Best of August: The top things we ate in SWFL

Will Watts

With just a couple months left without long lines to wait and eat, it’s time to take a look back at the best things we ate in August.

The Snook Inn platter at the Snook Inn, Marco Island.

Snook Inn, Marco Island

This is the place where diners arrive both by boat and car; and where the dolphins play within feet of your table.

More:‘Watts for Dinner’: Snook Inn improves on already great experience

While there are plenty of tempting appetizers, like the amazing calamari, pace yourself; because each meal comes with one complimentary trip to the salad bar.

I highly recommend the Snook Inn platter, with grouper, mahi mahi, scallops, shrimp, a petit crab cake swimming in a mild lemon sauce, topped with vegetables; along with a side of rice pilaf.

Where to begin? So, all the fish was amazing; with generous amounts of scallops and shrimp. The crab cake was a little moist for my taste; but still delicious. Visually the dish was stunning. I was extremely happy with my choice.

I also recommend the seafood scampi; containing a half lobster tail, scallops, shrimp, breadcrumbs, in garlic butter, roasted tomato and vegetables. His dish was equally stunning, and the garlic sauce combined perfectly with all the ingredients, especially the lobster.

Since my last visit to the Snook Inn in June 2018, the place has upgraded their décor. While not a complete redo, the new touches freshen up the place.

Also, there was some new faces in the way of wait staff. Friendly, kind folks who made pleasant conversation and took care of our needs. My compliments to the entire staff for a delicious meal and great service.

Avocado toast, with scrambled eggs and bacon from Doreen's Cup of Joe, Marco Island.

Doreen’s Cup of Joe, Marco Island

One of my favorite breakfast spots on Marco Island, Doreen’s Cup of Joe.

I recommend the create your own omelet. You can choose up to five items (I assume before incurring additional charges).

More:‘Watts for Dinner’: Healthy and/or hearty, Doreen’s has a great breakfast

More:‘Watts for Dinner’: Doreen’s also has lunch items

My first ingredient was chorizo. Now, let me be clear, chorizo is a type of pork sausage; and for this dish you can pick chorizo, bacon, mushrooms, avocado and mozzarella cheese. A work of art, I know. Trademark pending. I added a side of hash browns and wheat toast.

The omelet was amazing. The chorizo was not as spicy as I had hoped or expected and tasted more like traditional breakfast sausage; the avocado was fresh, and the other ingredients were as you’d expect. The hash browns were nice and crisp. Not too oily. A big thumbs up there. And the wheat toast was simply amazing. Thick and delicious.

I also like the the avocado toast: two slices of wheat toast topped with avocado and tomatoes on top and eggs any style.

Looking for an even healthier option? How about the acai bowl, with your choice of blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberry, banana, coconut, walnuts, pecans, almonds, granola, honey or Nutella.

The center-cut sirloin with unlimited shrimp from Outback Steakhouse, South Naples.

Outback Steakhouse, East Naples

Head Down Under, via South Naples, Outback Steakhouse. I reccomend the center-cut sirloin with unlimited shrimp.

The cut was tender and juicy. It came with a choice of two sides. I picked a cup of the chicken tortilla soup (chicken breast in a seasoned broth, topped with Monterey jack and cheddar cheese, cilantro and crispy tortilla strips and served with a wedge of lime) and the steakhouse mac and cheese (creamy cheddar and smoked Gouda mac and cheese, seasoned and topped with toasted garlic breadcrumbs). The soup was amazing, but the mac and cheese was a bit bland.

More:‘Watts for Dinner’: Throw some more shrimp on the barbie

My dish also came with unlimited shrimp. Out of shame, I won’t admit just how much shrimp I had. You can choose between the crispy breaded shrimp or garlic herb butter shrimp. I sampled both. I prefer the crispy, of the two; but both were OK. The shrimp are a bit dainty; but alas, unlimited.

