Meaty Bites and Late Nights

     A little time on the islands can leave even a passionate fish eater overwhelmed by the veracity with which meals from the sea are celebrated. A nice piece of beef rarely merits even a mention out here where fins and scales rule the day. For those readers who have had it up to HERE with grouper specials, let us happily direct you to the nearest thick, juicy steak with all the trimmings.
     Sunshine Cafe on Captiva has long enamored patrons by serving a steak with peppercorn sauce. This delectable, 12-ounce ribeye is accompanied by fresh grilled vegetables and whole roasted garlic. The Sunshine also has a nice selection of red wine to complement beef. Reservations are encouraged as seating is cozily limited. In downtown Captiva’s “Village” area, 941-472-6200.
     As the sun heads toward the horizon, beef lovers should head for Blind Pass; not only is there a fantastic view, nearby you’ll find the Sunset Grill. This inviting setting has a beautiful decor and some of the finest steaks on the island. Mouth-watering choices include a filet wrapped in prosciutto on a bed of mushrooms, a cowboy-cut porterhouse, sirloin, and ribs. The Grill also serves beer and wine. 6536 Pine Avenue, 941-472-2333.
     Steak lovers from way back know about The Timbers restaurant on Tarpon Bay Road. What they might not know is that those same fantastic steaks are now served in one of the most inviting environments on the island. A renovation last October put The Timbers on the map not only for its award-winning steaks, but for ambiance as well. Voted the best restaurant for steak 13 years in a row. 703 Tarpon Bay Road, 941-472-3128.
     The Wild West comes to life nightly at the Outlaw Steak and Crab House on Fort Myers Beach. The Outlaw’s menu covers a wide range of appetites with every cut of steak available in several sizes. Entertainment is provided twice each night when diners witness a Jesse James-type reenactment of an old Western gunfight; kids absolutely love it. 1661 Estero Boulevard, 941-765-6800.
     If it’s veal you’re craving, you’ll feel indulged at the Riviera on Sanibel’s West Gulf Drive. The ever-gracious Andrea will greet you at the door. A most pleasant evening lies ahead, often with live piano music. Italian hospitality, a great menu, a nice wine selection, and fabulous desserts await you. 2761 West Gulf Drive, 941-472-1141.
     Now we must address a critical issue, particularly for visitors to the islands. The late-night urge to nosh can strike at any time, but there are great options available. Times of the Islands has gladly taken the panic out of your search with this simple list.
     Captiva Islanders can grab a snack at Chadwick’s Lounge until 11:00 p.m. Table seating or a barstool affords you live entertainment at the same time. Dancing after dinner is recommended at Chadwick’s. At the entrance to South Seas Plantation Resort, 941-472-5111.
     Just down the road is a lively night spot known for attracting locals. The Crow’s Nest Lounge at ’Tween Waters Inn stops serving from the full Italian menu at 10:00 p.m., but pizza is available in the bar until midnight. “Tweenies” has a band every night except Mondays, when hermit crab races are scheduled. At ’Tween Waters Inn on Captiva Drive, 941-472-5161.
     The Lazy Flamingo restaurants have been the saving grace of late-night munchers for years. The Lazy’s full menu is served nightly until 12:45 a.m. This is no “lite bite” menu; prime rib sandwiches, grouper platters, and clams marinara are all possibilities. At Blind Pass, 6520 Pine Avenue, 941-472-5353; near the Sanibel Causeway, 1036 Periwinkle Way, 941-472-6939; Fort Myers Beach, 7225 Estero Boulevard, 941-765-6766; and Bonita Springs, 4685 Bonita Beach Road, 941-495-5770.
     Want to tickle your funny bone as well as your taste buds? Loco’s Island Grill & Cantina serves food until midnight. You can sample burgers, nachos, jalapeño poppers, quesadillas, and nine-layer dip. This means, of course, that you can catch a 9:00 p.m. show next door at the Sanibel Comedy Club and still have time to eat afterward. Loco’s also has darts, live music, and the islands’ only pool table. 975 Rabbit Road on Sanibel, 941-395-0245.
     The Jacaranda on Sanibel also serves until about midnight in the lounge. The late-night menu tantalizes with fried shrimp, steaks, and grilled sandwiches. It’s actually just a smaller version of The Jacaranda’s award-winning restaurant menu. And, best of all, outdoor seating is available. The Jac’s raw bar also serves until about midnight. 1223 Periwinkle Way, 941-472-1771.
     Of course we’d never leave a Fort Myers Beach hoot owl hungry. Head straight to The Beached Whale, serving until 1:00 a.m. 1249 Estero Boulevard, 941-463-5505.
     The best news of all? Each of these fantastic restaurants considers casual dress de rigueur. Bon appétit!
— Compiled by Libby Boren McMillan