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I’ve been to CJ’s On The Bay many times since arriving in Southwest Florida – primarily for lunch – and have never been disappointed. A local favorite, and one of mine as well, is the blue cheese potato chips ($7.99) – house-made chips, topped with blue cheese dressing and crumbles; add bacon for a $2 upcharge. My mouth waters just thinking about it (and for the record, I’ve never tried it with the bacon, but it’s on my list).

Some of my menu favorites include the mini burger basket ($9.49); the chicken sandwich ($12.99) – chicken breast, Applewood smoked bacon, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, pepper bacon aioli on a whole wheat bun; and the open-face blackened prime rib ($14.99) – Angus prime rib, garlic toast and tobacco onions.

On the appetizer’s list, I also love the upside-down nachos ($10.99) – Black bean and sweet corn relish, pico de gallo, peppadew peppers, house-made tortilla chips and melted pepper jack cheese; and CJ’s crispy calamari ($11.99).

My latest dining adventure found me having dinner at CJ’s, which just celebrated its tenth year in business.

As an appetizer, we choose the coconut shrimp ($13.99) –  coconut breaded shrimp with mango sweet chili mayonnaise. For my main course, I selected the Mediterranean salmon wrap ($13.99) – salmon, lettuce, tomato, roasted red peppers, Kalamata olive and feta cheese. My partner in dine choose the charred veggie stack ($18.99) from the Blue Zones-inspired portion of the menu – layers included a tomato, zucchini, onion and jalapeño served over polenta. The presentation was beautiful to behold.

Our entrees arrived before our appetizer, due to a snafu, so I can only say I bet they were delicious. My wrap was filled with fresh ingredients and is a brilliant blend; my only complaint being that it was somewhat – how you say – watery? Juicy? It had more liquid dripping out of it than one might expect from a warp. But I could not argue with the taste.

For my side, I had a choice between house-made chips, fries, fruit or cole slaw (or soup for a small upcharge). Oh, but wait, there’s more! I picked the sweet potato puffs. Think tater tots, only deliciously dense and not-so greasy/oily. The puffs were simply amazing and my favorite food for the night.

The veggie stack came with a choice soup or salad. He chose the red pepper soup. The cup of soup was delivered alongside a water refill, and he soon found out why; this dish comes with a kick.

So, did the veggie stack, as he found out when he sampled the jalapeño, and quickly moved it to the side.

CJ’s slogan is “the heart of the Rock” (the rock being a longstanding reference to Marco Island). And if you’ve ever attended a special event or weekend afternoon there, you know they’re not wrong.

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If you go

CJ’s On The Bay

  • 40 North Collier Blvd., Suite 105, Marco Island (in the Esplanade Shoppes)
  • 239-389-4511
  • cjsonthebay.com
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