Owners Ines Josupeit and chef James King join culinary forces at Table 209, a bistro tucked into the historical buildings and sunny harbor walk of Punta Gorda. James brings his 20 years of experience working in kitchens throughout San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland to the restaurant, cobbling fresh seafood, prime meats, and seasonal ingredients into innovative gourmet dishes. Every Monday night, Ines grabs the culinary baton, pulling from her own German heritage to simmer up an authentic menu of traditional German sausages and potato pancakes. Out in the dining room, local artwork festoons the walls, as guests sit around white tablecloths, illuminated by flickering candles that stop passing cavemen dead in their tracks. Outside in the patio, glimmering strands of hanging lights cascade above rows of tabletops and lush plants.
Legend has it that during a high-stakes poker game, Johnny Leverock threw down the winning hand and won a 7-acre Tampa Bay oyster bed. The bed held a surplus of oysters—15,000 bushels a year—leading Johnny to open up his own oyster bar in 1948, which served the seafood-centric recipes his wife Bertha had perfected. Years later, new owners dubbed the eatery Leverock’s Restaurant in homage to the man, keeping the same clam-chowder recipe served on the original menu in 1948. Other standouts include sesame-seed-crusted mahi-mahi, north Atlantic snow crab, and housemade bread pudding. In line with the maritime theme, oversize fish hang from the ceiling in the dining room, and floor-to-ceiling windows provide panoramic views of Palm Island and the Intracoastal Waterway.
After spending 33 years saving lives in the firefighting service, Firehouse Sports Grill proprietor Joe Wise collected beloved recipes from stations throughout the country to regale diners with firefighter feasts of burgers and sandwiches, pizzas, and pastas. A bar area decked out in polished aluminum tread plate evokes the raw power of a speeding fire engine, and crimson walls laden with ancient fire axes and keepsake pictures of old emergency crews hark back to a simpler time before fire poles were replaced with teleportation devices. Multiple flat-screen TVs broadcast sporting events as guests sip frosty drafts and potent cocktails and chow down on hand-cut fries, tangy salads, and tender barbecue ribs.
Brothers John and Paul Browning, along with their father Robert, are the three fishermen behind their titular 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 as they regale them with pictures of their childhood pet goldfish.
Chris and Michelle Lussier learned some of their most important lessons from their grandparents—techniques for cooking meatballs so they are plump and flavorful, the proper amount of garlic to use in homemade sauces, and how to manage a family-style restaurant with both efficiency and warmth. The duo and their chefs have been whipping up Italian specialties in their cheerful neighborhood eatery for nearly a decade, from creamy pastas to plump calzones. They speckle their pizzas with gourmet toppings, such as barbecue chicken and tender steak.