Posts Tagged With: Sanibel Island

In the mooooooood for good cooking? Try Island Cow

Island Cow sign


While on vacation I always like to try unusual restaurants, local places rather than national chains. Sometimes I’m impressed, sometimes not. I thought the Island Cow on Sanibel Island was a place worth visiting again. As their ad claims, “udderly great food.” I wouldn’t necessarily say “great,” but it was very good.

Outside Island Cow          Island Cow Inside

This quirky, family-friendly restaurant is decorated in a cow motif, hence the name. Their menu is almost too extensive. It’s good there’s always a wait for a table because it takes you a while to go through the entire menu to decide what you want. They have all sorts of seafood combos, pasta, sandwiches, burgers, wraps, BBQ, salads, and breakfasts like pancakes, omelets, French toast and waffles. And there are a lot of choices for the kids.

Island Cow meatloaf          Island Cow fried shrimp

The entrees we ordered were the Mooliscious Meatloaf with mashed potatoes and veggies, and the fried shrimp basket. Both were very good and the portions were large. Their corn muffins were also good, very moist, not crumbly like some others I’ve tried. I also had a great drink, the Island Breeze, a simple concoction of orange juice, cranberry juice and champagne.

Because the place is always so busy, it can get quite noisy inside. If it hadn’t been so warm out, I might have liked to sit outside. The service was very good and fast, considering how busy they were.

Island Breeze                Island Cow outside

Island Cow serves breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. They have live music and a daily Happy Hour. Southern Living magazine voted them “Top Breakfast in Florida” and “Best of the Islands” for dinner and lunch.

Dates of Visit:  October 2012

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Come Sail Away – Captiva Cruises

Captiva cruise Cabbage Key


One of the best ways to get to know some of the islands off the coast of Ft. Myers, Florida, is to board one of Captiva Cruises, north of Sanibel Island.

Captiva Cruises has been operating their tours since 1986. They have several great excursions to choose from. Their cruises include the following: dolphin watch and wildlife adventure, a sunset serenade, beach and shelling, sailing cruises and half day cruises to several of the out-islands including Useppa Island, Boca Grande, Cayo Costa, and the one we took to Cabbage Key.

Captiva cruises          Captiva cruise-Restaurant

We boarded our boat for the one hour ride out to Cabbage Key. Captain Yogi Schmidt was our tour guide. He filled us in on a lot of history about the area including a detailed story of the damage Sanibel Island suffered during Hurricane Charlie in 2004.

Cabbage Key is an isolated island in Pine Island Sound. It’s considered a true “old Florida island hideaway.” There’s a main house on the island which is an inn and restaurant. It was built in 1938 by playwright and novelist Mary Roberts Rinehart. There are also several small cottages on the property available to rent.

Cabbage Key cottage          Captiva cruises-water tower

It is rumored that Jimmy Buffet was inspired to write his song “Cheeseburger in Paradise” while on Cabbage Key. Although Captain Yogi said he’s heard that same rumor on various islands, even as far east as the Bahamas. Jimmy Buffet is not confirming or denying where he got the idea for the song.

Captiva cruises-tower view          Captiva cruises

But one thing is for certain, the restaurant at Cabbage Key is one that’s decorated like no other. The walls are covered with thousands and thousands of one dollar bills. The tradition of taping an autographed dollar to the ceiling or walls of the restaurant started with the fisherman who used to come into the area after their trips to sea. If they had a good catch that year, they’d sign their name on their money and tape it up inside the restaurant so that they could use it when they had a bad year.

Captiva cruises-money on ceiling          Captiva cruises-outside restaurant

Other than having lunch at the restaurant, there’s not much else to do on Cabbage Key. There is a short nature trail that meanders through the island. And you can climb the water tower to get a great view of the area.

Captiva cruises-Cabbage Key trail          Captiva cruises-Cabbage Key house

If you’re looking for a truly relaxing day on the water and a chance to explore the out-islands off Florida’s southern west coast, take a tour with Captiva Cruises.

