Best of April: The top things we ate in SWFLA

Will Watts
Correspondent

April included five Fridays, which means more options to choose from for the best of monthly column. It included our first visit to a new Isles of Capri restaurant, a second visit to Marco Island’s Lakeside Eatery, and two trips to Goodland.

Lakeside Eatery, Marco Island

My first visit to The Lakeside Eatery was Christmas Eve 2019, shortly after the restaurant opened. Some things have changed since then – like eggs are off the table (literally) and the restaurant now opens at 10:30 a.m., weekdays and 11 on Saturday – and some things remain the same – like the detail and artistic aesthetic of the food served.

One of my favorites is the avocado toast ($7). You get two slices of toasted multigrain bread topped with smashed avocado, chopped tomatoes, sesame seeds and seasoning. Very nice to look at, even better to eat.

More:‘Watts for Dinner’: Fast, fresh Mediterranean to go

Then there’s the wildly healthy “Super Grain Power Bowl” ($11). According to the menu, it features a mixture of couscous, faro, and quinoa with exotic grains served over chopped romaine, cucumbers and tomatoes. There was no romaine, but this power bowl was powerfully good.

If you’re craving lunch, there’s the tuna salad sandwich ($8). You can have it as a wrap, on a croissant, on thick marble rye, Texas white or multigrain bread. I chose the latter. It’s topped with crunchy romaine and tomato. This sandwich is incredible.

And don’t overlook “The Grilled Cheesy” ($10, add avocado for $1.50 or bacon for $1) featuring smoked mozzarella, white American, brie, and cheddar cheese on Texas toast and “grilled to perfection.”

“Good” and “creamy” were just a couple of the words that sneaked out between bites. I can highly recommend this sandwich.

Have a sweet tooth? Then there’s the coconut chocolate chip cookies ($1 each or 3 for $2.50). These cookies smell amazing and taste even better. Thick and delicious with big chunks of walnut. Yummers!

Drop by The Lakeside Eatery today. Cute location, friendly staff.

Full review:‘Watts for Dinner’ the Takeout Edition: The Lakeside Eatery makes healthy delicious

Osteria Capri, Isles of Capri

This was my first visit to Osteria Capri on Isles of Capri. And it marked the first time since the pandemic began that I had a full meal at the business. What!? No more takeout editions? Not so fast.

The stars aligned. First, Osteria Capri has plentiful outdoor dining. I’m not interested in eating inside a restaurant until the vaccine is in my body. Second, we ate in the early evening, before the restaurant became too crowded.

Things got off to an incredibly appetizing start with the “Calamari Fritti” ($13), fried calamari with a spicy tomato sauce, and the “Carciofi Romani” ($15), oven baked Roman artichoke hearts in a lemon butter sauce.

The calamari arrived coated in a crisp and tasty tempura crust. The sauce was only mildly spicy and a perfect match for the dish. Now for the artichokes. This may have been the best appetizer I’ve ever had. And it’s definitely the best artichokes I’ve eaten. A lemony, salty and savory goodness. My compliments to the chef. I highly recommend this dish.

For my main entrée, I selected the “Risotto of the Day” ($45) featuring lobster and shrimp with an amazing risotto. This dish simply soars. You’ll be in seafood Seventh Heaven. So many flavors. This dish is meant to be slowly savored.

We also sampled the “Salmon Dijonnaise” ($28), featuring a pan seared wild salmon finished in a Dijon Prosecco sauce with lemon and capers, served over sauteed spinach and roasted potato. This dish earned rave reviews. I could not believe the size of the filet. It had to be house cut. It looks like a Texas pork chop. The sauce was a unique and very complimentary pairing for this huge hunk of salmon.

Osteria Capri is simply extraordinary.

Full review:‘Watts for Dinner’: There’s nothing simple about Osteria Capri

Little Bar, Goodland

Little Bar in Goodland is legendary. We visited between lunch and dinner on a weekday – when there are fewer diners – and we scored outside (waterfront) seating. It was a beautiful day with cool temps, a breeze, and despite the time, there was still live music from the next door neighbor, Stan’s Happy Hour, wafting across the water. Perfect!

