Get me to Stan’s on Sunday Afternoon!

Stan's Idle HourIn the words of the duo Hot Damn (, “We Love Stan’s Bar!”  We can’t decide what we love the most – the food or the fun.  You’ll be entertained the moment you arrive with the unique Buzzard Bay ambiance, the festive patron camaraderie, and the overwhelming “party” frame of mind.

Stan is quite the character, and it’s no wonder he’s built such a successful restaurant and contributed so much to the Marco Island community.  He is a patriot, a celebrity, a philanthropist, and a very, very funny man.   No matter what your religion, gender, political affiliation, age, race, or creed – if you can’t laugh at yourself and others you should probably stay away.  He routinely performs a hilarious (adult-oriented) stand up comedy routine that pokes good-natured fun at human beings of every sort.

Don’t think the laid-back attitude carries over to the food – it is consistently tasty and reflects quality ingredients skillfully prepared.   We filled up on the buffalo shrimp and peel-and-eat shrimp a la carte items before we could order the grilled fish and fried oyster baskets that tempted us so.   The buffalo shrimp were very lightly fried and covered with perfectly hot buffalo sauce.  The peel-and-eat shrimp were large and so fresh that they almost snapped when you bit into them.   The food at all the tables around us looked equally delectable.

One of the most unique features of Stan’s Idle Hour Restaurant is that he has been able to bring people from all walks of life and socio-economic backgrounds together to have great food and fun on a Sunday afternoon.  They arrive by yacht, golf cart, bicycle, motorcycle, and foot.   Whether your priority is the food or the fun – get there!

For more information, check out Stan’s website at

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Have a Seafood Feast in Your Own Home

Paradise Seafood CompanyWhen you just can’t tear yourself away from your own porch or balcony to eat a great meal out, drop by Paradise Seafood and Gourmet Market and create your own seafood feast at home.  While most vacationers would opt not to spend their time grocery shopping, a trip to Paradise Seafood is truly a fun experience with a very enjoyable outcome.  The folks working the counter truly seem to enjoy their jobs, and are very educated about all the fish and gourmet items they purvey. 

Paradise Seafood has “ready to eat” food, “ready to heat” food, and an extensive array of fresh fish, including Grouper, Snapper, Mahi-Mahi, Cobia, Tuna, Swordfish, Pompano, and Triple Tail.  They have uncooked shrimp, shrimp cocktail, stone crab claws, Florida lobster, blue crab, and soft-shell crab.  Don’t miss the variety of salads, including shrimp salad, scallop ceviche, shrimp and scallop tortellini salad, and seven bean and mussels salad to name a few.  You can also buy ready-made cioppino just waiting for the addition of your choice of fresh seafood.  They even have a good selection of Angus beef for the meat-lovers in the group.

Our very own seafood fest usually starts with the Spicy Smoked Fish Dip served with mini rice crackers, or with romaine, banana peppers, and tomatoes.  We love the shrimp and lobster bisque and the conch chowder.   Shrimp cocktail and/or the seasoned peel and eat shrimp along with stone crab claws usually constitute the second course.  Our main entree is usually some type of fresh fish, or a blackened fish sandwich made with the fresh ciabatta bread.   We always try to save room for fresh key lime pie for dessert.

Also, if you’re feeling a little guilty about those you left at home – send them a gift basket from Paradise Seafood.  They’ll ship whatever you pick out via Fed-Ex Priority Next Day shipping to wherever you’d like it shipped.

You can find Paradise Seafood and Gourmet Market at 721 Bald Eagle Drive and online at  They also accept phone orders at 239-394-3686.

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Dolphin Tiki – Tucked Away in Paradise

Dophin Tiki on Marco IslandYou won’t find it easily, but when you do – it’s surely worth the effort.

Tucked away in Angler’s Cove near the intersection of North Barfield Drive and Bald Eagle Drive is the Dolphin Tiki Bar and Cafe.  Once you’ve got the Marco Bay Resort in sight, follow the signs for Dolphin Tiki parking; walk down the dock and look for the dockside tiki bar.  Don’t be fooled by the small size of this place – it’s surely not your average tiki bar!  While it has all the atmosphere and amenities of a casual dockside tiki, the food reflects much more sophisticated preparation.

The lunch menu offers chicken wings, salads, burgers, sandwiches, soups, and a variety of baskets- just about anything you could possibly imagine for a noontime meal.   We’ve always found the specials to be outstanding, but our favorites are the beer battered fish, fried oysters, and soft fish taco baskets.  The little things (like thin slices of jalapeño in the fish tacos) transform average to awesome.  Make sure you choose the onion straws as your side – they’re fantastic! There are a variety of beers on tap, and a great selection of bottled beer also.

The atmosphere is very friendly and festive.  There’s always lots of activity in the bay, with boats and fishermen coming and going.  Despite the intimate tiki size, we’ve never had to wait for a table. 

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Lunch at Stilts – Elevated Beachside Dining

Stilts on Marco IslandPicture open-air, elevated beachside dining and you’ve got Stilts, the restaurant at the Marriott Crystal Shores vacation club on Collier Boulevard.  Situated on the second floor and without walls, Stilts gives diners a wonderful vista over the dunes and up and down the beach.  While we were there for lunch, we decided we must come back for a sunset – the view must be spectacular!

