We are from NJ and read some trip advisor reviews. We went and really loved it. Local artwork and live music make this a fun place. Service was fabulous too! Dog friendly patio and fresh fresh food! Very tasty! Shannon Fry O’Hara
I was in your establishment a sometime last week, and sat in the bar area. My waiter was named Nick and at first he was very pleasant, then when I had questions about the menu, he rolled his eyes as if he was irritated with me. I was about to get up and leave, but a nice man came over with no hesitation and answered all my questions. I do not recommend Nick to serve you. He seems to be irritated quickly. Other than this complaint, my dining experience was wonderful! Carol Flemming
Great food, and great service. Torrey has been our waiter each visit and he has a great personality and his suggestions are always good. The special I had was salmon stuffed with their great crab cakes was the best meal I have had on the island. The crab cakes are really good as an appetizer. Torrey has made each trip to the grille a great experience. Lewis Wilson
We first tried George and Wendy’s on a recommendation from a friend. We loved that lunch so much we held our wedding dinner here. The food and service were outstanding! The setup was wonderful. Completely stress-free, and more importantly, delicious! Every guest raved about their meal. I had the best chicken marsala I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a LOT of chicken marsala in my time! Thank yous to everyone from the manager to the kitchen staff to the servers! Please don’t change a thing! Jackie
Absolutely my favorite restaurant on the island. Every meal was outstanding. We vacation there every year and make sure to eat there at very least twice during that week! The Pina colada snapper is amazing!!! Holly & Bryan
On a mini vacation from the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood area. GREAT service! Kasey was great. Very attentive staff! My husband had the blackened grouper with potato salad and loved it! I had the roast beef with garlic potatoes which was amazing. Not to mention the game day drink specials. Definitely will be back! Lindsey A.
My husband and I shared two sandwiches for lunch – blackened haddock and patty melt burger. We got fries as sides. Both were out of this world. Prepared perfectly and we didn’t wait long. The service was fantastic and the decor beautiful. Very clean and well maintained. Will definitely return. Jessica
The Blackened Grouper Sandwich was out of this world. So tender and flavorful. Great food and a beautiful spot to stop for lunch and dine al fresco. Robert
Had a lot of fun watching basketball and playing pool at the bar with my friends. Steve
I love what George & Wendy have done with the Sanibel Seafood Grille. The Fish Tacos were excellent- love their homemade salsa. And the rice and beans were the perfect compliment. Becky
This place is very nice and great place for the family. These people are so friendly. Gia–New York
Ray was a great server. Bread excellent. Really enjoyed food. Pam– Colorado
The food was fantastic. Ed– New Jersey
Clean prompt server. Good coffee. You are a 5 star stay with your present service. William– Ft Myers
Delicious food. Wonderful and very friendly and knowledgable waitress. Ambiance of colors- Happy Place! Couldn’t be more perfect! Candy- Spokane, Washington
Great food, beautiful decor. Yay, finally a nice place here after 25 years. MaryAnn- Cincinatti
Awesome atmosphere and music. Holly
I love that a Buffalo boy is making good on Sanibel. Deborah- Buffalo, NY
Our server Julia was the best. We ate outside and it was beautiful! Trina- Wabasha, Minnesota
Great laid back atmosphere. Fantastic drink specials. A pool table and Golden Tee. They have some tasty appetizers too! This will definitely be a main stop when we are visiting the island. Lisa – Minnesota
Excellent service from Sally and Carmen.! Loved the food and loved the 5 rum punch. George and Wendy’s is the first restaurant I would visit when we return!!! Kathleen & David
Stopped in while on vacation and could not have asked for a better meal or better service. I had the Seafood Linguine with White Sauce and my husband had a Blackened Shrimp with Lobster over Linguini. Heavenly!!! We will be sure to come back every time we are in Florida. John and Gina- Milwaukee, WI
Food and service was terrific. The lobster and blackened shrimp on pasta with alfredo sauce was the best I’ve ever had. The oven fresh bread was a bit soft/doughy and hard to cut with a steak knife – two more minutes in the oven and a longer serrated edged knife would solve this. Enjoyed the ambiance until the bar started filling up after 6 pm and the noise level carried over into the dining area. Overall an enjoyable dining experience. Tom Kelley
The food is GREAT The staff is fantastic Stan & Dani