Dates of Visit:  October 2012

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Sea Star Cafe

Sea Star Cafe


Sometimes it’s nice to not have to get into the car and drive somewhere to have dinner while on vacation. So, on my last trip to Sanibel Island, my first dinner was at the hotel next door to Song of the Sea, where we were staying. The restaurant-Sea Star Café at Song of the Sea’s sister resort, the Sanibel Inn.

Sea Star Cafe interiorWe got there a bit early, so there was nobody in the restaurant. But it was Happy Hour and Sea Star Café is known for their Happy Hour. They have $5.00 appetizers and two for one drinks. Well, apparently the wait staff, who were extremely friendly and attentive, didn’t really know what drinks were two for one. Jason, our waiter, said everything was. So, we ordered two Fuzzy Navels and two Pina Coladas. Come to find out, those drinks were not two for one. But they were well made and very Boscoe Sticksgood.

We tried the Boscoe sticks for an appetizer, bread sticks with dipping sauce. Pretty good. For entrees we had the Penne a la Vodka and the Hawaiian Chicken. Both were tasty, not fabulous. And the portions were large.

I have to say that the service is very good, the atmosphere nice, but I wouldn’t rush back there for the food. Had it not been for the great staff, Sea Star Café might have only gotten two paws from Teddy. And if you look at the sign above or visit their website, you’ll see that they call themselves a “waterfront bar.” Well, they’re not really right on the water. Sanibel Inn is on the beach, but the restaurant is not on the water.

Hawaiian Chicken          Penne A la Vodka

Sea Star Café serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu includes pancakes, omelets, French toast, soups, salads, sandwiches, pasta, chicken, beef and seafood options. There’s live music every Friday night as well.

Dates of Visit:  October 2012

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Sanibel’s Song of the Sea


A few weeks ago, I wrote about beautiful Sanibel Island and how much I love visiting there. It’s the perfect place for a short romantic getaway, especially if you stay at the charming Song of the Sea.

This small, intimate inn is right on the beach. The 30, newly-renovated guest rooms are decorated in a French country motif. All have kitchenettes, a full refrigerator, microwave, flat screen TV and screened in porches. Our room overlooked the heated outdoor pool.


Where other hotels charge for certain amenities, many are complimentary at Song of the Sea. Parking is on site and free. You have use of their bicycles – ideal for touring around the island. Beach umbrellas and chairs are at your disposal. Breakfast, including fresh-made Belgian waffles, is free. And you’ll find a complimentary bottle of wine in your room upon check-in.


I was very pleased with this hotel. Cheryl, the manager at the front desk when we checked in, was extremely friendly and helpful. She provided us with maps and a coupon book to use on the island. The only thing that I wasn’t crazy about was that the room had tile floors which tended to be a bit dirty. I had to wash my feet before bed each night! But I would stay at Song of the Sea again. It’s very reasonably priced for all that they offer, plus it’s right on the beach. We got a great deal through AAA.


Song of the Sea is one of four properties in the Sanibel Collection. The others are the Sanibel Inn, Sunset Beach Inn and the Seaside Inn.

Dates of Visit:  October 2012

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Great ice cream at Pinocchio’s – and that’s no lie


For over 30 years, Pinocchio’s Original Homemade Italian Ice Cream has been tickling taste buds on Sanibel Island. Pinocchio’s has won “Best of the Islands-Best Ice Cream” every year since 2004. And they’re on National Geographic’s list of Top 10 Best Ice Creams in Gulf Coast America.

There are 130 different flavors made fresh daily in the store, some with very interesting names: Parrots Nest, Wylie’s Cake Batter, Gator Stew, and Pumpkin Gingersnap. If you’re looking for one of those specific flavors, call ahead. Only 37 flavors are in the freezer every day. With the exception of their signature flavors which you can get all the time: World Famous Sanibel Krunch — vanilla ice cream with toasted chocolate enrobed coconut and gourmet mixed nuts; and Dirty Sand Dollar — caramel ice cream with malted milk balls and chocolate flakes.

