3 Funky Restaurants in Fort Myers

FUNKYFMDIXIEIf you’re like me, you love finding local color with your seafood and sandwiches. Fort Myers and its islands dispense plenty of character, along with cold drinks and good eats, at funky spots the locals love for their easy-going attitude and settings. Give these three a test run next time you’re looking outside the box of fancy or chain restaurants.

CRACKER BOX RESTAURANT, SOUTH FORT MYERS

FUNKYFMCRACKERBring a camera, cash, your dancing shoes and plenty of patience. You’ll want lots of pictures of this colorful, shakes-sided restaurant that claims to be the second oldest restaurant in the county (since 1962). Credit cards don’t work here in this old Florida holdout with a bit of an attitude. (Nor does leaving your spouse for payment, the website warns.) Staff doesn’t apologize if you have to wait a spell for your order of famous crab cakes, shrimp or a creamy fish dish named Baked Cloris, after the owner’s mother. They’re proud that everything is made from scratch and to order. As for the dancing shoes, live music happens every night the Cracker Box opens during season.

DIXIE FISH CO., FORT MYERS BEACH

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Resurrected in recent times, the circa-1936 Dixie Fish Co. sat as a vacant landmark for many years on the fringes of the Fort Myers Beach shrimping docks of San Carlos Island. Still, with its peaked tin roof and breeze-through stilted dining room, it feels deliciously old-timey. And speaking of delicious: With the seafood coming in fresh from the sea, the local “pink gold” wild shrimp are roundly applauded, along with mahi-mahi and the catch du jour. Views of the sunset-spotlighted fleet of gritty shrimp boats and the strains of live music most nights stir an ambiance that screams Southwest Florida on the whisper of salty sea breezes.

LAZY FLAMINGO, SANIBEL ISLAND

FUNKYFMLAZYFour Lazy Flamingo restaurant today flock the Fort Myers area, but the original on Sanibel Island, located just before the bridge to Captiva (Sanibel actually has two “Lazys,” as the locals call them) has the most character. Here, you order your lunch or dinner at the bar, then take a bar stool, a booth or a table outside and wait to hear your name called. Home to the area’s first ring-on-a-string toss game and women’s halter tops made from men’s briefs, its nautical ambiance belies a seafood-saturated menu where grouper sandwiches and conch fritters rule. The brave (or beer-emboldened) attempt the scorcher Dead Parrot Wings.

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