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14 Can't Miss Captiva Island Restaurants

Sanibel Island Vacation Rentals
February 11, 2020

Every year, visitors from all around the world travel to Captiva Island for a well-earned break in the sun. This unique spot in Southwest Florida has it all, from historical towns to sun-kissed beaches. Many people who visit Captiva Island are repeat visitors that fell in love on their first visit and can’t resist the urge to keep coming back. One of the things that continues to draw them back each year is the selection of can’t miss restaurants and food options.

Are you planning a vacation in Captiva Island but can’t decide where to go for quality food? If so, then we're here to help. Here, we’re going to run through all the Captiva Island Restaurants you can’t afford to miss during your stay. By then end of this guide, you’ll be in a much better position to figure out where you should eat, whether you’re traveling solo, with your partner, or with the entire family. Read on to find out more!

The Mucky Duck

The Mucky Duck is an old world-style pub that serves lunch and dinner in the heart of Old Captiva, specializing, as you might expect, in seafood. Here you can get a range of lunch and dinner entrees, including the famous Captiva sandwich, fried and steamed shrimp, English fish and chips, and oysters. 

The story behind the Mucky Duck is long and varied. The pub’s original name was the Gulf View Inn and served as a tea house from around the mid-twentieth century. Coastal erosion, however, forced the business to close, and the new owners converted it into a beach house. 

In 1975, the beach house was back on the market. Two new owners decided that they would purchase it, hoping that they might be able to rent it out to vacationers. Instead, they discovered that the building had a dormant license to sell liquor, which they could reactivate for just $100. 

The pair then had the vision to reopen the pub as a beautiful sea-view establishment, allowing patrons to enjoy stunning sunset vistas over the Gulf of Mexico. Thus, the Mucky Duck was born. 

The restaurant is now under new management and always serves high-quality seafood. It is still run by the same Swiss restaurateur, Andreas Bieri, who first began serving food at the venue in 1980. 

So what food does this interesting establishment offer? 

The lunch menu is pretty standard seafood fare, as you might expect. Here you can get oysters, salads and a variety of themed entrees, such as grilled salmon, all at very reasonable prices. 

At dinner, the venue really comes alive. Chefs prepare local grouper, Caribbean-inspired coconut shrimp, and filet mignon, if you’re in the mood. All entrees come with a choice of rice, sauteed garlic potatoes, mashed potatoes or French fries. The Mucky Duck is also a kid-friendly venue, offering a range of low-price entrees for children under the age of 12, including shrimp, fish and chips and hot dogs with fries. 

The Bubble RoomThe Bubble Room

The Bubble Room likes to present itself as “Captiva’s finest restaurant”. The restaurant began operating at its present site on Captiva Island in 1979. Since then, it has garnered quite a reputation, now attracting high-caliber guests from all over the world to experience its unique environment. 

The Bubble Room is one of Captiva’s most eccentric restaurants. The owners began creating themes for its dining rooms from day one, using old toys from the 1930s and 1940s. Since then, it has become increasingly enigmatic, offering a one-of-a-kind dining experience you won’t find anywhere else. 

During the first few years of the Bubble Room’s operation, management played whatever old recordings they had available on tapes. Later, the establishment built the collection for its 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s soundtrack. 

Today, the Bubble Room stands proud on Captiva Drive. As you approach the restaurant, you can tell that it is something very special. The colors immediately pop out when you walk in, with fluorescent purples, turquoise, yellows and greens all jumping out at you. 

Once you step inside, you enter a fabulously different world, with bright neon lights snaking under the ceiling fans. Practically every wall and ceiling surface is home to a painting or picture of some description, providing a visual feast for your eyes. Eager bartenders stand behind the bar, ready to not only serve, but entertain guests as well. 

Of course, the main attraction of the Bubble Room is the food. Here are some of the items you’ll find on the menu:

  • Smoke Gets In Your Eyes - the fish of the day with a choice of sauces and dressings
  • Three Musketeers - three crab, three shrimp, and three scallops all stuffed with the restaurant's iconic sauteed mushrooms
  • The Tiny Bubble - a full entree that includes the restaurant’s famous Bubble Bread, a choice of salads and a dessert.
  • Dem Bones … Dem Bones … - a 16oz Porterhouse steak cooked on a sizzling cast-iron skillet with choice of side
  • Charlie Chaplin Chops - a themed dish, featuring two pork chops served with either mushroom merlot or bourbon mango sauce
  • Judy Garland - red snapper fillet with mint papaya salad and drizzled with mango chutney

The restaurant also offers a selection of delicious desserts for patrons to sample, including red velvet cake, orange crunch cake, and moist chocolate cake. If you’re on Captiva Island, be sure to check this one out. 

