Naples, Florida: a little bit of Floridian charm, a lot of sunshine and an empire of top-notch seafood experiences.
From the fancy menus of 5th avenue, where a plethora of Top Chef restaurants offer fresh seafood cuisine for both epicurious and traditional palettes, to island beached “food boats” that put land-locked trucks to shame, Naples is ideal for foodie spring breakers.
Restaurant-hop down 5th avenue for an ultimate one-day food tour, or adopt this article as an “edible bucket list” for your time in Naples.
Originating as a small farmer’s market stand, this family business has expanded into a full blown “seed to table” grocery market. Stock up your fridge. The Market offers a vast selection of local and organic produce, fresh seafood, juice bar and an Italian-style bakery.
Although their house-made guac and cream-filled lobster tail pastries are INCREDIBLE, locals come here for a few specific seafood treasures. Grab a tub of buttery crab dip (like no other), fresh cold water oysters, and a bag of giant oyster crackers. Bring them home to enjoy as a poolside snack along with beachy drinks.
Not to mention, Oake’s Farms Market never fails to offer an awesome array of free samples.
For the ambitious foodie craving to expand his/her flavor palette, this quaint couple-owned bistro serves an authentic selection of French and Moroccan seafood dishes, while offering relief from tourist hot-spots.
Expand your culinary horizon and check off your bucket list with an appetizer of escargot (yes, that means snail). The shell-less meat is served simmering in a pesto olive oil sauce – smooth as butter with the zingy flavor of freshly roasted garlic.
Order a few entrees, such as their seafood tagine, and progress on your journey to becoming an international seafood connoisseur.
A restaurant with any other name would not be as sweet. “Real Seafood.” With fresh lobster, crab, swordfish, and an expansive raw bar, this place has just about anything seafood you could desire. Large quantities, and you know it’s fresh from the waters you swam in earlier today.
Exhibit A: The lobster entree comes with soup/salad, side veggie, special blue cheese cole slaw and lobster mac and cheese (that probably has the equivalent of another full lobster mixed in). What a catch. Get there early for 3-course deals and raw bar happy hour.
Located at the top of 5th avenue, the flavor combinations cooked up at this Persian restaurant will take your perception of “savory” to an entirely new level. Each dish served in the eclectic dining room has a complex, yet harmonious combination of sweet, spicy, savory, tender, and buttery notes.
#SpoonTip: Try the ginger apricot shrimp and lamb meatballs.
Don’t be fooled by its status as a franchise. Naples Bonefish Grill maintains a top-ranked position in my personal repertoire of best coconut shrimp. Coconut-encrusted gulf shrimp remind you of your coastal location, while a sweet & spicy glaze mimics the glow of Florida sunshine pinching your skin #foodsymbolism.
Post beach day, aloe vera may be cooling your burns, but you’ll need to warm up your appetite as the sun starts to go down. If coconut’s not your style, hit up Bang Bang shrimp happy hour for a great deal on spicy shrimp and fruity drinks.
Located just off 3rd avenue in Old Naples, this historic pub is the best place to get a traditional Naples classic: fresh-caught grouper. Order it fried, blackened, or baked… on a fluffy white roll with homemade tartar sauce, or topping a heaping artichoke salad. The Pub is a great place to start a day of fishing (or bae watching) on Naples pier.
Food Boats at Keewaydin Island
If you’re fortunate enough to befriend some locals with a boat or pool together some cash for a rental, head south to Keewaydin island. As a remote hotspot for local vacationers, the policy is pretty much “No shirt, no shoes = service.”
On a busy day, you’ll find at least one food boat amongst a shoreline of beached speedboats. Burgers, fish tacos, ice cream, cold beer, and island mixes. What’s a day on the water without some edible R&R?