From early lunches to late-night eats, the staff at each of Yo! Taco's three locations pairs fresh guacamole with housemade chips and 1-pound burritos for its crowds. Colorful awnings and umbrellas lure patrons lounging on the beach or hiding in English Tudor sand castles to outdoor dining areas where they sample from the menu of made-to-order tacos piled with sirloin steak, chicken, and pico de gallo. In addition to soda and iced tea, the servers also pour beer, wine, and sangria to accompany homemade queso and chicken quesadillas.
Lee House executive chefs Michael Lee and Thanh Uong inter-weave Chinese and Vietnamese cooking techniques, decades-old family recipes, and years of restaurant experience to craft a menu of dim sum and authentic Chinese fare. A team of culinary air-traffic controllers guides the peking duck’s half-bird in for a landing on plate runways next to a stack of steaming pancakes ($16.00). Savory spare ribs simmer in a clay pot alongside a tart tuft of bitter melon ($8.50), and the specialty beef-chow-fun coils house-made wide rice noodles alongside seasonal vegetables ($8.95). A separate dim-sum menu stocks bellies with classics such as pork dumplings, spring rolls, and black-tie spring rolls in noodle cummerbunds, as well as introducing appetites to exotic meats such as steamed chicken feet ($2.95–$10.95/dim-sum dish).
Accessible by boat or car, Al's Tiki Bar and Grill immerses guests in an island-tinged culinary experience marked by waterfront views, fresh grilled fare, and live music peppered throughout the week. Using Pavlov's theory of appetizers, chefs cause taste buds to salivate with house-cut, beer-battered onion rings ($4.95) or Al's Beach bread, piled with herbs, melted blue cheese, and tomato on a toasted baguette. For entrees, diners can savor the marinade from the jamaican jerk chicken ($10.95) or juggle between the surf 'n' turf's new york strip steak, 1 pound of snow-crab legs, vegetables, and jasmine-rice pilaf ($24.95). The kitchen also silences stomach grumbles with sandwiches, burgers, and kebabs, such as the bamboo-skewered hawaiian pork-tenderloin kebab with bell peppers ($10.95). In between bites, guests can tune their ear trumpets to live jams during weekly performances.
Brothers John and Paul Browning, along with their father Robert, are the three fishermen behind their seafood eatery. After the success of their first location in Fort Myers, the trio opened another restaurant on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River in North Fort Myers, where they continue to serve up a medley of freshly caught fish, shrimp, oysters, and crab. At each laid-back eatery, they strive to make diners feel at home, broiling, steaming, or frying meals to individuals' specifications.
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.
“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.