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Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grill

Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grill is all about embracing the casual lifestyle you find on Captiva Island. The restaurant's newest location opened in 2013 and offers live music, outdoor seating, and, of course, Doc Ford’s famous grilled food

So, what’s on the menu? 

The majority of the food you’ll find here is Caribbean-inspired. The restaurant serves crab cakes, mussels, tuna appetizers, calamari, and shrimp. Many menu items come with a customary flatbread, something you can use to scoop up all that delicious sauce and authentic local flavors. 

You can also get Doc’s Beach Bread - baked French bread topped with diced tomatoes, Monterey cheese, and cheddar. It’s a favorite at Doc Ford’s and something you won’t want to pass up.

Doc Ford’s Bar is the brainchild of avid fisherman and guide Randy White. He loved the old Doc Ford restaurant on Rabbit Road and often sold the fish to the head chef after taking people on angling tours of the island. He liked the idea of running a fish restaurant and later decided to do just that, basing the name on the original tropical adventurer of the same name. His vision was to create a sports bar that served excellent food - and that’s precisely what he has done here. 

Cantina CaptivaCantina Captiva

Cantina Captiva on Captiva Drive offers a mixture of spicy dishes, inspired by both Southwestern and Mexican cuisine. The restaurant’s biggest draw is its homemade guacamole, prepared daily from fresh avocados by its team of dedicated chefs. Locals love coming here for the “green stuff” paired with tortilla chips, pico de gallo, and jalapenos. 

If you’re looking for something a little more filling, you have two options. You can either choose menu items that celebrate traditional Mexican food, such as burritos, fajitas, enchiladas, and tacos. Or you can go for something more experimental. 

The experimental dishes attempt to combine Mexican and Southwestern flavors with the local seafood found in and around Captiva Island. Tequila-lime shrimp, for instance, is an excellent example of the type of dish that this little restaurant likes to serve. 

Upon arrival, expect a party atmosphere. While the establishment's primary focus is on quality food, there’s no denying that this is a restaurant that jumps out at you - everything from the brightly-painted doors to the dollar-decorated ceiling. If you’re interested in having an adult beverage or two while you dine here, you won’t be disappointed. The restaurant serves a variety of domestic and imported beers and makes a fabulous margarita if you’re in the mood. 

If seafood isn’t your thing, don’t worry: you can still get all the tastes of Mexico. Go for the Angus Steak marinated in Mexican spices and lime juice, or choose the Chichen Chile poblano - two chicken breasts in spicy poblano sauce. 

Mainstay and Barnacles Bar

If you’re looking for somewhere basic to grab a quick bite, the Mainstay and Barnacles Bar towards the north of Captiva Island should be at the top of your shortlist. 

The appeal of this restaurant and bar is its isolation and tranquility. Tucked away in the north of the island, Mainstay and Barnacles Bar gives you the chance to enjoy a fresh breeze rolling in from Florida’s west coast while sipping on your favorite beer and eating delicious seafood. 

Recently, the owners gave the establishment a makeover, changing both the food and the decor. The menu additions are welcome and make the Mainstay and Barnacles Bar well worth a visit if you happen to be in the area. And the new tiki hut surrounded by the sea offers a fun dining environment that helps you relax, unwind and enjoy your break. If you’re lucky, you might be able to catch a glimpse of the impressive local wildlife, which includes dolphins, pelicans, and manatees. 

Next to the bar is a gift shop where you’ll find all types of sea-themed souvenirs to remind you of your travels. 

Keylime Bistro

Keylime Bistro, like Cantina Captiva, is another eaterie associated with Captiva Island Inn. This award-winning venue, situated in the heart of historic Captiva Island Village, serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, offering a selection of food that even the fussiest of eaters will love. 

Keylime Bistro’s motto is “fun, food and spirits,” which pretty much sums up the atmosphere of the entire venue. It’s a place you can go at any time of the day while on the island to enjoy the sunny weather, friendly waitstaff, and delicious liquor. 

