Back in September I went and visited my dad and stepmom in their new condo in Florida. This virtual school thing is not all bad as it helped me be able to see some friends and family while still completing my schoolwork. While I was there we were able to go out to eat and visit many local restaurants. Here are the places we tried that had gluten-free options on their menu.
Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grill
Doc Ford’s is a small restaurant chain in Florida. They are a themed restaurant based on the Sanibel Flats book series by Randy Wayne White. In the series the main character was Doc Ford a marine biologist living in Sanibel Island, Florida. I myself have only finished reading one of the books in the series, which was nice after enjoying dinner at the restaurant. The first book at least was somewhat of an adventure meets mystery book. It was interesting, but not my favorite genre to be honest.
We visited the Doc Ford’s in Fort Myers. It was a really cool restaurant. They had both indoor and outdoor seating and a lot of it. We were seated inside, but still had a great waterfront view of Matanzas Pass. We were seated close to the bar and at the time college football was on. I am not the biggest college football fan, but for whatever reason I was very enthralled by the games that day. In all reality we did not see much of the restaurant other than the bar area where we were sitting. There they were intentional about not sitting groups in booths next to each other. It was a casual restaurant with some tropical and travel gear decorations to fit the theme.
The most important part of any restaurant of course is the food. So despite seeming like a very casual restaurant they have great food here. Before visiting my dad had been talking for days about the food here and I was glad we got to visit while I was around. Doc Ford’s has a gluten-free menu available that we were able to order from. I remember having many options and having a difficult time choosing too.
This meal was a nicer meal out for us. We shared some appetizers and then each got an entree as well. We started off with the famous Yucatan Shrimp. When at the restaurant they will tell you more about the history of the Yucatan Shrimp recipe and how it came to be. With the shrimp came gluten-free bread to dip into the extra broth that the shrimp is served in. The shrimp was good, but maybe a bit spicy for me. I also did not like that I had to peel the shrimp. That is not a reason not to order this dish, I just have never bought shrimp that was not already peeled. We also shared a plate of oysters on the half shell. Oysters are one dish I randomly really enjoy and was happy to get them while I was in Florida. The oysters were prepared in a white wine sauce which was a different way to prepare them compared to what I’ve had before. I enjoyed them, but I think I like them better with butter, garlic and cheese.
For my meal I ordered a pork dish with caramelized onion and apple glaze, mashed potatoes and wilted spinach. By the time I got my meal though I had already enjoyed so much food. That did not stop me from eating my excellent entree. This entree was delicious, I really enjoyed the pork and the glaze. At the time we had been eating a lot of seafood so it was nice to have a meat dish. Overall it was a well thought out and executed dish. All the flavors worked nicely together and were presented in a fun manner as well. It was nice too because it needed no modifications to be made gluten-free. Also on the gluten-free menu, which someone ordered were BBQ ribs. I was able to try some of the ribs and they were delicious as well.
All in all, Doc Ford’s is a nice restaurant in the Fort Myers area. They have a great selection of gluten-free items including gluten-free bread products. The staff seem knowledgeable about accommodating gluten-free guests and all three of us eating utilized the gluten-free menu with no adverse effects. The restaurant is nice and casual while serving high quality food. With the high quality food does come a bit of a price tag, but thankfully for me, my dad was paying that night! I would suggest this restaurant to anyone visiting Fort Myers, or any of the locations that also have a Doc Ford’s restaurant. I do not think you will be disappointed by your experience at Doc Ford’s.
Matanzas On The Bay
Matanzas On the Bay was one of the few restaurants I got to enjoy twice while staying in Florida. The first time I visited we rode up on my aunt and uncle’s boat. I mean what a cool entrance right. Like just driving your boat up to get some food. Although I had told my aunt and uncle I did not have that much time and they did not respect that boundary, it did end up alright. Matanzas is a fun waterfront restaurant with an assortment of menu options. They have both indoor and outdoor seating as well as a rooftop bar where they host entertainment.
