Place: Grandma Dot's
Location: Sanibel Island, FL
Date: April 14, 2012
You have to know about Grandma Dot's dockside restaurant to get there because you are not going to find it driving around looking for restaurants on Sanibel Island, Florida. Located at the Sanibel Marina, there are no signs at the turn off and you need to drive all the way to the back of the property between two rows of yachts to find it. Even though it's located at the fancy marina, it is not a fancy, fine-dining establishment. It's a wonderful, family-owned place with big screened windows and views of the harbor. There's lots of wood and sailing memorabilia - think "old school Florida yacht club" - for the decor. Even if the food wasn't great, it would be worth coming here for the ambiance. Lucky for us, the food is great.
The "high season" of Sanibel runs from Christmas to Easter and that's when it's going to be hard to just walk in and get a table. There are only 59 seats and 15 of those are at the bar. In season, there's usually a wait for a table by noon. But Grandma Dot's is so good, it's worth the wait. Take a walk around the marina and enjoy the view while you wait for them to call your name. The service is so fast that the table turn-over goes quick. Plus, it's not the kind of place where people are lingering over appetizers and cocktails. The bar serves wine and beer which is all you need for the simple, delicious seafood offered up by Grandma.
I've never had a bad meal here and everybody I bring seems impressed with the food as well as the location, view and yachtsman-for-a-day feeling. I'm particularly partial to the fried oysters. (Ask anyone.) These oysters are fresh, briny and lightly breaded. I've sampled fried oysters all over the country and these are tops. You look at the basket and say "I can't eat all of these!" and then you do. I know I should have ordered the lobster salad or steamed shrimp as healthier options but I love these fried oysters so much I had to go the calorie route today. The lobster salad, grouper sandwich and 1/4 lb of steamed shrimp are all tempting. Everything comes with a generous supply of homemade potato chips. Grandma doesn't offer fries which may be why all the food comes out of the kitchen so hot and fast.
I'm happy to start off my blogging on "Hot Plate of Judgment" with a place that I really love. If you're in SWFL, you should go there and you'll love it, too. Love, Auntie