Like many restaurants on Captiva Island, Keylime Bistro focuses its menu around seafood. For breakfast, you can grab crab cake benedict. At lunch, there’s a grouper sandwich and seafood antipasto. And for dinner, chefs prepare a variety of fresh fish dishes. You can also get a range of Key lime-themed meals, including Key lime pasta, steak fillets, and its award-winning pie. 

Keylime Bistro has a party atmosphere, so it might not be the top choice for a quiet meal. The venue plays host to music daily and offers a full-service bar. What’s more, thanks to its location in the heart of Old Captiva, it is right in the middle of all the action, providing quick access to beautiful shops, art galleries, and general stores for collecting beach supplies. It also offers excellent sunset views - ideal for dinners on long, hot summer evenings. 

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Crow’s Nest Bar & GrilleCrow's Nest Bar & Grille

Crow’s Nest Bar and Grille at the ‘Tween Water Island Resort and Space is a venue that combines both food and entertainment for an all-around incredible eating experience. Practically every evening, there is some sort of show to enjoy, with very few days off. On the weekends, you’ll find live entertainment to accompany your delicious food. During the week, you can enjoy a spot of bingo and trivial pursuit. 

Perhaps the most unusual of all the entertainment is the crab races, where spectators put money on their crab being the first to find its way to the food at the center of the table. As you might guess, the venue’s goal is to make every night special so that you’ll keep coming back for more.

The nautical theme of the establishment carries over to the food. On the menu, you’ll find a range of salads, tacos, sandwiches, and entrees, all of which rely heavily on freshly-caught seafood from the surrounding area and beyond. Some of the most notable menu items include:

  • Shrimp Tacos- a take on traditional Mexican bean/ground beef tacos, complete with smoked jalapeno aioli and fresh avocado
  • Crab Cakes- made with the venue’s famous cider coleslaw and tropical fruit salsa
  • Crow’s Nest Salad- which comes with mozzarella, candied walnuts, strawberries, and baby heirloom tomatoes
  • Locally Caught Island Grouper- served with sliced onions, tomatoes, and lettuce, with a brioche bun
  • Crows Nest Pasta- featuring either shrimp or chicken, with asparagus, mushrooms and basil pesto cream

What's more, Crow’s Nest Bar and Grille does an excellent job of providing for those with dietary requirements. For people with gluten sensitivity, all menu items are labeled GF for gluten-free. There is also a range of vegan items on the menu, including pasta and the “Impossible” burger. 

As for drinks, Crow's Nest Bar and Grill excels there too. If you fancy something a little different, try their peanut butter cup or raspberry lemon martinis. You can also pick up gift cards for the venue and, occasionally, watch the big game while enjoying food and drink.

Over The Waterfront

Over the Waterfront located, as you might expect, right on the harbor, is one of the highest-rated restaurants on North Captiva Island, serving a range of traditional and modern dishes designed to inspire. The setting is unique. To get to it, you must first walk along a jetty that stretches around 100 feet into the water before arriving at the main cabin. The restaurant building sits on stilts and provides a true “over the water” experience for diners. 

For nature lovers, this aspect of the dining experience is excellent news. Here you can enjoy delicious food while having a good chance of catching a glimpse of dolphins jumping through the water in the bay. Most of the seating is close to the windows, providing excellent views of the action outside. There’s also a sun deck giving uninterrupted views of the harbor. 

If you plan on visiting Over the Waterfront, we’d recommend booking in advance. The limited number of seats means that it gets full quickly, even at lunchtime. The venue closes for a couple of hours between lunch and dinner service, so you can’t pop in for a late lunch, unfortunately. 

Latte Da Coffee Shop & Deli

Latte Da Coffee Shop and Deli offers a range of coffees as well as ice cream and a selection of gifts to serve as souvenirs of your visit. As with many places to eat mentioned thus far, it is associated with Captiva Island Inn, one of the largest tour operators in the area. 

Latte Da Coffee and Ice Cream Shop has a fun appearance. As you approach, you’ll see a multi-colored painted picket fence adorned with images of popsicles, ice cream cones, and candies. Inside, you’re greeted by a warm and busy environment - the sort of place you want to spend a little time enjoying a cup of Joe while admiring the beautiful scenery outside. For those who like to sit in the fresh air, there is a small covered porch area. 

