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Times of the Islands Magazine

2017 Dining Guide for Captiva & Sanibel Islands

Jul 19, 2017 08:19PM ● By Melanie Heisinger

Courtesy of Sweet Melissa's Cafe

Dining on the islands of Sanibel and Captiva is always a fun and unique experience. There are plenty of places to choose from seafood to a classic diner experience, we cover all of the culinary bases. 

We selected a few of our favorite spots in the local area with some diversity in the foods that are served and what their specialties are. If you're looking to dine with class, we have plenty of options for you. If you are more interested in a classic, more casual dining setting, we have that covered, too. 

Our aim was to keep things as local as possible, hopefully you find your next favorite dining spot! 


Being on an island, it was an obvious choice to categorize seafood. There are so many local spots to choose from, it was actually a difficult elimination process. We have a few options below, from fancy to casual, for your consideration. 

Green Flash Restaurant

(15183 Captiva Dr, Captiva, FL 33924)

As a waterfront restaurant, Green Flash Restaurant touts gorgeous views and tasty American-style dishes. You can arrive by boat or by car -- your choice. 

Purchased in 1994 from the Wiles family, The Green Flash was built on the site of the historic Timmy’s Nook. In 1950, T.M. Wiles, henceforth known as Timmy, opened the local watering hole. “The Nook”, as it became known, was a renowned gathering place frequented by natives and tourists alike, and is legendary as a Captiva landmark. For over 40 years, Timmy’s Nook graced the property where The Green Flash now stands. The Green Flash Restaurant aims to keep the heritage of Captiva Island and Timmy’s Nook alive.

If you can't decide what to get, their Seafood Sampler is sure to please. 

Doc Ford's

(2500 Island Inn Rd, Sanibel, FL 33957; 
5400 S Seas Plantation Rd, Captiva, FL 33924)

Doc Ford is a character in the novels written by the owner of the three Doc Ford restaurants that reside in the Southwest Florida area. 
Doc Ford’s Sanibel Rum Bar and Grille is made up of people creative enough to embrace an entirely different kind of sports bar concept. They are all about serving gourmet finger foods in a comfortable, sports bar atmosphere. 

In one of the restaurant's reviews it was suggested that "if 
you haven't tried the Island Shrimp & Grits it's definitely worth a try as it's amazing!" 

Try their Mozzarella de Marinello Salad (pictured) the next time you want to catch a game.

Clam Shack

(2407 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, FL 33957)

The Clam Shack is a family owned and operated restaurant that opened in September 2015, specializing in New England style seafood. Whether you're in the mood for some fried Ipswich clams, a crisp buttery lobster roll, traditional fish & chips, or a little bit of everything, this casual-dining spot has what you're looking for. 

Enjoy their popular Lobstah Roll the next time you need an after-beach meal. 


If you are looking for a more classic dining experience, we have a few ideas for you. From a fun burger joint to a classic diner, there are plenty of places to choose from.

The Island Cow

(2163 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, FL. 33957)

At The Island Cow, you will find "great cookin’, cold drinks, outdoor games, and live entertainment, you can relax knowing you are truly on Island Time." Nearly every item involves a cow-related pun, and their signs match that theme. Enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner at this multi-cultural restaurant. Their fun cocktails add to the atmosphere as you chow down on their Adults Only XXX Seafood Mac & Cheese or Mack Daddy Shrimp Dinner.

Experience some Cowrazy Kabobs the next time you're in the area for some good laughs and even better flavor.  

Sweet Melissa's Cafe

Courtesy of the Sanibel Captiva Chamber of Commerce

(1625 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, FL 33957)

Sweet Melissa's Cafe is an award-winning restaurant that serves a wide variety of foods for lunch and dinner. Executive Chef Melissa Talmage challenges your taste buds to explore a creative menu with a wide array of different tastes, textures and eclectic ingredients. Enjoy both regular dinner plates as well as small entree dishes that give you the option of trying multiple items during your visit. 

“Executive Chef Melissa Talmage conjures culinary magic in the kitchen – her imagination appears to have no bounds.” 4 Stars – Jean LeBoeuf, News-Press.

The Seared Scallops are a great option to pair with a glass of wine. 

Schnapper's Hots

(1528 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, FL 33957)

Schnapper's Hots opened over 10 years ago in 1998, and draws its name from a Buffalo, New York legend know as "the Schnapper". They serve hot dogs, burgers, fries, ice cream, and any other items you might expect to find on a diner menu. Voted the Island's Best Takeout, their dine-in experience is just as highly regarded. 

According to a review, "I have been a fan of Schnapper's since they opened in 1998 and my love for them has never wavered!"

Stop by and enjoy The Original Schnapper hot dog. 


There were a few more places that we wanted to include but couldn't find a spot for them. Check out a few spots that are both tasty and diverse in menu. 

Sanibel Café

(2007 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel Island, FL 33957)

Also located on the ever-popular Periwinkle Way, Sanibel Cafe has become famous around the world for its delicious food and spectacular fossilized sea shell table tops. Established in 1984, Sanibel Cafe serves a variety of classic American cuisine, southern classics and island favorites. Guests enjoy a warm, family atmosphere and serve breakfast and lunch all day to satisfy any and all cravings.

Try out their famous French Toast for a breakfast treat.

RC Otters

(11509 Andy Rosse Ln, Captiva, FL 33924-6006)

Located in the Heart of Old Captiva Village with lovely shopping and dining, you can enjoy live music daily with dining inside and outside at RC Otters. They offer a wide assortment of lunch items like Oysters on the half shell, or their famous Chicken Fingers and sizzling Fajita Quesadillas, and their dinner is even tastier. 

A review of RC Otter's states, "I've been going to Captiva every year for over 20 years and RC Otters is first on our list, and usually repeated at least once more."

Try their Ultimate Seafood Omelet with blue crab meat and shrimp for breakfast.

Key Lime Bistro

(11509 Andy Rosse Lane, Captiva FL 33924)

Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, Key Lime Bistro has a wide array of dishes sure to please even the most discerning palates. They offer live music everyday, as well as a full service bar. There is a choice to dine either outside or in, and is located close to plenty of adorable shops to explore after your meal.

Stop by for breakfast and try our Bistro Style Corned Beef Hash and Eggs or Crab Cake Benedict. 

Where is your favorite place to dine? Let us know in the comments and we just might add it!