Loved you tuna nachos, would really like the recipe. We live in northern Kentucky and may never be back Chuck Faeth
I am from buffalo and have lived in Orlando since 2004 I recently discovered this place on vacation and had my first beef on weck in 12 years it was amazing brought back memories this is definitely going to be a regular stop for me when I’m down here !!!!! Nathan
Best CHICKEN WINGS in the whole world. Aleisha
Food was fantastic and service was excellent. This restaurant is a must do while on the island. We visited three times within the week of our stay. Julia (the manager) did a wonderful job of making sure customers were pleased with their entrees. Keep up the great food and service and this corner grill will be around for many years to come! Melissa Miecznikoski-Bel Air, MD
Was recently in Sanibel and had the clam chowder. Unbelievable!! In fact, we went back 5 straight days later and had clam chowder each time, it was that good!! Have had mostly milk/potato-based NE chowder before, but this was probably the BEST clam chowder we’ve ever had, bar none….Lots of clams, few, if any potatoes, and a butterscotch-colored chowder that was absolutely delicious!! Wanted to freeze some for the trip back to CO…thank you for putting out such a wonderful soup!! :o) Mary Hendrick
We enjoyed the food it was awesome. The service and atmosphere was excellent, loved it Roger & Rose
Great food and Atmosphere our server ray was very helpful and friendly. the restaurant was decorated nicely and was very clean. maria
Our family enjoyed the food it was fresh and delicious. Our server Ray was excellent he was very attentive to our request.the bread was great we recommend this eatery if you are visiting Sanibel Island. the Flores Family/Ft lauderdale Florida
We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner. Christy and Sarah helped make our experience memorable. Fred
This is a must do when visiting Sanibel Island! Great service, great food and great atmosphere!! Sue Box
Awesome food great atmosphere! Lovely service! What a nice surprise! Michelle Martucci
Had no intention of having lunch out until about 10:30 AM and an ad came on the TV that made this place look extremely interesting. Looked it up and was allowed to bring our puppy to the outdoor dining area instead of her having to stay in a hot car which was amazing to us. We were welcomed by everyone and Tory our server was wonderful! Don’t miss the Beef on Weck and my husband had shrimp with raspberry dipping sauce which he described as unbelievably good! Wish we had found it earlier in the week. Maybe we can come back next year! Thanks for an unexpected and pleasant lunch. Ann Riley
We visit Sanibel every year and enjoy eating and socializing at George & Wendy’s. Great food and atmosphere. Looking forward to our next visit! Lois & Chris, Cape Cod, MA
Karaoke was/is a blast. Keep it up. Ron Hall – Kansas City, Retired
Relaxed fun atmosphere…great food (especially the Mussels Pernod special appetizer), drinks & service. Whenever we go back to Sanibel we will definitely go back to George & Wendy’s! Nancy & Lou
Best restaurant in Sanibel in my opinion! Great food, great drinks, great service!! Sue
beef on weck the bomb….so was blackened grouper special Mark and Wendy
Best food on the island! Marcia and Carmen were the best. We eat out alot and this is by far the best restaurant in Sanibel! Great atmosphere also! Julie
Well after 5 days on the Island we stumbled across this this gem and the food was the best we had all week hands down. The service was top notch ask for Marsha. We enjoyed so much we went back the next night and it was a repeat performance. Will be my first stop next time we are on the island. Brian
Great job with redo inside and out! Love the wings, grouper and Beef Weck! To be honest though, somewhat disappointed in the Service during our last 2 visits. Bartender rarely at the bar both times. Bartender was Waiting on tables inside and outside and disappearing into kitchen often. Took way too long to get a drink and the check! Will try again at a different day and time. Chuck S
The food and service were both very good. We will be back. Chris
Best Value on Sanibel with palette-perfect dinners – the Prime Rib, Grilled Chicken, Reuben, Corner Fish Sandwich were all excellent – and the Lobster Alfredo to die for – We took our dessert home, and the Chocolate Caramel Cake is better than anything the Bubble Room or Mucky Duck EVER had Pamela
The decor, folk music, the service- Kelly J was knowledgeable of the menu, the food was awesome. The roasted garlic brie appetizer, sweet bourbon salmon, pina colada snapper, togarashi tuna and the NY strip all flavorful and well cooked.We will definitely come back.h Juan Rivera
— Laura Tichy, firstname.lastname@example.org
PHOTOS BY LAURA TICHY / FLORIDA WEEKLY.
