Best of July: The top things we ate in SWFL

Will Watts
The turkey sub from Publix.

Time to take a look back at the best things we ate in July; in between the rain storms.

The Publix Deli, Marco Island

In just over a year, I’ve eaten at nearly every food establishment Marco Island has to offer. And the deli inside Publix is competitive with many of them; especially when it comes to two items in particular: the chicken tenders and the sub sandwiches.

Offerings from the Publix deli.

Two of my favorite subs are the turkey and the ultimate, a combination of tavern ham, turkey breast and roast beef. If you are willing to wait for it to be sliced, you can have your choice of any of the deli cheeses. And it’s worth the wait as the precut cheese tends to lose flavor the longer it has been cut.

More:‘Watts for Dinner’: Choice cuts from the Publix deli

As for the tenders, Publix has some of the best around – short of a trip to Popeyes and KFC. All white meat and an amazing batter highlight this incredible chicken; even through the price is by pound and can come with sticker shock. There’s also a chicken tenders’ sub for those who like to have their cake and eat it too.

Newk’s Eatery, Naples

So, sue me, I’m on a deli kick. Newk’s, a national chain, is much more like a Panera than a Subway. If you are dining on the go, you can call ahead; there’s a grab and go section during lunch and two counters where you can place your order in the restaurant.

If you’re dining in, place your order at the counter, grab a number and a friendly employee quickly delivers your meal to the table.

The chicken bacon club and side Cesar salad from Newk's Eatery, Naples.

I reccommend the chicken bacon club: sliced flame-grilled chicken breast, thick-cut bacon, Ammerländer Swiss cheese, romaine lettuce, tomato, mayo, olive oil and made-from-scratch honey mustard and served on French Parisian bread.

More:‘Watts for Dinner’: Newk’s, the new chain in town

On the salad side, try the “Newk’s Favorite”: Sliced flame-grilled chicken breast, Arcadian mixed greens, crumbled gorgonzola cheese, sliced grapes, artichoke hearts, pecans, dried cranberries, house made croutons and made-from-scratch sherry vinaigrette. You can also pick steak, grilled salmon or boiled shrimp. The salad was top notch and plentiful.

Napoli On The Bay, Marco Island

Napoli On The Bay Pizzeria, features pizza, pasta and subs.

I highly recommend the cheese steak. No oily runoff, like so often happens. The steak was tasty and not cooked to oblivion.

The ‘Napoli Classic’ pizza from Napoli On The Bay Pizzeria, Marco Island.

We also sampled the pizza. The ‘Napoli Classic’ features sausage, meatballs, onions, pepperoni, peppers, black olives and mushrooms. This pizza was amazing! A thin tasty crust. The perfect blend of toppings. I haven’t had a pizza this good in a long time.

More:‘Watts for Dinner’: An Italian feast from Napoli On The Bay

Empire Bagel, Marco Island

Afresh bagel. If you live in New York, it’s not hard to find. And fortunately for us, if you live on Marco, there’s no problem either; thanks to Empire Bagel Factory.

Whether its lox or a good smear, Empire has exactly what you’re looking for.

A sausage, egg and cheese everything bagel from Empire Bagel Factory, Marco Island.

I recommend the bacon egg and cheese on a poppy seed bagel. A complete breakfast in one sandwich. The bacon was cooked to perfection – not too hard, not too fatty. The egg was unique, more traditionally fried than scramble-fried; and not oily. All this yumminess is topped with a slice of white American cheese.

More:‘Watts for Dinner’: A fresh bagel and a smile

The poppy seed bagel was the magic ingredient: soft, fresh and tasty. I highly recommend it.

Turco Taco, Naples

I love tacos. We have been in a serious relationship for many years now. So, I was giddy as a schoolgirl when I saw the sign go up for Turco Taco. And waiting for it to open, well, was like waiting for Christmas Day.

Start with the “Quesadilla Con Puerco” or pork quesadilla: marinated pork and onions with Chihuahua cheese and rajas in poblano, a cream sauce made with poblano peppers.

Tacos al pastor from Turco Taco, Naples.

Then hit up the tacos al pastor, soft corn tortilla, marinated pork, pineapple, pickled onion, and cilantro on a soft corn tortilla.

More:Watts for Dinner: Turco adds a twist to taco landscape

Also try the tinga con pollo, featuring a crispy corn tortilla, chicken in chipotle crema, romaine, radish and cotija cheese.

Panera Bread, South Naples

If you’re craving a health-forward sandwich, salad or soup, Panera is a can’t miss.

Panera is all about clean ingredients, sourcing foods without artificial additives, trans fats and the like; and a transparent menu.

The roasted turkey and avocado BLT with chicken noodle soup from Panera Bread, South Naples.

I ordered the roasted turkey and avocado BLT. Here’s what I loved: presentation was top notch, with fresh greens, perfectly ripe avocado and thick-cut craving board turkey. Here’s what needs improving: it needs a tad more bacon (my guess is that messes with the calorie count too much); and the turkey was cold. I think this sandwich would be much improved with warm meat.

More:‘Watts for Dinner’: Panera Bread offers good, clean ingredients

I also had a bowl of chicken noodle soup and it was amazing and had a homemade taste. I prefer mine a bit spicier. But not an issue.

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If you go


  • Marco Town Center Mall, 1089 N Collier Blvd #401, Marco Island
  • 239-642-2202
  • Shops of Marco, Address: 175 S Barfield Dr, Marco Island
  • 239-394-3371

Newk’s Eatery

  • 6340 Naples Blvd Suite #1, Naples
  • 239-230-2310

Empire Bagel Factory

  • 277 N. Collier Boulevard, Suite 1, Marco Island
  • 239-642-4141

Napoli On The Bay Pizzeria

  • 910 North Collier Boulevard, Marco Island
  • 239-642-5662

Turco Taco

  • 410 9th Street North, Naples
  • 239-331-4527

Panera Bread

  • Shops At Eagle Creek, 12720 Tamiami Trail E., Naples
  • 239-963-0351