Coconut Point is filled with restaurants.
There are the fanciful, big-name chains displayed prominently out front, plus a host of funky little spots tucked into the Estero mall’s nooks and crannies.
Turns out there are 29 places to eat at this sprawling complex. Twenty-nine! So picking a handful of favorites wasn’t easy. From frozen yogurt to coal-oven pizza, doughnuts to USDA Prime beef — let’s just say I’ve done my fair share of eating.
Ruth’s Chris Steak House
I know, I know. It’s a chain. But those aged and broiled steaks are so delicate, so flavorful, so tender, I can ignore my qualms with chains for one (expensive) evening. If you’re in the mood to treat yourself, Ruth’s Chris is an exquisite steakhouse with white linen tablecloths and dark wood molding. If you want a taste of the sea, the seafood options, including sea bass and sizzling blue crab cakes with lemon butter, have always been solid choices, too. Just don’t forget to dress business casual.
(23151 Village Shops Way, Suite 101, Estero; 239-948-8888; ruthschris.com)
This is the place you go for good fettuccine Alfredo and good entertainment. In a spectacular table-side show, staff here toss ribbons of pasta in a huge, aged wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano. It’s as delightful to watch as it is to eat — creamy, peppery and rich with cheese. There are another 70-plus dishes on the menu, from grilled steaks to thin-crust pizzas drizzled with white-truffle oil. They’re all good bets, but not until you’ve experienced that Alfredo.
(23161 Village Shops Way, Suite 101, Estero; 239-390-2977; divietoristorante.com)
I’ve had a love-hate relationship with Duck Donuts since it opened earlier this year at Coconut Point. Love because, I mean, cake doughnuts fried to order. Hate because, well, cake doughnuts fried to order. It’s a dangerous game that this North Carolina-based chain is playing, what with its custom toppings such as s’mores and blueberry pancake, bacon pieces and shredded coconut. It’s simply madness, but in a guilty-pleasures kind of way.
(23050 Via Villagio, Suite 115, Estero; 239-495-3825: duckdonuts.com)
This spot is the cure for too many doughnuts (or steaks, or bowls of creamy pasta). Delicious Raw’s tiny Coconut Point kiosk looks like it’s been haphazardly plopped in front of the Regal movie theater. I’ve always thought the Naples-based juice bar deserves more attention. Delicious Raw has expanded since it launched in 2013, adding five locations and a menu of grain-based bowls, wraps, seasonal soups and sweet treats, nearly all of them vegan. That’s eating I can feel good about.
(23127 Fashion Drive, Estero; 239-949-2000; delraw.com)
Adjacent to the movie theater, this is a fast-casual burger joint that brings out your creativity. Burgerim and its miniature burgers hail from Israel (its name roughly translates to “many burgers” in Hebrew). The international chain specializes in 3-ounce patties that can be customized with 11 proteins (turkey, chicken and a few beef varieties), eight sauces, four cheeses and several toppings that include grilled onions, avocado and a fried egg. So get the creative juices flowing.
(23111 Fashion Drive, Suite 111, Estero; 239-312-7253; burgerim.com)
MidiCi The Neapolitan Pizza Co.
This is a great place to share a 12-inch, coal-fired Neapolitan-style pizza with chewy-crisp crusts and tangy red marinara sauce. I’m a fan of its classic Margherita, with gobs of mozzarella plopped across the top. MidiCi makes excellent appetizers, too, like a plate of melon with aged prosciutto and creamy burrata. If you’re not feeling pizza still visit, if only to sip a house-made Italian cream soda while sitting under the live black olive tree that grows smack dab in the middle of the restaurant.
(8076 Mediterranean Drive, Suite 109, Estero; 239-949-2422; mymidici.com)
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Rodizio is no place for vegans. There’s meat everywhere. It’s in the salads lining the expansive salad bar. It’s in the collard greens and pastas and feijoada-style black beans served in a buffet of warming trays. Most importantly it’s on sword-like skewers handled by the young men roaming the dining room in Brazilian gaucho costumes. A meal at Rodizio is a meat stampede, a meat avalanche. There’s tenderloin, chicken hearts, two kinds of tri tip, sausages of all sorts, and pork for days. You eat till you can eat no more. Then you cry (or is that meat sweat?) and waddle out the door, hurting so good.
(8017 Plaza del Lago Drive, Suite 101, Estero; 239-498-0018; rodiziogrill.com)
Jean Le Boeuf is the pseudonym used by a local food lover who dines at restaurants anonymously and without warning, with meals paid for by The News-Press or Naples Daily News. Follow the critic at facebook.com/jeanleboeufswfl or @JeanLeBoeuf on Twitter and Instagram.
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