Best of November: The top things we ate in SWFLA

Will Watts
Correspondent

During November, we revisited one of our favorite breakfast places, some haunts that are super popular with the locals and a restaurant that keeps changing with the times.

Here's the best of November.    

The “Scramble Skillet” from Hoot’s Breakfast & Lunch.

Hoots, Marco Island and South Naples

Hoot’s Breakfast & Lunch and is located on Marco Island and in the Shops of Eagle Creek, South Naples.

I had the 'Create Your Own Omelet' ($9.75). You get four eggs and your choice of any three items: American, mozzarella, Monterey jack, swiss or cheddar cheese, mushrooms, onions, peppers, tomato, spinach, sausage, bacon, ham. You can add additional items for $.75 each. And it’s served with your choice of home fries, hash browns, grits or fresh fruit.

I selected spinach, Swiss cheese and mushrooms; with home fries as my side. It also comes with two huge slices of toast, made from bread created in house. You won’t find toast like this anywhere else.

The omelet was huge and hearty. I was very pleased. And the home fries ... love 'em!

My dining companion had the 'Scramble Skillet' ($9.95) featuring home fries, peppers, tomatoes and mushrooms topped with scrambles eggs and house made Hollandaise sauce.

Hoot’s has the best Hollandaise sauce around. I can highly recommend any dish that comes with it. And this was no exception. Huge, beautiful and delicious.

Hoot’s always satisfies. It’s a friendly diner atmosphere.

Full review:‘Watts for Dinner’: You’ll give a big ‘Hoot’ for this breakfast

Sand Bar, Naples

Nestled in the back streets of Marco Island is the Sand Bar. And not being located on a main throughfare doesn’t in any way keep folks from finding it. When we visited, it was not lunch time, nor dinner time and it wasn’t a weekend. Yet, the parking lot was packed. We literally took the last spot.

Things got off to an appetizing start with “Fingers & Toes” ($13). It’s beer-battered fish fingers served with thinly sliced fries. Both were absolutely amazing and cooked to perfection. The fingers were thick and meaty, and the fries were some of the best I’ve ever had.

I also had a bowl of the chili. So good! Why don’t more restaurants serve chili? Love it! My partner-in-dine had the onion soup.

For my main dish, I selected the cheeseburger sliders ($7). These three beefy little bites are served with tomatoes and pickles, along with more of those delicious fries. I could eat these all day every day.

My dining companion picked the “Penne A La Vodka” ($25). This pasta dish features sauteed shrimp, broccoli, mushrooms finished in a pink vodka sauce. The sauce was a little more orange than pink and a bit cheesier than vodka-like, but the taste was unmistakably great!

We also took home a meat lovers pizza ($18). This 12-inch pizza features pepperoni, sausage, ham, bacon and ground beef. The crust is amazingly thin, and the toppings are piled on. An unexpectedly great pie.

Great service and an island atmosphere reign.

Full review:‘Watts for Dinner’: Sand Bar a hidden, yet very popular, gem

Sami’s, Marco Island

Since our last visit, Sami’s on Marco Island has added a brunch menu, sushi, gyros and more to offer one of the widest selections of any island restaurant.

First up, the “Giant Garlic Knots” ($6.49 for six, $11.99 for 12) featuring a buttery garlic sauce and served with marinara.

For my main entrée, I tried something new: the “Island Curry” with chicken ($25.99, you can select shrimp for $26.99). It features a curry sauce, with carrots, potatoes, cauliflower, green peas, tomatoes, zucchini, garbanzo beans and yellow squash. It is served with a side of curry rice and a garlic naan.

This is super tasty dish. Not too spicy. Lots of chicken. And the naan is the perfect compliment. Given that the dish is already curry, I think a Jasmine rice might have been a better choice than curry rice. Just my two cents. The dish comes with a side salad, or Cesar for a slight upcharge.

My dining companion had the grilled chicken pita ($18.99) featuring chicken breast marinated in a “special blend of spices and oils” and then grilled, wrapped in a grilled pita with lettuce, onions, tomatoes and tzatziki sauce and is served with a side of steak fries. The dish earned solid reviews. I especially liked the fries I stole.

We also took home two medium pizzas, the buffalo ($22.99) and the “Ultimate” ($22.99).

The buffalo features lots of chicken, along with cheddar and mozzarella cheese and is drizzled with buffalo sauce. It’s like a chicken wing pie, with cheese. What’s not to love!

The “Ultimate” is double crusted pizza and is filled with mozzarella, spinach, meatballs, pepperoni, roasted red peppers and roasted garlic. I love a great top-crusted pizza, and this one is thick and delicious.

Sami’s is always a solid performer. It has a full bar, easy takeout ordering and plenty of tables inside and out. And the service is top notch.

Full review:‘Watts for Dinner’: Sami’s offers expansive menu with many flavors

Sunset Grille, Marco Island

Sunset Grille has one of the best views of any eatery on Marco Island. Whether you eat inside or out, Marco’s beautiful beach and waterfront is your vista.

We started with the fried cheese curds ($12.99) and the boneless buffalo wings ($12.99). Hello Wisconsin! I love these cheesy little nuggets. Especially dipped in the marinara sauce. I also dipped them in the wing’s blue cheese. Double-cheese amazement!

We got the boneless wings mild. And Sunset Grille

did something amazing. Not only did they serve mild wings, but they were still full of flavor. In addition to the aforementioned blue cheese, the wings are also served with celery sticks – if that’s your thing.

I also got a cup of chili ($6.99). Not a lot of restaurants serve chili in Florida. Maybe they think there’s not an appetite for it. But there is. I love it. And the chili here is really good.

For my main entrée, I selected the grilled cheese ($8.99). Why, you ask? Just like the menu said: “for the kid in all of us.” And I also timed it out to arrive with the chili. ‘Nuff said. Pure heaven!

You can get the grilled cheese with white or wheat. And the bread/sandwich is huge. And the amount of cheese was generous, to say the least.

My partner in dine selected the fish and chips (market price, $14.99 this day). You can have grouper or tilapia lightly battered and deep fried. It’s served with fries and a honey mustard sauce.

In this case, the grouper was cooked to perfection. It was perfectly paired with cole slaw and a heaping helping of crispy-battered fries. I highly recommend this dish.

Service was prompt and attentive. The atmosphere is causal and as I said, the view is award worthy. And by the way, every time someone asks online, “where can I get a great Philly cheesecake?” Sunset Grille is always, always mentioned. Happy eating!

Full review:‘Watts for Dinner’: Experience Marco Island through Sunset Grille

This newspaper pays for all meals related to dining reviews. We do not solicit or accept free food. Not all dishes are featured in print, but you can find a gallery of all reviewed dishes online at marconews. com.

More:Best of October: The top things we ate in SWFLA

If you go

Hoot’s Breakfast & Lunch 

  • 563 E. Elkcam Circle, Marco Island
  • Shops at Eagle Creek, 12676 Tamiami Trail E, Naples
  • 239-394-4644 (Marco)
  • 239-304-4644 (Naples)
  • hootsbreakfastandlunch.com

Sand Bar

  • 826 E Elkcam Cir, Marco Island
  • 239-642-3625
  • sandbarmarco.com

Sami's

  • 227 N Collier Blvd, Marco Island
  • 239-389-7499
  • samispizza.com

Sunset Grille

  • 900 S. Collier Blvd, Marco Island
  • 239-389-0509
  • sunsetgrilleonmarcoisland.com