The Dish: Bistro Chicken Sandwich with fruit side; mini-chocolate mousse
The Place: George & Wendy’s Seafood Grille, 2499 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel Island; 239-395-1263; www.sanibelseafoodgrille.com.
The Price: Sandwich with upgraded side, $14.50; mini-dessert, $4.25.
The Details: : A grilled chicken sandwich can be innovative. Here, the sandwich is presented open faced, displaying roasted red peppers contrasting in color with the provolone cheese. Most places would have just slapped on the standard sandwich dressing veggies (which are present) and slathered the bun with mayo (which is not present), but the decision to pair the marinated, free-range chicken breast with the surprising choice of red pepper and then provide pesto sauce on the side shows some thought on the part of the chef. The marinade means the meat is already moist, and red pepper offers a different texture and a touch of sweetness to complement the flavor profile of the meat and cheese. Meanwhile, the rich herbal quality of the pesto contrasts to the smoky dimension brought to the red pepper by roasting it. Serving the pesto on the side allows you to sauce the sandwich to your own taste.
PHOTOS BY LAURA TICHY / FLORIDA WEEKLY.
George and Wendy’s has figured out that the key to selling dessert after serving you a generously portioned meal is to offer a selection of mini-desserts. You would have passed on the locally made desserts otherwise, but surely you have room for that cute little 2-inch square. There are several mini-favorites to choose from, among them the three-layer mini-chocolate mousse. Smooth and creamy white chocolate mousse comes layered like a frosting atop the milk chocolate mousse that’s layered on top of a dark chocolate fudge brownie cake. Maybe they should have called this tiny mousse a Bullwinkle Jr. It’s just the right amount to have a nice taste of dessert that won’t weigh you down, but it’s so good you won’t want to share it, either.
Inside, the rich wood paneling tones of the bar might transport you to the proprietors’ native Western New York and can be a cool, inviting respite from a day in the island sun, but outside the patio festooned with festive umbrella tables is pure Florida.
The J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge is home to many species of wildlife, including some that are endangered. COVID restrictions are still limiting inside access, but many of the outdoor features are available to visitors. Photo by Connie Pearson
Tropical setting in Florida islands draws seafood, shell, wildlife enthusiasts
For those who are weary of Zoom meetings and computer screens, Sanibel Island and her sister island Captiva offer displays of nature that can help restore our hearts and refresh our minds.
Located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Sanibel lures visitors outdoors with its palm trees, flowers, hypnotic waves, abundant wildlife and dizzying array of seashells. Twenty-five miles of paved bike trails indicate the commitment of the locals to good health and enjoyment of nature, while area restaurants and farmers’ markets offer produce and dishes prepared with the freshest ingredients and seafood straight from the Gulf of Mexico.
Sanibel Island is connected to nearby Fort Myers by way of a three-mile-long causeway bridge. Captiva is accessed by a short bridge on the opposite end of Sanibel. There is a $6 toll for island-bound travelers but no fee for those leaving to return to Fort Myers and points beyond.
Flying into Southwest Florida International Airport and then renting a car might be the quickest way to reach Sanibel, but there is also an easy-to-follow route for driving from Alabama by heading down U.S. 231 from Montgomery and Dothan to I-10 West, then south on I-75.
Beachcombing and perfecting your own version of the Sanibel Stoop as you retrieve countless shells might become your No. 1 reason for loving Sanibel Island, but the overall environment, climate, scenery and unique vibe of the location will compete for second place.
Sanibel and Captiva Islands are consistently listed among the top shelling beaches in the world. The quantity and variety of shells are astonishing, and visitors quickly get addicted to the search for perfect specimens. Blind Pass, Bowman’s Beach, Lighthouse Beach and Turner Beach are noted hot spots, but I’d put Tarpon Bay Beach at the top of my list.