The lunch menu is simple yet diverse.  We opted for nachos with salsa and guacamole followed by blackened shrimp tacos and blackened grouper tacos.   The food was excellent.   Stilts has a great selection of beers on tap in addition to a wide array of specialty vacation-like drinks.  It’s hard to beat the Blue Moon on tap with a beautiful slice of orange on the rim of the glass.

 One thing that sets Stilts apart is the friendliness of the wait staff and the happy, family-friendly vacation atmosphere.  It’s a very festive place and you can’t help but get caught up in the “I’m on vacation!” feel.

Happy place, great food, wonderful vista – we’ll be back for a sunset!

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Welcome Back – Requisite Trip to Little Bar in Goodland

Little Bar RestaurantNot to be repetitive, but there are just certain things you have to do once you arrive back on Marco Island.  Tonight it’s our requisite trip to Little Bar, another Marco Island icon.  Check out their website at

We love the way Little Bar conveys the menu options- on a big whiteboard they hang right next to your table.  This is particularly convenient if you’re like us and frequently forget your reading glasses.  They always have additional fish specials that are extraordinary, but you can’t go wrong by ordering anything you see on the whiteboard menu.  Whether you’re wanting local seafood or a good cut of beef, it will surely be done to your liking.  Don’t miss the stone crabs in season, which they serve both hot and cold.

We also love the wide selection of appetizers.  While we often order buffalo shrimp and conch chowder, our favorites are the grouper balls and the Amberjack Spread.  Grouper balls are hushpuppy-like deep-fried delicacies with a smoky fish flavor.  The Amberjack Spread is a smoky fish dip served on a bed of lettuce with perfectly ripe tomato slices, red onion, whole banana peppers and a basket of crackers. We each have our own system for purveying the spread to the cracker, but it all ends with the same outcome – loving Amberjack Spread!

While we rarely partake in dessert, if you can afford the calories you will definitely want to sample both the key lime pie and the peanut butter pie.  Back when we could afford the calories, we remember them both being awesome!!

Little Bar is very active on Facebook, so become a fan to keep up with what’s going on at

The live music and the local Goodland fun is something you won’t want to miss!

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Waterside at the Pelican Bend Chickee

Pelican BendIf you’re looking for the classic Florida waterfront dining experience, don’t miss Pelican Bend, located just off Marco Island on the Isles of Capri.  On this visit to Marco as most others; it was the location of our first lunch. We always opt to sit in the Chickee or outside at the waterfront tables.  The very low-key, casual ambiance is unbeatable!

In addition to the spectacular waterfront setting, the food is incredible.  We have “regulars”, which include the blackened orange roughy sandwich, the fried shrimp basket, and fried oysters to start.   Despite our unwillingness to deviate from those menu items we love the most, the lunch menu is extensive.  There are also lunch specials that always sound delicious, and were we a little less set in our “likes”, we’d opt for them without hesitation.

Pelican BendWhile we typically frequent Pelican Bend for lunch, they’re probably best known for their dinner entrees of sautéed roughy and sautéed frogs’ legs.  The iceberg lettuce wedge is also a “must”, especially with the creamy garlic dressing.   If you don’t like to wait, make sure you arrive at opening time (5:00pm) or after 8:00 pm during the season, as they don’t take reservations.  If you want to make a night of it, sign in when you arrive and pass the time watching the sunset in the waterside chickee.   Be aware they offer selections of wine and beer only.

Don’t leave Marco without spending some quality time at Pelican Bend – lunch AND/OR dinner!

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Get into that Island State of Mind at The Snook!

There’s no better place to get into “island mode” than the Snook Inn, and that’s just where we headed for our first night out on Marco.   The outside, waterside dining in the Chickee combined with the island music is guaranteed to get you focused on the reason you’re here:  fun in the island sun!  Arrive by land or arrive by sea – but make sure you get here!

One of the greatest things about the Snook Inn is that whether you’re looking for an adult night out with someone special, or seeking a place to take the family and kids where they won’t do damage  – the Snook Inn is the perfect choice.   It’s great fun to watch the very little-ist of diners dancing with their parents to the live island music.  The bartenders are incredibly entertaining and never forget to “ring the bell” for a passing boat.   In addition to a steady stream of yachts and sailboats, if you’re lucky you’ll see a great show from the dolphins that play in the Marco River next to the Chickee.   

Check out the Snook Inn website at as it gives you tons of great information about both the ambiance and the menu.  They typically have some of the best fish around and you can’t go wrong in opting for the fresh fish special of the day.  We always load up on the app-sized portions of the Smoked Fish Spread, Conch Fritters, and Shrimp Denny.  The Snook Inn is also known for their salad bar;  you won’t want to miss that!  Besides the fresh fish entrees, our favorites are the Grouper Sandwich, Grouper in a Bag, Blackened Tuna Cusabi Salad.

We will definitely be back to the Snook for many more lunches and dinners.

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We are so glad to be back on Marco Island for another idyllic season in the sun!

It’s mid-October and that’s an early return for us.  It’s fascinating seeing the island before all the snowbirds arrive.  There’s so much less traffic on Collier Boulevard, no waiting at the restaurants, and a wonderful sense of “gearing up” for the upcoming season.  The summertime construction projects are winding down and the streets and walkways are getting spruced up with flowers and plantings sure to dazzle the eyes of those destined to visit.

One big change this year is the construction on the Jolley Bridge.  When it is completed in the fall of 2011, it will double the capacity of the current bridge and surely eliminate any wait to get on or off the island.

Play the video below to watch our most joyous return to Marco Island!

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