Earlier this year, Nancy and I spent a couple of days in Sanibel Island after a week in Marco Island. I had spent most of my research time identifying the best sunset bar (The Mucky Duck on Captiva: Sanibel faces south, and most of the places that face west want you to stay for dinner.) Yelp and Trip Advisor weren’t particularly helpful.
The next day, I took a long walk on the beach. A woman gave me a “Roll Tide” (I had on my Alabama hat. If you wear an Alabama hat, you will meet people.) We chatted (I chat with people who say “Roll Tide” … or “Hey”), and I ascertained that she grew up in Montgomery and has both Auburn and Alabama relatives. I’m sure that makes Thanksgiving lively. I have Auburn relatives whom I dearly love, but I stay away on Thanksgiving.
Anyway, the lovely woman on the beach now lives in Sanibel and the mountains in North Carolina mountains. I asked her where we should eat dinner.
When you ask a stranger where you should eat, they almost always will recommend a very expensive restaurant. But you can’t just stop there. You need to ask follow up questions. It’s always good, for example, to ask where the police eat lunch, at least in places where there are a lot of police officers. With a trustworthy source, such as a woman who came up in Montgomery and lives in Sanibel and the North Carolina mountains and says “Roll Tide” to you, you should ask, “Where do you usually eat?” Actually, I ask that of a lot of people, but often take the response with a grain of salt.
She offered two very highly regarded expensive restaurants, both of which seemed like they would prefer that I wear long pants. She then volunteered that she and her husband usually go to the Lazy Flamingo there on Sanibel, right by the Captiva line (there’s another in Ft. Myers). That’s what you want to hear. What you really want to hear, though, is that she always orders the mesquite grilled grouper and the caesar salad.
She had me at mesquite grilled grouper, so Nancy and I went.
That’s all you really need to know, except for the fact that the grouper is really fresh, and neither over- nor under-cooked. It’s delicious, and the caesar salad is way above average. And they sell oysters on the half shell.
The oysters were nice and cold and briny, and wiggled with delight at the drop or two of lemon juice I added to each before I slurped it from the shell. The rest of the lemon juice and some Tabasco and every last atom of the horseradish went into the cocktail sauce, which I dearly love to put on saltines. It’s a side benefit of eating oysters on the half shell, and one not to be sneezed at.
The Lazy Flamingo is in a dogtrot building. The restaurant itself is in one side of the building, with a peninsula bar flanked by tables on the outer edges. You also can order at the dark, nautical-themed bar and eat at one of several tables outside, in the breezeway.
Inside was packed, and outside was a beautiful evening, and I was ready to eat, so we chose to sit outside. I like to eat outside. I like to eat oysters on the half shell. And I like to eat mesquite grilled grouper and caesar salad. Really, how many things in life are better than sitting outside on a beautiful night eating mesquite grilled grouper, caesar salad, and raw oysters, and drinking a cold beer?
If you are in Sanibel or Captiva or Fort Myers, definitely — definitely — go to the Lazy Flamingo.
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