Composited with 405 photographs that shot in a ten-second interval, the video captures the sunset view of Vanderbilt Beach in Naples. Naples Daily News


There are couple of universal truths about Southwest Florida.

1. The alligators are inevitable

2. The beaches are beautiful

3. The food is delectable

While my alligator knowledge is limited (I think you're supposed to run in a zig-zag pattern if they chase you?), my beach and food knowledge is extensive. 

Here are five local spots — plus a bonus favorite of mine  — to grab a bite before or after your next trip to the beach.

Lake Park Diner

If you've read my review, you know I'm a big fan of Lake Park Diner. 

This chic downtown Naples diner with only outdoor seating is the brain child of Adam Smith and Chef Michael Voorhis, who also opened The Bevy and Smith Organics food truck

Its menu includes breakfast, lunch and dinner options to die for. My personal favorite is the pimento chicken sandwich made with grilled sourdough lovingly layered with sweet bacon jam, cool arugula, fried chicken and two types of cheese, provolone and thick, creamy pimento.

I recommend the Diner at any time of day, but especially after a Naples Pier sunset. After dark, Lake Park Diner's outdoor lounge comes to life with families and friends sitting around a fire pit and at tables with mason jars filled with twinkle lights. 

Shake the sand off your clothes and enjoy a pimento chicken sandwich for me. 

More: What JLB ate (and more): Lake Park Diner

Full review: Lake Park Diner will be a Naples staple in the years to come

Where: 44 Seventh Ave. N., Naples

When: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday 

Contact: 239-228-6351,

What else?: Only outdoor seating, full bar

More Reviews:Vourla Mediterranean Grill in Naples teaches our food critic a lesson

Turco Taco

When Turco Taco opened last year, I said it was exactly what downtown Naples needed.

I stand by that.

This taco place in an old Dairy Queen building is an oasis. There's a counter for indoor seating on the inside and patio seating surrounded by lush palm trees outside. It’s not a beach theme, but it’s definitely the perfect beach-taco vibe. Adorably tiny succulents decorate each worn-wood table.  

The menu includes tacos, quesadillas, guacamole and salads made fresh in-house from organic ingredients. 

Among all the prestigious and expensive restaurants in this area, this delicious, casual taco spot is a refreshing change of pace.

Full Review: Turco Taco is exactly what downtown Naples needs — JLB

Where: 410 Ninth St. N., Naples

When: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily

Contact: 239-331-4527,

What else?: Indoor and outdoor seating, online ordering

Brooks Burgers

Brooks Burgers is what I call the "Scooby-Doo" beach eat. 

You know how, after Scooby and the gang solve a mystery and catch a bad guy, they hop in the Mystery Machine and head to an old-fashioned diner for celebratory burgers and shakes? 

That's Brooks Burgers. 

Brooks is a frequent flyer on my pick lists, whether for its amazing burgers or affordable prices. And here it is again. 

More: 5 great burgers in Naples, because National Burger Day — JLB Picks

Brooks' menu boasts some truly creative burger options, like the farm burger, dressed with pulled pork, cheddar cheese and a fried egg or the sweet and savory doughnut burger with American cheese and bacon all lovingly crammed between two glazed doughnuts.

Where: Four locations throughout Naples. For addresses, check

When: Hours very by location

What else?: Milk shakes, full bar, indoor and outdoor seating


Riverwalk is tucked in a corner of Tin City in downtown Naples.

This sit-down restaurant and bar, known for its fresh seafood and waterfront location, is decked out with nautical flair. Cornflower blue walls hold paintings of flying fish and sailboats. 

It's a great place to take out-of-town guests to watch boats come in and out of Naples Bay; the occasional dolphin might even swim by.

I've been known to indulge in a cocktail or two and a classic grouper sandwich, sand still between my toes from an afternoon at Lowdermilk Park.  

More: This Naples restaurant named among most romantic in the U.S.

Where: 1200 Fifth Ave. S., No. 45, Naples

When: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday

Contact: 239-263-2734,

What else?: Full bar, waterfront seating, live entertainment on the weekend

Maria's Tacos y Mas

Another taco place on this list? Yes, it's necessary. Maria's Tacos y Mas could not be ignored. 

Maria's is in North Naples, so it's for the Vanderbilt Beach crowd. There are only about two or three tables in the tiny store, so this is a take-your-food-to-the-beach place. 

The thought of its juicy chorizo enclosed in a gordita with onion, cilantro and cheese brings saliva to my mouth and tears of joy to my eyes. 

Thursdays are really the days to find yourself here. Every Thursday, Maria's has a two-for one taco special, and it's the only day of the week the restaurant serves its lovingly crafted tamales. 

More: Where to find Valentine's Day specials from Naples to Fort Myers, Cape Coral

Where: 9331 U.S. 41  N., Naples

When: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, closed Monday

Contact: 239-919-8337,

What else?: Thursday specials

BONUS: Pub Sub

I mean, come on. Of course I had to include the Publix sub, it's a beach day classic. 

If you live here and you've never had one, shame on you. 

If you're visiting from the North where they are sadly lacking in Publixes, welcome to paradise. 

Take advantage of this sandwich gift.

More: 40 years of JLB: How I learned to be a restaurant critic

Read or Share this story: