BY GINA BIRCH
FORT MYERS LOCAL EXPERT
One way to make friends fast when traveling is through bonding over sporting events. Fort Myers has countless places where you can do just that–at sports bars proudly showing everything from college and pro ball, to golf, boxing and everything in between. And because the area is full of transplants, you are sure to find someone routing for your team too, no matter how far away it may be.
Sports bars often have a reputation for serving average food at best, however, nothing could be farther from the truth at stops like Big Ten Tavern in Cape Coral. Here they take pub food seriously with quality meats, huge sandwiches, and their signature tater tots in a variety of toppings.
At Nick & Stella’s Family Sports Pub, one of the area's oldest sports bars, you’ll also find a nice selection of Greek-inspired dishes with forty big screens, both indoors and out.
While not a 'dedicated' sports bar, The Lodge has become a most popular gathering spot for sports fans in the downtown area with the regions biggest LED TV and a giant projection wall to boot
No matter what time of the year, or what sport you follow, you are sure to find it featured on a TV at one of these 10Best sports bars.
With a motto that reads "come for the food, stay for the sports," Stevie Tomato's serves up big plates full of big flavor. If you're in town for a Chicago Blackhawks game, this is the place to be. The kitchen also cranks out Chicago-style dishes like gyros, Italian beef sandwiches, Vienna beef hot dogs and Pizza. Whether it's a Monday night or a Sunday afternoon, you'll always find some kind of game day wings and beer specials. The bar and restaurant prides itself in their baby back rack and $7 lunch specials such as cheeseburger sliders and Angus Beef chili dogs. Dine indoors or out while cheering your team to victory. Check the website for the ever changing specials and entertainment schedule.
Recommended for Sports Bars because: This sports bar wins lots of local awards for their food, specials and a sportingly good time.
Gina's expert tip: There is a second location of this local sports bar in Cape Coral
The long-established Nick & Stella's maybe in a strip mall, but they've beautified their piece of sidewalk with palm trees, umbrellas and lots of TVs. Most of the televisions are inside, 40 in all, playing every sport and every team you would want to see on game day. Regulars call ahead to reserve booths situated closest to the TV that will be playing their game. Although the owners are Pittsburgh Steelers fans, they are quick to welcome everyone into their family establishment. The family behind the name are of Greek heritage make delicious gyros and spinach pie. In addition, you'll find lots of Italian specialties, including popular pizza pies and calzones.
Recommended for Sports Bars because: This family-owned sports bar has been in a local favorite for decades, with 40 TVs and filling food on game day and every day.
Gina's expert tip: Go for the fish fry on Friday: it's all you can eat
Gatorbites is all things Florida; laid back, colorful fruity drinks, and a menu full of fish and alligator. It's also a fantastic place to get your sports fix. For extra-special events, the owner has even been known to bring in bleachers. Happy Hour begins at 11 am and goes until 6 pm with a dollar off of cocktails including the colorful, premium frozen creations. While watching your team on one of the numerous screens, order a GBT; a sampler of fried Gator Bites, beer and a T-shirt for $10. Gatorbites is one of the last stops before heading over the bridge to Sanibel Island.
Recommended for Sports Bars because: One of the last local stops before heading over the causeway to Sanibel, serving cold, affordable drinks and hot fresh food, including gator!
Gina's expert tip: Be sure to visit the gift shop for fun souvenirs, many featuring gators.
Located in an old Starbucks building, just southeast of I-75 on Daniels Parkway, Fat Katz is a fun, local find. A popular place year-round to catch a game on TV, the indoor bar can get cramped, so thankfully the outdoor patio is spacious and provides shelter from the sun. Sure you can get great burgers here, but try the pierogies, Cuban sandwich or gumbo for a change. Beer lovers enjoy the large selection and are able to taste anything on tap before making a decision. If you are afraid of losing your beer, Fat Katz offers lanyards, so you can wear your glass around your neck; nothing better than a liquid tie.
Recommended for Sports Bars because: Referred to as a sports bistro rather than a bar, because of the fresh, homemade fare served here, ranging from perogies to beans and rice.
Gina's expert tip: Get your beer in a large glass boot, it makes a great photo.
Named after the famous White Sox slugger, Shoeless Joe's has a long history of entertaining locals and tourists alike with live music, fun events and 40 big screens to watch your favorite sport or team. You will often find contingents of Bears or Patriots fans on Sundays and on college game days, look for West Virginia and Kansas State fans. However, everyone can be accommodated in this large space and if you call ahead, you can reserve a spot for your own fan celebration. The menu has a large variety of bar food as well as local specials. This is one of the most centrally located sports bars in Fort Myers, behind the popular Bell Tower Shops.
