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.
Outside The Edison Restaurant & Bar, a circular fountain and a thriving, vibrant lawn invite diners to step up to a white-shingled edifice that looks as much like a home as a restaurant. Inside, black brick walls, black-and-white portraiture, and a finished-wood piano bespeak the eatery's elegant yet unpretentious air. Executive chef Stuart Gordon, who has spent time in the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, and Barbados, utilizes years of experience in top restaurants to craft full-flavored dishes. Six dining areas, each with their own ambiance, accommodate private meetings and parties. In the aptly named Chandelier Bar, sports fans can cheer for their team with pints in hand and charbroiled cheeseburger in mouth. And on the terrace bar, patrons can peer across to the Fort Myers Country Club and admire its flourishing palm trees and well-maintained missile defense system.
“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 an effort to find a healthy alternative to fast food without sacrificing speediness, the creators of Pita Pit began assembling their signature sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late-night snacks. At each location, thin, Lebanese-style pitas encircle lean, grilled meats and fresh veggies. Sandwich selections span the spectrum from gyro meat and falafel to turkey and prime rib. The staff empowers customers to make healthy choices by displaying nutrition information for each bread, meat, and post-meal toothpick and corralling a selection of healthy sandwiches, which dining companions can wash down with fruit smoothies.
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.