BY GINA BIRCH
FORT MYERS LOCAL EXPERT
It’s not always easy to stay on track nutritionally when traveling or vacationing. So, it’s good to know that when you’re in Fort Myers, you can find unique café’s that pay close attention to offering selections that are healthful.
Ada’s Natural Market is a popular choice for locals hunting for everything from gluten-free, to vegan, to fresh juices and more. Ada's Green Leaf Café is located inside of Fort Myers largest natural food store, offering both sit down service and take out.
Then there is pizza. While you might not think it belongs in the same sentence as the word healthy you'll be glad to know that Pizza Fusion strikes a nice balance between splurge and good for you.
Even some of the larger, trendier restaurants in town make great efforts at purchasing grass-fed beef, organic produce and other goods from sustainable producers, and often highlight low-calorie creations.
If you are looking for healthful and thoughtful dining options in the Fort Myers area, check out some of this 10Best.
Roy's prides itself in a menu full of exotic, pacific and local fish, all prepared with Hawaiian fusion flare. The butterfish lettuce wraps are a favorite appetizer with cool cucumber and a "sizzling vinaigrette." The sea bass comes in a fresh cilantro citrus sauce and served with black rice, quinoa and cucumber. Although not a sushi restaurant, Roy's does a great job with sushi and raw Ahi tuna dishes with tasty drizzles. Vegetarians will love the flavorful Kim Chee and artful stir-fry. The food looks as good as it tastes, with striking presentation and attention to detail. The service at Roy's is top-notch, as is the entire dining experience.
Recommended for Restaurants with Healthy Menus because: Roy's places a heavy emphasis on fish and vegetables with the flare of the Pacific Rim.
Gina's expert tip: Get $6 bar bites and cocktails during "Aloha Hour," the Hawaiian version of happy hour
You might not think about pizza being a healthful dining choice, but the pies found here are cuts above the rest. This pizza restaurant is committed to serving organic and sustainable vegetables and other products. The salads are satisfying and creative while the wraps are wholesome and the chicken wings free range. Pizza crusts come in regular, multigrain and a gluten-free version that has good flavor and texture. Vegetarians will love the meatless antipasto, while meat lovers will enjoy the traditional version. The restaurant also has a nice wine selection if you're looking for 'those kind' of antioxidants. And whey you are done dining, the gluten-free brownies are a delectable way to satisfy a sweet tooth.
Recommended for Restaurants with Healthy Menus because: If you're craving pizza but want it to be as healthful as possible, this is the spot, even gluten-free patrons will be happy here.
Gina's expert tip: Ask for the local brews on tap. They may rotate but selections from Fort Myers Brewing are always a fave.
Photo courtesy of Eat Smart
Eat Smart is a smart choice for anyone who has specific dietary requirements and doesn't have time to wait; healthful, fast food. Begin by choosing from a number of base ingredients such as brown rice, pasta, and quinoa; the cauliflower rice is among the most popular. From here customers pick from nearly 20 fresh veggies and proteins that run the gamut from tofu to bacon. Your ingredients are tossed in any number of sauces (think curry, BBQ, teriyaki) then tossed in a hot wok with vegetable broth. Wether you are gluten free, vegetarian, vegan or a carnivore, you'll find a bowl to please while you mingle with the locals that frequent here.
Recommended for Restaurants with Healthy Menus because: Who says fast food can't be healthful too? Here you can custom create your own wok bowls, full of veggies, proteins and savory sauces.
Gina's expert tip: Eat Smart plans to open a new location on College Parkway in Fort Myers. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for updates.
Living Vine a sunny, bright spot in Royal Palm Square Shopping Center, with a hydroponic tower garden in one corner and a talented chef in the kitchen. The owners have been in the health industry for decades, with both food and holistic treatments, so it made sense for them to jump into the restaurant realm. The juices are pressed fresh every day and the produce comes from a local farmer who delivers seasonal goods. You'll find vegan and vegetarian items but no fake food, only the highest quality non-GMO in the produce, grains and meats. The cafe often has a line but it moves fairly quickly.
Recommended for Restaurants with Healthy Menus because: The owners of this small cafe have worked in the health food industry for decades and are committed to serving healthful, healing, local fare.
Gina's expert tip: Check out the "to go" case for meals to cook at home or eat on the run.
If you want healthful breakfast that is served all day, then First Watch is the place for you. This is one restaurant where you can order cholesterol-free eggs and egg whites as substitutes in any dish, and not face additional charges. You'll find lots of turkey on the menu as well as turkey bacon and sausage. Other healthful options include power bowls with quinoa, fresh granolas, yogurt and lots of fruit. In fact, the fruit crepes are among the most popular. This Florida based restaurant also serves great lunch options such as large salads and a gluten-free menu. There are three locations in the Fort Myers area.