While Latte Da Coffee and Ice Cream doesn’t offer a full dinner menu, it does provide customers with excellent customer service. The staff is always warm and friendly, which is part of the reason why people who know the area well like coming here again and again. With its turquoise and violet color theme, this place immediately gets you into the Florida spirit. 

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Harbourside Bar and Grill

The Harbourside Bar and Grill on Captiva Island is a part of the South Seas Island Resort, popular thanks to its location right on the marina. If you dine outside, you can enjoy a glass of wine and a delicious meal while watching yachts and ferries make their way in and out of port. At sunset, it is a magical setting. 

The venue is famous for its focus on quality local ingredients and offers a range of delicacies, including Cajun snapper and Florida Gulf grouper. Furthermore, because of its prime location, it is trendy around Valentine’s day among couples looking for a romantic dining experience. Valentine’s Day menu specials include lobster bisque, bone-in N.Y. strip, and triple chocolate mousse. 

Perhaps the most exciting feature of the restaurant is its “you hook it, we cook it” program. Here you can give your freshly-caught fish to the venue’s chefs to prepare however you like. How many restaurants have you been to that offer this?!

Harbourside Bar and Grill serves both breakfast and dinner. Popular breakfast items include:

  • Western omelet with peppers, onions, ham and cheddar cheese
  • Egg white omelet with tomato, spinach, and Swiss cheese
  • Corned beef hash with toast
  • Shrimp and grits, with zesty tomato crema
  • Eggs benedict on an English muffin with Hollandaise sauce

At dinner time, the establishment likes to take things up a notch. Here you can enjoy the following delicious menu items, including: 

  • Cracked lobster with linguine, garlic truffle cream, and black truffles
  • Cedar plank salmon with grilled broccolini
  • Asian glazed Chilean sea bass with black rice, edamame, and bok choy
  • Avocado burger with lemon aioli and fries
  • Traditional lobster bisque made with sherry

So, in summary, the Harbourside Bar and Grill is one of the most upscale venues on Captiva Island. People tend to come here on special occasions, such as dates, birthdays, or anniversaries. Don't forget to check out more Sanibel and Captiva Island beaches during your visit.

Old Captiva House

Captiva House, located on Captiva Drive, has a long and varied history. It started life as a one-room school for the first settlers in the area, complete with beautiful whitewash French-style doors and hardwood floors. As the years went by, it developed alongside the ‘Tween Waters Inn to become a fully-fledged restaurant, serving both breakfast and dinner. The venue keeps almost all of its original charm, making it the perfect place to go if you want a little taste of history.

Old Captiva house provides a beautiful atmosphere for eating breakfast before 11 am. Beverages include hot tea, coffee, espresso, double espresso, cappuccinos, and a range of freshly-squeezed fruit juices. For food, you have a lot of choices. One of the most interesting items on the menu is the artichoke chorizo benedict, which features two poached eggs sitting on top of an artichoke base. You might also want to try the biscuits and gravy - two eggs served on homemade biscuits with southern-style sausage gravy. 

For dinner, Old Captiva House serves a variety of seafood dishes. Top on your list of menu items to try should be the blue crab bisque starter with roasted red peppers and creme fraiche, and the blackened snapper main, which comes with the chef’s one-of-a-kind watermelon and cucumber salad. Other notable items include the filet entree with garlic parmesan mashed potatoes and steamed fish of the day with asparagus and celery root puree. 

Chef Greg oversees all food prep at the venue and ensures that it is among Captiva’s premier fine dining experience. So, if you’re looking for unique dishes that will make your tastebuds sing, this is the place to go. 

The Green Flash

The Green Flash is another restaurant in Captiva owned and run by Swiss restaurateur, Andreas Bieri. The venue first began serving food in the early 1990s, but the history of the site goes back much further than that to the 1950s when local T.M. Wiles opened a watering hole called the Nook. Since then, various establishments have occupied the site, providing authentic island-style service to locals and holidaymakers. 

The name “Green Flash” comes from the way the sunlight spreads out in the atmosphere at sunrise and sunset. When conditions are right over the Florida Gulf, water vapor from the ocean rises into the atmosphere, blocking out the blue-violet and red-orange wavelengths in the spectrum. The result is the occasional green flash as the sun lowers or rises above the horizon. 