We did what most visitors do – after taking a bike ride to the Sanibel Lighthouse, we stopped at Pinocchio’s for ice cream. On my first visit (yes, we went twice) I tried the Purple Cow — black raspberry with chocolate chips. The second time, I got the Dirty Sand Dollar. Both were excellent. But be sure that your eyes aren’t bigger than your stomach. Portions at Pinocchio’s are huge. A kiddie portion was the perfect size for me. It equaled a large single scoop at any other ice cream parlor. Also, Pinocchio’s only serves their ice cream in their own gourmet waffle cones or bowls, no sugar cones here. And each order is topped off with an animal cracker.

So, take a break from the beach, the biking, the shelling, the sand, fishing and golf and dig into a scoop or two of Pinocchio’s ice cream. The perfect end to your perfect day (or days) on Sanibel Island.

Dates of Visit:  October 2012

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Steaks and Martinis


I know that some of my readers are vegetarians or vegans. So, if you are, you probably don’t want to read any further. Although, I’m sure the title of this post turned you off already anyway!

I’ve written way too many posts on seafood restaurants, so it’s time for me to get to the meat, steak to be precise. My fellow carnivores, I love Sanibel Steakhouse (now called Chip’s Sanibel Steakhouse.) The first time we went was way back in 2000. The steaks were like “budda” and the martinis were huge. Now, 12 years later, the martinis are regular size, but the filet mignon is still absolutely, melt-in-your-mouth amazing. Perfection even. You don’t even need a steak knife to cut it.

In addition to the scrumptious filet mignon, I also had a lovely Metropolitan Martini, basically raspberry vodka. For a starter, I had fabulous French onion soup and along with my 5 ounce filet, garlic mashed potatoes, veggies and sourdough bread.

Service is wonderful. Our wait staff was very professional and attentive. Overall, a wonderfully satisfying experience.

But just because it’s a steakhouse, doesn’t mean they only have steak. The menu also features chicken, duck, pork and pasta dishes. Seafood lovers can partake of shrimp, scallops, lobster tail and “Sanibel Island’s best crab cakes.”

If you want to indulge yourself at this delectable dining destination — and if you love steak you simply have to — make sure you call ahead. At the Sanibel Steakhouse, you always need a reservation.

Dates of Visit:  January 2000, January 2002, October 2012

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Sanibel Island’s Over Easy Cafe


When it comes to finding a good restaurant on Sanibel Island for breakfast or lunch, the choice is easy…the Over Easy Café. What may not be so easy is trying to decide what to have. They have a very extensive menu with lots of choices.

This award-winning, chicken-themed eatery offers six varieties of eggs benedict including the Reuben Benedict, Sanibel Shrimp Benedict and Nova Smoked Salmon Benedict. But if “Bennys” aren’t your thing, how about the Mellow Portobello Omelet, Crab and Asparagus Omelet, Stuffed French Toast, Oreo Pancakes, Strawberry Pancakes, Piggies in a Blanket or Sunrise Sliders. That’s just to name a few. Don’t forget the fresh squeezed orange juice. Every restaurant in Florida should have fresh squeezed orange juice! And I’ve read that the cinnamon rolls are fabulous. I’ll definitely have to try one next time. And yes, there will be a next time for sure!

If it’s lunch you’re after, try their wraps, salads, seafood, all kinds of sandwiches and burgers. I had a half tuna salad sandwich on toasted sourdough bread with a cup of Italian meatball soup. Super yummy!

Since I was there on a Friday during a somewhat low season, there was no wait, but hear it’s busy on weekends and during peak season. And if you have a well-behaved dog, you can eat on the pet-friendly patio.

This is the first restaurant I’ve ever been to that served drinks in insulated Tervis Tumblers, appropriately with chickens and roosters on them. (Come to find out, Tervis is a Florida company. Their headquarters is outside Venice, Florida.)

My very first impression of the Over Easy Cafe was a positive one. Our waitress was extremely friendly and accommodating. This was the first restaurant I went to on my most recent trip to Sanibel, so it was refreshing to have a great dining experience right off the bat.

So, whether you visit the Over Easy Café for breakfast, lunch or brunch, you’re sure to have a tasty meal.

Breakfast Hours: 7am to 3pm
Lunch Hours: 11am to 3pm

Dates of Visit:  October 2012

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