A Squared: Travel Tuesday: Dining in Bonita Springs, Florida Part 1

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Travel Tuesday: Dining in Bonita Springs, Florida Part 1

Travel season has finally come to a close-- and I'm happy to say that it ended with a mini-vacation to Bonita Springs, Florida to celebrate the gorgeous wedding of a good friend as well as Alex's and my fourth wedding anniversary.

While I'm relieved to be on the ground for a while and not visiting Chicago O'Hare so regularly for a while, it was nice to squeeze in one last trip that was relaxing and not work-related. And 90 degrees and sunny at the beach in late October didn't hurt either.

Bonita Springs is located on the southwestern coast of Florida between Fort Myers and Naples. It's a quieter area to visit since it's less of a vacation destination and more of a retirement and second home destination. So, if you're looking for a more laidback spot for vacationing this is a great for spending time on the beach, the golf course, or relaxing at the pool-- and for eating, of course-- Bonita Springs is a great option!

Oh, and there's an abundance of wildlife here including manatee zones in some of the inland waterways and this adorable (and surprisingly fast moving) tortoise that we spotted in the beach parking lot on our way to our car!

Alex and I got to eat our way through Bonita Springs during the few days that we were there, making sure to sample plenty of seafood. There are a lot of great dining options in Bonita-- and today, I'm sharing a few great places to dine if you find yourself in the area. Today's post is all about brunch, lunch, and snacking. Come back next week for dinner!

Coconut Jack's
Coconut Jack's was one of the first places I identified as a 'must dine' when I was researching this trip. It got a huge number of excellent online reviews and its fun laidback atmosphere and vast menu of seafood favorites made it the perfect location for our first lunch in Bonita after arriving at the airport. It's a huge restaurant with a giant tiki deck situated right on the water, perfect for watching the super active jumping fish, turtles, and birds native to the area. We were so happy to sit out there a soak in the sunshine after having been in cold Chicago just a few hours earlier.

Fried coconut shrimp is not something that I typically eat in my "real" life, but it's one of my favorite vacation foods to splurge on. In fact, I'm pretty sure the last time I ate it was in Hawaii on our honeymoon. So, naturally when I saw it on the menu at Coconut Jack's (and listed as one of their signature dishes) I decided to go with those with a side of crispy sweet potato fries. The shrimp was a really good size and perfectly crunchy, served with a side of creamy coleslaw and a sweet raspberry and mango dipping sauce.

Alex loves scallops and opted for Coconut Jack's scallop basket, which was served in a similar fashion to my shrimp: a huge portion of seafood on top of crispy fries with a side of coleslaw. He ordered his scallops blackened and they were nice and spicy and still super moist. The scallops were also served with traditional spicy cocktail sauce and Coconut Jack's creamy house remoulade sauce for dipping.

Coconut Jack's was exactly what we were looking for for lunch that day-- and I can imagine would be a really fun place for fruity cocktails and a relaxed dinner in the evening too!

Green Cone Cafe
After a decadent dinner on Friday evening (more on that later), Alex and I were in the mood for something sweet, so we stopped by the Green Cone Cafe. Green Cone serves up tons of different ice cream desserts and coffee drinks. It's also conveniently located right next to the movie theater in case you need a sweet treat after catching a movie!

I'm all about anything pumpkin-flavored, so I was sold on the pumpkin ice cream as soon as I spotted it in the case. It had a nice creamy consistency and a great cinnamon and pumpkin flavor. I also opted for a little hot fudge on top because pumpkin and chocolate is one of my favorite dessert flavor combinations.

The Fish House
For Saturday lunch, Alex and I were looking for an option similar to Coconut Jack's: a casual atmosphere with a seafood-focused menu. This time though, Alex had one stipulation: the restaurant needed to serve Key lime pie. So, I did my homework and came up with The Fish House, which is actually located just across the street from Coconut Jack's in a very similar waterfront location. It was super hot that afternoon, so we opted to sit in their screened-in porch where there was live music playing and we could watch the boats and paddleboarders float by.

Not only did Alex get a restaurant that serves Key lime pie for lunch, but they also had one of his all-time favorite seafood dishes on the menu: a lobster roll. A big crusty roll was filled with chilled Maine lobster and diced celery mixed in a creamy herbed aioli. The aioli was used sparingly-- exactl how it should be used and the lobster was left in big meaty chunks.

I ordered one of my other seafood favorites-- the crab cakes. These crab cakes are simply seasoned and made with lump crabmeat and panko and then grilled. They're served with a wonderful fresh pineapple salsa that's both sweet and spicy and creamy spicy remoulade, which are both nice complements to the richness of the crab cakes. I opted for sweet potato fries on the side and these fries were seriously good: thick cut, crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside.

And of course, we finished our meal by splitting a slice of Key lime pie. Their pie is housemade with a buttery crust and creamy tangy filling. It's the perfect dessert to enjoy in Florida!

We got a late start to the day on Sunday after the wedding, so brunch was definitely in order. Poached is a local breakfast and lunch spot featuring an extensive menu of egg, pancake, and French toast dishes in addition to lunch sandwiches and salads. And bottomless coffee, of course.

Alex went with a breakfast sandwich-- the perfect post-wedding brunch. I opted for the healthier Garden Omelet, filled with broccoli, mushrooms, onions, spinach, tomato, and peppers. I ordered hashbrowns on the side, which were less than healthy but really delicious-- dotted with onions and crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside.

Come back next Travel Tuesday for a spotlight on two upscale dinners out in Bonita Springs!


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