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Special Restaurant Choice

Sarasota, Florida
Destination Expert
for Sarasota, Longboat Key
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4,186 posts
107 reviews
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Special Restaurant Choice

OK. I've lurked for awhile and now need some help. We're going to be on Sanibel for a few days beginning May 5, my wife and I and daughter+son-in-law. We'll probably do some casual food several times, but at least once for dinner want a nice place, great food, good presentation, and quiet enough so that we can actually hear ourselves talk to each other. If it helps, we're staying on Beach Road off of East Gulf Drive.

Some people talk about Doc Fords. Others rave about Sweet Melissa's. And others like Thistle Lodge. Which is the best? or did I miss something special that only TA locals know about? Ah yes, one of our party happens to be a vegetarian, though she has been known to enjoy a piece of chicken or fish on a rare occasion, and always seems happy to put together some vegetable items from a menu that satisfy her.

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Sanibel
Sanibel
Sanibel Island, FL
iowa
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265 posts
12 reviews
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1. Re: Special Restaurant Choice

Our vote would be for Thistle Lodge. We ate there for the first time last year and thought the ambiance and food were terrific. We will go again this year for our special night out.

Newtown...
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423 posts
26 reviews
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2. Re: Special Restaurant Choice

Our favorite restaurant on the island is Doc Ford's, but for a special occasion I would choose Thistle Lodge. We'll also be on the island beginning May 5th... Doc Ford's will be on our rotation at least once!

England
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1,729 posts
54 reviews
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3. Re: Special Restaurant Choice

I would reckon Thistle Lodge would be your best option though we like the Jacaranda and always go to Timbers.

Doc fords gets a lot of votes but i think you might find it somewhat noisy.

Sanibel Island...
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2,702 posts
29 reviews
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4. Re: Special Restaurant Choice

We like Sunset Grill out in "Santiva". Traders is nice but perhaps too noisy. Doc Fords is very casual and has TV screens all around- but the food is very good. And I have a a few good experiences withe the reincarnated Twilight Cafe as well.

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Traders
Traders
1,741 Reviews
Sanibel Island, FL
Sanibel, FL
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927 posts
24 reviews
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5. Re: Special Restaurant Choice

The fishhouse (just opened this week) has been getting rave reviews! This is the old McT's finally completed and open for business. I hear it was worth the wait. Sanibel Fish House

1523 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, FL 33957

(239) 472-7770

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Sanibel Fish House
Sanibel Fish House
962 Reviews
Sanibel Island, FL
Sanibel
Sanibel
Sanibel Island, FL
Sanibel Island...
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1,035 posts
12 reviews
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6. Re: Special Restaurant Choice

Thistle Lodge has always been our top choice for special dinners...love the old Florida feel and the water views. We are not as enthusiastic as others about Sweet Melissa's or the Mad Hatter (although most people really enjoy both of these; we feel both really have excellent presentation, but we prefer more traditional venues when it comes to upscale dining), and have yet to try "traditions" at the island inn.

I agree with MSC about Doc Fords and Traders...these are perhaps our two favorite restaurants on the island, but not places we would select for a more intimate and quiet dinner. We also found the Twilight to be a bit on the noisy side (of course, we were there on New Years eve...)

We have recently had two great meals at the Jacaranda...after a few years of avoiding it due to poor dining experiences.

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Florida
Florida
United States
Traders
Traders
1,741 Reviews
Sanibel Island, FL
Madison, Indiana
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272 posts
24 reviews
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7. Re: Special Restaurant Choice

Not that you need any more choices from the ones suggested, but we've found the dinners at the Lighthouse Cafe to be very special. Unlike their breakfast shift, when they are busy and quite noisy, the atmosphere for dinner is quiet and intimate, and the selections on the menu are excellent. You don't feel rushed, like they want your table for the next guests, which you may feel at other places. We lingered over coffee and conversation quite a while.

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Lighthouse Cafe
Lighthouse Cafe
1,712 Reviews
Sanibel Island, FL
Minneapolis...
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14 posts
16 reviews
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8. Re: Special Restaurant Choice

We tend to go to the Jacaranda for special events (easter, b-days, etc.). The covered patio dining is very nice and the service is always the best. Based on my experience the Jacaranda is more of a local/regular spot.

Sarasota, Florida
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for Sarasota, Longboat Key
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4,186 posts
107 reviews
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9. Re: Special Restaurant Choice

Wow, you guys are fantastic! Seems like we should be staying longer so we can enjoy them all. Now I need to go online and check out some menus. Right now I'm leaning towards Thistle Lodge, maybe Doc Fords and Jacaranda, maybe even Lighthouse Cafe. Question: how dressy would we have to be at Thistle Lodge?

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Lighthouse Cafe
Lighthouse Cafe
1,712 Reviews
Sanibel Island, FL
Madison, Indiana
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272 posts
24 reviews
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10. Re: Special Restaurant Choice

There's nothing nicer than to end a leisurely day on Sanibel with a great meal. And all of Sanibel's restaurants seem uniquely ready to provide that satisfaction. Rarely a bad meal anywhere on the island!

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Sanibel
Sanibel
Sanibel Island, FL
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