Recommended for Restaurants with Healthy Menus because: This Florida based chain is a popular spot for affordable, healthful breakfast and lunch options.
Gina's expert tip: You can get breakfast all day!
Wikipita began as a popular food truck in Denver and now has a strip mall home in Fort Myers. When the owner moved to the U.S. from Israel he had trouble finding the food he wanted. Pita was street food back home but there was an art to building a tasty, healthful one, which is what he does in this small restaurant. The pitas are layered with meats, sauces, vegetables, falafel and the likes. The meats are all Kosher, you won't find any dairy here but you can find flavorful vegetarian options. The falafel balls are a delicate and delicious appetizer and the soups are nourishing. Not only are the ingredients used here top notched, so is the welcome you receive when you walk in for the first, second or 100th time.
Recommended for Restaurants with Healthy Menus because: Kosher meats, homemade sauces, hummus and falafel are some of the ingredients carefully layered into pita for a healthful and delicious meal.
Gina's expert tip: Check social media sites for updates on hours. This is a small place with a small staff that sometimes takes time off.
Tucked in a side street of downtown Fort Myers between burger joints and bars, is this oasis of health. Green Cup is known for its fresh raw juices, whole-food smoothies and filling acai bowls. The wraps are generous, full of items like salmon, hummus, veggies, and chicken. The meats and produce are locally sourced as much as possible; sustainable and high quality. There is meat on the menu but vegans and vegetarians have a plethora of options here, along with patrons who are sticking to diets such as paleo and gluten free. Beverages include organic teas, coffees and wines. It's a comfortable space with lots of light and good energy.
Recommended for Restaurants with Healthy Menus because: A cozy cafe in downtown Fort Myers serving organic, sustainable good eats and drinks for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Gina's expert tip: Try the soup of the day, it rotates between light and hearty and is always a treat.
Specializing in fresh, local and organic ingredients, this farm to table restaurant is lead by Michelin-starred chef Allen Fisher. Located in the historic Shangdi-La Springs, a facility founded on the concept of wellness, the expansive property has an impressive no-till garden where most of the ingredients served in the restaurant come from. Other food products are carefully sourced from providers with similar philosophies of taking care of the environment and commitment to quality. Most of the proteins come from local farms specializing in raising grass fed animals. The result is food that is creative, well presented and full of flavor. The restaurant is spacious and bright, opening to a charming deck for outside dining.
Recommended for Restaurants with Healthy Menus because: Housed in the iconic Shangri-La Springs, most of the organic produce served in this farm to table restaurant is grown on site.
Gina's expert tip: The gardens here are lovely. Take some time to explore them before dinner.
This funky café full of colorful art and Faerie Houses has been serving healthful foodies for more than five years. Chef Brooke cooks for all causes, whether you consume a raw diet, paleo, vegan, vegetarian or just want a burrito with organic ingredients. The Buddha Bowls have become quite popular with combos like the Hippie: oatmeal, soymilk, banana, maple, fruit and nuts. The Acai has goji berries, coconut, bee pollen, maca, granola, fruit and nuts while the Caveman is simply loaded with protein, nuts and veggies. Chef Brooke makes eight soups a day and has a delicious spread of sweet treats, many are grain and sugar-free. And if you're looking for fresh juices including wheatgrass, you won't be disappointed here. Open for breakfast and lunch, the café often hosts special events at night including cooking classes.
Recommended for Restaurants with Healthy Menus because: Chef Brooke is known for making tasty, healthful treats, juices and hot meals that meet almost any special diet.
Gina's expert tip: You can't be in a hurry when dining in here, the chef takes her time, talking to patrons and putting her special touch on dishes in the kitchen
Ada's is a family-run health food market that has been in the Fort Myers area since the late '70s. It has changed hands a number of times and briefly shut down before coming back bigger and better than ever. The Green Leaf Cafe at the front of the store offers table service with selections that taste great, sans the guilt. Choose from black bean burgers to grass-fed beef dishes including a beef roulade stuffed with spinach, artichoke, and goat cheese. The sandwiches and organic salads here are fresh, flavorful and plentiful. This cafe; offers more than fresh veggie and fruit juices to drink, you can also find wine if you don't care to go back to work after lunch.
Recommended for Restaurants with Healthy Menus because: Whether you are gluten-free, vegetarian or want some good grass-fed beef, you'll find it and more at Ada's Café.
Gina's expert tip: Check out the healthful goodies in the market after you dine; everything from prepackaged diet specific to deli selections ready to take home.