For lunch, the Green Flash focuses on offering affordable soups and salads. Popular items on the menu include:

  • Shrimp bisque made from the local catch
  • Grilled tuna caesar salad served with garlic bread
  • Shrimp salad served with cottage cheese
  • Conch chowder served in a Manhattan-style sauce

For dinner, the menu offers an enormous selection. If you go, consider trying these dishes: 

  • Char-grilled rib-eye 14oz steak served with sauteed mushrooms
  • Coconut shrimp, a dish which combines the local catch with Caribbean flavors
  • Green flash trio, including half a lobster, shrimp, scallops and microgreens, served with a beurre blanc sauce
  • Atlantic salmon, topped with crabmeat and fresh spinach
  • Captiva steam pot, with clams, mussels, calamari, shrimp and fish steamed in a garlic and fennel broth

While the venue is ideal for small gatherings, it also plays host to large events and banquets. You can rent tables upstairs for more than a dozen guests and get restaurant staff to serve a selection of food, either their recommendation or a menu of your choosing.

The Green Flash is certainly one of the best places to watch the sunset on Captiva Island. If you love beautiful sunsets, check out our article Best Places to Watch the Sunset on Sanibel Island

RC Otter’s

Right in the heart of bustling Captiva, you’ll find RC Otter’s - a family-friendly restaurant that serves both lunch and dinner with plenty of options for kids. This makes it a favorite for visitors to include on their Captiva Island family vacation. The venue regularly hosts live entertainment and music and offers indoor and outdoor seating for guests to enjoy, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

RC Otter’s extensive menu gives you a bit of everything. For breakfast, you can get old-fashioned buttermilk pancakes, Belgian waffles, and French toast. At lunch, you can enjoy both local seafood - such as oysters or local grouper - as well as traditional dishes, like fajita quesadillas. And for dinner, there’s a wide selection of seafood, including toasted crab sandwiches.

The standout feature of the establishment, however, is the friendliness of the waitstaff. Here you’ll find attendants willing to provide you with a friendly smile and accommodate your requirements. If you’re with kids and just looking for some casual, easy-going dining, this is one of the best places to go. 

The Pointe at South Seas Resort

The Pointe is another venue associated with the South Seas Resort. Located just across the Sanibel Causeway Bridge, it offers a substantial menu and allows you to dine in luxury, overlooking the bay. 

The most impressive feature of the Pointe is its sheer size. The venue offers hundreds of seats in a variety of different settings, allowing you to choose how and where you eat. There are an incredible seventeen cabins, a tiki bar next to the pool, and a veranda.

The menu is simple but features an assortment of delicious foods. The bar is most famous for its sandwiches and salads, although you can get a range of “bowls” too if you fancy rice or noodles. 

If you go to the point, make sure you check out the following sandwiches and salads: 

  1. Fried Florida grouper sandwich with napa cabbage and lemon caper tartar
  2. Grilled Mahi Mahi tacos with spicy guacamole and flour tortillas
  3. Grilled chicken sandwich with pesto and onion
  4. Captiva chopped caesar salad with romaine, croutons and a peppering of parmesan

Many people also head over to The Pointe for its wide selection of drinks. If you do head to the bar, make sure that you check out its frozen drink selection. The Lava Flow, for instance, is a frozen cocktail of Cruzan rum, pina colada, Myer’s dark rum, and strawberry. The venue opens at 11 am and closes just after sunset on most evenings. 

Plan Your Perfect Captiva Island Vacation

While Captiva Island might be further out into the water than other Florida spots, its wide selection of incredible places to chow down and eat quality local food make it well worth it. The vast majority of eateries in the area take advantage of local seafood found throughout the Florida Gulf. They offer you an opportunity to experience the authentic cuisine of the region, with all its many influences from Southern, Southwestern, Caribbean, and Mexican food. 

If you’re interested in visiting Captiva island on vacation, be sure to check out and book one of our luxurious Captiva Island vacation rental properties. We're Royal Shell Vacation Rentals and we've been providing visitors to Sanibel and Captiva Island with the best rental properties in the area for over 25 years.  With us, you can visit all the Captiva Island Restaurants you like, many of which will be just a quick stroll from your front door. We can also help you find the perfect Sanibel Island vacation rental if you want to explore Captiva's equally impressive neighboring island.

Check our availability today or get in touch with one of our vacation rental specialists. They'll help you find the right property for the vacation experience you're looking for. 

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