I also reccomend the pork porterhouse, also cooked over a woodfire grill. Very tender and juicy, this chop was cooked to near perfection; but perhaps was blackened a bit too heavy with the spices.

Thai dynamite chicken and noodles from Pei Wei, South Naples.

Pei Wei, South Naples

For my main dish and served over noodles, I had the Thai dynamite chicken, featuring grilled chicken in Thai basil, with red bell peppers, carrots, snap peas and onions, wok-fired in a Sriracha chili soy sauce and topped with a fresh lime wedge.

More:‘Watts for Dinner’: A ‘Wei’ not to ‘Pei’ too much

I added some more chili sauce from the self-serve counter. The chicken and veggies were top notch. However, the noodles appeared and tasted less Asian and more Italian. Perhaps they ran out and sent the wrong person to the store? Lucky for them, I’m a big fan of Italian noodles.

A bacon cheeseburger from Five Guys, Lely.

Five Guys, Lely

First off, I must give credit where credit is due. This company makes journalists feel right at home, with newspapers plastered all over the wall and headlines on the drinking cups. Mind you, the headlines are all about Five Guys.

More:‘Watts for Dinner’: Five Guys has a ‘feel-better about it’ burger

Apparently, these are the best burgers in Orlando and many cities, according to the press accounts on the wall. Has it really happened? Have I finally found the best burgers?! No, I have not. C’mon Will. You just want to be critical. Well, I am a critic. But that’s not it. The burgers are good. Very good. But I’ve had better. Right here in Southwest Florida. If this is Orlando’s best burger, then we here in Naples/Marco Island are truly blessed.

On the menu they have the standard hamburgers, cheeseburgers, etc., and they have little burgers. Now if you are imaging that the little burgers are like White Castle, you’d be wrong. You see, the little burgers are full-grown hamburgers. So, what are the hamburgers? Well, they’re doubles.

It’s brilliant really. Many people kick themselves for having a hamburger. But if you have a little hamburger, well that’s a different story. And if you’re kicking yourself for having a regular size burger, then ordering the double is over-the-top embarrassing. But not here. You can order the cheeseburger, get a whopper of a sandwich (no pun intended) and be all aghast that it’s so big.

Perhaps I can give the award of best hotdog in Southwest Florida to five guys. A large wiener is sliced down the center and grilled to goodness with cheese, bacon, onions, relish and mustard.

The Impossible Whopper from Burger King, South Naples.

Burger King, South Naples

We’re visited a fast-food chain because of the new Impossible Whopper, featuring a hamburger patty made entirely of plants that supposedly tastes exactly like a regular Whopper. The Impossible Whopper was developed by Silicon Valley-based Impossible Foods, hence the name. According to the company’s website, the patty is made with a soy protein concentrate, several oils (including coconut and sunflower oil), and additives.

More:‘Watts for Dinner’: A better Whopper? That’s ‘Impossible’

Ok, it might not he the healthiest thing you can eat; but if you’re going to eat a Whopper anyway, better to eat this one. At 240 calories, and 8 grams of saturated fat, the Impossible Whopper comes in far under a regular Whopper (600-plus calories and 30-plus grams of fat). You can believe the hype. The Impossible Whopper tastes very similar to the real deal. The only difference my party noticed was that the patty was a little cooler than usual, temperature wise. But that likely has little to do with it being plant based.

More:Hey Marco Island, looking for a place to eat?

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If you go

Snook Inn

  • 1215 Bald Eagle Drive, Marco Island
  • 239-394-3313

Doreen’s Cup of Joe

  • 267 N Collier Blvd, Marco Island
  • 239-394-2600

Outback Steakhouse

  • 9975 Triangle Blvd E., Naples
  • 239-732-1351

Pei Wei

  • 6821 Collier Blvd Unit 102, Naples
  • 239-530-1201

Five Guys

  • 7729 Collier Blvd #501, Naples
  • 239-732-9502

Burger King

  • Freedom Square,
  • 12651 Tamiami Trail E., Naples
  • 239-793-3339