1001 North Barfield Drive, Marco
With a grand view of shimmering lights glistening on the bay, and a big Seminole Indian Chickee hut nestled on the waterfront, The Dolphin Tiki shines with tropical island fare and best kept secrets.
When Stuart and Jean Green cruise their 30-foot Boston Whaler through the offshore and inland waterways of the southern Florida coast they have their favorite watering holes and tucked away dining secrets.
One day might see the Toronto-based couple cruising through the inter-coastal waterway near Fort Myers and the next riding the tide in from the gulf and making way for Everglades city.
According to the Canadian cruisers, looking for the best out of the way dining venues is a big part of the fun during a boating-based winter vacation on the water.
“We don’t like the real touristy places,” Stuart explained. “We prefer the type of water accessible restaurants that are a little off the beaten track where the food and the service has to be better. Some of the real busy and famous places just aren’t that good anymore. We like to explore for the best kept dining secrets.”
“First of all,” Stuart continued, “We look for the best food, then the service, but you can’t forget about value. At the Dolphin Tiki here on Marco, we have definitely found one of our new favorites! The food is good, the service great and friendly, and when you look at the nightly specials — like prime rib with mashed potatoes, gravy and vegetables for only $17.95 — that’s value!”
With one of the back-tracked southern warm fronts blowing a balmy breeze through the big chickee hut at the Dolphin Tiki, the culinary adventuress and I arrived with the tide settled in beside Stu — as he like to be called — and Jean Green from Toronto.
The Greens were sitting beside new friends from pier 81, Adel and Tom Lippert from Cincinnati and as we learned about the Green’s winter cruising vacation we soon discovered one of the best waterfront and boat accessible secrets in southwest Florida is our very own Dolphin Tiki.
Stuart and Jean had eaten lunch earlier under the big Seminole Chickee hut and now they were excited to be back for dinner.
Tom and Adel were also smitten by the waterfront bistro and Tom soon let us know that he was here for the crunchy fish filet with piping hot French fries.
“The fries have to be hot.” Tom explained, “And the fish too, otherwise, it just doesn’t work. After all, we are eating outside, and even in Florida, its still winter.”
After realizing that with the aid of these Dolphin Tiki veterans our appetizer and dinner selections would be really easy.
With the encouragement of Cindy our gracious friend and server we decided upon the Blue Crab Stuffed Mushrooms for $8.95, Tom Lippert’s favorite crunchy fish filet and fries for $9.95, and the “Philly” style steak and cheese sandwich with quick fried onion strings for $8.95.
Tom was right! The beer-battered fish filet was perfectly crunchy with piping hot fish waiting just beneath the tasty quick-fried batter. The fries were also piping hot and with a side of coleslaw, this meal was perfect and complete! For those who enjoy a spice to their fish, the Dolphin Tiki always has Tabasco on every table and with a dash or two of Tabasco on top of tartar sauce, the beer battered fish takes on a new panache.
The “Philly” style cheese-steak sandwich was also a winner served with the oh-so delicately prepared onion strings that work well with thin sliced steak, melted cheese, and a toasted bun.
Our compliments to the Chef, Cindy out server, the Greens from Toronto, and the Lippert’s from Cincinnati. The Dolphin Tiki waterfront meal was a great old-style winter-vacation success and with the Dolphin Tiki an island favorite, why not take a stroll down the docks to experience what the folks from Canada and Ohio voyage hundreds of miles for every winter season.
For land travelers, The Dolphin Tiki Waterfront Bar and restaurant is located at 1001 North Barfield Drive at Anglers Cove. For information and daily specials, call 394-4048.
The famous Dolphin Tiki Sunday breakfast is served from 8:00 a.m. until noon and French toast aficionados mustn’t miss the Dolphin Tiki’s Crunchy French toast that has become truly legendary.
For a beloved waterside bar and bistro, with happy hour 4 until 7 p.m., favorite sports on television, and nightly specials with sensational value, visit the big chickee hut on Marco Bay where The Dolphin Tiki shines on the waterfront.
Tom Williams writing has been published in Amsco School Publications; he is a local sailboat Captain and Marriott associate for 28 years. His debut action adventure novel is now under contract and will be published by ArcheBooks in the upcoming year. Tom is available at firstname.lastname@example.org