Recommended for Sports Bars because: Forty big screens, indoors and out, Shoeless Joe's always has something fun going on, along with good food and a central location.
Gina's expert tip: Too much to drink? Book a room in the adjoining hotel.
The Boulevard Tavern is among the closest places for drinking and dining outside of JetBlue Park; it's just east of the stadium. Bearing resemblance to an old-world pub inside, the bar is spacious and welcoming with a neighborhood feel. There is also a rather large, covered outdoor space to grab a bite and watch more sports on the many mounted TV screens. You can often find live music here as well. The Tavern serves everything from mouth-watering Rueben's to Ahi Tuna to Nachos, and almost everything in between. It can get quite packed with residents living in the nearby Gateway community on the weekends, whether a big game is on or not.
Recommended for Sports Bars because: This Tavern has a pub-like feel inside, while the patio is tropical. Add multiple TV's, local beer on tap, and good food for the win.
Gina's expert tip: It's a hot spot before Red Sox spring training games.
A photo-worthy edition to the restaurant scene in downtown Fort Myers, The Lodge is cool even when it is 100 degrees outside. In the theme of a northern ski lodge, you're greeted by a huge, stuffed grizzly upon entering, giving way to a big open space with plenty of room to view your game. Serving BBQ, this rustic spot brags the region's largest LED television: 176 inches. It also has projection screens lining the entire east wall to really bring sporting events to life. Patrons brag about the beer tasting wall, where a credit card will get you tastes of the rotating craft drafts before you commit to buying a pint. The atmosphere here is truly unique and always fun.
Recommended for Sports Bars because: A ski lodge theme, a beer tasting wall, a 176-inch LED TV and surround screens combine to make this sports and BBQ bar most unique.
Gina's expert tip: Look for the photo booth at the door that allows you to upload pics instantly on social media
With 16 big-screen TVs, 13 taps, an open floor plan, and corn hole games, you might guess this is a fun place to watch a game, but it also has a creative and satisfying menu line up. The wings are juicy with house-made dipping sauces, and the nacho chips are hand-cut from flour tortillas. A brick oven gives the pizza a crisp, light crust; it's special ingredients are garlic butter and Parmesan cheese. Regulars love the chicken and waffle sliders drizzled with maple honey mustard. But the big deal is tater tops; nuggets of shredded, deep-fried potatoes, with a dusting of ranch seasoning. Order alone, Greek-style or covered with a wide variety of toppings to satisfy almost any craving.
Recommended for Sports Bars because: Not only is this a fun sports bar, but the kitchen cranks out fun food to boot; the gourmet tater tots are the rage.
Gina's expert tip: The kitchen stays open late, catering to the service industry
This family-owned sports bar is also family-friendly with arcade games for the kids, while adults watch the live-action on some thirty screens. You can also shoot a game of pool both on tables inside or on the screened-in, outdoor patio. Sidelines boasts a from-scratch kitchen where a hearty bowl of chili is a signature. Chefs here hand-cut chicken breasts every day and even roll their own giant mozzarella sticks. You'll also find some of the best drink prices in town such as $1.25 drafts and $2.75 wells and a handcrafted "Drink of the Week." While all fans are welcomed, Florida State University supporters come her in droves on college game days.
Recommended for Sports Bars because: A family-owned sports bar with a kitchen that cooks everything to order and besides the multitude of televisions, the bar offers lots of entertainment.
Gina's expert tip: Daily specials are fantastic values such as the all you can eat Fish and Chips on Friday for $9.99.
RonDao's has been serving up great pizza, in an exciting atmosphere for watching sporting events, for some fifteen years. The main sports bar has island seating…rows of narrow bars facing a GIANT projector screen. With 75, yes 75 big screens try the signature seafood pie; loaded with shrimp, scallops and crab in a rich white sauce. This is a huge space with a quieter dining room, however, it's still full of TVs. A private room is home to the Buffalo Bills fan club on game day. College fans rooting for Iowa and Notre Dame also gather here on a regular basis, although there is more than enough room for everyone. The bar is also full of fun pool tables, foosball and arcade games. You won't be bored here.
Recommended for Sports Bars because: With 75 televisions and projector screens, RonDao's is a family-owned, feel-good sports bar with superb pizza.
Gina's expert tip: This is one of the few local sports bars open to 2 am every night.