Matanzas was one of the nicer restaurants we visited while on our trip. Despite that it was still pretty casual. I mean we rode up on the boat the first time and thankfully I had brought a coverup to wear as I was only wearing my swimsuit in the boat. But the next time we visited it was a weekend and most of the customers were dressed a bit nicer, and they were hosting a wedding party rehearsal dinner.
Matanzas has a separate gluten-free menu with a handful of menu items. Both times I ordered the same thing as it was something I do not have easy access to elsewhere.
I ordered the blackened grouper with potato salad. The first time I went to Matanzas was actually the first time I had grouper. Growing up I did not eat fish at all, and we never had it in our house. I always just assumed I would not enjoy it. But since going gluten-free I have actually gotten more adventurous with my food choices. The blackened grouper was very delicious. It was not an overly fishy fish. It was light and the blackening season had a lot of great flavor. The second time I visited I only changed my order a bit by getting light blackening seasoning. The seasoning is great, but it seemed like their was a bit much on my first meal. Also I will note that not all blackening seasonings are gluten-free, but this one was.
The potato salad was also very delicious. I have never loved potato salad, I think there are better ways to eat potatoes, but it was enjoyable. And in my opinion the best side option of the gluten-free options. I also tried some of my aunt’s pineapple coleslaw which was one of the options for the gluten-free sides. I really did not enjoy that. I also am not big into coleslaw and am sure other people do enjoy it.
Overall I really enjoyed visiting Matanzas on the Bay. They have both indoor and outdoor seating and I enjoyed sitting outside and watching all the boats go by. They have a separate gluten-free menu with both seafood and meat options. I was lucky enough to visit Matanzas twice while I was in town and enjoyed it both times. Between the two times I was there four of us utilized the gluten-free menu. As far as I know we all enjoyed our meals and had no gluten exposure. I think Matanzas is a good option for eating out if you are in the Fort Myers area.
Nervous Nellie’s is a casual, fun, and a bit odd restaurant in Fort Myers. I visited Nervous Nellie’s in great company and did not take too many notes on the history and decor itself. I do remember that they had merchandise with fun pictures and sayings for sale.
Nervous Nellie’s is a two-story restaurant with both indoor and outdoor seating. I mean, I think it is pretty unusual not to have both in such a warm weather place. We sat on the patio and they had a stage with a musician playing in the background. Although we did not arrive by boat, they did have a few boat docks so that you could boat up to dinner here. I enjoyed watching the boats go by, and admiring all the cool boats.
Nervous Nellie’s has a separate gluten-free menu that four of the five of us ordered from. We all started with drinks as well. They had many different fun concoctions. Unfortunately, I do not like coconut at all, and many fun tropical drinks have coconut in them. I stuck with a traditional margarita. I felt that a margarita would go well with my fajitas. At this point I had been eating a lot of fish and I saw fajitas on the menu. Fajitas are a dish I really enjoy, but if a restaurant has them they often are not gluten-free. I don’t know if those restaurants use seasoning that isn’t gluten-free, or if they don’t carry corn tortillas. It really does not matter at this point. I had the fajitas and enjoyed them, but do believe I have had better elsewhere. But the great thing is, I felt physically well after eating. I did not get glutened, and as far as I am aware neither did any of the other three gluten-free diners with me. I would say that is a success.
If you are looking for a casual restaurant, one that seems to be relatively kid friendly, Nervous Nellie’s is a good place. They are a bit funky and fun and have good food. The gluten-free menu has a variety of options with something for everyone. I enjoyed my time at Nervous Nellies with the live music and see myself going back in the future while visiting my family.
The Fort Myers area of Florida seems to have many restaurants with gluten-free menus available. I was only able to visit three of these during my stay. But due to my dad recently moving close to the area I assume I will be able to try more of the restaurants and have more reviews here in the future. I hope this posts helps you in planning your trip to the Fort Myers and the surrounding areas. If you visit any of these restaurants don’t forget to come back and tell others about your experience!