Downtown Fort Myers, Florida is not somewhere I expected to find a world-class restaurant in a historic setting with stellar Southern cuisine. But I did. The Veranda, a huge gray and white Antebellum house flanked by palm trees, is a lovely restaurant with a romantic piano bar, impressive wine list, and charming garden courtyard dining area. The restaurant is actually a combination of two homes, dated back to 1902. Though less formal for lunch than dinner, this is a place I felt comfortable in shorts for lunch but wouldn’t dare to dress down at dinnertime.
Location: 2122 Second Street, Fort Myers, Florida
Menu: Southern eats and seafood dishes are The Veranda’s primary menu choices. While you are deciding, a loaf of brown bread (with real butter of course) comes complimentary. It is worth the splurge to nibble on a piece or two.
Favorite lunchtime dishes include:
- Southern Grit Cake (with red pepper sauce and Andouille sausage)
- Beef Carpaccio (capers and shaved Parmesan)
- Baked Onion Soup (with melted provolone)
- Classic French Dip Sandwich (thinly sliced roast beef with au jus)
- Veranda Crab Cakes (fresh blue crabmeat with homemade Cajun remoulade)
- Mandarin Chicken Salad (teriyaki chicken, toasted almonds, and Mandarin oranges)
- Fried Green Tomato Salad (crumbled Bleu cheese dressing)
- Portobello Mushroom Salad (with herb vinaigrette dressing, goat cheese, and toasted pine nuts)
Sandwiches are served with your choice of a side of citrus fruit, potato salad, or French fries. The Veranda also has daily lunch specials and Lite & Luscious offerings.
Gluten-free items are also available.
Thoughts: The Veranda caters to a sophisticated palate but most of all, those who desire professional service and servers who know the menu front and back. The menu is a collection of regional flavors and local seafood. It is a place for celebrations and where foodies celebrate good tasting food in one of Florida’s most award-winning restaurants.
Inside, you are welcomed by a dark wine bar with a piano and often live entertainment. Built-in wood cabinetry holds hundreds of bottled wines along the wall and a wooden fireplace, with a mounted buck, add to the welcome factor. Historic photos don the walls and share stories of years gone by.
Servers will lead you through a corridor that allows a peek at the kitchen while taking you to your table in either the restaurant, sun porch, or outdoor courtyard. Stained glass windows, huge peppermills, and antique light fixtures decorate the space. Inside The Veranda’s main dining room, brass light fixtures and a stone fireplace warm the space. Of course, white tablecloths are on every table, for both lunch and dinner.
I really loved the ambiance of The Veranda and it was fancy without being overbearing or intimidating. The food was spectacular; top-quality ingredients prepared perfectly. I couldn’t choose between two appetizers so I got them both. The Southern Grit Cake was downright sexy! A palatable deep-fried grit cake, topped with Monterey jack cheese, laid over a pool of tangy red pepper sauce. A piece of fancy sliced Andouille sausage and a basil sprig decorated the plate. The taste was heavenly…the epitome of Southern eats. My country club used to make a dish (not this tasty) but similar that I faithfully ordered it.
Next, I had the Beef Carpaccio. I feel that I order it so much I could be a beef carpaccio connoisseur. Theirs definitely measured up and I enjoyed each bite. For those of you who are not familiar with carpaccio, it is extremely thin sliced raw beef, flavored with seasoning and often herbs, and sometimes topped with lemon juice. The Veranda’s version was plentiful, with large slabs of Parmesan and capers topping the fine beef. Balsamic drizzle, olive oil, and a handful of fragrant arugula decorated the appetizer, which I ate with toast points. This dish gets an A+ in my book!
Last, but not the Fried Green Tomato Salad is certainly worth mentioning. Four small fried green tomato slices topped a bed of mixed greens with tidbits of cooked ham, browned around the edges, and a creamy blue cheese dressing with big blue cheese chunks. The combination was amazing!
Though we were too full to try a dessert, I feel quite sure that every housemade sweet was delicious. Choices included Peanut Butter Fudge Pie, Key Lime Pie, Bailey’s Irish Cream Cheesecake, Fresh Berries with Whipped Cream, and Triple Chocolate Pate with Raspberry Coulis. Yum!
I recommend The Veranda to anyone in the Fort Myers area and will make another visit should the opportunity arise. It has been one of the best meals of my year.
Price Range: Lunch $13-20, per item
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Melody resides in both Vero Beach, Florida, and Boquete, Panama with Eddie, her husband of 25 years. They are parents to 2 wonderful daughters, a fantastic son-in-law, sweet pound cat Harlow, and love of their lives dog, Priscilla. When she isn’t blogging or taking press trips, Melody loves cruising, Broadway, Disney, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and cooking for her friends. Her immediate goal is to visit all 50 states (12 more to go!) and as many countries as she is years old (1 more to go!) She recently owned and operated a successful catering business and several restaurants. Favorite foods: Eggs Benedict, curries, Shrimp in any way, shape, or form, and Cheese Fondue