1001 North Barfield Drive, Marco
For most in our nation, springtime is a season of joy. After winter has past and the first flowers begin to bloom, a special and growing feeling begins that brings northerners outdoors for a breath of fresh air. The cold and gray has past, the sun is shining, and shorts and T-shirts replace heavy sweaters, winter coats, and snow boots.
In Southwest Florida however, many seasoned veterans feel that springtime is only the beginning of a long hot summer and a time when inside in the air-conditioning is the only way to beat the heat and humidity of the tropics. During June, July, and August, an outdoor dining experience is something that many want to postpone until the most wonderful time of the year arrives and summer slips into fall.
By mid September, the sun is headed south and with every day that dawns the sun rises later and the sunsets are earlier. Even before the arrival of the first day of autumn — this year on Sept. 22 — Islanders begin to notice the mornings are just a little cooler, the days more comfortable, and the evenings — especially by the water — are absolutely something to savor and enjoy.
Located at Angler’s Cove at 1001 Bald Eagle Drive, the Dolphin Tiki Waterfront Bar and Restaurant is ready to celebrate autumn and the falling temperatures with cooler breezes off Marco Bay, nightly happy hour specials, and favorite menu items that make open air and dockside dining truly special.
With the Culinary Adventuress once again excited about waterfront and outdoor dining, our party settled in at the Dolphin Tiki and received a gracious welcome and a big smile from our server Rickie. After Rickie suggested starting our dockside experience with a Dolphin Tiki favorite — the Tiki torch punch — we ordered the delicious signature cocktail of vodka, pineapple-coconut liqueur, orange juice, and grenadine for $5, then began asking about the most celebrated Dolphin Tiki entrées.
“We always have lunch and dinner specials,” Rickie explained. “The stuffed fish with lobster is a regular favorite. Wednesday night meatloaf is always popular, and all the burgers and baskets and the specialty salads are really good. The fish filet basket brings folks in again and again.”
“Today, the special beer-battered Atlantic haddock and the barbecue pulled pork and fries are looking really good.”
With Rickie’s advice, Vicki Lynn chose the barbecue pulled pork served on a Kaiser roll with cole slaw for $7.95, while I opted for the fish and chips English style with beer-battered and quick-fried Atlantic haddock served with fries also for $7.95.
The beer-battered haddock filet was perfectly crunchy with piping hot fish waiting just beneath the tasty quick-fried batter. The fries were also hot and crispy and with a side of coleslaw, this meal was perfect and complete! For those who enjoy “hot and spicy,” 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 buffalo-style flavor to spice up the experience.
Vicki Lynn described her barbecue pulled pork Kaiser roll sandwich as, “Very tasty and the cole slaw and Tiki torch punch perfect!”
The Dolphin Tiki Waterfront Bar and Restaurant at Anglers Cove is open seven days from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. for lunch and dinner. For information and daily specials, call (239) 394-4048. The famous Dolphin Tiki Sunday breakfast is served from 8 a.m. until noon and French toast aficionados mustn’t miss the Dolphin Tiki’s Crunchy French toast that is a real Island favorite. A kids menu is waiting with choices of: Chicken fingers, fish fingers, grilled cheese, and a mini burger. All children’s specials are served with fries and applesauce for $5.75.
Chef Paco at the Dolphin Tiki is always ready to help with any waterside adventure by offering to “Cook your Catch” for fish that are locally caught. For $7.95 per person, your very own catch of the day is prepared to perfection and served with French fries or onion strings.
The atmosphere at the Dolphin Tiki beside the Angler’s Cove docks is quite simply a mariners dream come true. There is always a salty breeze to stimulate the appetite and rising sailboat masts and swaying palm trees never fail to inspire the imagination. With the cooler days and nights, and the Dolphin Tiki happy hour ready to embrace the sunset, there could not be a better time to venture out, enjoy the change of seasons, savor the flavor of a unique dockside bistro, and realize that autumn really is springtime on Marco Island and the most wonderful time of the year.
Tom Williams has been a local sailboat captain and Marriott associate for 29 years. His debut adventure novel “Lost and Found” has been released by Archebooks and is available at Sunshine Book Sellers and Amazon.com. Tom is available at lostandfoundadventure.com.