Now on to the food. Things got off to an appetizing start with the blackened shrimp ($13.95) and the conch fritters ($6.75). Even though the shrimp came with melted butter (on the side) they were seasoned so perfectly, they didn’t need anything else. And the conch fritters? Best I’ve had since my last visit to the Conch Republic of Key West (and that’s a place that knows its conch).

On to the main dishes, we had the fried grouper sandwich ($18.95). The fish fillet, golden brown, sitting atop a toasted bun with lettuce, tomato and onion and your choice of mayo, ketchup or tartar sauce. The sandwich melts in your mouth and the fries are crispy and delicious.

Then there’s the crab cakes ($18.95) which came with a side of seasoned rice and cole slaw. The cakes come in a lightly seasoned, tomato sauce. While also a little light on flavor, the dish is beautiful to behold and there’s a lot more food on the plate than when you typically order crab cakes from a restaurant.

If you’re hankering for an old Florida feel, or a closeup look at a fishing village, this is the perfect dining spot for you. Staff were wearing masks (yes, even outside), are super friendly and very accommodating. You’ll make memories and will revisit your experience as if you were on a vacation.

Full review:‘Watts for Dinner’: Select seafood from Paradise Found

Paradise Found, Goodland

Paradise Found Restaurant and Bar in Goodland offers panoramic views of the Marco River and Goodland Bay.

Things got off to an appetizing start with the “Island Shrimp Boat” ($14.99), featuring jumbo butterfly shrimp topped with a Peruvian sauce. The shrimp are served in a bed of cabbage with mandarin orange slices as its centerpiece. This was a visually stunning dish; I was happily surprised that the sauce was sweet; I was expecting spicy. 

I had even more shrimp with my dinner entrée. The shrimp dinner ($24.99) comes with broiled, fried or coconut crusted prawns. I did picked the latter. I just couldn’t get enough.

You can get Paradise Found’s grouper sandwich ($18.99) blackened, grilled, pan seared or beer-battered. We picked the latter. And while it was a beautiful golden brown batter, it looked more like a batter that you’d use for catfish (corn meal/flour mix) than beer battered. Anyways, it received rave reviews. Crunchy, fresh bun and a tasty tartar.

Paradise Found truly is. Happy eating!

Full review:‘Watts for Dinner’: Select seafood from Paradise Found

Margaritas, Marco Island

Margaritas on Marco Island is a longtime favorite of mine. When it comes to Mexican food, I haven’t met a dish I didn’t like.

Things got off to an appetizing start with complimentary chips, salsa and pico de gallo, some fresh guacamole ($8.95) and a new addition to the menu, shrimp poppers ($9.95).

While Margaritas has some of the best salsa around, who can resist a giant serving of guac – fresh ripe avocados, tomatoes, jalapeños, onions and a splash of lime juice – with some fresh tortilla chips.

The golden fried poppers come as jalapeno ($8.95) or butterfly shrimp. And they come with an incredible jalapeno ranch dipping sauce.

For my entrée, I had another new menu item, the Baja tostadas ($15.95), featuring tequila lime shrimp served over two crispy tortillas layered with guac, lettuce, tomato, drizzle with homemade jalapeño ranch and queso fresco. Tons of delicious shrimp highlight this inspired dish. It’s something new and something familiar at the same time. I highly recommend this dish.

We also had some vegetarian tamales, a traditional tamale stuffed with sautéed red peppers, green peppers, onions and cilantro with smoked gouda cheese. The dish is topped with an amazing ranchero sauce. The tamales were my favorite dish for this visit. A must try!

We had no trouble social distancing at the restaurant – it’s a large space and ongoing construction is seemingly having a negative effect on business. So, it’s time to support Margaritas, where you’ll find good food and great service.

Happy eating!

Full review:‘Watts for Dinner’: Margaritas’ serves up some new dishes

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

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

If you go

The Lakeside Eatery

  • 2 Marco Lake Drive #1, Marco Island
  • 239-970-0812 
  • thelakesideeatery.com

Osteria Capri

  • 387 Capri Blvd, Isles of Capri
  • 239-970-5721
  • osteriacapri.com

Little Bar Restaurant

  • 205 Harbor Drive, Goodland
  • 239-394-5663
  • littlebarrestaurant.com

Paradise Found Restaurant and Bar

  • 401 Papaya St., Goodland 
  • 239-330-7773
  • paradisefoundrestaurant.com

Margaritas

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