If you stay in a condo or a beach house on the Gulf, you can walk out to the edge of the waves at any time, but public beaches put the shells within reach for everyone.
There is a per-hour fee to park in the adjoining lots, so plan to arrive early to secure a spot. Most have restrooms available, but Bowman’s Beach does not.
Shell bags and a long-handled scooper are great collecting tools, but remember that live shelling is not permitted. Water shoes are important too because of all the sharp shell pieces along the shoreline. Sanibel is home to the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum, the only one of its kind in the country and a fascinating place to learn about the world of mollusks.
J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge makes up more than 6,400 acres of Sanibel Island. The mangrove forests, marshes and seagrass beds compose the perfect habitat for over 245 species of birds, as well as many other mammals, amphibians and fish.
The Visitor’s Center is free and very informative, but you also can take a narrated tram tour or drive the 4-mile-long wildlife trail at your own pace. Take two things: your camera and insect repellant.
This is a refuge rather than a park, so the emphasis is on the welfare of the wildlife rather than that of the visitors. The wildlife trail fee is per car.
Walking and biking trails
There are plenty of places to pull to the side of the road for closer looks, plus you can fish, put in a kayak or walk one of the six trails on the refuge. This is a photographer’s dream location.
Sanibel lures you outdoors and encourages good health by making exercise easy.
For example, Sanibel’s biking and walking trails are almost completely separated from the automobile traffic.
When the trails cross the two-lane roads, the path is clearly marked, and pedestrians and bikers are given courteous consideration.
Billy’s Bike Shop and Finnamore’s Cycle Shop are the most popular places where visitors can rent bikes. They offer a wide variety from multispeed bicycles to adult trikes, and from recumbent bikes to tandems and attachments for children. The bike shops will deliver your chosen bike to your condo or beach house and pick it up when you’re finished.
They also will provide a quick repair or substitution if you encounter a mechanical problem.
Seafood is the star on most restaurant menus. Oysters, shrimp, grouper, crab and more are prepared in many ways and are accompanied by delicious sides.
However, this is not the place for casseroles, cornbread and hushpuppies, as wonderful as those dishes are.
Instead, expect colorful steamed vegetables and delightful fresh fruits. Your meal might even arrive garnished with a tiny orchid.
Restaurants I have tried and eagerly recommend include George & Wendy’s Seafood Grille, RC Otter’s Island Eats (on Captiva), Gramma Dot’s, and Island Cow.
If you want your seafood prepared with Cajun seasoning, try Mudbugs, and if you’ve had your fill of seafood, head to Matzaluna for fabulous Italian cuisine. Go to Thistle Lodge for an upscale experience overlooking the Gulf, or try The Bubble Room on Captiva for fun, quirky decor and enormous desserts.
From October through May, the Sanibel Farmers Market on Sundays and the Captiva Farmers Market on Tuesdays bring together vendors from the surrounding area with locally grown produce, fresh-caught seafood, home-baked breads, cheeses, desserts, guacamole and salsas, as well as plants, jewelry and clothing.
They also attract food trucks, which feature breakfast and lunch favorites prepared and ready. These markets are extremely popular. I guarantee you will find something you can’t resist.
The history of Sanibel dates to the time when Ponce de Leon was searching for the Fountain of Youth and includes Calusa Indians, pirates and brave pioneers.
The Sanibel Historical Museum & Village is the place to learn all about it. Adjacent to the village is BIG Arts Center (Barrier Island Group for the Arts) which is a modern entertainment complex and art gallery.
The gallery presents new exhibits regularly. The schedule for plays and concerts is rebounding from the pandemic and will be back in full operation very soon.
Those who enjoy shopping while on vacation will love exploring Periwinkle Place with its lovely setting and nice selection of stores, including the very first Chico’s.
Tahitian Gardens, The Village Shops, and Olde Sanibel Shoppes are other good choices.
Judging from the car tags spotted, people from the Northeast and Midwest have discovered and embraced the charms of Sanibel and Captiva Islands. I believe people from Alabama will find it to be a valuable and beautiful vacation destination as well.