‘Watts for Dinner’: Z’s Music Kitchen hits the right notes

Will Watts

This was our first time visiting Z’s Music Kitchen in Freedom Square, South Naples. But to be fair, it was also our third visit to this location. We dined there when it was called Ben Allen’s Backyard Grill & Pub, and when it was called Brook’s Burgers. My editor did me one better and says he remembers when it was a Chinese buffet and take out place.

Two things you need to know. One: When a band is playing, there is a $5 cover charge. And apparently on Monday, the day we visited, there’s a “selected menu.” Meaning a smaller selection of food offerings.

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So why not leave and come back another day, you ask. Well, it’s all due to fairness. You see, we might be showing up on a restaurant’s best day. Or their worst. When they’re busy or not so much. If we let the conditions influence us, we feel that it could be unfair (especially since not all conditions are visible to the diner’s eye). So, we pick a date. And we go. Nothing stops us, short of an unexpected closure. Then we let the fish and chips fall where they may.

We started with the chili (cup $5.95, bowl $7.95). It was very hearty. A plus. And it wasn’t spicy. Unfortunately, it tasted devoid of any spice. Just meat, beans and tomato sauce. Mind you, that’s a delicious combo. So, it was good soup, but a not-so-great chili.

We also had two items off the happy hour menu, the mini beef empanadas ($5) and the cheese curds ($5).

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The cheese curds were amazing. Served with a side of yummy marinara. This was the best dish of the night. Don’t miss these little fried wonders of the food world.

The empanadas were also very good. Here’s the thing, despite what the menu and receipt said, these empanadas were not mini. It was two full-sized pockets. I know, nitpicking. But these are things one might want to know especially if they like small things or wanted to share with more than two people without bringing out a knife. The sauce on top was interesting. It was like red salsa and taco sauce had a baby. Good. With a bit of bite.

For my main dish, I tried my very first “Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich” ($12). It’s fried chicken on a brioche bun, topped with hot sauce. You get your choice of fries or coleslaw. I picked fries because nothing cabbage will ever top deep-fried potatoes. And these were heavenly. The sandwich came with a slice of tomato, lettuce, a handful of pickles and a whole slice of onion. Knowing the sauce was spicy, I added ALL the toppings. While I have never tried a Nashville hot before, therefore I have nothing to compare it too, I can say it was good.

My dining companion had the BBQ pork sandwich ($13) featuring, you guessed it, shredded BBQ pork. But here’s the kicker, it sits atop a blue cheese coleslaw (forget what I said earlier about cabbage; what a brilliant idea) on a Cusano roll. What’s a Cusano roll you ask? It seems to be a catchall term for any artisan bread. But I’ll tell you this much, it looked just like the brioche bun my Nashville hot came on.

The coleslaw was the star of this very creative sandwich. It also comes with fries or more coleslaw.

Z’s Music Kitchen has a bit in common with the last two previously named restaurants here. The servers are very attentive. The food is playful and fun. The music and the drinks make this stop something more. Happy eating!  

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

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.

If you go

Z’s Music Kitchen

  • Freedom Square, 12655 Tamiami Trail E., Naples
  • 239-304-9552
  • zsmusickitchen.com
  • zsmusickitchen.ordermyeats.online