Southwest Florida is a prime destination for retirees and winter-weary Northerners looking for soul-warming sunshine and fine dining worth dying for. With gulf waters teeming with finned wild life, it’s no shock that fresh seafood is one of the region’s hottest edible commodities.
If you want the real deal, look no further than Truluck’s in Naples. Truluck’s combines a vibrant bar scene with an upscale-but-hardly-pretentious dining area boasting big, open windows that allow salty ocean air to weave and meander its way through the restaurant like an invisible thread of Southern hospitality.
Truluck’s is nestled right in the heart of charming downtown Naples; if you’re not a local Floridian, I recommend giving yourself a little extra time before or after your reservation to wander the area (it’s one of those special places where the car sightings are even better than the people watching).
Inside you’ll find tables covered in white linen and walls adorned with a few prize catches (sorry, no Big Mouth Billy Bass here, just a pretty sailfish and his cohorts). The waitstaff is nothing short of attentive, and the menu is stacked with a fabulous selection of seafood (some local, some flown in daily from elsewhere– always fresh).
Lobster Bisque: Undeniably rich and well-seasoned, this just might be the most delectable cup of soup you’ll ever try (no, I’m not even being hyperbolic right now). Take a moment to imagine this in your mind’s eye: a generous chunk of lobster sits delicately at the center of the cup as a steady-handed server pours the piping hot bisque over it in front of you. The pouring presentation offers more than just aesthetic appeal: it releases an aromatic mix of cream, boiled lobster, and pops of black pepper. The scent fills your nasal cavity as if to offer a momentary sensory prelude to the bisque obliteration about to ensue. Blissful and entirely too good to share.
Florida Stone Crab: No description necessary. Crack ’em and dunk ’em.
Miso-Glazed Chilean Seabass: The seabass is flaky and light, yet full of sweet and zesty Asian-influenced flavor. The crab fried rice and cucumber slaw are perfect complementary sides, respectively warm and chilled, aligning with the the fish’s Eastern notes.
Carrot Cake: Homemade. Gargantuan. Topped with candied pecans. Drizzled with sweet, sweet caramel sauce. Layered and smothered with the perfectly tempered sweetness of cream cheese frosting. Built for multiple forks. If cakes were dinosaurs, this would be an Argentinosaurus.
*Truluck’s has a handful of additional locations as well, so if Naples isn’t in your future, be sure to check out one of their other spots!
Some additional Southwest Florida honorable mentions…
Greasy spoon breakfast spot: Lighthouse Cafe on Sanibel Island, FL. Bike the whole island, then gorge yourself on coconut french toast or pancakes in order to compensate for all the calories you burned.
Italian cuisine done right: Angelina’s in Bonita Springs, FL. Homemade cannoli and dishes seasoned with herbs pulled straight from the herb garden in the restaurant’s courtyard.
Legendary ice cream shop: Royal Scoop in Bonita Springs, FL. Animal cracker toppers, always.