‘Watts for Dinner’ the Takeout Edition: Bonita Beach Balloon a fun ride

Will Watts
Correspondent

Our next dining destination is Bonita Beach Balloon Bar & Grill, a place I picked just for its fun name. The first thing you’ll notice is a friendly staff and a down home atmosphere with a celebratory spirit in the air.

Things got off to an appetizing start with Flo’s fish bites ($11.99), but given their size, it’s more like Flo’s fingers. But I guess that name sounds a bit less appetizing. So, bites it is.

You can get the bites grilled, blackened or fried. We picked the latter and they were a beautiful golden brown, nice and crispy with an amazing tartar sauce. Thumbs up! No pun intended.

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We also had the “Ollie’s Balloonin’ Onion” ($6.99 for half, or $11.99 full) featuring a sweet Vidalia onion  dipped in “Balloon’s” own batter and fried until crispy and golden brown. It’s served with a honey chipotle mayo. Think Outback with a much better sauce. Yum!

I also had a Cesar salad ($10.99) which I was looking forward too. That is until I got a gander at my dining companion’s summer salad ($13.99). So. Much. Better! This dish features a spring mix with fresh strawberries, candied pecans and feta cheese. It looked so fresh and delicious. And I hear it was amazing!

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For my main meal, I picked the grouper sandwich (market price, I paid $20.99). You can select grilled, blackened or fried. And you can also choose sandwich or wrap and decide if you want fries or cole slaw.

I picked blackened, wrap and cole slaw. Loved it! Great taste. Seasoned to perfection! And the slaw was the perfect side. Nice work!

My partner in dine selected the shrimp salad sandwich ($12.99) on rye with sweet potato fries. He had never had (or heard of) shrimp salad before and gave it high marks; also remarking on the quality of the bread. And if you’re wondering, sweet potato fries are always worth the extra money and this time was no exception.    

For dessert, we had a choice of key lime pie (tempting), chocolate thunder cake (also tempting) or cinnamon sugar cider donuts with a Nutella dipping sauce (say what!?!).

We tried the latter. It was an offer we couldn’t pass up. These tiny donuts, served warm, are so good; and the sauce just puts them over the top. You can’t eat just one!   

Bonita Beach Balloon is the farthest thing from a chain restaurant as you’ll find. It offers both the Florida menu you expect with some unique dishes that make it a required stop. Happy eating!   

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If you go

Bonita Beach Balloon Bar & Grill

  • 9070 Bonita Beach Rd. SE, Bonita Springs
  • 239-676-8178
  • bonitabeachballoon.com