Best of September: The top things we ate in SWFL

Will Watts
Carnitas from Margaritas, Marco Island.

It may be hard to tell here in Florida, but autumn just arrived. Let’s take a look at the last few summer food adventures we had in September.

Margaritas, Marco Island

Margaritas in Marco Town Center ranks among my top guilty pleasures. I have dined here many times, and I always leave satisfied.

Queso fundido from Margaritas, Marco Island.

A must-have appetizer is the queso fundido, white cheese sauce sprinkled with Mexican chorizo, green onions and jalapenos. OMG! So amazing! I love this spicy Mexican sausage, especially as more of a seasoning than a main dish.

Among Margaritas’ top dishes, the pork carnitas. They were served sizzling in a fajita skillet, I have never seen this before, but the pork looked and tasted amazing.

More:‘Watts for Dinner’: Viva México! Viva Margaritas!

Another great dish, the enchiladas suizas, two corn tortillas stuffed with chicken and covered with salsa verde, cotiga cheese, chives and cream.

Sushi Thai by KJ, Marco Island

A must have is the Thai iced coffee; the drink gets its amazing flavor from sweetened milk and ground cardamom. My partner in dine ordered an equally awesome jasmine tea.

Things got off to an appetizing start with not one but two dishes to share, the “Ocean Angel” roll from the sushi bar, and the fried pork dumplings from the kitchen.

The "Ocean Angel" roll from Sushi Thai by KJ.

The roll consists of tempura battered shrimp, with asparagus, masago, avocado and cream cheese. The roll is placed in a circle with shrimp, scallops and tempura flakes mixed with a special sauce filling the center. There’s nothing more satisfying than freshly made, never refrigerated, sushi; soft with a buttery goodness.

The fried pork dumplings were amazing for what they were not: oily. So dry and crisp they seemed more baked than fried. And that’s not a complaint. These dumplings are a standout.

More:‘Watts for Dinner’: KJ’s offers top-notch sushi and Thai

I also recommend the lobster mango curry; tempura battered lobster tail in an incredible mango curry sauce.

Davide Italian Cafe & Deli, Marco Island

For Italian lovers, Davide Italian Cafe & Deli has it all: sandwiches, pizza and pasta. It’s a satisfying stop for takeout or dine in; lunch or dinner. Last visit, we sat down for an elegant top-notch meal. During this visit we order pizza for pickup.

The Americana pizza from Davide Italian Cafe & Deli, Marco Island.

We ordered the Americana (13”: $16.95; 18”: 19.95) featuring tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, sausage, meatballs, pepperoni and mushrooms. We also ordered the Rustica (13”: $16.95; 18”: $20.95) featuring tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, sausage, bacon and eggplant.

Thin, crispy and served piping hot.

Of the two, my favorite was the Americana; an amazing blend; but if I had to point to a standout ingredient it would be the meatballs. That’s amore!

More:‘Watts for Dinner’: When it comes to pizza, Davide delivers

The Rustica is a bacon lovers delight; although you might find the bacon a tad fatty; and the eggplant is a great addition when done right, such as this.

Whether it’s subs, sit-down dinners or pizza on the go, Davide delivers.

Popeyes, Golden Gate

Nearly two weeks after its initial opening, we made our second, and successful, attempt to eat at the new Popeyes in Golden Gate.

Yes, there was still a line of cars around the building on this rainy Saturday and yes, a long line at the register. After a 30 minute wait in line, we placed our order. After another 30 minutes, our food finally arrived … the moment of truth.

Before I tell you what we sampled, let me tell you what we didn’t get and why: the popular and obsessive Popeyes chicken sandwich. The promotion was over; but the sign indicated it would be back soon.

More:‘Watts for Dinner’: Popeyes has a spicy take on chicken, shrimp

The first thing we sampled was the “signature” Louisiana fried chicken, which Popeyes marinates for 12 hours. If you like spicy, this chicken is for you. It’s not too spicy mind you; but compared to other fried chicken, this one’s got a kick.

We also tried the “handcrafted” tenders and boneless wings. Both are also marinated and come with the signature spicy breading; but while the boneless wings were tender juicy chunks of white meat chicken, I found the tenders to be thinly cut, and dry, with the crust being the only saving grace.

More:Best of August: The top things we ate in SWFL

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

Popeyes had a delicious twist on chicken, but I won’t be standing in line again anytime soon.

More:‘Watts for Dinner’: Hoot’s builds a better breakfast

This newspaper pays for all meals related to dining reviews. We do not solicit or accept free food.

If you go


  • 1069 N. Collier Blvd. Marco Island Fl, 34145
  • 239-394-6555
  • margaritasontheisland.com

Sushi Thai by KJ

  • 317 N. Collier Blvd., Suite 104, Marco Island
  • 239-970-2625
  • online@thaisushibykj.com

Davide Italian Cafe & Deli

  • 2541, 688 Bald Eagle Drive, Marco Island
  • 239-393-2233
  • davideitaliancafe.com


  • 11899 Collier Blvd., Golden Gate
  • popeyes.com