Our neighborhood in Fort Myers is off of a famous street called McGregor Boulevard. McGregor Boulevard runs along the delta of the Caloosahatchee River, which drains the northern edge of the Everglades into the Gulf of Mexico, and leads to historic downtown Fort Myers. Henry Ford and Thomas Edison built winter estates side-by-side on McGregor Boulevard. Thomas Edison and his wife had the street lined with majestic royal palms that still exist today. It’s the kind of street where you can put the top down and drive, really taking in the sun-soaked lifestyle of the tropics.
But historic downtown Fort Myers is one big party scene, even on weekdays. On weekends, they will block off some of the main streets from cars and mobs of pedestrians take over. It is not uncommon to see five bands and various street performers all crooning simultaneously, like the town is an impromptu music festival. Many of them are very talented.
Historic downtown is a maze of bricked alleyways that are in themselves a riot to explore. The 86 Room is a traditional speakeasy that opens up onto one of those alleyways, which they have lined with tables and towering trees. Apart from the swanky Hop Sing Laundromat in Philadelphia, I have not seen a speakeasy done this well. They play old silent films on a big screen in the back (think Charlie Chaplin), the servers are dressed as flappers, and the cocktails are LEGIT.
This is one of the cocktails I ordered, which is prepared by dumping the contents onto the bar and lighting them on fire. If you sit at the bar instead of at one of the tables outside, you have a constant show. Perk of sitting outside, however, is you can enjoy a cigar with your drink. This being South Florida, there are endless cigar shops to patronize.
This is just a random pick of a storefront that has a blue heron decorating the door. I thought it was beautiful and had to share it.
Okay, so I have no idea how to even begin to describe the menu at the 10 Twenty Five Gastropub, so I am going to link to it and let you see how wildly creative the owners are. They also have a great beer list. (I recommend Funky Buddha’s Maple Bacon Coffee Porter.) And remarkable cocktails.
I ordered the Pierogi Poutine to eat as an entrée rather than an appetizer, and it was sublime. It was potato and cheddar pierogis topped with cheese curds, smoked bacon, sour cream, and green onions. We eat pierogis all the time, and I had never considered doing them up that way.
Elise is totally consumed by this video game involving wolves these days, and seemingly spends a lot of it with her pack trying to take down bison. She was thrilled to order their “umami melt,” which is a bison patty with truffle mushroom duxelle, smoked cheddar, smoked bacon, kimchee aioli, on grilled sourdough. Kiddo put it away… the server was impressed.
We have not made it to 10 Twenty Five’s brunch yet, but the menu is amazing. I hear people start lining up at the door before they open for it.
This magnificent banyan tree located on the corner in front of the courthouse. (Sorry, I cannot help myself.)
My advice for anyone visiting Fort Myers is to avoid most restaurants between 6 and 7 pm. Go during the off hours or go late. Many of the super trendy Fort Myers restaurants (like Ford’s Garage on the main drag) are nearly impossible to get into on the weekends. We have seen restaurants with two-hour waits for outdoor seating during the season. I am not kidding. We do not even try to fight the snowbirds during the season anymore, and just embrace big late afternoon meals. Reservations are your friend in this town! But if you time your meals right, you can get in and out with little to no drama at all, even without a reservation.