Florida’s Paradise Coast – Naples, Marco Island and the western portion of the Everglades – is becoming one of the South’s burgeoning “foodie” locales, as the area’s culinary scene continues to evolve with an influx of high-profile events, inaugural food tours, new restaurants, and much more.
Already well known for well established annual events such as the Everglades
Seafood Festival, Taste of Collier and the Marco Island Seafood Festival, visitors can enjoy several newer festivals that add to the flavor of the destination. The third annual Stone Crab Festival is scheduled for October 26-28 at various locations on the historic Old Naples Waterfront. From 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. each day, visitors can indulge in fresh stone crab claws, live music, art activities, and more. Admission is free, and nearby parking is available for $5.
This year’s inaugural Naples Craft Beer Fest was a sudsy success and event organizers are well on their way to making this an annual event each March. The Naples Craft Beer Fest features craft beer tastings, with each brew complimented by a food pairing provided by local restaurants and caterers. Naples and Marco Island have a growing craft beer scene with a new artisanal microbrewery, Naples Beach Brewery, and a growing list of restaurants like the Marco Island Brewery featuring
craft beers made on site. For more information about culinary events throughout
the Paradise Coast, visit www.paradisecoast.com/events.
New Restaurants in the Paradise Coast
From traditional seafood and Mexican to steak and caviar, the Paradise Coast has seen numerous restaurant openings in the past year, adding to an already diverse and energetic dining scene. For a relatively small metropolitan area, there is a high ratio of locally owned and operated restaurants. Many of them have joined together to create the Naples Originals group, promoting the concept of locally focused dining experiences. For more information, visit www.NaplesOriginals.com.
New restaurants include:
- Agave Southwestern Grill recently opened in Naples, offering southwestern cuisine such as authentic Sonoran moles, fresh made tortillas and tamales, and a selection of more than 200 tequilas. For more information, visit www.agavenaples.com.
- Chef Alberto Varetto, popular locally for many years as the chef at Sale e Pepe on Marco Island, has realized his dream of owning his own signature restaurant and opened Alberto’s On Fifth, featuring artfully prepared northern Italian cuisine such as roasted sea scallops, homemade pastas and locally caught fresh fish. For more information, visit www.albertosonfifth.com.
- Augustina’s Bistro A Taste of Chicago opened recently not far from Naples Municipal Airport. Chicago-style hot dogs, pizza and sandwiches are the specialties here, along with a courtyard bar open late Friday and Saturday nights. For more information, call 239-777-7676.
- Located on Third Street South in Naples, Barbatella is the newest
restaurant from the owners of local favorite Sea Salt. It offers an extensive
menu with fresh interpretations of authentic dishes from many regions of Italy and the Mediterranean including thin crust pizzas from a wood-fired oven and over 30 wines by the glass. For more information, visit www.barbatellanaples.com.
- Naples Bay Resort opened L’Orient, where Chef Eddy Thretipthuangsin provides guests with Asian menu highlights such as Thai Crab Cake with Pineapple relish and smoked onion remoulade, or Salmon Miso Truffle with exotic mushroom a la plancha, white truffle-miso emulsion, in addition to an extensive wine and sake list. There is also a Cocktail Lab where alchemists
concoct drinks, bitters and other specialties, including twelve specialty
cocktails based upon the Chinese Zodiac. For more information, visit www.lorientnaples.com.
- Osetra Champagne & Caviar Bar recently opened on Fifth Avenue South, offering an extensive caviar and champagne menu, as well as cocktails, steak, lobster, pasta and a selection of small plates and light bites. The menu is available until 1:30 a.m., making it an excellent late night dining option. For more information, visit www.osetranaples.com.
- Sam Snead's Oak Grill & Tavern has opened adjacent to GreenLinks Golf
Villas at Lely Resort. For each tavern, the Snead family handpicks and places
each piece of golf memorabilia to ensure authenticity and quality. For more
information, visit www.samsneadslely.com.
- Naples’ Seasons 52 is a grill and wine bar featuring a seasonally-inspired menu with all items less than 475 calories. The Naples Seasons 52 opened in fall 2011 and became an instant local favorite. For more information, visit www.seasons52.com.
