6-ounce Black Angus filet mignon, enhancing the steak's flavor and attractiveness to mates ($25).
Executive chef and restaurateur AJ Black got his first job in the restaurant industry at age 6. That's when he began washing dishes at the restaurant his family ran in their small seaside town in Sicily. Black also joined his grandparents as they fished for the eatery's catch of the day, reeling in tuna, anchovies, and other fresh seafood.
These experiences sparked a passion for cooking that eventually led Chef Black to the Italian Culinary Institute. He opened his first restaurant at the tender age of 19 before heading to Le Cordon Bleu to study classical French cooking under Paul Bocuse.
From Beaches to Borders
Fresh, seasonal ingredients inspire daily specials that let loose Chef Black's creativity in the kitchen. For the regular menu, however, he draws on tried-and-true traditions from across Italy, from the sunny beaches of the south to the French-Italian border. A dish of whole, lightly fried sardines with a dusting of chili flakes takes its inspiration from the Sicilian seaside, and a hearty order of duck leg confit with freshly made gnocchi hails from the mountainous North.
Il Tesoro's faux-stucco walls and striped awnings capture the casual spirit of an Old World bistro. Oil paintings burst with images from bucolic countryside scenes to vases of blooming flowers. The simple wooden chairs surrounding each white linen-draped table exude a homespun charm, as do the solitary brass lamps that adorn the tables.
With sautéed gator, housemade crab cakes, and coconut french toast, Sanibel Cafe doesn’t let guests forget that they’re dining on a tropical island. This selection continues the tradition of homestyle cooking that the café established when it first opened in 1978 as the Pancake and Omelette House. This stage of its life ended in 1984, and, like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon, the eatery reopened as Sanibel Cafe. For more than two decades now, Sanibel’s kitchen has been keeping diners coming back with savory island-inspired cuisine for both breakfast and lunch.
In addition to signature items such as sautéed gator, morning diners fork into more traditional eats such as strip steak escorted by hash browns and stacks of pancakes that diners can scarf down or transform into smiley faces to convey the exact level of their happiness. At midday, the kitchen begins piling burgers and sandwiches with country-fried steak, charbroiled beef patties, fried shrimp, and grilled fish. Just like its seafood-laden kaiser rolls, the café’s decor pays tribute to its tropical location: joining hanging plants and cerulean pendant lamps, one-of-a-kind tabletops feature intricate patterns of fossilized seashells handpicked and patterned by artist Sue Stephens.
Sanibel Deli & Coffee Factory delights bellies with a profusion of time-tested victuals, including pizza lauded by Taste of the Islands. Spend quality face time with one of the specialty pies, such as the Nor'easter ($17.95 for a large), which is bedecked in buffalo chicken and blue cheese as regally as Emeril's prom tux. Overstimulated taste buds cool off on one of more than 25 flavors of soft-serve ($1.95+), which act as cool building blocks for sundaes, milkshakes, and malts. Rev eating engines with a double-shot cappuccino ($3) before searching the crusty confines of the variety of bagels ($1.25), burgers, and sandwiches ($5.75+) like a forgetful baker.