- Texas Tony’s BBQ Shack recently opened east of downtown Naples, serving authentic Texas-style barbecue with all meats smoked in-house using Florida orange wood. For more information, visit www.texastonys.com.
Foodie Activities & News Throughout the Paradise Coast
Visitors looking to participate in the sea-to-table trend can head to the historic Crayton Cove district near the Naples City Dock. Three restaurants – The Dock at Crayton Cove, Chez Boet French Home Cooking and Blue Provence – offer a “Cook My Catch” special where guests head out for a day-long fishing trip from one of the
charter boats at Naples City Dock and upon return, have their catch prepared and eaten immediately. For more information, visit www.discovercraytoncove.com.
While fresh Gulf shrimp and seafood are available year round on the Paradise Coast, delectable Florida stone crab claws are available only during Florida’s annual stone crab season between October 15 and May 15. Several area restaurants have their own stone crab and seafood fisheries - Pinchers Crab Shack with seven southwest Florida locations including Tin City on the historic Old Naples Waterfront, and Truluck’s Seafood, Steak & Crab House with a location in downtown Naples as well as 10 other U.S. locations. Nearby in Everglades City, known as the Stone Crab Capital of the World, visitors can dine on fresh stone crab and seafood brought to the docks and processed onsite at City Seafood and Triad Seafood. Triad, City Seafood and Grimm’s Stonecrabs market also provide shipping of fresh crab claws nationwide.
Foodies looking for some fun following dinner can check out cigar manufacturer Rocky Patel’s first cigar and spirits bar and nightclub called Burn by Rocky Patel, located at Mercato in north Naples. For more information, visit www.burnbyrockypatel.com.
The Marcus Daniel Tobacconist shop in downtown Naples has a free hand rolled cigar demonstration every Friday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and is always a convivial place the enjoy a fine cigar and meet other aficionados. For more information, visit www.marcusdaniel.com.
Launching this year, Naples Food Tours provides visitors an opportunity to enjoy tastings at a variety of restaurants, markets and artisan shops throughout the area. These guided, three-hour tours allow guests to indulge in tastings, interact with chefs and proprietors of locally-owned restaurants, visit specialty food shops, and more. Groups of up to 14 people travel by air-conditioned mini-bus, and tours are offered on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Custom tours and dine around are also available for private groups. For more information, visit www.naplesfoodtours.com.
Local author Sharon Kenney has released the fourth edition of her popular book, Where Should We Eat? A Foodlover’s Recommended Places to Eat and Drink in the Naples Area. It’s been three years since the last edition and now more than 110 restaurants are recommended by Kenny, along with a new chapter on recommended food markets. Where Should We Eat? recommends restaurants in every category from casual to formal and for every kind of taste, and includes chapters like “What to Eat that’s Local,” a “Location Guide,” and “Where to Go by Boat.” For more information, visit www.whereshouldweeatnaples.com.
Visitors who love fine chocolate can check out Norman Love Chocolate Salon in downtown Naples. For the sixth time, Consumer Reports has ranked Norman Love Confections as the best chocolates in the country in its annual review of excellent chocolates. Guests can enjoy a colorful array of artisan chocolates, specialty gift boxes including seasonal assortments and the BLACK™ line of single-origin dark chocolate. Each of the five dark chocolates included in the Norman Love Confections BLACK™ selection represents one of the world's premium growing regions (Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Venezuela and Madagascar) from which its cocoa beans originated. Rare Criollo and Trinitario beans – the pinnacle of quality cocoa – are used, allowing visitors to experience the distinct flavor of these top quality beans while comparing the subtleties of each region. For more information, visit www.normanloveconfections.com.
About Paradise Coast
Whether travelers are looking for a romantic escape or family getaway, Florida’s Paradise Coast – Naples, Marco Island and the western portion of the Everglades – has an array of vacation options year-round. With more than 30 miles of soft, white sand beaches, a thriving arts and culture scene, distinctive dining and the best of outdoor adventure, the Paradise Coast is truly a destination with it all.
Located just two hours from Miami, four hours from Orlando and three hours from Tampa, the Paradise Coast is easily accessible from some of Florida’s largest cities. Travelers outside of the Sunshine State can fly into Southwest Florida International Airport, which provides nonstop service to 41 destinations (37 domestic and four
international) on 18 air carriers.